Thursday, October 13, 2011

Captain Captivate

Welcome to my very first live-blogging event! Josh Cavalier, CEO of Lodestone Digital aka Captain Captivate is presenting to a group of PACT members at the Brooklyn Center library. His blog can be found at My colleague GM (with the pelt) is also live-blogging this event:
Gary's Pelt
These are my notes from today's session. Most of the knowledge and thoughts come from Josh Cavalier, but the witty comments belong to me :)

Mobile Learning
It's the next big thing. With's Kindle Fire tablet selling for $200, Josh expects that just like with cell phones, everyone will have a tablet. The issue with iPads and other Apple devices not being able to support Flash? Adobe is working on that. Josh thinks that Flash is not dead and is not going away anytime soon.

Now for some Captivate-specific notes:
  • Don't know which size to use for your new Captivate project? Going with 790 x 545 is a safe bet.
  • Captivate uses a slide-based metaphor. "Captivate users coming over from PowerPoint think "Hey! This is just like PowerPoint" and then start using it and think "Hey! This is nothing like PowerPoint."" Nicely said!
  • Everything is time-based. You have to understand the timeline. Some timelines are very long, some timelines are very complex.As your e-learning gets published, it's one giant timeline.
  • Use the tool bar on your left. The menu on your right changes depending on what you're working on. You can collapse the menus. Shadows are fancy (that's just my opinion).
Now, moving on to the content:
  • Have a style guide. Josh gave us a style guide! Done and done. I'm excited to have something to follow.
  • Create a storyboard. We were shown an effective storyboard created in Word. The storyboard includes details, text, audio, what the user is required to do and the results.
  • Use a template, it'll save you lots of time. Makes everything look professional and consistent. Placeholders let you convert the little grey boxes into text, animation, images and more. The animations are already built in, you just have to fill in the text. Genius.
  • Always save your work!
File extensions
.cptx = Captivate file
.cptl = Template file

Template sizes
  • Soft skills: 790 x 545
  • System training: Be very mindful of the size you're using. Create a prototype and test it to make sure that it fits the browser, so your users don't have to scroll around to see everything.
Template creation
  • Master slide- to set up your logo, watermark-- stuff that will be on every slide.
  • Skin Editor- lets you set navigation of the course. Playback, borders and the table of contents feature can be found here. Wish I would have known about this 5 years ago.
  • New slide- uses the master template vs. blank slide- literally a blank slide.
  • Playback head- it's our friend. It's running to the end line. The role of the playback head is to draw everything at that moment in time.
  • Insert, Standard Objects --> Click Box, Button, Text Entry Box = only three objects that will stop the playback head.
  • Josh uses "disabled" buttons to prevent users from click-click-clicking through the e-learning.
  • Creating e-learning for tablets? Your buttons need to be just buttons, without any fancy-hover-over-changing-color-business.
  • Buttons need to be copy and pasted into each individual slide. They cannot be part of the master slide. You can "lock" the buttons after pasting, but they need to be "unlocked" before copying.
  • Placeholders can be used for text, images, animation and more.
  • By creating a regular text box, customizing the preferences to your liking and then deleting it, a placeholder will appear in it's place.
Handy tips
  • Control-0 (zero) makes your slide Fit-to-Screen. Or Command-0 (zero), if you're a Mac user. Control-1, Control-2, Control-3 to zoom into the screen.
  • Control-Enter is the shortcut to Preview.
  • Edit, Preferences, Defaults, uncheck the two "Autosize" features. This will prevent your text boxes from autosizing themselves.
  • Window, Branching View lets you view the entire e-learning and all of the different branches.
  • Group your slides to make orgainzation a little easier.
Interesting fact: The original Captivate was called Flash Cam and it would take a snapshot and put an animated cursor on top to make it look like an animation/screen simulation.

  • Name the variable in "camelCase".
  • If you select Properties, Insert, Variables gets your variable into your text boxes. Way to call people by their $$firstName$$.
  • Created my very first branching scenario! Woohoo! This is going to open up a whole new world of e-learning creation for me.
  • Advanced Actions make me feel like a faux-computer programmer.
  • "You gotta name it, to claim it."
Flash animation
These are good places to find Flash animation to purchase. Before buying any Flash animation, make sure it's programmed for Action Script 3 (AS3).
Parameters box that allow you to change properties about the widget.

Can be inserted as:
  • object (FLV or F4V)- if you don't need anything else displayed on the slide
  • slide video- so you can add additional content like adding closed captioning when the video plays.
Video, Edit Video Timing will let you control the split timing on the video and what information you want the user to see at the appropriate time.

Wow! What a fantastic and worthwhile session. I'm excited to try out my new Captivate skills. I can already think of a couple of projects I'd like to tackle. My main goal for my next e-learning is to use branching scenarios. Oh, and to storyboard it before I start.

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