How good is your ear for dialog? Find out with Dude or Droid, a simple drag-and-drop activity I created to try out Dragster.
As you decide who said each blurb, notice the cues that you’re responding to. What makes dialog sound natural, and what makes it sound stiff?
Click the image to start the activity, and pretend the “TRIAL” watermark isn’t there. Then come back here for some dialog tips and a mini-review of Dragster.
What did you notice about the dialog?
In the droid’s lines, you probably saw these symptoms of unnatural dialog:
- Lack of contractions (“you are wearing”)
- Obsessively grammatical sentences
- Formal wording (“wish” instead of “want”)
- Introductory -ing phrases (“Upon examining the data…”)
- Legalistic weaseling (“and/or”)
- No idioms or slang
- Buzzwords that no human should say (“key value-add”)
We can make the droid sound more like a dude with a few changes:
- Use contractions: “She is our best chainsaw juggler” becomes “She’s our best…”
- Break sentences into fragments of different types: “If you wish to play the banjo, please go outside” becomes “You want to play the banjo? Then go outside” –and it has more personality, too
- Choose informal words: “wish” becomes “want”
- Replace -ing introductions with past tense: “Upon examining the data” becomes “When we examined the data”
What about “Our biggest deal just fell through?” Why did I make that a dude line? Mostly because it uses an idiom (“fell through”). Most droids don’t know idioms and would say something like “Our biggest opportunity is no longer viable.”
To create the activity, I used version 3 of Dragster, an easy-to-use web tool that creates Flash drag-and-drop activities that are SCORM compliant. A basic version of the tool is available free; the version I tested costs £45 a year.
The workflow is intuitive and fast. Once my graphic was ready, it took less than 15 minutes to create and publish the activity in Dragster.
I got confused once, when I thought I could save some draggable labels and edit them later. Apparently, once you’ve saved the labels, you can’t change them, though you can add more labels.
The technique for defining target areas will be familiar to PowerPoint and Keynote users: you draw an invisible shape over the target area. Because your shape can have an almost infinite number of points, you can accurately define complex “correct” areas. You can also set up “close, but not quite” areas. (I just used super-easy rectangular targets.)
The draggable items can be images or text labels. You can save learners’ scores, and learners can also collaboratively work on an activity and add their own labels. One feature I would recommend for future versions is individual feedback for each dragged item, such as a hint that appears when the learner drags something to the wrong spot.
Your customization choices are limited, but that’s a fair price to pay for speed and ease of use. Learn more at the Dragster site.