Several questions today about the navigation settings in Storyline:
- Should we “block” the Next button in the slides, to ensure the trainees review all the content before continuing?
- If yes, what are the main options in Storyline to do it?
- What is the best option?
Let’s review those different questions.
Should we “block” the Next button in the slides, to ensure the trainees review all the content before continuing?
Short answer: no.
Longer answer: no, except in some cases.
Why is it a bad idea to disable the Next button, and in general, to have strict navigation settings in an e-learning module? Actually, e-learnings are supposed to be courses trainees take when they want, in the way they want. This learning method is supposed to be flexible, and trainees should be able to navigate within the module as they wish. Obviously, a lot of e-learning modules follow a specific path with several chapters, and often you can’t understand properly chapter 2 if you’ve not reviewed chapter 1. But I think we should trust our trainees and let them review the module freely. If they don’t understand a chapter, they will go back to the previous chapter. If we explain properly the module organization at the beginning, they will follow the order of chapters. Trainees need to be free to not review entirely the content of a slide, if they want to review it later and focus on another part of the e-learning.
Moreover, having too many restrictions in the navigation increases the risks of making a mistake in the designing of the course, and to have people stuck on a slide, because a trigger is not working properly, or because they don’t understand what they are supposed to do before being able to continue to the next slide.
Nevertheless, sometimes it can be interesting to disable the navigation to the next slide when you want the trainees to perform a specific action on the slide, such as an activity, clicking several buttons to reveal more text, or view a picture… If used sparingly, it can be useful and not frustrating for trainees.
What are the main options in Storyline to do it? What is the best option?
There are different ways to prevent someone from continuing to the next slide unless they perform a specific action on the slide. Let’s review the main 2 different options, and the pros and cons for each of them:
- You can disable or hide the Next button when the timeline starts (it’s a new feature of Storyline 2), then re-enable it when a specific action is performed (timeline ends, user click a button, all the states of buttons/shapes X, Y and Z are Visited, etc.)
The pros and cons are a little bit different depending on if you choose to disable or hide the button, but the two options are pretty much similar:
Pros: in both cases, the trainee won’t try to click the Next button, and he/she will easily view when the button is re-enabled.
Cons: if you hide the button, the trainee may think there is a bug in the navigation, whereas if you disable the button, the trainee will probably understands better that he/she has to perform an action to re-enable the button.
But in both case, there is an issue caused by Storyline itself with this kind of settings: if you do not choose to reset the slide to initial state when revisiting the slide, and prefer to resume saved state, the trainee may be stuck when he/she revisits the slide. Indeed, resuming saved state on this kind of slide with disable/hide the Next button… with sometimes no possibility to re-perform the action to unlock the Next button. That’s typically the case when the trigger that re-enable the Next button is “when timeline reaches X seconds”.
The solution is simple: choose to reset the slide to initial state in case the trainee revisits it; but it means the trainee will have to re-perform the action or wait for the timeline to reach the end, so it can be boring.
In my opinion, that’s not the best option.
- My favorite option is to not disable or hide the Next button, but to add a layer in the slide (it appears when the trainee clicks the Next button) inviting the trainee to perform the action I wish him/her to do before continuing. If the trainee has not performed the action, he/she will see this layer. When he/she has done the action, clicking on the Next button will take him/her to the Next slide. It is very easy to set in Storyline, and I like this option because in the layer, we clearly explain to the trainee what he/she is supposed to do before being able to continue, and the Next button is always available, so the trainee can’t think there is a bug.
I recommend a gray, transparent background in the later, and a shape indicating what to do (here, the orange shape indicates where are the two cards). Clicking OK hides the layer.
Pros: you can include a message and some help in the layer, to help your trainees perform the action and know what to do, and it avoids disabling/hiding the Next button, so you have no problem when revisiting the slide with saved state settings.
Cons: for now I have not seen any inconvenient with this option!
This is my favorite way to “force” trainees to perform an action before being able to continue. It is not frustrating, you know what to do, and I have not noticed any issue when revisiting the slide with the saved state setting. Obviously, I recommend to not use this kind of setting to much in a course. I think once per chapter is a maximum.
I hope this short article was helpful! If you use another way to “block” the Next button and/or the navigation in general in Storyline, or if you prefer to avoid blocking navigation, don’t hesitate to let me know how you proceed.