What we’ve got here is an Adobe Lab that you can download to convert your Captivate 5.5 SWF content to HTML5 for playback on devices that do not support Flash, such as the iPad or iPhone – cool! There are two links to example content on their post -
Image from Rapid eLearning Captivate blog
one with audio, one with interactions – to test out. Both of these worked pretty well for me on my iPad with just a few hiccups when I navigated back in the object. There are a few not-so-encouraging comments below the post of people who have downloaded the converter and are having trouble trying to convert their SWFs but I’m hoping these are just teething problems.
Anyway, I’m already a fan because it sounds like Adobe are really creating waves to make their legacy Flash content mobile-friendly. I like the image they attached to their post implying that this is the missing piece of the mobile learning puzzle. I cannot tell you how often we have clients asking how they can do exactly this, so it’s great to see it finally out the door.
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You may have already heard the news as the press release went out at the end of last week – Callidus Software (NASDAQ: CALD), the US Public company that acquired Litmos in June this year, has now also acquired award-winning eLearning authoring tool, Rapid Intake!
Rapid Intake offers up a suite of authoring products for developing online and mobile courses. While we’re very excited to work with our new friends, we’re really amped about their collaborative authoring tool, Unison, which drives to make content authoring a collaborative process.
From their website:
“Unison is a web-based solution that allows individuals and teams to collaboratively capture, storyboard, develop, review, test, and publish Flash-based courses, lessons, learning games, quizzes, tests, and more—without having to know Flash!”
Rapid Intake also offers a mobile authoring tool – mLearning Studio – that publishes course content to Flash and HTML5 formats for access via iPhone, iPad, Android and Blackberry. Very cool.
Well, all I can say is it’s ‘all go’ in the eLearning and mLearning industries right now!
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Hi there, Litmos community!
This week, we’re going to shift gears. Today’s post is the first of a multi-course feast.
In the coming weeks, we’ll talk about a guerrilla process for systems training. As internal or external training consultants, most of us know what it’s like to be understaffed (or over-committed), without a project manager, while facing a time crunch. A scoping/task analysis/design/development cycle can crawl along, especially with reviews and slippage.
I’m proposing that with a little front-end work and a tracking spreadsheet, it’s possible to compress some design/development steps by using Adobe Captivate as your task analysis tool — while you capture.
Consider this situation: You’ve been assigned to create eLearning for a new system. Deadlines are tight. You’re going to do task analysis. You’re sitting with a subject matter expert (SME), who is walking you through the steps of a system task. Question — would you rather make notes and create a flowchart in Visio, or would you rather capture a movie of what your SME did? I prefer movies to parallelograms and six-point text—I’m going with “movie.”
Using guerrilla strategy for task analysis:
Generates an immediate Captivate movie of each task.
Gives you an editable capture early in the process–if your SMEs actions are valid, you’re much closer to having your end product.
Saves (lots of) time—even if a SME is thinking on the-fly, this process is still ultimately faster than constructing and editing flowcharts. If you have to scrap/redo a few captures upon later review, so what? The additional time is limited compared to flowchart analysis and review.
Here’s a rough process for late-in-the-game, guerrilla systems training:
Choose broad content areas (identify modules).
Pick tasks that fit into those content areas (identify tasks).
Get sign-off on your module/lesson sequence, but allow your client some minor wiggle room (somebody always forgets a task; it’s OK).
Create your tracking spreadsheet (I call mine a capture log).
Identify who your SME is for each module and lesson.
Build a template for your lesson format and navigation elements (e.g. Intro/Show Me (demo)/Try It (interactive simulation)/Summary).
Track (in the spreadsheet) confidence levels for system build stability and current process.
Track your Show Me/Try It captures and edits.
Edit captures on your own time (i.e. without using your SME’s time).
Gather specific content for your intro/summary slides.
Guerrilla Finishing Up
Create your lessons: stitch together your intro, captures, and summary into one Captivate movie.
Receive your tiara or crown.
