Fast Track to Adobe Captivate – User Review

If you are into creating e-learning or are looking to start, then first of all you need to select a suitable tool. There are number of e-learning authoring tools available and these vary in capability and price. The main ones you will come across are Articulate Storyline, Adobe Captivate and Camtasia. I won’t go into the advantages/disadvantages of each system, but my preferred one, and in fact the one I use to create e-learning material is Captivate.

As a developer you are always looking for tips and tricks or even inspiration to help you develop new ways to make your material more interactive or appealing to users.

This is where “Fast Track to Adobe Captivate 6” comes in. This is a series of 41 videos, each one 2 to 5 minutes long, so ideal for dipping in and out of without the need to dedicate hours in your day or staying up late to wade through the learning material.

Videos saved to the hard drive

Videos saved to the hard drive

If you are familiar with Captivate or have been doing a bit of research before buying authoring software, you will be aware that the current version of Captivate is 7. Adobe, for whatever reason decided to bring out version 7 very soon (in terms of issuing software versions) after Captivate 6 was released. Although there are some new features, such as the new interactions, it is essentially the same product so using these videos will help you learn versions 6 or 7. I am sure that the author, Anita Horsley will produce a handful of videos showing how to use the extra functionality in due time that will compliment this range of training videos nicely.

So how are the videos?

Even as a current user of Captivate, I have learnt some useful tips even in the early videos, such as a few useful keyboard shortcuts. Although the videos are primarily about how to use the tool, there are some useful sections on how to prepare and organise yourself, before even attempting to create the e-learning material: storyboards, style guides and learning objectives.

Setting the objectives to one of the short videos

Setting the objectives to one of the short videos

Whatever Anita preaches in the videos, she follows herself – the objective of the section is clear, and the explanations are comprehensive using all the capabilities of Captivate such as pan and zoom, highlights etc. with a clear narration explaining each step. The pace is pretty fast and you may not catch everything first time around, especially if you are new to Captivate, but as these are short, snappy videos there is nothing to stop you replaying them over and over. At the end of each section there is also the opportunity to try out the techniques shown with some exercises that come as part of the package, which will definitely help to reinforce the learning experience.

Get ready to practice what you have just seen in the video

Get ready to practice what you have just seen in the video

Once you’ve watched the videos and learnt how to do things, I would suggest watching them again, but instead of concentrating on the narration and the steps on how to do things, pay attention to the e-learning material itself and the fire department training material that is being used to demo Captivate’s functionality. There are some great examples of Captivate’s capabilities and shows some good examples of how to make e-learning more interactive and, if you’ll forgive the pun, captivating. Even as a developer, it has given me some great ideas on how to design and include certain features that I had not necessarily thought of using in the way shown in the videos.

So how much is all this going to cost? At the time of writing this review (Sept 2013), the whole series of videos was available from Packt Publishing (www.packtpub.com) for £8.80 ($14) offering a massive 60% discount off the RRP of £21.99 ($34), so a real bargain considering how much material you get and the level of detail in the videos. Plus of course, the author has her own blogspot (http://captivatecrazy.blogspot.co.uk/) as well as all the usual social media sites offering articles, help files and videos.

How things look on the streaming page of the Packt web page

How things look on the streaming page of the Packt web page

When you buy “Fast Track to Adobe Captivate 6” from Packt Publishing you can either stream it or download to your PC/laptop. If you have any problems while accessing the website you’ll find some “Contact Support” links. At the time of writing, I found I had a problem streaming the videos so contacted the help line and got a pretty quick response and every effort was made to identify the problem. Obviously you don’t expect to encounter problems, but if you do, you want to know that you can actually get some help, so a definite plus there.

In summary then, if you are looking to get into e-learning authoring and need a starting point then this is definitely for you. The videos are clear, with lots of useful information and will get you well on your way to using all the features of Captivate. If you have been using an older version of Captivate and are moving up to version 6 or 7, then this can be useful resource too, showing off its new features and how to make the most of them.

As with any software though, it will be down to you to practice, practice and do even more practice, applying everything you see in the videos to your own projects…and should you get stuck, or forget how to do something, well…you’ll only ever be about 2-5 minutes away from reminding yourself.

 

 

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