Friday, October 31, 2003

Quandry Looks Promising For Developing Interactive Case Studies

I came across a relatively inexpensive shareware product (lite version is free...full version is only $50) last week that I think would have potential for use in developing web-based interactive case studies. It is called "Quandry" from HalfBaked Software (don't let the name fool you).

"Quandary is an application for creating Web-based Action Mazes. An Action Maze is a kind of interactive case-study; the user is presented with a situation, and a number of choices as to a course of action to deal with it. On choosing one of the options, the resulting situation is then presented, again with a set of options. Working through this branching tree is like negotiating a maze, hence the name 'Action Maze'."

The product offers not only a decision tree type structure but also has transactional capabilities that you can incorporate into the exercise such as resource management, item inventories, etc. Some of the new features in version 2 include:

Assets can now have decimal place settings.

Transactions can add, subtract, multiply, divide and do other complex math with asset values.

Exercises can have timers.

Web output no longer depends on frames.

Exercises can be uploaded to www.hotpotatoes.net, and student results and actions can be stored.

New Wizards can be used to create some basic interaction types such as multiple-choice questions.

Unicode support allows the use of languages such as Japanese and Russian directly in the interface.

Transactions can now be added in three places: on ENTRY to a decision point, on a LINK (as before), and on EXIT from a decision point. This gives more flexibility in the structuring of complex mazes, and reduces the need to duplicate transactions in many places.

At this time Version 2 is available only for the Windows platform. It also requires browsers which fully support W3C standards (such as Internet Explorer 6 and Netscape 7). Version 1 is available for both Windows and Mac and is compatible with all browsers released within the last 5 years.

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