workspace

Storyline 2 vs. Captivate 8

SL2vsCAP8

As an eLearning professional, I know that choosing a software platform can be difficult and even confusing. I have used both Captivate and Storyline (multiple versions of each) and have been curious about ZebraZapps and other platforms that seem to have interesting features. It can be difficult to really find information that compares the various tools.

Lucky for you, dear eLearning professional who is trying to pick between Storyline and Captivate (that totally describes you, right?), I am embarking on a journey to make your life a little easier. This summer I am taking a class that focuses around Adobe Captivate (version 8). I am also a regular user (and superfan!) of Articulate Storyline 2.

So, I decided to try and check my bias at the door and do a series of posts comparing the two systems. I will also be adding to this post along the way as a kind of master document. If you find this is helpful, or have questions about particular features, please comment below and let me know!

 Feature Captivate 8 Storyline 2  Notes
Operating Systems PC and Mac versions, projects are compatible between the 2 versions but you must have a separate license for each. PC only, but I believe a Mac version is in the works.
Workspace setup Captivate gives you quick access to an object’s properties and timing menus. On the Mac version, there are 2 different sets of menus which can get confusing. For example, both set have an option for inserting slides but offer different layouts. Storyline is set up to make it easy to build interactions. It is centered around triggers, layers, and states. You can pop-out the timeline, notes, triggers, and layers panels to fully customize your view. You can also add any function to a quick access bar. Storyline’s layout feels more intuitive to me, but that could be because I am used to it. I do, however, really prefer the triggers and layers system as I find it allows me to easily create custom interactions.
Working on multiple projects Can have multiple projects open in one instance – uses a tab system. Have to open a new instance of SL for each project. Being able to copy and paste within the same instance is nice when you want to pull info or a setup from another project.
Themes 11 built in themes. 16 different slide layouts built in. 27 built in themes. 12 built in slide layouts. Tons of free slide templates available to download and import for free from their site. Both allow you to import from PPT or build your own master slide layout.
Timeline Drag an object or slide to change its timing in .1 second increments, regardless of the zoom. Drag an object or slide to change its timing in .25 or .125 second increments depending on zoom. Detailed timing changes that require more precision than the timeline offers are easier to make in Captivate.
Aligning objects Alignment toolbar can be added to your permanent view, which is very handy. Alignment options include all those in Captivate, plus the ability to resize all to the largest or smallest and have any alignment oriented to the slide or just the selected objects.
Changing button/caption styles Can adjust shape (10 options), fill, outline, shadow, and reflection. Can adjust shape (72 options), fill, outline, shadow, reflection, glow (in the colors of the theme), and soft edges (a vignette type of feature). Both of these programs give you almost unlimited options for how you want your buttons and captions to look. SL makes it slightly easier by presenting your defaults in a nice visual way, but allowing you to tweak until you are content.
Setting default button/caption styles Easily set your default styles for objects within the Preferences settings. SL does not allow you to change defaults. It uses the theme colors and type of object to offer a range of presets instead. You can use Format Painter to easily match styles. While the Captivate option here is nice, it is also a little cumbersome if you use different styles for different projects. The Format Painter (along with some good ol’ copy/paste) is a little friendlier for smaller projects.
Advertisements

Welcome to My (Flat) World

This week’s eLearning Heroes Challenge was to create a flat office or desktop theme based on your own work space. I love the visual design challenges so I jumped into to this one wholeheartedly!

What is flat design?

For the visual design newbies out there, flat design is a style that focuses on making images look simple, rather than realistic.  It’s 2D rather than 3D with minimal shadows and shading and is very clean and modern. It is also really easy to create flat images using just some basic shapes!

My inspiration

photoHere is a picture of my work space.  It’s cluttered (though not as cluttered as it was yesterday!).
Because of that, I decided to use it as inspiration rather than create an exact replica.  I actually tried making a close replica at first and boy was it
terrible.  Perhaps this means I need to simplify my office set up?

Well, that’s a question for another day.

My design

I ended up cutting out some of the desk shelving and moving the cork boards over to that area instead. I also cut out all the stacks of papers and magazines and flies as well as 4 of my 5 pencil cups.  I don’t know why I have so many pencil cups but I’m sure it is someone else’s fault.

2014-09-16_11-43-53I decided to keep my most fun element, a panda shaped pencil sharpener and mini shredder (you turn its tail to make either action happen), along with my yellow walls. I also added in my cat on top of the printer as that is her favorite napping spot when I’m in the office.

Adding some interactivity

In theory, this would be used as a setting for an interaction.  I think it would be a little crowded to use as a simple background. So I went ahead and added some interactive elements into it. You can drag the pencil to the panda to sharpen it, view “videos” by clicking on the webcam or first monitor, read an excerpt from one of the books, or view documents in the inbox, on the cork board, and from the printer.

Click on the image above to check it out and let me know what you think!  You can also download the source file to use or pick apart at your leisure.

Postscript: While my office has a PC desktop setup, I actually created this on my brand new Macbook Pro while sitting on the sofa in my living room… Just another person prodding Articulate for a native Mac version of Storyline. (Yes, I have put in a feature request!)

