Well, I am going to go out on a limb here and offer some thoughts on branching…
This is one of those areas that has many avenues of approach and I offer nothing more than my own methodology. I make no grand claims and the few that I might make are pragmatic in nature. Due to the broad nature of this topic, I am happy to hear how others go about designing their branching scenarios.
This post is born out of a large conversation on how to setup some branching where some content is shared between different types of learners. I hope that this post helps many of you to visualize the workflow a little bit better and help grasp how the navigation part of it is built. The branching we find in this demo is what I would consider low level branching since it is void of any complex navigation based on decisions made by the learner. It is a relatively linear progression with next and previous buttons.
The demo is made up of a total of 10 slides as follows…
- Title slide with two types of entry to the learning – unvalidated and validated
- Content page 1 – a shared content page
- Content page 2 – a shared content page
- Content page 3 – a shared content page
- Content page 4 – a shared content page
- Content page 5 – a shared content page – but the final one for non-managers
- Content page 6 – a content page for managers only
- Content page 7 – a content page for managers only
- Content page 8 – a content page for managers only – the last content page for managers
- Final slide
Each content slide has a NEXT and PREVIOUS button for navigation. The criteria is just that if you are a manager, you see all the slides but if you are a non-manager, you only get to see seven of the slides. The concept of course can be easily extended to any number of slides.
Content slides have a START OVER button to return to the first page.
Content slides also have an indicator of the status of the branch as being manager or non-manager
The demo also has two variables.
manager – this variable has a value of either 0 or 1 so that we know which rules to follow. Default value = 0
empNumber – this is the variable for the text entry box on the validated side of the demo. Default value = 0
Title Slide – Non-validated
On the left side is the non-validated entry system. Basically the user clicks on the manager or non-manager button based on whatever category they fall under. There are no checks here. We have no way to determine if the learner is being honest and nothing prevents a non-manager from viewing the manager material. This would seem an issue if there is any sort of sensitive materials.
The manager button executes an advanced action which does three things
- Sets the manager variable to 1
- changes the state of the status indicator to manager
- Takes the learner to the next slide
The non-manager button does nothing more than take the user to the next slide. Defaults are to non-manager so no other changes are necessary.
Title Slide – Validated
On the right side is the validated entry system. Here, the user must enter their employee number. Assuming that users do not know the numbers of other employees, this might be considered a little more secure but nothing prevents someone from using someone else’s employee number to gain access to the manager information. Once the number is entered, they can click the Start Training button.
OK – so there is a gazillion ways to go here, pick your poison. You would need to go with something that is realistic and feasible for your organization. If you have 1000 employees, this might not be the best way to validate because the backside could get messy.
Here we have the Start Training button execute some conditional actions.
- IF empNumber is 87152 then we set manager to 1, change the status indicator to manager, and goto the next slide
- ELSE IF empNumber is 56993 then we just move forward
- ELSE we display an error box indicating that the number is not in the system.
A content slide that is shared by both groups.
We add the NEXT button which does nothing more than go to the next slide. We also see the START OVER button appear which will reset the variables and take the learner back to the title slide. You should notice the green status indicator at bottom center which will display whether you are on the manager or non-manager track.
Slides 3 – 5
Same as Slide 2 but with the addition of the PREVIOUS button that does nothing more than back up a slide.
This is the final content slide for learners identified as non-managers. The only real change here is the behavior of the NEXT button. Here we place a conditional action that checks the status of the manager variable.
IF manager = 1 then go to slide 7
ELSE goto slide 10
These three slides are the same as slide two with the exception that a non-manager would not see them.
This is the final slide and would be seen by both groups. The NEXT button goes away since there isn’t a next slide to go to anyway. The PREVIOUS button, however performs a conditional action.
IF manager = 1 then goto slide 9
ELSE goto slide 6
This is because we don’t want the non-managers to go back and see the manager stuff.
In my opinion, having a strong sense of your pathways and logic is essential. I like to map out my branches so I can see the flow because branching scenarios can get complex very quickly and overwhelm you. The map helps to keep me from getting lost.
Here is the link to the working demo.
Feel free to ask any questions you may have.
Now available online