There are a few tricks to make this whole plan work:
Get comfortable enough with a simple process in Captivate to pull it off. When you’re sitting with your SME, you should be moving as confidently as you do in Microsoft Word. I’ll give you some hints in a future post about how to do this.
Build your spreadsheet at the beginning. This effort will save you from madness. I’ll show you an example of what to track, and how to track it.
Here’s the deal: A few years ago, I was subcontracting on a time-sensitive systems training project for a large hospital. I suggested the guerrilla process (It’s a movie!). I was politely, but firmly, told I was nuts. Well, now I’m running an eLearning project for another hospital—on the same system, with more travel, and even less time to completion. I’m doing it my way — in the weeks to follow I’m going to share guerrilla process with you, along with step-by-step examples and direction.
I want to clarify, refine, and build a case study for this process — so your comments are appreciated. Next time—a comparison of old school/new school processes, a look at simultaneous task analysis and capture with Captivate, and how to use your tracking spreadsheet to ward off evil spirits.
If you’re familiar at all with how to use multiple master slides in PowerPoint, you have some idea of how effective this function could be when creating eLearning.
Master slides are cool. You can reuse elements (like backgrounds and text boxes) without pasting them in over and over again. You can create multiple masters for different slide types (e.g. intro, body, summary).
Why should you really care? The payoff:
Master slides will save you time–massive amounts of time.
Master slides limit mistakes and rework.
Master slides allow you to direct your energy towards content; you won’t have to reinvent the wheel placing repeatable objects on each slide.
For example, I’ve been working on a delightful (and completely fictitious) course called Gaming 101. There are two main content areas (each with its own slide type): the odds for different casino games, and an etiquette guide for some of the world’s most sumptuous casino-hotels.
Throughout the course, I need to repeatedly create two types of slides to introduce chunks of content –so I’ve built two master slides:
Let’s take a look at our first master slide (the one we’ll be using for our discussion of the odds).
Everything you see is part of the slide master: the opaque yellow rectangle at the top, the semi-transparent rectangle at the bottom, the two text captions, the wholesome background image, etc.
Like in PowerPoint, you can name these masters. This one (our “odds” slide master) is called Fate: Body. As you would insert a new slide in PowerPoint with the desired name or layout, you can do something similar in Captivate 5–insert a slide and select what master to use from the Properties window (not shown, but it’s conveniently on top of you when you’re working in Captivate).
After inserting a new slide, we can add our slide-specific elements, such as additional text, graphics, and whatnot.
Here’s an example:We’ve added text to the right of our boilerplate, and an appropriate image (the roulette wheel). On the bottom, you can see stock Captivate image buttons for navigation.
Imagine if you had to do a slide like this for each game of chance. The master slide is an enormous time saver. You wouldn’t want endless repetition (i.e. 15 of these slides in a row), but you can use masters when repeatable elements make sense (such as introductory slides for each chunk of content).
Here’s an example of our Etiquette slide, master (top) and actual slide (bottom):
Pretty elemental stuff: we added the name of the place and the hotel (Macau; Lisboa), the buttons, and a picture of the hotel in question.
I would encourage you to learn master slides as you start using Captivate. This iteration of the software is terrific — you won’t have to deal with the heartbreak and baggage of a career spent without it.
Soon, we’ll look at some resources for learning more about Captivate: from Adobe and from the broad network of practitioners out there.
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¡Bienvenidos, Litmos community! Those of you tasked with converting your organization’s content into rapid eLearning — we’re looking at you.
Previous posts have looked at cross-functionality between Microsoft PowerPoint and Adobe Captivate. The relationship between PowerPoint and eLearning is like an up-and-down romance. PowerPoint brings some cool stuff to the table, but can often gain the upper hand and stifle eLearning creativity. Although importing existing PowerPoint into Captivate is a great way to get some rapid output into your LMS, the danger exists that your learners will see nothing but mediocre PowerPoint converted to Flash.
Round-trip editing and some re-engineering (in accordance with your eLearning philosophy) will help, but ultimately you may want to build from scratch within a tool such as Captivate or Articulate.
