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Laptop mockup of elearning training

Student Concern Mini-Scenario

E-Learning with Job Aid

Audience: Graduate staff instructors in Purdue University's English Department

Responsibilities: Instructional Design, E-learning Development, Graphic Design, Collaboration with SMEs

Tools Used: Articulate Storyline 360, Powerpoint, Canva

Problem & Solution

The client for this project was the Introductory Composition program at Purdue University (ICAP). The organization had a protocol for how graduate employees should respond to their students’ academic and well-being concerns, but the program lacked a robust training solution to help employees feel confident in the procedure.

The result was that graduate employees would feel the need to frequently email their mentors for guidance on how to respond to certain student concerns. The client’s problem was worsened by the recent introduction of a new reporting form for academic concerns that created confusion between it and the older “Student of Concern” report.

After analyzing the client’s problem and the skills gap of the target audience, I determined that a scenario-based e-learning training would be an effective solution to increase employees’ confidence in responding to student concerns.


Scoping & Storyboarding

To project manage the development of this training, I first set up a Kanban board in Trello that I used throughout the project.

Trello board

AGILE-style Kanban board in Trello

I then analyzed all the email communications the target audience had received about the protocol. This helped me solidify my initial understanding of the topic. Next, I met with the SME, who was the associate director of the composition program and who also directly mentored graduate staff. From that meeting I ascertained what would be the main components of the training and gained contacts for additional SMEs relevant to the project.

From there I completed a training analysis document and instructional design document to summarize the organization’s goals, the learning objectives, key performance indicators (KPIs), and the expected implementation process.

Training needs analysis doc

Excerpt from training needs analysis document

After outlining and drafting the structure and text of the training, I solicited and received feedback from the primary SME and other stakeholders on the text-based storyboard. From there I was able to make appropriate edits and design visual mockups of the training in PowerPoint. I created and received feedback on the full, visual storyboard, which helped me to plan the layout, animation, and functionality of each part of the training in Articulate Storyline.

slide with storyboard of a slide

Storyboard of slide from the task explanation section of the training


Having been greatly influenced by the ideas of Cathy Moore around the power of scenario-based training, I knew I wanted to pursue a format that would allow participants to practice making the same decisions they will need to make in their real roles. While I love branching scenarios and am excited to experiment with them more in the future, I knew that a series of mini-scenarios would make more sense for this project because:

  1. The decision for how to handle one student’s situation will likely not affect options for handling another student’s situation.

  2. A mini-scenario structure would be the most convenient way to allow learners to practice responding to several different types of student concerns.

I also firmly believe scenario-based trainings, when possible, provide the most organic learning experiences; just like in real life, the learner is able to learn from the logical consequences of their choices.

slide with negative consequences and a "Try again" button

Consequences for an incorrect answer choice with a prompt to attempt the question again

The “I-Cap,” a play-on-words from the name of the client’s organization (“Introductory Composition at Purdue,” known as “ICAP”), is the mentor figure within the training. I designed the I-Cap image using Canva and PowerPoint. I decided to feature the I-Cap throughout the training and allow users to select it for additional help while responding to the scenarios. This feature provides additional scaffolding to users who would like to reference the relevant forms while they work and helps to personalize the feedback provided to users throughout the experience.

Graphic design of the "I-Cap" illustration in Canva

An early version of the "I-Cap" character

Another major decision I made was making the user’s “friend,” and not the user themself, the instructor in the scenario. This also was inspired by the work of Cathy Moore. While this is slightly more convoluted, it creates some helpful emotional distance that could allow the user to receive feedback on their choices more easily.

The overall structure of the training is as follows:

  1. Title and avatar selection

  2. Introduction to the user’s task and information on how to get help while working

  3. Eight mini-scenario questions, each one dealing with a different type of student concern. Users can correct their mistakes immediately after selecting an incorrect answer and viewing the consequences.

