June 19, 2012

Beyond PowerPoint: The Magic of Themes in Adobe Captivate 6

Depending on your perspective, Microsoft PowerPoint is either the birthplace or deathbed of eLearning. Few issues in online learning inspire such deep and divisive disagreement. The core of the problem is in many ways tied to the debate between didactic instruction (think one teacher or trainer giving a lecture) and discovery based education (think simulations, scenarios and self-teaching.)

The truth is that there is some merit to both approaches and that we don’t have to push one approach away in order to embrace the other.

For many years eLearning authors have used Microsoft PowerPoint to create courses. PowerPoint is easy to learn and contains some fairly robust tools once mastered. It also has set a standard for automating graphical design that can provide an incredibly helpful guide to authors who don’t feel comfortable creating everything from a blank page. Conversely it can lead to ‘Death by PowerPoint,’ when the author leans too heavily on the tool, effectively using it as a crutch.

One way that trainers, teachers, business professionals and eLearning experts have used to combat the crutch of repetitive PowerPoint courses is to grow an ever expanding set of eLearning templates that can be used to create course modules. This served to give birth to the ‘rapid’ movement in eLearning and has proven very popular, especially with those new to the industry, but has often resulted in courses that look like they’ve been minted by a cookie cutter.

Adobe Captivate has been the industry standard for many years, largely because of it’s incredible application capture solution. Now, with the release of Adobe Captivate 6, the eLearning team at Adobe has tackled the problem of bringing genuine customization to the Rapid eLearning world and the results are absolutely ThemeTastic!

Now if you’re an eLearning traditionalist and the phrase ‘Rapid’ makes you cringe, there is something awesome for you in Adobe Captivate 6 Themes. If you’re a newcomer to eLearning and you’re searching for a rapid solution that you won’t outgrow in a few months, Adobe Captivate 6 is phenomenal for you as well. At last there’s one tool that can help everyone bridge the gap, because it is accessible with the ease of PowerPoint authoring while providing game-changing customization opportunities that mean you can create courses with unlimited variations, unify courses and modules with custom branding and consistent looks, and even leverage the out-of-the-box Themes to launch your projects instantly, simply by adding content.

Adobe has pushed the model even farther by creating links right inside of Captivate 6 to eLearning Art and eLearning Brothers, two of the most popular eLearning asset providers in the industry. You can easily find additional themes through these vendors or create your own. (I’ve even done a video tutorial to help you see how easy it is to get started creating custom themes.)

The new Themes in Adobe Captivate 6 extend the support for maintaining and rapidly creating eLearning content further than ever before. You can easily jump into course construction just by adding content to your favorite theme, and that theme can include a wealth of information – way beyond a simple template. In addition to storing an unlimited collection of question and slide layout patterns, your Themes can contain custom font information and all of the color and type information that is used to make the skin and table of contents for your project (if you wish to use them.)

Best of all it’s easy to add, edit, modify and save new themes just by editing the master slides and saving the set you want. You can share your themes with teams, clients, customers and colleagues easily and you’ll find that it is an incredible blend of rapid development facilitation and easy to control customization. At last you can get the speed and ease payoffs of rapid, while maintaining the ease of use and customization of Adobe Captivate 6.

Posted by Allen Partridge4:34 PM
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  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000814302259 Miles McDude

    Allen… is Captivate 6 recording the video of you as well as the screen, or are you using another program to capture the video?

    • http://www.adobe.com/products/elearningsuite/ Allen Partridge

      Miles, send me an email would you? allenp (at) adobe (dot) com

  • Xiaoqiao

    “It can help everyone bridge the gap, because it is accessible with the ease of PowerPoint authoring while providing game-changing customization opportunities that mean you can create courses with unlimited variations, unify courses and modules with custom branding and consistent looks, and even leverage the out-of-the-box Themes to launch your projects instantly, simply by adding content”. Wonderful ideas!!

    Because of this, it becomes Aaron’s magic rod which connects instruction and learning with interactive nature of gaming customization…Can’t wait to see the flowering of Aaron’s rod.

  • Xiaoqiao

    Super wonderful tutorial!!

  • Richard

    Will Captivate integrate with Keynote on a Mac?

    • http://www.adobe.com/products/elearningsuite/ Allen Partridge

      Richard, unfortunately no. Captivate supports import of PPT on the Mac, but no Keynote integration / import etc. is provided at this time.