Working from scratch is daunting, but current rapid eLearning tools allow you to re-use objects and create templates. We’re not going to create detailed feature tutorials (there are plenty out there). Our goal is to emphasize specific features that scale well and lead to process efficiencies. That sounds dull—we’ll show you things that allow you to get shiny eLearning up and running.
The specter of PowerPoint looms, in the sense that there’s often an analogous function baked into an eLearning tool. One of the strengths of PowerPoint is its way of handling master slides. The slide master is an element of the design template that stores information about the template, including font styles, background design, and color schemes.
If you’ve never done it, you can create multiple master slides in PowerPoint, which is a huge time-saver. Create and name master slides (like an intro slide, a body slide, a recap slide, etc.) with your design elements. Insert new slides based on the desired layout, add text an images, and boom—quick presentation.
The point is that Adobe Captivate 5 has an excellent master slide function as well. You can work with masters much as you would in PowerPoint, but with features slanted towards your eLearning philosophy. Simply create a new master slide from the Insert menu, and you can begin to customize re-usable slides for different parts of your course. You can label the slide (Intro, Body, Summary, etc.) and add elements: text captions, rollover captions, rollover images, highlight boxes, text animations, widgets, images, animations, and even video (as FLV or FLV4 files).
Master slides are a huge time-saver. In Part II, we’ll detail a quick process for creating and using master slides in a Captivate 5 project.
Of course, life in the fast lane isn’t all systems training. Many people ask how to leverage existing non-technical content from their organization. Let’s talk about this issue—with an enthralling magic bullet and the inevitable soul-crushing caveats.
I’m amazed at how often someone tells me that their organization’s knowledge, skills, and attitudes are sitting there in a bunch of PowerPoint presentations, just waiting to be extracted for juicy eLearning modules. The proposition isn’t that simple, so a tactical approach to usingthis content is helpful.
First, let’s consider what Captivate can do for you if you have a great deal of existing PowerPoint content.Here’s how Adobe puts it in the help file:
“You can import and edit Microsoft PowerPoint presentations in Adobe Captivate. Imported slides can be edited in a Microsoft PowerPoint environment from within Adobe Captivate. You can choose to link to the source PowerPoint presentation to keep it in sync with the Adobe Captivate project.”
What does all of this mean? First, it’s easy to import a PowerPoint presentation (or individual slides) into a Captivate file. Hint: this is the magic bullet (note: you can also start a new Captivate project from a PowerPoint).
Second, you can link up your PowerPoint presentation with the corresponding Captivate file and perform round-trip editing; the Captivate platform is smart enough to help maintain any edits in both files. This function is deceptively powerful: it will help you maintain version control (and your sanity).
Also, you can update PowerPoint presentation changes made outside Adobe Captivate. Time-saver: you can send the PowerPoint file to a subject matter expert for a sanity-check or updates. After the file is returned, you can use the synchronization function within Captivate to maintain the integrity of the content. In the old world, you would have had to go through an iterative process with lots of emails, gnashing of teeth, and general frustration.
The point is that you can get a lot of content into usable eLearning format pretty quickly. The trouble is that you can’t just convert PowerPoint into eLearning and usher in a new golden age. You’re going to have to tweak stuff. Here come the caveats, veiled threats, and suggestions.
Posted by Jason Willensky on . There have been 1 comment.
Greetings, global citizens of the Litmos eLearning community!
Last time—we talked about authoring tools, and we answered a few common questions about Adobe Captivate 5 and Articulate Studio ’09. As we dive more deeply, we’ll look at the strengths of each platform. This week, we’ll begin our analysis of Adobe Captivate 5.
To clear up a question, you can acquire Captivate 5 in two ways. First, it’s available as a stand-alone program, for $799.00 USD (or $299.00 USD for a qualified upgrade).
Second, Adobe Captivate 5 is available as part of Adobe’s eLearning Suite 2 ($1799.00 USD, or starting at $599.00 USD for a qualified upgrade). The eLearning Suite combines some of Adobe’s best offerings for eLearning (e.g.. Captivate 5) with elements of its powerful Creative Suite.
