Anyone who has built a PowerPoint knows that they have tons of wonderful … and not so wonderful ... templates to choose from. These templates help guide individuals in development of slides (combinations of graphics and text) and give a bit more life to an otherwise plain presentation. Adobe Captivate does this as well, by providing several fabulous templates with pre-built layouts, images, and even interactions to assist developers in the development of their eLearning content.

But are templates enough? Of course not! Designers don't become instructional designers because they follow templates! Instructional designers are creative people who want to create. You must learn how to start designing and developing your own templates, layouts, and designs. Templates might be good for when you are learning and getting started in PowerPoint … but now is the time to move on.

Start with the basics

Employers and clients often have strict style guidelines that must be followed, or they might be looking for unique designs for a new project. Once you understand the basics of Adobe Captivate, the rest tends to fall right into place. Courses are built using three basic things: objects, layers, and actions. Learning how to work with these is key to designing unique and powerful eLearning content.

Objects are items such as images, text, shapes, videos, animations, buttons, etc. Basically, objects can be thought of as anything the learner will see on screen. Objects are what you will use to begin creating the layout and design of your customized course. Objects are the building blocks used to show content, add custom design and branding, or for creating a course user interface. Adobe Captivate allows you to easily add and edit any kind of object you can imagine, giving you the flexibility to design your course the way you want.

However, simply adding objects onto a blank canvas isn’t enough. You must understand how to work with layers. Layers ensure you are displaying your content in the proper place and at the proper time. Sometimes we want to stack various objects to create depth in the presentation, or have objects appear and disappear along with the narration. Understanding how to work with layers and your timeline is critical to making this happen. Adobe Captivate utilizes a simple timeline feature that allows users to easily group objects, move objects up and down within the layers, and adjust the timing of objects along a simple timeline.

Lastly, learning to create interactions is not critical when learning to develop good courses. However, it is critical to learn when you are trying to develop great courses! Adding interactivity is what will take your courses to the next level. Whether done for the purpose of allowing learners to select what they learn, having interactive educational games, providing personalized learning, or creating user interfaces, providing interaction with a course creates a more engaging environment for learners. Passive participation is now a thing of the past. Adobe Captivate provides a simple user interface for developers to quickly and easily create simple, advanced, and conditional actions that will allow for more interactive engagement in a course.

Why Adobe Captivate?

So why take the time to learn Adobe Captivate? If I am already using Storyline, Lectora, or Camtasia, do I really need to bother taking the time to learn another eLearning tool? Of course! To become a more well-rounded and knowledgeable eLearning professional, it never hurts to add new tools, knowledge, and skills to our tool belts. This is why we attend conferences like DevLearn; to learn new skills and techniques that we can take back and use in our work. Taking the time to learn Adobe Captivate and all that it has to offer is only going to make you a stronger and more marketable eLearning professional. So why wait?

From the editor: Want to learn more?

Kevin Newsome will present a pre-conference workshop at the eLearning Guild's DevLearn Conference & Expo October 21: "BYOD: Getting Started With Adobe Captivate". Register by Friday, September 6 and save an additional $100, on top of any other discounts you may qualify for.

If your basic Captivate skills are pretty solid, on October 22, Joe Ganci will present the day-long, pre-conference workshop "BYOD Advance Your Adobe Captivate Skills".