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Good practices in using Articulate Storyline: The “AUTOMATICALLY DECIDE” option

By Danny Veilleux, Graphic Designer at Ellicom

Why would you leave to chance what you can simply control by avoiding using the “Automatically decide” option?

This option, found in different Storyline menus, exists to make the integrator’s life easier. In some very specific cases, the software will “decide for you” which behaviour to apply for a given screen or layer.

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However, while practical, this option can have some negative side effects on your training’s behaviour, particularly when you publish for mobile devices (HTML5) or follow the SCORM 1.2 standard.

In this brief article, I will explain and attempt to demystify the software’s parameters that use this option, “When revisiting” and “Allow seeking”. You can therefore put your trainings’ performance back in your hands, and leave nothing to chance!

x“Reset to initial state” or “Resume saved state” – Screen and screen layer properties

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“Resume saved state” forces the screen to remember where the learner leaves off when they exit a page.

On a mobile device, this state is saved in the devices memory. This is why it is important to limit the number of screens with this parameter to avoid slowing down the course’s progression.

In addition, in SCORM 1.2, a limited number of characters are imposed for the “suspend data” (communication file sent to the LMS). The “Resume saved state” setting adds a great number of characters to the file since when the capsule is reopened, the LMS must remember every screen and layer with the setting “Resume saved state”.

When “suspend data” is full, features such as bookmarking and reviewing notes / states of completeness stop working.

Consider the following questions: Is it necessary for the training to remember the screen’s final state? If I go back to this screen, is it OK if the screen starts up from the beginning?

If this is not an issue, always choose the “Reset to initial state” to avoid filling up “suspend data” or the mobile device on which you watch the capsule.

This logic is also true for the layers within a screen (option accessible in “Revisits” section in layer properties).

“Allow seeking”… YES or NO?

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To have full control over your capsule, you should always set “Allow seeking” to YES or NO.

Therefore, the question is: How do you decide which setting to use, and when to use it?

To answer this question, we must first point out that this setting determines what the “seekbar” controls.

If the “Allow seeking” setting of a layer is set to YES, the seekbar, the “Play”/”Pause” button, and the “Replay” button will control this same layer (and not the base layer). By clicking “Replay” for example, the learner will restart the layer (and not the full screen).

If the “Allow seeking” setting is set to NO, the seekbar and its buttons will control the whole screen, which means that if a learner clicks on “Replay,” the whole screen will start over.

To decide between YES or NO, consider the following question: If the learner clicks “Replay,” what should happen? Does the full screen need to start over, or just the layer where the learner is located?

As a general rule, if there is narration in a layer, the “Allow seeking” parameter should be set to YES, which gives the learner control over the narration.

Summary

Finally, by configuring the capsule so that the software does not decide automatically which behaviour to adopt:

  • We have better control over the capsule.
  • We allow mobile devices to use their memory for other, larger tasks (and thus prevent unexpected errors).
  • We save valuable space in “suspend data” (particularly valid for SCORM 1.2), allowing the capsule to return the information to the LMS (state of completion, bookmarking, etc.).

By choosing the right option for the right situation, you will have better control over your capsule and will be able to avoid errors in your courses, whether on mobile devices or in an LMS.

Happy developing!

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