If you have the budget, consider Adobe eLearning Suite 2. It’s a beast—the package contains Captivate 5, Flash Professional, Dreamweaver® CS5, Photoshop CS5 Extended, Acrobat® 9 Pro, Presenter 7, Soundbooth CS5, Bridge CS5, and Device Central CS5. You’ll probably get your money’s worth from Captivate, Soundbooth, and Photoshop alone. If you already have some of these programs, it probably makes more sense just to add applications a la carte.
As the weeks go by, we’ll look at different feature sets. As we’ve said before Captivate 5 is a loaded eLearning solution that works beautifully as a blank canvas. You can perform layout magic and manipulate fonts, graphics, and animations. You can go quick ‘n’ dirty (but cool) with Captivate’s stock functions, or get crazy and be elaborate.
For now, though, let’s look at Captivate’s magic bullet: screen recording. Imagine you’re in charge of creating eLearning to take your people through a new system (a pretty common situation). If you have to design and develop eLearning for systems, there’s no rapid development tool quite like Captivate.
The image above is from a sample on Adobe’s site. With Captivate’s autorecording modes, you can go in one, two, or three different ways:
Demonstration mode (“show me”): Records what’s going on on-screen, but with no user interaction in the Flash movie output. Useful to get your learners oriented to a process or user interface (or just to show them how cool your new system is). Captivate automatically adds text captions that label what’s happening.
Training simulation mode (“try it”): Captivate automatically adds click boxes, text entry boxes, and feedback (failure/hint captions). Your learner can interact and perform within the simulation.
Assessment simulation mode (“test me”): The click boxes and text entry boxes are there, but the feedback isn’t. You can actually assess your learner’s ability to use the system.
Here’s the kicker: you can rig Captivate to capture in all three modes at the same time. You don’t have to capture three different times; separate output is available for all three modes.
There is also a custom mode available that allows you to create hybrid “demo-sims.” You can use your imagination as you get more comfortable.
Think about it. If you’re short on time, you can take your learner through a rapidly-built “show me-try it-test me” process that actually requires them to perform in a closely simulated environment before they have to go live.
Is it perfect? No way. You’ll need to polish your captures before you publish. Don’t worry: it’s fairly easy to edit the text captions, straighten/speed up the mouse pointer, and make sure the timing is correct. Still, it’s remarkable how quickly you get get something effective to your learners.
The output is also SCORM-compliant, and can be tracked easily by an LMS (such as Litmos). We’ll soon look at ways to use Captivate with your LMS, but here’s a teaser: Captivate’s Advanced Interaction screen allows you to set or disable tracking/scoring/reporting for every action your learner takes.
If you have mission-critical systems training (like financial or electronic medical records), you may want to know how your learners perform on a click-by-click basis. If you don’t want to look under the microscope, you can just track whether or not they’ve looked at parts of the course. It’s your call. Talk to your Litmos team about how to use Captivate output with the Litmos system.
Tip: There’s lots of great conversation about Captivate on Twitter. According to soon-to-be Adobe eLearning Evangelist RJ Jacquez (@rjacquez), a good bet is to search for and use the #AdobeCaptivate hashtag. If you’re new to Twitter and hashtags, here’s a Captivate demo from RJ on how to add a column on TweetDeck for the #AdobeCaptivate hashtag (how meta!).
We’ll look more deeply at Captivate 5 and look at its feature set (this version, for instance, allows you to set up master slides much as PowerPoint does). We’re also going to look at Articulate Studio ’09 and its own magic bullet(s). Stay tuned!
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Hello, Litmos community! For those of you tasked with making an organizational transition to eLearning, we salute you—in all your overworked glory.
In a previous post, we emphasized the point about having an eLearning philosophy (and standards) in place to encourage you to begin at the beginning. Tools change and evolve. You will probably master multiple platforms. Your personnel may come and go. Nevertheless, the philosophy you adopt and build will work across tools, and can be shared with different people.
