Sample activities for Map It

Here you'll find links to activities that are mentioned in Map It, along with more activities to get you thinking.

The inclusion of an activity on this page doesn't mean, "Hey, you should do exactly this!"

I chose these examples because they raise questions that will help you think more deeply about your own design.

Chapter 7: Brainstorm activity ideas

Below are examples of the types of activities mentioned in chapter 7, to help you picture what you might create.


Set Up the Laptop

By SmartBuilder, developed in SmartBuilder
You need to help someone set up their laptop for a presentation that starts in a few minutes. Try the original Flash version of the activity, and compare it to the newer version under "Using Computer Ports" on their examples page.

Questions to consider: Why does the designer let you skip the "learn about the ports" section? In the new version of the activity, you have to drag the cable to the correct port. Is this better than just clicking on it? Finally, the new version uses photos that show stronger emotion. What is the effect of this?


Allison Wants a Course

By Cathy Moore, developed in Mac Keynote and Hype
Your client wants you to convert her content into an online course. Can you steer her away from that bad idea? Try this simplistic scenario that I created several years ago to test some ideas.

This is a weak scenario. Many scenarios I see are like this one -- the decisions are too easy and the stock photos unnecessary. The idea is solid, but because I spent so long sourcing graphics and building slides, I had little time to write a decent challenge. My slide-based tool (similar to PowerPoint) made extensive branching difficult, so I made the story too simple. For a much more challenging scenario on the same topic, see the next example.

AutoLoon Ethics Training

By Cathy Moore, developed in Twine
Your client wants you to create an ethics course. But will that really solve their problem? Can you manage the conversation and avoid creating a useless information dump? Give it a try and learn more about its development.

People in my scenario design course use similar activities to practice talking with clients.

Questions to consider: Does it matter that you never see the clients' faces? Also, I don't give you any advice until the end of the story. Why don't I interrupt when you make a bad decision and tell you what to do?

Some people have said the scenario requires too much thinking. How much of this complaint is caused by the design of the scenario, and how much comes from the fact that many designers have never had this type of conversation before? Should this activity be preceded by simpler ones? Should it be entirely replaced by a simpler scenario? If the scenario should be kept, how could we reduce the feeling that it's "too hard?"

Hana Feels

By Gavin Inglis, developed in Twine
Something is bothering young Hana. Can you figure out what it is and find the best way to help her? You choose what several people say, including a crisis line volunteer, Hana's boss, and a friend. Play it here.

Questions to consider: You don't choose everything that each person says. Instead, you pick a statement that might send the conversation down a different path, and the author fills in the rest of the conversation. How could you apply this to soft skills training, such as an activity on handling a difficult conversation? Or is it better to require the player to choose every statement their character says?

Connect with Haji Kamal

By Kinection with Cathy Moore, developed in custom Flash
You’re a US Army sergeant in Afghanistan. Can you help a young lieutenant make a good impression on a Pashtun leader? That’s the challenge behind “Connect with Haji Kamal.” Try the activity and learn how it was designed.

This activity is a small part of larger training. It was designed to stimulate discussion in a live session. Soldiers completed the activity the night before a classroom session.

Questions to consider: What kind of feedback does the activity provide? Why didn't we just tell players what they were doing right or wrong? Why did we include two helpers who don't agree?


Medical Software Training

By Allen Interactions
You're a medical professional talking to a patient, and you need to update some information in their medical record. Try the activity by clicking "Access the course demo" on this page at Allen Interactions.

Questions to consider: If there's a tour of the software showing what each menu item does, it's not included in the this activity. Instead, the activity tosses you into the software, with optional help in the gold bar at the top. If the designers required you to take a tour before tossing you in, how would that affect your experience of the activity?

Also, how is feedback provided? Could the designers provide more "showing" feedback, such as fast-forwarding to show the patient experiencing a bad reaction because you recorded something incorrectly? Or would that weigh down the activity?


Disaster Response: Air Quality

By Environment Agency (UK)
Two trains have collided and one is now on fire. It was carrying acrylonitile, which could make people sick if it catches on fire. You're in charge of protecting the air quality. Who should you call, and how can you stay on top of the situation? Try the activity (Flash).

Questions to consider: What is the effect of the media on the first slide, when you simultaneously experience video, a narrator, and text? Later, what kind of feedback do you receive? Does it seem to fit in the story as a natural consequence of your choice? What reference information might the activity link to?

Law Enforcement Training

By Allen Interactions
Can you recognize gang activity and respond appropriately? Jump into a squad car and tour the neighborhood, interpreting graffiti and trying to get information from possible gang members. A notebook acts as an optional reference. Try the activity (registration required).

Questions to consider: A "traditional" approach would be to first show you all the gang symbols and have you memorize them. Only then would you be allowed to get in the fictional car and interpret them in the street. Instead, the activity puts you directly into the car. If you don't understand a sign, you can look it up in a notebook. Why did the designers do it this way? What's the advantage of letting people pull the information as they need it?

In many projects, a stakeholder would say, "But we have to make sure learners are exposed to all the information! What if someone thinks they know a gang sign but they're wrong?" How would you respond to that concern?

Also, the activity provides some "telling" feedback. Who provides it? Why did the designers choose that person to give you feedback?

Common Ground: Sexual Harassment

By Will Interactive
You're a manager and need to respond to several situations that might affect the professionalism of the workplace. How should you respond? Try the demo.

Questions to consider: Why did the designers use video rather than text or text with images? What do they gain from video, and what potential problems does the format create?

Why did the designers give you only two options at most decision points? What would be the effect on your decision-making if you had three options instead? What type of feedback did you usually receive? Was it a natural consequence of your choice?

Chapter 11: Activity design: Feedback

Classroom Management: Example of the "teaching" scenario structure

By Cathy Moore; developed in Twine
Flowchart showing a teaching scenario structureIs it okay to be a control freak when you write a branching scenario? Try this quick example and decide if it's ever a good idea to lead people by the nose.

I like to call this structure the "control freak" scenario. It works like this: You're presented with the first scene of a story and choose an option, let's say B. You see immediate feedback that tells you that you chose incorrectly, and that you should really do what's described in option A. The scenario sends you back to the same scene and this time you obediently choose A.

Now you see the second scene, and the process repeats. If you choose correctly, the story advances. If you choose incorrectly, you have to go back and do it right. There's usually plenty of feedback telling you what you did wrong and what you should do instead.

A lot of designers create this structure as their first scenario. It's easier to manage than full branching, and all the teacherly feedback feels familiar and "helpful." But do adults really learn best when they're constantly interrupted and corrected? How might the structure and feedback affect people's motivation?