Monday , May 27 2024
Adobe Captivate 3 simplifies the creation of training, e-learning, and demonstration content.

Software Review: Adobe Technical Communication Suite – Adobe Captivate 3

This is the third of a series of four reviews that will cover what is contained in the Adobe Technical Communication Suite. Unlike the Adobe Creative Suite, the Technical Communication Suite is geared for technical communicators, help authors, instructional designers and training professionals. The suite contains four products; FrameMaker, RoboHelp, Captivate, and Acrobat 3D. The goal of this series it to define what each product does and provide information of what the new version brings to the table.

What do you need to run Adobe Captivate 3? You need Windows, an Intel Pentium 4, Intel Centrino, Intel Xeon, or Intel Core Duo (or compatible) processor, Windows 2000 with SP2 (trial version will not work with Windows 2000), XP SP2 or Vista, 512 MB RAM (1 GB Recommended) , 800 x 600 (1,024 x 768 recommended), and 700 MB of hard drive space.

Adobe Captivate 3 is an electronic learning tool for Microsoft Windows that can be used to author software demonstrations, software simulations, branched scenarios, and randomized quizzes in .SWF format. It can also be used for screencasts, podcasts, and for the conversion of PowerPoint presentations into the Adobe Flash format.

Adobe Captivate started off as a recording utility known as Flashcam in 2002 and became an e-learning tool when eHelp corporation acquired it, at which time the name was changed to RoboDemo. It was subsequently acquired by Macromedia, who changed its name to Captivate and is now owned by Adobe.

Adobe Captivate 3 is a key member in the Technical Communications Suite in that it provides the solution for the creation and publication of learning systems. It combines screen capture and unlike many of its contemporaries, it allows for interactive response as opposed to just generating screen recordings.

With Adobe Captivate 3 you can build and edit simulations and then post them to a website, to an intranet, set them up as an online help systems, email them, or even generate them to a PDF document with media clips.

So what is new with Adobe Captivate 3?

• Multi-mode recording – will save you time by generating multiple learning modes into a single recording session such as including a demonstration of the product, a simulation for practicing the steps, and generating an assessment all within the same recording.

• Randomized quizzing and question pools – will let you choose from customizable quiz templates such as multiple choice, fill in the blank, matching, and other set ups. You can improve learner assessments by randomly drawing questions from a set of question pools. Shuffle the answer options for multiple choice questions so that the potential answers are displayed in a different order each time.

• Rollover sidelets – allow you to provide just-in-time information on Adobe Captivate 3 slides by displaying rich media content such as images, text, audio, and video. When the learner moves the mouse over a hot spot the additional information is displayed.

• XML export and import – will let you simplify the localization process of projects. Here you can export captions to a text or XML Localization Interchange File Format (XLIFF), and you can import the translated text file in to a copy of the original file.

• Automated rerecording – will let you,; when using Microsoft Internet Explorer, update content quickly and automatically rerecord entire procedures in most web applications after the user interface has been modified or localized.

• Animation effects – provides you with a way to create content with support for animated slide transition and Microsoft PowerPoint animations.

• Audio recording and editing – gives you the ability to record narration and capture screen motion simultaneously. You can record narration while previewing the current slide with animation effects in real time, and you can edit audio to correct mistakes and pauses, or even to add an external audio track to a presentation.

• New question types – lets you increase learning effectiveness with specialized question types such as sequencing and hotspots, and matching dropdown lists.

• Rich media support – gives you the ability to create new kinds of learning experiences by incorporating audio and video. By using the built-in library to access and mange audio, video, image files, you can drag and drop objects from the library onto slides or import libraries from other projects.

• Full motion recording – allows you to automatically record all of your actions while using an application including mouse movements and keyboard activity. Full motion recording switches on and off for drag and drop actions.

Enhancements include:

• Reusing quiz slides.
• Reduction of SWF file size.
• New choices for adding captions and buttons.
• Branching view enhancements such as slide grouping and zooming.
• Improved learning management system integration.

I found that Adobe Captivate 3 is really intuitive and easy to learn. I really like the variety of recording modes available and how you can handle multiple modes with one recording session. With the Demo mode you can include captions, highlight boxes, and mouse movements. In assessment you include click boxes with a failure caption in the auto recorded project. In training you can give hint and failure captions to the project. And with custom, you can pick and choose what you include.

The other thing that I really like about Adobe Captivate 3 is the ability to create test material. It does take some time when creating complex scenarios, but it does offer a lot of options and a variety of question types. The correct and incorrect answer feedback is customizable as well as the ability to generate random tests from a bank of questions.

All in all, Adobe Captivate 3 simplifies the creation of training, e-learning, and demonstration content. Unlike many screen capture programs, Captivate also allows for interaction and testing. While it may be easy to use, to use it well will still take time, preparation, and work. If you are in need of putting together a learning course and training material, then I highly recommend Adobe Captivate 3.

About T. Michael Testi

Photographer, writer, software engineer, educator, and maker of fine images.

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