Adobe seeks to ‘Captivate’ with e-learning tool


File type: Windows Media Video; Length: 9.34 minutes

Hi there, I’m Joaquim P. Menezes, Online Editor, IT World Canada. I’m here at the Adobe offices in Toronto to find out more about Adobe Captivate 3, the latest version of Adobe’s e-learning tool. With me are Abbas Rizvi, Adobe Solutions Architect, and an expert on Adobe’s Web development and e-learning apps – and Colin Smith, Senior Adobe Solutions Architect, and a much sought after instructor on Adobe products.

Abbas and Colin thanks for doing this interview.

Let’s start with the basics – Abbas – what is Adobe Captivate 3. Could you give us a capsule description?

Adobe Captivate 3 is primarily an e-learning content development tool that allows trainers, educators or the people in sales and marketing to create really engaging e-learning content in Flash format.

Okay – so who are the types of people who could use this tool effectively? Educators immediately come to mind. But, who else?

Colin: So it could be anybody…in sales and marketing, people who are recording information and need to play it back; or people in IT that need to create demonstrations on how to do things – how to set up your browsers – to record these and play them back for anybody.

Abbas: Yes, even if you think of HR departments that need to create soft skill simulations or training – maybe on [dealing with] sexual harassment, things like that.

Interesting – so it seems like you can create a fairly broad range content. But what are types of tools the end user would need to view this content once it’s been created?

Colin: All you need is a browser and a Flash plug in to view. That’s the great thing. 96 per cent of the computers out there have the Flash player already installed, so you simply go to a URL and it starts to play back.

Abbas: And the minimum is Flash Player 7, which is already 3-4 years old, so it’s pretty much on everyone’s desktop already.

What’s new in Adobe Captivate 3 as compared with the previous version?

In Adobe Captivate 3 we address some of the long-standing requirements that our Captivate customers have. One of the things that they wanted was the ability to do multimode recording – so record their steps once, and have a demonstration and a simulation created at the same time.

We also now allow you to import Power Point presentations, with animations – which means that you can use Power Point as an animation building tool and then import that content into Captivate as Flash animations.

And thirdly, we wanted to address some concerns that trainers had about creating quizzing content – so we allowed the randomization of questions (pulling questions from a pool) and even shuffling answers within a particular question. So as students are taking the same content over and over again, they’re not getting the same experience. So you know…the right answer isn’t always C.

So this group of features – randomization of questions, shuffling answers (let’s call them testing and assessment features). How do they contribute to the effectiveness of an e-learning program?

As far as e-learning content is concerned, this is something we’ve heard from our customers over and over again – the ability to present something different to a user if they’re taking the same type of training. Let’s say, every year they have to certify for a particular [program] – you don’t want to give them the same content. So now could have a pool of 150 questions and only display 50 questions at a time.

And even the order of those questions would be random. And the choices you would have within those questions would be randomized as well. So in effect, you get a very customized experience for each individual that’s going in and taking the training. So this really increases the overall effectiveness of the training that’s being provided.

It does seem that this is a fairly feature-rich program. But – Colin – I find as a rule, the more powerful a program, the more difficult it is to actually learn and use. How does Captivate stack up in this respect? In other words, do you need to have some expertise in multimedia development, or in Flash authoring to use this application effectively?

Colin – Well the amazing thing about Captivate is…if you know how to do a presentation in Power Point then you know how to use Captivate. Because in its very simplest form you can start recording a regular demonstration – and it’s recording every move you do. As soon as you’re finished you click “Done” and that’s creating a Captivate presentation. But you can take it a bit further than that if you want.

Abbas: Yeah, and even taking it further, it’s basically desktop tools and knowledge – right. So as long as you’re comfortable with a product like Power Point – you’re going to be successful with Captivate. And it doesn’t require any Flash authoring knowledge. That’s one of the key benefits. The fact that you don’t need to know Flash at all, in order to create Flash content.

Other things being equal, people would want to use of an e-learning program if it’s engaging, it really draws them in. Are there any features in Captivate 3 that promote user engagement?

One of the themes that we had – one of the key development themes for Adobe Captivate 3 was the concept of Engagement. So things like rollover slides that let you experience additional information, within a straight presentation, for example or the ability to add video content, which we introduced in Captivate 2…all of these things are going to allow trainers to really create rich, engaging content without having to have a lot of background in multimedia development.

Does Captivate 3 integrate with other Adobe – and non-Adobe authoring tools?

Abbas: The advantage that Captivate 3 gives you is that it allows you to work within the Adobe ecosystem. So if you think about Captivate publishing directly to Adobe Connect. That means you can easily deploy Captivate content using Connect and track individuals going through that Content. So you can set up permissions, see how people are going through your Captivate Content, answer the quizzes and so forth. Because Captivate is publishing out to a .swf Flash format, that means you can insert it into your Web pages using Dreamweaver, or you can insert it into a Flash project; or you can insert it into Adobe Presenter – within PowerPoint – or you can even insert it into PDF. So there’s really a lot of ways that you can take Captivate content and work with other Adobe products, including something like Contribute for informal learning.

Colin: And I like some of the other integration we have. For instance, you can export out as an .fla file, which is incredible, because now you can bring it into Flash – and you have full editability in Flash of that recording. You can also use Photoshop to edit any of the screen captures, and Sound Booth, which is our audio editing program, will allow you to – right from Captivate launch Sound Booth – and fix the audio. If somebody off camera closes a door or a cell phone goes off suddenly – you can actually remove that out. It will fix that for you.

Colin, I’m curious why a Mac version of the product wasn’t created? Is it likely we’ll have a Mac version in future?

Originally, when the product was brought over, and Macromedia had it – it was Windows only, and

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