Archive for October, 2008

The Adobe Virtual Classroom and why Flash matters in eLearning

One of my favorite evangelical things I do at Adobe is to deliver live eSeminars, and when it comes to eLearning, “Interactivity in the Virtual Classroom,” is one of the most popular ones we host live at least once a month, with an average of 400 people attending each event.

In eLearning, the idea of a virtual classroom is sometimes also referred to as synchronous learning, distance learning or remote learning.  Regardless of the name, the key benefit of a virtual classroom is that it enables geographically dispersed learners to come together at the same time and enjoy an engaging learning experience.  All without incurring travel expenses and without much time away from the job.

Two of the challenges our customers report with a virtual classroom experience are: 1) the lack of interactivity, which leads to learners multi-tasking while participating live, and 2) some learners not able to participate in the live session and thus the need for the same level of interactive asynchronous (i.e. recorded session) learning experience.

The virtual classroom technology has come a long way and today most solutions include lots of bells and whistles to help presenters grab and maintain the learner’s attention, including chats, polls, real-time screen sharing, whiteboarding, voice-over IP, break-out rooms, and others. 

However, most web conferencing solutions available today only provide a flat, linear-based asynchronous experience with little or no interactivity in the recorded version of the live session. This is where our Flash-based Adobe Virtual Classroom solution comes in through Acrobat Connect Pro.

With 99% of all computers connected to the Internet having the Flash Player installed, the learner’s experience joining a virtual class in Acrobat Connect Pro is as seamless as can be, because no additional plug-ins are required, making Adobe Flash Player the world’s most pervasive software platform.

But this is just the beginning of why Flash matters in eLearning!

The second reason for why Flash matter is all about the live engaging experience your learners can enjoy in the virtual classroom.  This is about going beyond the usual chat, polls and the ever-popular displaying of PowerPoint slides during a live session, and into allowing learners the ability to to through self-paced Adobe Captivate movies and Adobe Presenter projects.  In other words, you can allow each individual learner the ability to learn a subject through an interactive software simulation for example.  To experience this live, sign up for one of our upcoming eSeminars by clicking here.

Let’s now turn our attention to the asynchronous learning experience after a live event.

As I wrote above, while most virtual classroom solutions simply offer a flat recorded version of the live session, Acrobat Connect Pro impressively preserves all interactivity from the live session in the recording, for an effective onDemand learning experience.

To illustrate this, I have recorded a short Acrobat Connect Pro session, where you can see what the experience is like from a learner’s perspective.  The recording allows you to click the pause button, and interact with a Captivate demo and a guided simulation, go through an informational-based Presenter project, click links in a resources slide, copy-paste text from the chat pod and even download files that were provided during the live session as additional resources.

Click here to watch the Connect Pro recording.

Lastly, one additional resource you can provide to learners after a synchronous event is the live discussion that took place during the session through the chat pod.  I see this as an opportunity to include answers to questions you couldn’t get to in the live event, and more importantly supplement the PDF version of the chat with Adobe Captivate movies for questions that were asked most often and also for questions that require complex explanations.

I have started doing this myself by copying and pasting the chat into Adobe FrameMaker, I then apply a template for better formatting and finally import Captivate movies in place that would help me answer questions more effectively.

Click here to download a PDF example, which include a Captivate movie, of a recent eSeminar I did.

If you want to do the same, here’s a how-to recording I did a while back on supplementing text-based PDF documents with Captivate movies using FrameMaker.

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a BIG thanks and here’s the AIR app

Powered by Adobe RoboHelpIn the short time since I posted the news about Adobe AIR in eLearning winning a Brandon Hall award, the Adobe Captivate demo of the application I submitted has already been watched by over 300 viewers and many have been kind enough to leave feedback through the open-ended survey at the end of the movie.  I would like to say thank you to everyone and share with my readers some of this feedback.


“Great stuff, RJ. Thanks for the great demo and I love the application, can I get a copy by any chance?”
—Tom C. 

“Kudos to your entire team, RJ.”
—Ethan S.

“RJ: Very cool demo! PS: I passed the Adobe Certification Exam in Captivate 3 this week.”
—Brian S F.

“This Air application for technical authors looks very interesting! I am a contract technical author with a client currently using RoboHELP 7 that is looking at putting a lot of their training materials online using Robo. Using Air as well with auto update would certainly help answer some of their problems. I look forward to more information about this, especially how to produce this type of output from RoboHELP using the packager for AIR.”
—Rod W.   

