Getting Familiar with Adobe Captivate

Adobe Captivate IconI’m currently trying to dive into Adobe® Captivate®. As always, Adobe TV provides a couple of great tutorial videos for beginners. You should have a look at all videos relating to Adobe Captivate. However, I have found that once again a couple of videos are not enough to really learn something about a software. Of course you will have to work with the software itself—that’s out of the question. But a nice way to begin is to have some didactical structure behind the number of videos provided, which Adobe TV somehow lacks. There is a show called Rapidly Create and Update which features most of the episodes that will be listed in the following, however, the focus of that is quite different: It’s simply advertisement. I can understand that there are so many people with different backgrounds that picking a sequence seems to be a hard choice.

In this post I will try to structure some of the videos provided into a sequence that helped me getting to terms with Captivate and hopefully this sequence will be of value for others. I also tried to annotate the videos a bit to hint at things that—for me—where particularly important.

Disclaimer: All screenshots in this post are © Adobe Systems Inc. Unfortunately, there is no way of including Adobe TV videos directly in a WordPress.com blog (yet). Thus, videos are only referenced as a link. Click on the video screenshots for the videos themselves. Also, hopefully it is not a problem that the screenshots are in German.

1. First Steps

Adobe Captivate is an application that is supposed to rapidly create e-learning content, whatever that is in particular (but this is a discussion that should take place somewhere else). It basically starts with recordings of things that you do on your computer (e.g. a screencast or presentation, the same that you can do with applications like Camtasia Studio etc.) and you are able to add other elements on the go of afterwards. You might end up creating fully fledged learning modules in the end. After starting Captivate 5.5 you will find a screen asking you what you want to do:

Adobe Captivate Start Screen

Adobe Captivate Start Screen

The fastest way to create something of value for your students might be to simply record the things that you do on your screen. Thus, Adobe TV provides a thorough explanation of what Captivate enables you to do.

Video 1: Screen Recording and Software Simulation

Video 1: Screen Recording and Software Simulation

Before you actually start recording the screen, you must make sure that you have some sort of idea what you want to show. It’s best to have some kind of screenplay in which you list the steps of your recording. Captivate also enables you to record a narration while you record the screen. Here, you also must make sure that you have some clue about what you want to say. If you haven’t, then it’s no longer rapid, because the time it takes to cut out things you don’t want and recut the bits that you are satisfied with can be long. Thus, it’s a good thing to know what you are going to do before you do it (that’s something of a general motto for life, isn’t it?).

From this you might want to move on to import your PowerPoint slides and then get on from there. I will skip the step here, because the result is quite the same as in the screen recording. It is a good way to get started, though, because often the PowerPoint slides are already there.

2. Editing

You might not be entirely satisfied with the result that you came up with. In that case you can easily edit the things that you recorded:

Video 2: Editing

Video 2: Editing

Don’t worry about the screenshot above. It seems a bit messy. But the video explains in detail how the workspace in Captivate is built up and which option you have to edit content. It also explains how you can add a table of contents to your final result. More about this will also be mentioned in a separate video called „Table of Contens“ in the section „3. Refinement“.

3. Refinement

Captivate lets you create stuff inside the program without the need to use another application. Of course, this is rather basic, but sometimes it will do. E.g. if you want to quickly create labels for certain areas in your animation then that option is the best to use. The following video shows how to draw objects and how to change their properties.

Video 3: Drawing Objects

Video 3: Drawing Objects

If you have all the slides ready you may also create a table of contents to give learners an overview of their progress in the presentation and of what they can expect from the presentation. The TOC is also a good thing to add a kind of corporate identity to your learning object.

Video 4: Adding a Table of Contents

Video 4: Adding a Table of Contents

All this is something that you will get in other applications as well. And also the more basic Adobe Presenter, a plugin for PowerPoint that enables you to record your presentation and add video and audio, allows you to use the same features. Move on from there and things will start to get interesting. Captivate allows you to add some types of assessment to you presentation, transforming a presentation into a WBT.

Video 5: Adding Assessment

Video 5: Adding Assessment

I think that this is the time (at the latest) to remind everyone that what you need are didactically bulletproof content, whether we are talking about the presentation or the assessment. This can not be part of this introduction but has been discussed thoroughly in all kinds of publications. The forms of assessment that you use in your WBTs have to match the purpose. A multiple choice question alone needs thorough planning in order to have a didactically valuable impact.

4. Striving for Consistency

An important part in the creation of e-learning content is consistency. Consistency in a learning environment can be achieved by the following rules:

  • The design of the presentation of content is similar throughout all of its subdivisions.
  • The pace of the presentation is similar. If it’s not then the pace should be adequat for the presentation and/or the audience or it should be adjustable.
  • The demand of the content should be adequat for the focus group. It can be variable, e.g. growing in ambition during time, but it should be adequat.

Captivate offers a feature to use a template in order to create a visual consistency throughout the learning unit. It also offers a number of ways to save elements that you want to reuse as object styles and so on. Have a look at the following three videos to get a glimpse.

Video 6: Object Styles

Video 6: Object Styles

Video 7: Master Templates

Video 7: Master Templates

Video 8: Project Templates

Video 8: Project Templates

A chance to increase the sophistication of the WBT element is the concept called branching. With this you can create complex structures—like in a hypertext system—and allow them to navigate along their own path. It breaks up the linearity of a presentation. You can include questions or task and give feedback. Of course, we are on our way away from the concept of rapid content production because branching—if done correctly—requires planning. However, branching is relatively simple at the beginning because it is nothing more than a if-then-structure. The complexity comes if you use branching a number of times within a Captivate project. The video about branching will give you an insight into the possibilities the concept offers.

Video 9: Branching

Video 9: Branching

5. Productivity

One more video is interesting if you are working with Captivate for some time. There are various workspaces like in other Adobe products which enable you to trigger handy layouts for different steps in your work.

Video 10: Workspaces

Video 10: Workspaces

Ein Gedanke zu “Getting Familiar with Adobe Captivate

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