Tag Archives: Captivate videos

The Latest Rapid E-learning Tools – Too Much of a Good Thing?

7 Jun

Recently I was really fascinated by this tweet from Andy Jones:

For a number of years, I’ve been creating training materials with rapid development tools (mostly Captivate). The “creation” process has been fairly organic, in that over time I have developed a sense of what works well and what simply doesn’t.

During the same time, rapid development tools have vastly improved, especially from a developer’s perspective. What seemed like a distant possibility years ago, seems fairly simple to do and achieve these days.

But Andy’s tweet raises an important point, are rapid development tools guiding developers down the wrong path? A path to standard design templates and stock photos of office staff – e.g. bland and boring e-learning.

My recent experience suggests that the answer could be yes.

This week I have been reviewing a couple of e-learning modules created in Captivate. One module took the standard project template approach and was stitched together by the aggregator tool. Unfortunately the result was an uneven table of contents that made it virtually impossible for the learner (me) to navigate through the course.

The second module had a more hierarchical structure that I could easily navigate through. However, parts of the content, clearly created in PowerPoint and imported into Captivate, seemed like a mishmash. This resulted in the module not only having an uneven look and feel, but gave me a disjointed learning experience.

So, as rapid e-learning tools have improved vastly over the years, why haven’t learning experiences?

Are the tools the problem? Or is it the developers?

Perhaps it’s both. Rapid e-learning tools have been developed so anyone can use them. That’s great, I’m for user-friendly software. But the result, is often the creation of an end-product that is learner unfriendly.

So what is the answer?

Maybe we (L&D departments) should stop buying into the “game-changing” marketing of rapid e-learning tools. While the tools are easier to use (and do amazing things), not everyone can create amazing learning experiences from scratch (despite the array of design templates and stock photos available).

A practical guide to creating learning scenarios

13 Jun

Recently I’ve been interested in creating learning scenarios in Captivate. A really valuable document that has helped me gain a better understanding of scenario learning has been Onlignment’s “A practical guide to creating learning scenarios.” Check out the document here:

Here are my top-tips from the guide:

1. Make the situation described to the learner seem relevant and authentic.
2. Challenge the learner about aspects of the situation.
3. Provide feedback. Learners learn by seeing the potential results of their decisions.
4. Learning scenarios are by nature interactive. Combine a more conventional case study with some means for collaboration, such as blog or even classroom discussion.
5. Scenarios can be used for applying critical judgement.
6. Scenarios can also be used for practising rule-based tasks.
7. Use whatever media are necessary to convey the storyline.
8. Branching allows learners to progress along different routes through the scenario and to experience different end points.

The 1 Minute Video

18 May

We are currently working on a new training model, it’s called the 1 Minute Video.
In fact, the model is part of a blended learning approach to file management. File management is quite a dull topic. There is no way around it. Telling a learner to store their files in a folder doesn’t excite many people (filing isn’t the most fun job in the world). However, file management can be quite complex, especially when you throw in specifics regarding the organization that you work for.
For example, the organization that I work for has multiple network drives that have different functions. One drive is for your own work. Another drive is for sharing documents amongst colleagues. This drive contains quite a complex folder structure. Security preventing you from accessing certain folders only adds to the complexity, as does the filenames for the folders (I’m still not sure of the significance of an ampersand at the start of a folder name). New employees need to know this information, and some existing employees need reminding.
And here is the reason for the 1 Minute Video. Yes, file management is a dull topic, but it is an important topic. Employees may roll their eyes at a lecture on file management. But perhaps viewing a 1 minute video on storing your documents on your home drive may switch more learners onto the benefits and intricacies of file management.

The Tangible Benefits of Screencasting

5 May

Recently I created a number screencast videos that demonstrated the functionality and oddities of an application.

These videos will soon replace a classroom based training course that was both problematic to schedule participants into and perceived as too long in duration.

Addressing these classroom based problems aside, I believe these videos have other tangible benefits. For example, these videos allow learners to focus on the areas of the application that they feel are more relevant to their work. The videos also allow the learners to revisit the areas they find most difficult as often as they like.

As such, I feel these videos are also empowering learners to take responsibility for their learning. In fact, more than the obvious reductions in travel costs and time, I believe the real benefit from these videos is the creation of a culture of learning where the focus is on the learner and their needs.