We’re going to shift our focus to rapid eLearning authoring tools. Most of our attention will be on two industry heavyweights: Adobe Captivate 5 and Articulate Studio ’09. Nothing against excellent tools like Raptivity or (cloud-based) Udutu, we’re just thinking about what our broader audience is likely to use.
What to look for
As an organizational learning person, you probably have lots of source material (often PowerPoint presentations) to convert. Here are some questions you might want to ask when investigating authoring tools:
What does the software look like?
Captivate 5 operates (primarily) as a stand-alone tool. Articulate Studio ’09 has several components—the typical user scenario involves using these components from an additional ribbon tab within Microsoft PowerPoint 2007 and higher.
Can I work with existing PowerPoint presentations?
Captivate allows you to import PowerPoint presentations and even perform “round-trip” edits back to PowerPoint source files—you can keep the files in sync. This feature is useful if you work with subject matter experts (SMEs) who can use PowerPoint but not Captivate. Articulate components, as we mentioned, are typically accessed within PowerPoint via an Articulate ribbon tab.
Can I create good-looking output from scratch?
Yes—both Captivate and Articulate function beautifully as a blank canvas. You can:
–create text captions.
–import graphic elements.
–control sizing and layout.
What about learning interactions?
Both Captivate and Articulate feature ways to incorporate Flash-based interactivity (no programming knowledge required). As we talk further about tools, you’ll learn about creating learner interactions, judiciously using animation, and building quizzes.
Many users need to create systems training. Captivate got its start as a Macromedia product called RoboDemo—it made its bones as a simulation tool, and it’s one of the great strengths of the program. You can create demonstrations, interactive simulations, and even hands-on assessments.
Articulate is often used in concert with other tools (such as Captivate or TechSmith’s Camtasia) to create a simulation environment.
If Captivate handles simulations as well, why would I want to use it with Articulate?
It’s subjective, but many people swear by the gorgeous output from Articulate. Inserting a simulation built in Captivate gives you the best features of each tool.
Do these tools play ball with my LMS?
Always check with your LMS vendor, but both Captivate and Articulate are SCORM-compliant. Litmos customers: ask the team any questions you might have about compatibility.
We’re going to look at these tools in detail. Next post: a look at Adobe Captivate’s features, and how to think about them from an organizational perspective.
Posted by Jason Willensky on . There have been 2 comments.
Greetings, worldwide Litmos community!
This was going to be a post on the nuts and bolts of Adobe Captivate, but… it’s not. A few people have asked me what I meant by choosing aneLearning philosophy (subtle, gently probing, questions like “What are you talking about, fool?”). OK,” philosophy” was a bit grandiose. We, the people of Litmos, are nothing like these four guys you see at left.
Philosophy? The idea is to pick an initial set of guidelines or principles for development. As long as these guidelines are clear, valid, tested, and learner-centric, it almost doesn’t matter what you choose. The idea is to pick a set of rules and get started. Let’s talk about it.
OK, you’re ready to strap on your jetpack and visit the fantastic world of eLearning. You’ve identified content that’s sitting there in old PowerPoint decks, PDFs, and whatnot. You’ve fielded crazy training requests from stakeholders in other units. What’s next? Get an authoring tool? Fun! No—that’s not it. Stop.
Think before you play with authoring tools. Keep this (not genuine) Zen paradox in mind: it’s not about the tool—it’s about the learner. It doesn’t matter what tool you’re using. By thinking ahead about the look and feel of your eLearning, you can take your practices and use ‘em with any authoring tool. You can also use them across different delivery platforms, such as mLearning for mobile devices.
Did you read your Ruth Clark? No? OK, we’ll let you cheat. Here’s an article from Learning Solutions magazine that encapsulates Dr. Clark’s six main principles.
Get these six principles down in advance, and you will save yourself a lot of heartache and revision.
There are plenty of ideas that work, but starting with a sound philosophy— and being consistent with it— will put you (and your projects) on the fast track. If you choose another set of principles, fine. Just pick something. I chose the Clark principles as an example because so many practitioners I respect have used them for years. It’s a great, concise set of guidelines.
