I'm looking to create a new 'coffe break' area onto our Learning Intranet site, to both draw our people in, and to add some learning at the same time - I'm thinking work and non work related, things like Lateral Thinking puzzles, sudoku, jigsaws, quizzes, games etc. Has anyone had any experience with this type of thing, I could do with some software recommendations and any other feedback you might have on the subject?
If you want bespoke and want to create bits and pieces yourself there are many free ware sites available. If you have a budget then Captivate is a good place to start as you can build in scenarios, add video and quizes. If you don't want to think about designing games etc. and want to use a very good template programme I would use Raptivity. Both Captivate and Raptivity have SCORM capacity.
We use software called inquizitor from http://www.3mrt.com. It is aimed at education but you can create your own quizzes.
In Brief you answer multiple choice questions - building up time to play a retro space invaders type game (if i remember there are several different games). As you progress through you can build in more difficulty to the quiz ie more answers to choose from. The questions are randomised.
Like everyone else Flash and Captivate are okay, but there is nothing stopping you from creating quizes using html with buttons leading to write and wrong answers, or through a story.
What we have found and it is worth concidering is that Captivate is restrictive for designing lessons with lots of interaction, and we have been caught out a few times when we have created a lesson in captivate, and then designed an interactive element in flash to find that captivate does not support it. (When designing using action script).
I would think about getting the whole adobe package of flash, fireworks, dreamweaver for creating and designing your lessons. Get captivate for designing quick linear lessons.
Most software have trials so it may be worth trying them all out to see what you think.
I would echo Stuart Bailey's comments and look at Flash if you have the in house skills as it will need a bit of actionscript. If not then this is the cheapest and most cost effective way of doing something bespoke.
I think that all games have educational value if used in the right context and way. The advantage of getting something made or writing it for yourself is that you can company brand the puzzles, add key company language/topics to puzzles and add things like leaderboards which reinforce replay value and usually makes someone look at the materials more than once...but also don't rule out the benefit of pure play.
I must say I am biased here as I have a company called Game Based Learning...but if you take a look at the simple game we have on a link from the front page of our website you would get an idea of how you can customise/brand simple games for your own purposes.
If you need to know a little more please let me know, as there are some quite wide ranging strategies that can be used for taking the good elements of games techniques and using them with learning materials.
Thanks all for your answers - unfortunately we already use all the software mentioned to good effect to create 'tests' and 'quizzes' of huge variety - mulitple choice, drag and drop type things etc. My main query was relating to software for actual puzzles i.e. as Nigel mentioned, 'pure play', but I wanted them to be quite mentally stretching/stimulating. Recently I came across a site called pansophix.com - they have a section on their site inside their Learning Resource section called 'Mental Gymnasium' and it contains 3 very simple (in concept) but hard to complete games - exactly what I was after. I managed to copy the code from source (turns out they used some freeware to create it some yrs ago, but must have had a mare trying to delete all the unneccessary complicated code the creator had included to put people off using it!). I'm now using that code to create the games for our site. Thanks again for all your contributions - Nigel, I'll take a look at your site later today :-)
I did lots of this stuff for corporates. Be careful - it has to be meaningful and there's probably better stuff out there on the web. I did have some success with general knowledge quizzes on kiosks for Barclays,w here different parts of the country played each other and a league formed. It was a mix of general knowledge and company/product knowledge. Competitive and fun.
By far the bets and most powerful tool is Caspian's ThinkingWorlds, now being used in education, government, defence and coportaes to do real 'games' learning, not just puzzles - truly amazing tool.
We have used Action Mazes using Quandary which is 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".
Action mazes can be used for many purposes, including approaches to problem-solving, diagnosis, procedural and process training. All of these types of use can be easier to understand by example than they are to explain. There are some examples at http://www.halfbakedsoftware.com/quandary/version_2/examples/. The examples are quite simplistic but give you an idea of what you can do. The software is quite easy to use, the development of the action maze is only as difficult as the situation you are creating one for. We have developed a very useful spreadsheet for the process of creating action mazes which I could discuss with you.