May 10, 2012

Enhancing Captivate Development with PowerPoint

Since delving into learning content development a few years ago, I've been continually impressed with Microsoft PowerPoint's capabilities. It has awesome enhancements for photos and graphics, it has rich animation building capabilities, and it has a super easy user interface. Those are just a few reasons I like it.

But I do e-learning development and the tool I am using most often these days is Adobe Captivate. I still leverage PowerPoint whenever I can.  For example, I use PowerPoint to create transparent PNGs (see my post from another blog) that I can use in my Captivate projects. I also take photos and enhance them using picture styles and effects. Just about any thing you do in Powerpoint, you can either export in PNG format or take a screen shot of it. I've even seen developers take screen videos of PowerPoint animations.

A lot of learning content already exists in PowerPoint. For example, many of my projects start off with a PowerPoint slide deck that was either a storyboard or a presentation used by face-to-face instructors. Captivate can be used to import PowerPoint presentations (see my post from another blog) saving you the work of cutting and pasting or redeveloping parts of the training. I would never recommend using the slides from a face-to-face presentation as e-learning. However, you can import pieces of it such as backgrounds, icons, charts, infographics, or animations to integrate into your e-learning module.

The reality is I rarely never use just one tool when developing a complete e-learning project. There are a variety of tools I use to take on a project. Any master of a craft has a collection of tools and knows the best time to use them. Is PowerPoint one of your tools?

May 4, 2012

Articulate understands the practitioners...learn the lesson

I've been in the software industry for a long time and I've never seen the perfect product. As I've been reading all the hype on Articulate Storyline this week, I am reminding myself of that. It looks like a great product. But a game-changer...not likely.

A software tool is not a game-changer but a community of practitioners can be. I agree with R.J. Jacquez when he lists Articulate community as his number one reason to appreciate Articulate Storyline. It is how we use the content authoring software that really matters. Articulate gets this and has created a software tool that is in response to its community demands. That is where I believe Articulate creates competitive advantage.

Community driving software development...that's how to build a great product. Lectora? Captivate? Where you at? There are lessons to be learned here. I think one lesson is this:
Where the company wants to be is not necessarily where the community of practitioners wants to be. But, in the end the community is who drives the adoption of software.
There is a key distinction that's important when listening to community. The difference is between listening to features that the community wants and listening to what the community wants to do. I think Articulate is focused on the latter while many companies focus on the former.

There are a lot of creative content developers out there looking for tools to express themselves to their fullest. Let's build better communities and better software!

May 3, 2012

The Next Generation of SCORM

I first heard about SCORM when I was working for a software company that created collaborative learning tools for higher education.  We were using Microsoft Word to create SCORM compatible content.  This was back in 2006 and I remember a lot of folks did not understand the value of converting content to SCORM because it seemed so outdated and there were much more current development projects that needed to get done.  It wasn't until I got a job in corporate learning that I realized just how important SCORM was.

SCORM itself is outdated.  It is pretty boring and uncreative.  But it is still one of the best ways to develop content to play in an LMS without getting in a long term (potentially abuse) relationship with the LMS vendor.  Of course LMS vendors want you to develop content in their system because they don't want you to ever leave...ever!

SCORM allows corporations and content developers to create content that will work with multiple learning management systems. However, as the value of the LMS diminishes, SCORM needs to be re-engineered.  Project Tin Can is making an attempt at this. Learn more at my post Building the Next Generation of SCORM.