In their 2008 eLearning Guild 360 Report on eLearning Authoring Tools and Software, the authors quite sensibly divided eLearning tools into four categories; Rapid eLearning Authoring Tools, Simulation Tools, Deployment Tools & Media Editors. It’s actually an incredibly helpful segregation and does a lot to help put the field of eLearning today into perspective.
(While the chart is from me, the concept of dividing the field this way comes from http://www.elearningguild.com/research/archives/index.cfm?id=126&action=viewonly The eLearning Guild’s 2008 360 Report on Authoring and Development Tools.)
Navigating modern eLearning can be incredibly confusing. There are hundreds of tools and resources, and it can be quite a struggle to get some firm footing on these constantly shifting sands. But as the field matures, it is easier to get a little perspective. If we accept for a moment this model, as a representation of facets of the process, it becomes easier to define a software application like Adobe Captivate.
I often hear people say “Captivate is Simulation software.” Well that’s certainly true, if a bit of an understatement. But Captivate is so much more than that. First because it can effortlessly capture images, video, and in fact the entire user experience, and second because capturing and creating simulations is just the tip of the Captivate iceburg. I also often hear people say that Captivate is Rapid eLearning software. Again, that’s unquestionably true. It makes it possible for anyone to rapidly create eLearning content, providing a simple workflow to migrate existing training materials into engaging rich media experiences.
So given the above model, Captivate is a full feature Rapid eLearning and Simulation tool, that provides solid deployment options.
Simply put, eLearning Suite, adds the industry’s most powerful media editing (Photoshop, Flash, Dreamweaver, Acrobat, Soundbooth and more) and really amazing deployment options (multi-scorm packaging and mobile devices for example) to Captivate. You can think of it this way; use Captivate if you only need Rapid eLearning Authoring and Simulation with standard LMS integration and publishing options. Use eLearning Suite if you want the whole pie.
Just a couple of caveats;
One of the most spectacular reasons to love Captivate, is the Captivate Reviewer. Using Reviewer you can share your eLearning projects between your team members, and solicit in place comments and feedback that will dramatically reduce the time required for your review cycle.
The eLearning Suite goes way beyond the products that are included. Each one has been extended to add functionality and integration systems to make the workflow between Captivate and the media editors smoother and more productive. Combined these form a system which is unbelievably potent for eLearning course development.I have been stunned by how constantly i now use all of the eLearning Suite Tools, and by the time and frustration saved by the thoughtful interoperability between products. (My personal favorite is jumping straight from Captivate to Soundbooth and back again to edit audio.)