I’ve been meaning to write this for a while but was motivated to actually do it when I met some people recently who told me “Captivate is hard”. They had taken a class at work but didn’t really use the software after that because it seemed to be too much effort. Before I begin my rant I want to be clear that I am talking specifically about one or two day in-person training, usually not professional training either.
Ok, now find someone who has taken a Captivate class. If person thinks the software is no fun and is really hard to use, my bet is that the training showed the software “the right way” (which is often a methodical tour of menus and the screen as the first topic). Ask that person how class started and you will probably hear “well, we opened the software and started to learn all the features”.
*buzzing sound* NOPE – care to try again?
That behavior is fine for teaching how to create mail merge in Microsoft Word, but Captivate is a product that needs to be introduced to most people. Saying “it makes training movies” or “It’s like PowerPoint with quizzes” does not give a clear enough picture for students who unfamiliar with e-learning tools. Before you show them the interface you need to help them to relax and be ready for what’s next The best way to do that is to show them the reason Captivate is awesome.
So… the first thing? Show what it does.
Have a few sample files, or links to ones you like. I’d suggest one or two pretty basic ones (one soft skills and one software sim if you can swing it) and then one really good one (so they can see what is possible at an advanced level).
Now you can turn on the software.
Second Step? – Learn the basic interface. One of the best ways to do this is to make a very fast little movie.
A software simulation can be a nice simple introduction. Pick a very, very basic skill (like changing the desktop wallpaper) and have the students make a quick sim. Be sure to let them know that this is just so they can see how the software works and this is NOT all they need to do in a proper recording.
What should they do? Have them get out pen and paper. Then put these steps on the board.
This is not the list for a final movie – it’s only for the very first movie someone makes. Have the students follow these (don’t forget the undo step). When they preview their movies you often will hear “Oh!” when they see what they have done and how much Captivate does for them.
At this point they will be in the software and looking at the interface. This is when you can show them different views and buttons.
If you have people open a file they have never seen they will not automatically have an easy, relaxed sense of what the file is for. IF on the other hand, you have them review the file they just recorded you will have the benefit of automatic engagement on their part. This is their file, they know what they did – so now they will have an internal conversation that goes more like this…
“What is that? Oh, that’s when I was moving the mouse. Hey, there’s a label made for me – that’s cool”
rather than this…
“Ok.. what am I looking at? What are those things over there? Why is there a mouse icon and what is that blue thing? What are those little boxes for? Why is there text here? Do I have to type that?”
There is a lot of information that goes into Captivate training and this post does not cover all of it – just the introduction piece. They will eventually need to learn about adding rollovers and hotspots, using sound, planning out a template, adding graphics, quizzing, adding PowerPoint files … you get the idea.
However – the MOST important parts of making Captivate movies are taking time to script and storyboard – this is often left out of “intro to captivate” material and that’s a huge mistake. If you don’t give them at least a little amount of practice making a script and storyboard most of them won’t really do it after class.
In a future post I will go into more detail about the rest of the class and show examples of scripts and storyboards.
Make sure they leave with links to blogs, videos, and any other suggestions that will help them keep moving forward. Often the people who they work for will assume that a one , two, or three day training is all it takes to go from “never seen it” to “Subject Matter Expert”. Unless people have tried using the software, it is pretty common to have them assume that making a decent training movie is “practically magical” and that simply giving the software to someone (**bippity boppity boo**) “makes” them an e-learning expert.
Making a Captivate movie is easy. Making good and engaging Captivate is much more work – just like making a website or PowerPoint presentation is not that hard, but making a good ones? That’s a different kettle of onions.
Set your new users up for success by helping them have reasonable expectations about what kind of effort goes into making e-learning modules. If they get that it’s something they will get better at over time and that they will NEED practice, they will end up making much better work in the long run.
Captivate is a wonderful piece of software and making engaging e-learning should be a fun and exciting experience. Teaching a Captivate class is nearly the most fun you can have as a trainer – make it fun and memorable for them and you’ll get to “Oh!” much faster.
This post doesn’t have anything to do with people of a specific age range or singers with floppy hair. The tweens I’m referring to are the traditional animation settings of Motion Tweening and Shape Tweening that have been part of Flash forever. Motion Tweening is what you would use to move objects around, possibly change their color, or make them fade in and out. Shape Tweening is what you would use to have some thing morph into another. It could also be used for color changes or moving things around. Each one had its place. Starting in CS4 they added a new one. This was actually a very good thing, however it still caused me to scream in frustration. Here’s why…
Many people who know what I do, have worked with me, or taken my classes, know that I have a deep and abiding love for Adobe Software. Teaching Photoshop, InDesign, Illustrator, and others is one of the best jobs I can think of. Like any long-term relationship however, there are times when you want to shout “You have GOT to be kidding! Did you take a tall, refreshing glass of ‘freakin’ moron’ this morning?!”. Flash CS4 did this to me. We now have Flash CS5 but I was teaching CS4 today and was thinking about this on the way home – hence the post.
One of the assumptions that Adobe (and most software companies) seem to make it that users will look at the new features before getting a new version and playing with it. In truth, it’s often that people get new software installed at work or when they get a new computer that they begin playing with the software. Plenty of people will download trial copies, but not all of them will look at videos, posts, and websites before they start trying to do things. It’s often only weirdos like me that do that.
So here’s the problem… If you were using Flash 8 or CS2, or any version before CS4, you had Motion Tweening and Shape Tweening. In CS4 you have Motion Tweening, Shape Tweening, and Classic Tweening. Which one is new? Motion Tweening [insert sound of slapping forehead here]. What we used to call Motion Tweening is now Classic and the thing NOW called Motion Tweening is new and behaves just differently enough to make things really confusing the first few times.
The new Motion Tweens are powerful and in many ways easier to do, but… (you knew there was a ‘but” coming).. it was not a lot of fun when CS4 first came out having some users get frustrated and confused. Adobe is hardly the only company that does this. I’ve been teaching Office 2007 or 2010 New Features classes to lots of people who were never told that many, many things had changed – some of them only found out what was new by having the software installed by IT and trying to get work done (only to get really lost).
So my take-away advice tonight would be “If you install new software and feel lost – it’s not you. Just google the “New Features” of whatever it is and take whatever time you can spare to read up before beating your head against the wall. Software can be fun but it’s rarely intuitive.”