For more on screencasting check out this link:

Stickmen, speech bubbles and e-learning

29 Mar

In the world of e-learning to train staff on new/upgraded computer applications, I often  face the problem of bland screen shoots and dull “Click … ” captions.

Sometimes I wonder whether another grey/blue screen will simply blur the learning experience into nothing  and result in the learner drifting off to sleep infront of their PC.

So what can be done?

Too much distraction will only dilute the content – will the learner be able to recall the process steps involved or only remember the crazy graphics? My guess would be crazy graphics everytime.

So how can I engage the learner at the right level – not too little and not too much? For me, the answer is to keep it simple both with content and with design.

Content needs to be to the point. A rambling paragraph of text won’t engage the learner. So try to keep the original purpose of the content without the extra words. Bullet points certainly help – both in reducing word count and in getting the key information across.

Design should also be simple. Recently I’ve been using stickmen and speech bubbles to bring my e-learning alive. The stickmen were originally hand-drawn, as were the speech bubbles. The result is a simple, no-frills screen, that still manages to get the key information across without bland screenshots or dull captions.

The power of rapid e-learning tools

6 Jan

The number one reason why a rapid e-learning tool such as Captivate is so powerful, is the ability of an instructional designer to react immediately to any requested changes.

For example, one month after completing a video created in Captivate, my SME contacted me about a quick change. The change was needed immediately because the video was due to released to the whole organization the following day.

The change wasn’t that drastic – only the log on process had changed from an url link that users needed to type in to an icon on their desktops. However, it did mean that a number of slides needed to be removed and a new slide outling the new process had to be created.

With Captivate these changes were easy to implement and quick to turn around. Within an hour of the initial request, a new video had been created. The deadline for sending out the video had been met and the SME was relieved.

Script writing and narration for Captivate

29 Dec

When creating a Captivate video, the option for audio is always something I consider in regards to enhancing the learning experience.

However, there are two factors that shape whether I decide to add audio to my video:

1. The script – do I have something more to say (and is important to say) than what is already conveyed in the video?

2. The narration – what would audio actually sound like in the video? Is it necessary?

If after answering these questions I decide to go ahead with audio, I need to start writing a script.

In the writing process, I think about the delivery of the script and how the spoken content will sound to the learner. A script full of jargon and complex words is both difficult to record and difficult for the learner to listen to. I try to keep the spoken content simple and direct. I also try to avoid repeating the content that already is displayed on the screen – the learner can read that!

For more on narration see:


Where does Captivate fit into the ADDIE process?

24 Dec

The ADDIE model (Analysis, Design, Development, Implementation, Evaluate) is a phased approach to building effective training materials/tools traditionally used by instructional designers. But as an instructional designer where does Captivate fit into the ADDIE process?

The decision to use Captivate would come out of the Analysis phase – defining the goals and objectives of the training. After planning an instructional strategy and choosing a delivery method, the next step would be start writing a storyboard for Captivate.

From Design to Development, your storyboard should come to life in Captivate with the content being entered into the project.

Implementation could be delivery of Captivate video, software simulation, or e-learning, all accessed via a LMS, CD-ROM, Intranet, or Sharepoint site.

Remember when in the Evaluation phase, make sure a copy of the final Captivate project is available for revising. There is nothing more frustrating than having a finished video but no project file to make  revisions to. The only option would be start a new project.

Storyboarding and Captivate

24 Dec

So why create a storyboard when using Captivate? For me, a storyboard allows me to outline what each slide should look like in Captivate. From an early stage in the process, I can identify would is involved in creating the Captivate project and the amount of effort involved.

Of course, storyboarding also allows me to have a discussion with my Subject Matter Expert (SME) about the content and appearance of the project. This feedback, early in the creation process, is helpful in avoiding last-minute changes and corrections.

For more thoughts on storyboarding see:


ESP and Captivate videos

23 Dec

The ESP project was an interesting project! ESP is a scheduling piece of software that was being updated. The scheduling staff needed training on what the updated version of ESP would look like, so the idea was to create some videos which they would be able to view. The software that we decided to create these videos with was Captivate.

There were a number of challenges with creating the videos:

  1. The ESP software update was not finished
  2. The deadline for creating the videos was tight
  3. The SME left the company in the middle of the project
  4. There was uncertainty around where to publish the videos.

In the end, 3 videos were created and 1 uploaded to the intranet. The videos were created with a co-op student who had Captivate 4 installed on his PC.