New Features in Lectora X.5 and New Resources on E-Learning Uncovered!
Two weeks ago, Trivantis released Lectora X.5, which has some very interesting new features. Here is a review of Lectora’s new functionality and new resources available now on E-Learning Uncovered.
New Flash Games
Fans of Lectora’s Flash games get a treat in this release. Six new quiz games have been added to the Flash Media Library: Crazy Cans, Dunking Booth, Horse Race, Mountain Climb, Slot Machine, and Walk the Plank. See them (and all the Flash Media Library games) in action on our Lectora Resources page.
Also, Trivantis released the Software Developer’s Kit so that Flash whizzes can create their own games to add to their libraries. You can contact Trivantis support for more details.
New Movie Player Skins
X.5 also offers new “skins” or appearances for the movie player. Honestly, I tend to be a minimalist with stuff like this, but there are a few in the collection that even a curmudgeon like me would use… including one based on YouTube’s player.
On the down side, the skins are only available for Flash-based video and audio, as well as MP4 video created with the H.264 format. What does that mean? It means that if you are publishing to iOS devices (iPhone, iPad), you can’t use Flash-based audio or video—so that option is out. And if you use H.264-encoded MP4s, they will play, but the video opens in a separate window.
Want to see the skins? We’ve added a guide to our Lectora Resources page.
New “Learning Agent” Characters
The biggest addition in X.5 is a library of images suitable for creating learning agents. There are 23 photo characters in 12 poses each, built right in to the media library for easy access while you’re using the program. We’ve created a resource for you to explore each character and pose on – you guessed it – our Lectora Resources page.
Since I’ve written about and researched learning agents quite a bit (in fact, they were the focus of my M.Ed. research), this addition was particularly interesting to me. Below are my opinions on the pros and cons of this collection.
What I Like:
– The characters are photos rather than animations, so they are much more friendly for low-bandwidth, mobile, and plugin-free delivery. Also, research has in general not shown increased effectiveness or engagement with animated characters, so using still images like these is often a better choice than picking up the larger development times involved in character animation.
– The images are isolated on transparent backgrounds, making them easy to use with any background color or image.
– The images are full-body, which in itself makes them easier to use as learning agents than many of the images you would find on stock photo sites.
– The collection includes diverse wardrobe choices, including several characters dressed in medical attire. With all of the compliance issues surrounding the health industry, we’ve been doing more medical-related elearning projects in which these characters could be used.
– The collection includes a variety of poses corresponding to interactions that the learning agent might be involved in, such as giving positive or negative feedback or pointing up/down/left/right on the screen.
– My favorite part: You can insert a character, then specify actions to simply change the character pose in response to learner actions within the course. In the past (and in other tools), you would have had to add several actions to hide one or more images and then show another. Very slick!
What I Don’t Like:
– Twelve poses can’t really include a lot of conversational positions, especially for a large course. Basic pointing at different areas of the screen is covered, but I would have preferred the Narrator Files’ strategy of having a large shot list for each character, rather than this approach of having a large(ish) collection of models and just a few poses per model.
– The demographic diversity of the collection leaves something to be desired. In particular, there is no professionally attired African-American male; the only model in that demographic is a construction worker. There are also no older females; at most, I wouldn’t estimate any of the women as being over 45. I don’t expect that they would provide every demographic combination in every costume, but I do wish this collection were more representative of the workforce overall. With significant gaps in ethnicity and age, the new library may be unusable for some – or at least something that still has to be supplemented with images found elsewhere. I have to rate this part of the effort as well below average.
The short story: The way these new characters have been implemented is superb for use as learning agents… I’d just like to see some significant additions to the library in terms of poses and model diversity.
All in all, the X.5 update doesn’t offer any significant changes to the authoring tool’s functionality or programming, which is fine for a .1 release. But you do get several useful new media elements that can make your courses more visually interesting without a lot of extra effort.