Monthly Archives: July 2012

Adobe Captivate: An Awe-Inspiring Solution for eLearning Designers

Effective software is the backbone of effective technical communication. Adobe graciously provided our class of 42 students with one year of access to the Adobe Technical Communication Suite. We have received direct training in Framemaker and Captivate from Bernard Aschwanden, an Adobe Certified Expert, Certified Technical Trainer, and author of numerous publications on publishing and single sourcing.

Simply put, Adobe Captivate is an extraordinary tool for screencasting and creating eLearning materials, and even dethrones PowerPoint when it comes to delivering impressive audiovisual presentations in a classroom setting.

In fact, I recently discovered that Captivate can be used to enhance PowerPoint presentations. By importing PowerPoint presentations into Captivate, they can be taken to the next level with motion-based media, animations, quizzes, and audio narration. This feature offers the potential to improve legacy eLearning materials I created while I was an English teacher and distribute them as full-motion video rather than the old method of passively clicking through slides.

I am currently developing a user guide for a popular VST software synthesizer, along with short video tutorials of key features that support the user guide’s content. Clearly, Captivate is the ideal solution for web-based tutorials. Let’s look at some exciting features I have discovered in the process of creating these videos.

I love the way Captivate uses “slides” to record the screen, rather than recording everything as if it were an old-fashioned camcorder. For example, a competitor’s software records everything on screen in real time. So, if you were to pause for a few moments, the pause would be recorded as well. Captivate, on the other hand, only captures the screen as it changes.

Editing and rearranging slides is both effective and easy to grasp for educators that have prior experience with presentation software. From what I’ve experienced, other popular screencasting software expects you to be a video editor as well as a communicator.

In demonstration mode, Captivate captures the mouse separately from the screen itself, so the mouse can be moved to where I want it to be. You can even change the cursor to personalize your materials. This is a great feature that allows us to capture our ideas quickly without having to focus on zero errors.

Captivate saves time by automatically adding callouts that describe the on-screen actions you are performing. After recording, they can easily be customized in the slide view to reflect my own design preferences. However, the process is so intuitive and intelligent that little modification is needed.

Did I mention how easy it is to publish my finished work? In just a few clicks, Captivate can create full-motion Flash video files and even publish my content directly to YouTube. Like many of the innovative features included in Captivate, publishing content is intuitive and can be easily customized to suit the needs of your project.

Captivate is the ultimate tool for technical communicators that need to create simulations and training with precise control over every aspect of the screen. It boasts a robust feature set that can be applied to eLearning projects, presentations, and much more. When my student license expires, I will definitely purchase Captivate again.