“This tool looks good. How can we distribute content for Adobe AIR? Where can we get training and best practices? I notice Lynda.com has some AIR training material. Is this a good resource? Thank you. P.S. I like this feedback capture feature you have appended to your Captivate movie. How can I do this?
—David F. 

“This was an AWESOME presentation. I manage the K12 Education Sales team at Adobe, and have encouraged my team and extended team of sales, and SEs to view this video, and share it with customers. I learned a lot. And congratulations on your award!
—Karen D.

“Was this built using the Flex framework with air, or flash and air? Also….how about open sourcing it! : )
–Anonymous

“Congrats on the award RJ. Your Captive video was superb.”
—Tom D.

“Hey RJ…I met you at lunch one day at the e-Learning Guild Conference this past year. I’m VERY IMPRESSED with this application. Congratulations on the Brandon Hall Award, well deserved. My team and I have built version one of a performance support application that contains product information for our some of our sales teams. We’re looking to leverage AIR for version 2 and what you’ve demonstrated here hits the mark for us perfectly. From it’s search capabilities, to the collaboration, to the updates. The 3D PDF capability is such a nice bonus too. What are you able to share to help my team and me learn from your great work? I look forward to hearing from you.”
—Steve N.


Adobe AIR in eLearning Download NowThe most common question I received was, can you share the actual AIR application?  And my answer is, Absolutely! I have uploaded the AIR application to our Adobe AIR Marketplace for anyone to download!

To get the most out of navigating through the application, please watch this short Captivate demo if you haven’t done so.

Thanks again and if you are planning on attending our second annual Adobe Learning Summit in San Jose, CA on November 10, 2008, I will be presenting a session entitled Adobe AIR in eLearning for non programmers.

If you are not attending the conference and would like to schedule a Connect presentation, please leave a comment here with contact information and I will work with you and your team offline to make this happen. Click here to download the AIR applications.

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Adobe AIR in eLearning wins Brandon Hall Award

When people ask me what I like most about working at Adobe, I respond by saying that I absolutely love our 90+ products and, more importantly, the way Adobe as a company leverages and tightly integrates technologies across all of our products. In the end, our customers are the ones who benefit the most from our innovations, regardless of the product(s) they are using.  I guess you could say that the adage, “when you marry, you don’t just marry a person, you marry a family” also applies to our customers and our products. When you begin using one of our products, we welcome you into the Adobe family.

Two recent examples that stand out are, first, ConnectNow, a service of Acrobat.com, which allows real-time screen sharing for up to 3 people. ConnectNow is built into most Creative Suite 4 products through a simple File > Share My Screen menu option. Second, Adobe AIR (Adobe Integrated Runtime), which many of our products now support out-of-the-box, including Adobe RoboHelp through RoboHelp Packager for Adobe AIR.

Here is a recent video interview by Beet.TV with our CTO, Kevin Lynch, where he mentions that the Adobe AIR runtime environment has been installed on 35 million PCs and will reach 100 million by the end of the year, due to so many great AIR applications being built by our customers.  Incidentally, one of my personal favorite AIR applications is eBay desktop developed by eBay, which recently announced on their blog that eBay desktop had already been downloaded a million times.

Repurposing technologies is in our DNA, and like all other product teams and evangelists, my team and I are always asking ourselves, how is this technology applicable to our eLearning and technical communication customers?

There are many ways of describing what Adobe AIR is, but for me, AIR is the ultimate information delivery platform. Because AIR supports Flash, PDF, HTML and AJAX technologies and these information systems can be consumed identically by anyone across multiple platforms and without a browser, AIR is a fantastic way to deliver information. In this space, information systems can be anything from online help systems and knowledge bases by technical communicators to job aids and just-in-time performance support systems by eLearning professionals.

In an effort to introduce Adobe AIR in the eLearning world and showcase the impact this platform can have in the way we can create and distribute rich and engaging information to learners on different platforms in the future, I submitted an AIR project to this year’s Brandon Hall Excellence in Learning Awards. The competition included over 250 submissions and over 450 judges and in the end, I was presented with a bronze award in the category of “Best Innovation in Learning Technology.” I am very grateful to Brandon Hall and the judges.

In case you are interested, I created a short Adobe Captivate demo of the AIR application I submitted, click here to watch it.

In closing, I have a dedicated session at our second annual Adobe Learning Summit in San Jose, CA on
November 10, 2008,
entitled Adobe AIR in eLearning, where I will be going over what it takes to develop these types of AIR applications for eLearning.

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