Designing Predicaments Step 1: the outline

Thanks to everyone who’s downloaded my new scenarios job aid and especially to those who’ve given me positive comments and suggestions for improvements. Keep them coming.

One thing that a couple of people have asked for is to clarify how you’d use it for a more complex scenario, where the result of the decision is another decision. I’ll address that in a blog post and work it into version 2.

For the next few posts I’m going to go through the 14 steps in a bit more detail.  Some posts will cover more than one step, but today I’m looking at Step 1.

Step 1 offers a formula for the initial outline of a scenario decision:

Given a story where ….
… the learner will make the choice to …
… because (this is the key learning point) …
… with the result that …

Just to make life harder for myself – sorry, just to Work Out Loud – I used a tool that’s new to me called Tawe. I’ll share some thoughts on it later.


First impressions of Tawe

First of all the name. That puzzled me.  Is it ‘taww’ or ‘tawwy’ or what?  When I watched the intro video on the How Tawe Works page of the site, I got it – it’s supposed to sound like ‘tour’.  Well that works in the southern English accent, but not in others and certainly not in mine!  I say ‘toooorrrr’ 🙂

It’s supposed to be simple and the simplicity was both tempting and frustrating. The idea is you create an image which contains all the graphics you want to present, with some sort of connection implied, either by layout or explicitly with arrows or a comic strip approach. You then direct the ‘camera’ to pan from one part to another or zoom in and out. You do this by using the mouse in a certain way and clicking an icon every time you want the camera to rest somewhere.

Here’s how I found it and what I’d do differently. It may be that by doing it in a hurry I’ve overlooked information given by the Tawe people.

  • I originally wanted to do it as a cartoon graphic with sketches, but having decided to use my iPad to sketch on, it took too long to transfer images to my PC, edit them in Illustrator and put them onto the main canvas.
  • One big problem I hit was I had no idea what size my canvas should be. My first version sat in the middle of the Tawe like a tiny icon because I’d made the canvas too big.  The final image size I used, after trial and error was 600 x 480. There’s no documentation or how-to that I could find other than the one video I’ve mentioned already
  • Having made my image, reluctantly thrown together from my familiar collection of photos, I then had the voiceover to do. I thought I’d be able to record it separately in my own audio software and attach it to the Tawe but I couldn’t. It seems you have to record it directly into Tawe while directing the camera. This was too much like multitasking for me. Each time I’d nearly reached the end, I hesitated or coughed or the phone rang and I had to start the whole process from scratch. If it was possible to restart halfway I couldn’t see that.  And once it’s in you can’t edit the audio. I wanted to edit out the hestitations and parts when I went into my normal, hostage-negotiation-boring speaking voice, and then add an unobtrusive musical backing, but it seems you can’t do that
  • I’m sure the rationale for that is to make it sound like a live talk. Fine but if you’re presenting it to people as a resource, you still will want to edit it a little. Another learning point for me was my script.  At first I’d pretty much scripted it. But I found that I couldn’t scroll the script (in a separate window) at the same time as talking at the same time as directing the camera. I didn’t want to work from a printed script as that involved more eye movement that looking from one monitor to the other (I have dual monitors) so I abandoned my full script and used bullet points.  Where it worked, it made for a better, more personal-sounding voiceover but, as I said, I’d have preferred to be able to edit the audio. What really annoyed me was having to then listen to it in order to slowly type up a transcript (because that’s what we do, right?).  Speaking from bullet points had, of course, changed what I said quite a lot. Next time I’ll use a script and find a way to use it so I only have to write it once.

I may use Tawe again – the simplicity of it is appealing, but the amount of rework to get a good recording isn’t.  I’d like to use a cartoon that I’ve drawn next time rather than stock photos. We’ll see. Have a look at the tool and see what you think. I got it free as part of my licence for Videoscribe (which I’ve never yet used in earnest) but you can try it free.





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