Updated: Sep 15
Developing the ultimate experience for learners and instructors alike has been the focal point of developing curricula for best retention and memory recall. Various web-based and application-based technologies have become more prevalent recently, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic. With distance learning, instructors and learners have to shift gears in how instruction is given and received. Technology companies began investing in remote technologies such as Discord and Slack for communications, e-Learning being created in applications such as Articulate and Captivate while being housed in various Learning Management Systems such as Google Classroom, Canvas, and Blackboard. For an educator or trainer looking for cost-effective ways of creating learning practical learning experiences, sometimes those low to no-cost options can become the introduction to leading technologies used in the curriculum development industry. Here we discuss three low-cost resources, some of their expensive, industry-level counterparts, and their ease of use and accessibility.
Developing the right tools to complement the instruction can enhance the learning experience. Most importantly, it is also beneficial to understand the learner's personality to ensure that they are engaged in a way that their personality leans. For instance, Kocadere and Caglar (2018) identify that a learner's personality type is connected to the gamer type and motivations. This study identified the motivating mechanics of a game that lead to four primary gamer types. Once established, it would make identifying the right tool for the learners much more accessible. There are several paid and free applications that can do just that. More formal and expensive options would be applications like Adobe Captivate and Suites, Camtasia, and Articulate Storyline and Rise. However, starting with free options is the way to dabble in gamification and complementary tools for instruction. So I looked at a few web-based and program applications with paid or no upfront costs. The applications are Jeopardy Labs, Quizizz, and ThingLink, compared to their industry counterparts.
This web-based application is entertaining to use. I came across it last year looking for something to test my child's knowledge of the weather since it was his primary focus at that time. Overall the experience was easy to put together once you figured out how to use it. The website is free to use. To access your created game, you must create a password to edit your template. There is a lifetime membership fee of $20 if you want to create a game where you can embed images, videos, and other media to enhance the experience. Roblyer and Hughes (2019) discuss using games like Jeopardy Labs can be used to reflect meaningful challenges. In addition, jeopardy Labs have other mini-game generator features such as Bingo cards and word searches. Roblyer and Hughes (2019) also warn about making the objectives trivial and redundant. While doing these small activities, allow the learner to engage with the objectives actively.
Schunk (2020) discusses how in a Constructivist mindset, students take ownership of their learning provided they are given proper feedback. If you are short on time and looking for a quick game to test your learner's knowledge, the website has a bank of community-created games covering various subjects. Jeopardy Labs is best suited as part of either face-to-face instruction or during a live broadcast over a conferencing tool such as Slack, Zoom, and Discord. Click here for my tutorial on creating and interacting with the Jeopardy Board.
If you want to view my Jeopardy Game on Multiplication, click here.
Quizziz and Quizlet
As a student, I love flashcard-style applications, primarily on the go. Quizziz is one of those applications that can enhance student engagement when they want to learn various concepts. Quizziz can be accessed online through a web browser or by downloading the application through the Apple Appstore and Google Play. This application from the student's perspective can be easy depending on how well the lesson's author understands and implements the necessary mechanics for proper feedback. For instance, I tried a French numbers review quiz someone had made. Unfortunately, the author did not provide instant feedback for verbal practice or was unable to choose the correct answer. So for this particular quiz, it would work for in-person learning where the instructor would be the one to provide feedback.
Some of the other quizzes had these features turned on, where feedback could be provided to the learner. The cost to use is a free trial for in-person or small groups. However, with fees such as $25/month ($300/annually billed) or $48/month ($576/annually billed), instructors can assign these quizzes and experiences asynchronously and through learning management systems (LMS) such as Google Classroom. Another alternative is Quizlet, where students can create flashcards and share them with others. I like having Quizlet on the go as well as a free application. The paid version (around $35/quarter) can be a quiz for live and asynchronous learning.
ThingLink and Articulate Storyline/Rise
ThingLink is an exciting program. If you are looking for a basic version of Adobe Captivate or Articulate Storyline/Rise, this would be it. ThingLink has similar authoring features such as 3D modeling, virtual tours, and even worksheet generators. ThingLink has a connection to another application called Canva, which employs graphic design and infographic tutorials that can be linked and uploaded to ThingLink for publishing on Canvas Learning Management systems. ThingLink is excellent for ease of use and general tutorials on producing products that can lead to industrial applications such as Adobe Captivate and Articulate Storyline.
Regarding price, depending on which plan you use, ThingLink can range from free trials to $4 or $8/per user per month ($48-$76 billed annually). Click here for more information on what features are available for their pricing plans. For example, as a student, Storyline runs $450 per year, and Adobe Captivate is billed $35 per month; both programs run similar features to ThingLink.
One of the more exciting applications in ThingLink is virtual tours using the Augmented Reality (AR) tools. You can load interactive maps from Google Earth and be able to traverse through a location without leaving the classroom. For example, Schrum and Sumerfield (2018) highlighted a program through Cincinnati Public Schools where students can do grade-specific activities through a virtual tour of the Smithsonian Museum and present on other topics to get students used to using technologies as well as developing public speaking skills for when the learner gets older. Baabdullah et al. (2022) look at the empirical evidence of using AR in e-learning and identify AR as a form of observational learning, and the learner's use of AR can enhance the various objectives it intends to support by learning within their physical and digital environments.
With the increased usage of technologies in the classroom, it is vital to note that technologies and e-learning, in general, are a tool to assist in delivering and assessing retention of instruction. Instructors need to understand that some e-learning tools and techniques may work with some students and won't work with others. Mayer (2017) discusses how using a multimedia source engages the senses of sight and sound, leading to working memory and long-term memory and retention. Understanding this basic principle allows the curriculum developer to identify the right resource for the right learners, then be there to guide and clarify. E-Learning should not eliminate the need for an instructor at all. Instructors are still needed to guide the learner through the experience of knowledge acquisition.
Baabdullah, A. M., Alsulaimani, A. A., Allamnakhrah, A., Alalwan, A. A., Dwivedi, Y. K., & Rana, N. P. (2022). Usage of augmented reality (AR) and development of e-learning outcomes: An empirical evaluation of students' e-learning experience. Computers and Education, 177, 104383. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.compedu.2021.104383
Kocadere, S. A., & Caglar, S. (2018). Gamification from player type perspective: A case study. Educational Technology & Society, 21(3), 12-22.
Mayer, R. E. (2017). Using multimedia for e‐learning. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 33(5), 403-423. https://doi.org/10.1111/jcal.12197
Roblyer, M. D., & Hughes, J. E. (2019). Integrating educational technology into teaching: transforming learning across disciplines. New York: Pearson Education, Inc.
Schrum, L. & Sumerfield, S. (2018). Learning supercharged: digital age strategies and insights from the edtech frontier. International Society for Technology in Education.
Schunk, D. (2020). Learning theories: An educational perspective (8th ed.). Pearson.