Why do I say “it’s not about the tool?” Consider Dr. Clark’s contiguity principle: at its heart, this principle states that “placing text near graphics improves learning.” You can, and should, do that sort of thing with any authoring tool you use—Captivate, Articulate, Raptivity, etc.
As we talk about tools, and as you experiment, keep your basic principles in mind. These principles will also help you evaluate tools to see if they are appropriate for what you need to do. With a set of guidelines, you will also set the tone if you bring in or mentor other developers.
Without these principles and guidelines, you will have to reinvent your plan of attack from project to project, and from developer to developer. This process would be as futile as trying to dunk a basketball on a giraffe (hat tip to eLearning wizard Tracy Parish, aka @hamtra, for the metaphor).
We’re going to talk extensively about authoring tools, but I hope you take this piece to heart. No matter what tool you use, no matter what medium you develop for (mLearning, anyone?), you have to have some basic guidelines in place.
Next time: We talk about authoring tools.
Bonus question: Can you identify the painting at the beginning of this post?
Posted by Jason Willensky on . There have been no comments.
Let me wish you a happy and productive new year from the Litmos blogging team! It’s time to continue with our occasional manifesto on how to bring eLearning to your organization (and maximize the use of your LMS). This is a food-for-thought post on authoring tools.
Many Litmos clients (and others tasked with magically converting an organization’s assets into eLearning) struggle with process at the outset. There is a seemingly endless stream of information, and quite a high percentage is good information. Nevertheless, making a choice is difficult. In our last post, we took a look at how to resist the tyranny of choice and begin to approach (attack?) your organization’s content.
An immediate suggestion was to devise an approach to eLearning (using maybe one or two sources from books, from noted practitioners, or from courses or workshops) that appeals to you, and base your initial design/development guidelines on that approach. You will always have time to refine and expand your organizational philosophy—the important thing is to get started.
Getting started often means choosing an authoring tool. There are stand-alone tools. There are tools that function as plug-ins. There are screen capture tools. There are cloud based-tools. That tyranny-of-choice thing is going to pop up again. Newly minted organizational eLearning gurus and neophyte instructional designers are often paralyzed by one-best-way thinking; with so many tools in the
marketplace, where to start?
Here’s an idea: Jane Hart, founder of the Centre for Learning & Performance Technologies (C4LPT), has put together an excellent directory of learning tools. In addition to the heavyweights (e.g. Articulate and Captivate) the directory includes some fantastic task-specific tools like Jing that can make life a lot easier. Check the directory out. Bookmark it. Think about what you need to do (PowerPoint conversion? Simulation? Screen capture?). Consider this–there doesn’t need to be a single solution. Many of these tools complement each other.
After you’ve come up with guidelines for your eLearning approach (Look and feel? Use of audio? Level of interactivity?), you can start experimenting with authoring tools. If you haven’t adopted principles from a source like e-Learning and the Science of Instruction, this is an excellent time to do so. You’ll save yourself a lot of time and pain later on.
At the beginning, you may want to choose a tool that provides muscle (different ways to create input, Flash output) and a great deal of flexibility. Two giants of the industry are Adobe Captivate and Articulate Studio ’09. If you are taking an organizational lead, I strongly recommend experimenting with these tools. Both are available as full-featured demos, and you should be able to master the essentials very quickly. Here’s why these tools are a good place to start:
1. Both allow you to work effectively with existing PowerPoint files, yet both are an excellent blank canvas for scratch projects.
Captivate allows import of PP presentations (and round-trip editing).
Articulate Presenter is integrated with PowerPoint itself (see below).
2. Both have extraordinary support communities (soon, we’ll be looking at these resources in greater detail).
3. Both allow you to judiciously add interactivity and graphic elements (buttons, arrows, quiz interactions, etc.) to static material with ease.
4. These tools come from stable, well-staffed companies. If you invest in either (or both), you will likely see long-term support and improvements.
In the coming weeks, we’ll take a look at both of these tools in greater detail. They are by no means your only options, but using them will help you get moving. The key is to practice and use those guidelines you’ve developed.