A Challenging Challenge

If you stopped by my home page today you might have noticed something new – a video!  I created it as part of this week’s eLearning Heroes Challenge. I have to say, I was really nervous about this one. I like creating eLearning precisely because I am not front and center!  Plus I don’t have a great webcam or a nice looking space in which to record.

But I told David I would participate in this challenge so I couldn’t very well back out. Plus, I think this challenge was really about embracing low-end solutions to create a quality product. And you know what?  I think I did just that.

Just in case you also want to incorporate some webcam video into your website or trainings, here’s a quick recap of my tools and process. Be sure to click over to the home page or read till the end to check out the finished product.

Camera

The webcam I have on my desktop computer is a Logitech HD webcam. I have previously only used it for Skype but found that it had a pretty good video and audio quality for this project.

Recording studio

My super professional set up was, well, not so super professional.

photo 1     photo 4

I think part of what made this challenge interesting was the point that webcam video can be of decent quality and is a lot easier to incorporate than using more professional video tools. So, I moved a few things from the back of my office (I keep my bike there and didn’t want that in the shot) and amped up the lighting by adjusting my monitor brightness and turning on a lamp I don’t normally use.  I also had to close my window blinds as the glare from the window was extremely bright. And voila!  Instant recording studio.

Software

I decided to give Articulate Replay a shot for this challenge.  It came free with my Storyline license but I had yet to open it up and try it out. While the editing capabilities are pretty limited, it was an easy way to add lower thirds and switch between different variations of webcam, screen share, and picture in picture formats.

Process

First, I wrote a script.  Ok, actually first I tried a shot without a script. Then I realized that was a horrible mistake and immediately wrote a script.  So if you’re trying this out – write a script first. While I was writing the script, I also created a short PowerPoint presentation that I could use as some B roll footage.

I did a couple of short takes of the first few sentences, adjusting my lighting and webcam settings in between, until I found a set up that worked.

Then I did two or three takes with everything in place, just of me talking straight to the camera. (Along with my surprise guest!)

Then I recorded a screen share of my PowerPoint.  I decided to record these separately because I had a hard time remembering what I wanted to say while also operating the PowerPoint. I must be getting old. Luckily Replay makes this easy and it didn’t really matter when it came time for editing!2014-09-12_10-20-34

Editing

This was the easiest part!  Replay was a cinch. I just chose where I wanted to start and end each take, where to start my screen share, and where to put my transitions.  In addition I added a lower thirds caption to the beginning and the end which took about 30 seconds. The reason editing is so easy is that I just listed all of the editing possibilities in Replay.  It can’t do a lot but it makes simple video editing so easy my Grandma could do it.

And that’s it!

…And it’s Ikea for the gold!

I don’t know about you, but I’m really bad at sitting.  When I sit too long my knees start to hurt.  I slouch and my back starts to hurt. I fidget and fall out of my chair.  Really.

So a little less than a year ago I jumped on the standing desk bandwagon. I couldn’t afford a real standing desk so I made a nice hack from Ikea odds and ends. It was a gold medal solution…  until I changed jobs within my company and moved to a new office.

But this week I finally got my standing desk back in its rightful place!  In honor of that, I thought I would take a little time to talk about my office set up.

image of my desk set up


An
Ikea hack you may have seen floating around the internet is a great starting point and inspired the design of my DIY standing desk.  I used 2 Ikea end tables, as I have 2 monitors. And since I wanted the shelf that holds the keyboard and mouse to be a little offset, I brought in the big guns – velcro strips – to attach it to the brackets. Otherwise, I followed the model pretty closely.

If you’re worried about it holding up, one of the most frequent comments I get is about how sturdy the whole thing is.  I also lean on it way more than I should but it has held up nicely.  It’s a great value considering the entire set up cost just about $30.

So, what ergonomic considerations are important for a standing desk?

Well luckily, you don’t have to worry about a chair since that can get quite costly. But it’s important to make sure your gear fits. Take some measurements and figure out how high to put the shelf that will hold your keyboard and mouse. You can also use a handy dandy internet calculator to figure out where everything should be placed. My stuff is all a little higher than I would like, but I’m short and it couldn’t get any lower with the elements I was using.

Good monitor placement, wrist rests for my keyboard and mouse, and a nice anti-fatigue mat are all part of the set up as well. (The mat still hasn’t made it to the office but it will soon!)

Notice that little lamp on the right hand side of the picture.

I’m lucky enough to have an office mate who hates the fluorescents as much as I do.  We each brought in a few lamps and voila!  Our office has lovely soft lighting that keeps us alert but minimizes strain on the eyes.

One thing to note about lighting – it is important to make sure you don’t have glare on your monitor and that your brightest light source is to the side.  Lamps can help you accomplish this nicely.

The best part of it all? Dual monitors.

Really, I can’t emphasize enough how much easier these make my life.  They are almost crucial for anyone working on elearning or a similar pursuit where you have several programs running at the same time. And certainly useful for anyone else who likes to watch cat videos (or the Olympics!) while responding to email.

What do you find particularly useful in your office set up?  What tweak, hack or item makes your life golden? Share your must haves, tips, and tricks for a great working environment in the comments below.