  • Rajat

    Dear Allen, The additions to captivate are welcome and frankly from what I have seen with CP6, I must say that you and your team have done a fantastic job. The customer education tutorials have probably been the best so far. However, as per my understanding, one area that captivate disappointing is the lack of a proper work for power point. Let me elaborate a scenario. I run an adaptive learning company. We have about 20K students and 95% of our content is eLearning. All our content is in powerpoint and has animations. While I have been a fan of captivate (have owned every version since CP3) I have not found a way to bring those animations within captivate and have them appear in a timed fashion in a manner that they are synchronized with audio in captivate. Note, we do not want the user to click on the screen for the animations to appear. As a result of lack of such a workflow, we have only produced 2 out of our 200 files in captivate.

    Why does powerpoint matter? because it’s still omnipresent, it still has more powerful graphic capabilities than captivate (lets ignore flash and photoshop), it’s easier to find powerpoint designers. I can share powerpoint slides easily with my colleagues and customers as they all have it installed and even then they don’t they can use the web viewer.

    Again, my purpose is not to criticize you but to say the obvious that you may be missing a big market due to lack of a workflow. With CP6, you will definitely get the eLearning designers but you may not get the ppt designers who will choose to be with Articulate even though it is a much more expensive offering. I hope you have such as workflow some day.

    -Rajat

    • http://blogs.adobe.com/captivate Shameer Ayyappan

      Thanks for appreciation, and the feedback Rajat. We do recognize the importance of PPT in this ecosystem, and the large number of ‘PPT designers’. We’ve put in significant effort in this Cp version, to ensure that you have the best PPT-to-SWF conversion capabilities.
      Though the specific workflow you’ve mentioned will be best met thru the new Adobe Presenter that should be out soon. Do let me know if you would like to beta test it.

    • http://www.adobe.com/products/elearningsuite/ Allen Partridge

      Hey Rajat,

      Thanks for your note. We’ve really done amazing things with Captivate’s core PPT conversion engine this time around. I’d encourage you to give it a good test to see all the amazing support you’ll find. I suspect that you’ll quickly realize that it supports things like animations, smart art, styles, and triggers that simply aren’t supported by any other tool. Now that said, I agree with Shameer, at least for the moment, that your best bet is the soon to be released Presenter. It will be able to leverage the conversion tools that you’ll find in Captivate, but it also retains that – audio syncing to animation capacity that you would prefer in the workflow.

      You can see what I mean about the enhancements in this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hWkkd7doM3w&list=UULpsk3UF7lh5l9fVkLIqu6g&index=2&feature=plcp

      I’ve encouraged Cp team btw to adopt the same syncing / visibility of animation startpoints in Captivate so with any luck you’ll soon get your wish in Captivate as well.

  • Jaroslav Verlik

    More than one week I test very very detailed CP6 trial and I still have not left me excited. There are lot of smaller or bigger improvements that will allow me to use progressively less traditional applications such as PowerPoint and especially – the tools and opportunities Captivate significantly improved. Currently working on a eLearning project and I made a small attempt – I prepared a lesson in CP 6 and CP in the same Lesson 5.5 Result – I spent about 35% less time in CP6 and a project is much more sophisticated, contains an impressive theme, glossary panel from interactions, nice skin and stylized smalll quiz. For example, I used super new autmatic shapes and editable them by converting to freepoint and I could shape of the curve as the Pen tool (not so comfortable, but good).

    I wonder what would I have criticized the new Captivate. There are things in my CP6 still missing, but it does not change the fact that CP6 jumped a huge step forward today and overtake virtually all competing tools for rapid-elearning. Btw, I hope to upgrade to new version of the eLearning suite and will by soon available, because the trial period of Captivate 6 shall be deducted slowly. And – after experiencing CP6 return to an older version firmly rejects. This year, I still have a lot of projects and now I know that CP6 significantly accelerate and become comfortable my working. Thanks.

    • http://blogs.adobe.com/captivate Shameer Ayyappan

      Hi Jaroslav, I’m glad you liked #AdobeCaptivate 6, and thank you for the feedback! We will continue to improve the Captivate experience. Look forward to more frequent updates.
      Yes, the new eLearning Suite will be out soon. We will announce it on this blog and across all our SoMe channels. Please stay tuned.

  • BruceR

    This video and the article is much welcomed. I do appreciate the work done in Captivate 6 and look forward to purchasing the software.

    I noticed in the previous comments persons talked about animation and how the “new Presenter” would be better suited for this. Could you provide some information on this development. I work with faculty who are more comfortable using Adobe Presenter but are discouraged at the limitations, and find Captivate a little more than they need while Presenter would be better.

    Is there a timeline on when the “new Presenter” will come available that you can share?

    Thanks.
    Bruce

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  • Roman Melnyk

    I just upgraded to CP 6 and love many of the changes including the increases in speed of the product. With all the PPT enhancements, why did you leave out transitions. Captivate is so limited in transitions and PPT has so many. Many of our imports ultimately lose their feel.

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