  4. Results and review of each student concern

  5. Conclusion


After importing the slides originally created in PowerPoint into Storyline, I adjusted the arrangement and other visual elements as necessary. I then added all the interactive functionality to make the training work. This involved a variety of complex triggers such as changing the state of objects based on which avatar was chosen, hiding and revealing multiple layers, and playing audio when certain buttons are clicked. This last feature requires adjusting triggers so that the button action is not executed until the media is finished playing.

Screenshot of triggers in the Storyline software

An example of the triggers used in the development of the training

There are five main features of the Storyline training that I want to highlight:

  1. Avatar Picker – users select one of three avatar “friends” in the beginning of the training. The chosen avatar appears on each scenario slide with a visual reaction relevant to the content of that scenario.

Slide with three people avatars to choose from

Each avatar moves when hovered over

2. Help Layers and Decision Tree Lightbox – from each scenario slide, users can select a custom “Help” button shaped like the I-Cap to reveal a layer that features important acronyms and helpful links. One of the links directs users to a lightbox which includes a text-based decision tree. From the lightbox, users can also click a link to a printable job aid version of the decision tree.

Slide with a layer titled "Need some help" and including links to resources

The "Help" layer available to users on each scenario slide

3. Custom Question Slides and Feedback Layers – I designed my own layers for presenting scenario questions and offering the “consequences” of each answer choice. Users get the chance to correct their mistakes immediately after choosing an incorrect answer. After a correct answer, users receive additional feedback in the form of a “success” sound. Designing these layers on my own created a more custom feel and allowed the design of the entire project to be more cohesive.

Slide with scenario question and a person appearing worried

An example of the custom question slides

4. Custom Review Slide – rather than a simple results slide that shows a percentage or fraction of correct answers, I created a slide from which users can review the problem and best response for each of the students in the scenarios. This enhances transfer by allowing all users regardless of how they initially answered scenario questions to receive guidance on how to respond to certain types of student concerns in general.

Review slide with the clickable names of eight students

Custom review slide. Users can select each student "box" to reveal more information about how to respond to that type of student concern.

5. Accessibility - I included alt-text for images, created a custom focus order for each slide, and tested the functionality of all layouts in the training with the JAWS 2022 screen reader. I also took care to avoid less-accessible interactions such as drag-and-drop and to feature all text on-screen.

Screenshot of a custom focus order and alt-text for a slide's objects

Custom focus order and alt-text

Job Aid

To further enhance transfer of the protocol, I created a decision tree job aid in Canva. While the decision tree is included in a lightbox that users can access within the training from any scenario slide, the training also includes links to a printable version. This printable version features the organization’s branding and includes both a visual version and an accessible, text-only version of the decision tree.

Decorative student concern decision tree document

Decision tree job aid created in Canva

Text-only decision tree document

Text-only version of decision tree job aid


To help evaluate the efficacy of the project, I created a post-training survey that is designed to collect relevant background information and assess the first two levels of Donald Kirkpatrick’s training evaluation model (i.e. “reaction” and “learning”).


This project allowed me to become comfortable with developing in Articulate Storyline using complex triggers (including triggers I didn’t end up keeping!). Through all my trial and error, I now feel confident I could handle any Storyline project and transfer my skills to a tool like Articulate Rise or Adobe Captivate.

My skills in writing scenario text also grew a lot in the process of using an iterative approach to make the words as concise and clear as possible.

If I were to complete this project again, I would create the visual design directly in Storyline from the beginning or use a prototyping tool like Adobe XD. The next time I work on a Storyline project will be much faster in general due to the trial and error I experienced with this project. For the task explanation slides in the introduction of the training, I would make all elements in the two white callout list slides appear on the same slide. This would be to avoid the buffering lag that appears in the web published version between the appearance of each white callout.

Slide with three white callouts that each list a different type of student concern

The published web version of the training includes lag time between the appearance of each of the white callouts

Overall, I am quite proud of this project. The primary SME has expressed excitement for how the program might use the training in the future, and I believe it will have a positive impact on the organization’s operations.