Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Articulate, Captivate, Both, or....?

I've been using Adobe Captivate for a while now and I am very happy with it for technical training projects but I can't help but wonder if other tools like Articulate may be a great addition to my toolbox. Since I already have Captivate, I need to determine whether it would be worth the investment to purchase new software when I may be able to get along just as well with what I already have. I'm hoping you can help me make this decision by commenting with your thoughts on the skill sets of Articulate, Captivate, or a different eLearning authoring tool altogether.

In my humble opinion, Captivate is second to none when it comes to software simulations and technical training projects but I believe there is a little left to be desired when it comes to soft skills projects that don't require screencasting. I often find myself creating most of the content in Power Point, then importing those slides into Captivate to add interaction and publish as flash. Being that Articulate integrates so well with Power Point it makes me wonder if maybe I would be happier with it for certain projects. But then there's that price tag that comes along with Articulate that makes me think I should just stay with what is already working okay for me. So, what do you think, is Articulate worth the investment when I already have Captivate? Before I jump into the trial version of Articulate to test it out I'd like to hear your opinion on eLearning development tools. Here's a brief description of some of the requirements that will come into play in the decision making process.

This is definitely not an exhaustive list of requirements but my main concerns going into the research stages.
  • Works well for low bandwidth users - You could say that my learners computers are bandwidth challenged. I have a difficult time using SCORM with Captivate because of the added bandwidth. Keeping bandwidth to a minimum is a huge concern for me.
  • Moodle friendly - If you've read this blog before you know I am using Moodle so it is important that whatever tool I use is Moodle friendly.
  • SCORM works well on Moodle - I've had my challenges using SCORM with Captivate and Moodle due to bandwidth issues. Hoping a different tool might be able to handle this better.
  • Budget Friendly - I don't have much room in the budget so it needs to be something that's not going to leave too much of a dent in it. The price tag on Articulate is pushing it. Although I do have a student discount so I may be able to find a better deal then what is advertised on the web site.
  • Branching Friendly - This year I will be working on a lot of scenario based branching eLearning tutorials. I'd like a tool that is designed well for laying out a branching tutorial and makes it easy to create menu screens with variables based on the users path.


Dave said...

My company is transitioning away from Articulate in favor of Adobe Presenter... seems easier to use, and it does the same basic stuff... what you can't do can be done in Captivate. Hope this helps!

Tom said...

Articulate meets all of your requirements. Here's where I see the difference with Articulate:

1) Image quality is much better and crisp.

2) Workflow. Good comparison is to record audio and sync animations. Then change sync on the fly. Articulate is all in one window. Others you have to close and go to a different window. Also slide properties manager has good control, layout, and branching.

3) Annotations. They save a lot of time building animations in PowerPoint and they look really pro.

4) Branching. Articulate has branching controls in the slide properties manager.

5) Quizmaker rocks! It's like PowerPoint meets Flash. Does great quizzes with a lot of custom animations/looks. Not that form look like other quizzes. You can use it to do branched scenarios, too.

6) Engage. Build form-based modules in minutes. They can be included in your course or act as standalone.

7) The Articulate community is world class and they have great support. I can't think of a software company that is so accessible and in touch with their customers. You see that in the Rapid Elearning Blog and all of those great screencasts in Screenr.

You don't just buy Articulate. You buy into a community. Tweet me and I can send you some assets from my demos (especially Quizmaker) so you play around and break them apart.

Jenise Cook said...

Most of my clients use Articulate Studio. And, I also use Captivate and Flash for additional learning components or objects, if needed.

My philosophy is you can never have "too many" e-learning development tools. But, yes, I'm a tool geek.

I vote for purchasing both.

Jade said...

I think you're definitely right when you say that there is a little left to be desired with Captive when not using screencasting.
I recently had to use Captivate for one such project (I had suggested Articulate as an alternative, but client required it to be created in Captivate). Having been used to using Articulate, I found it very difficult to use - Articulate certainly is certainly quicker and has better functionalities for this use.

Schweitz said...

I second Dave's comment about Adobe Presenter. If you're already using Adobe PDF, you would just need to transition to the Extended version to get Presenter too.

We use Moodle for providing training to human services government staff. Captivate has been our go to tool for systems and technical training, but we occasionally wanted something friendlier for soft skills training. Presenter has been a perfect compliment for our purposes and integrates into PowerPoint beautifully.

It also works really well with Adobe Connect (fast becoming a larger use than our orginal purchase intention).

Bobby said...

Hey Joe, my name is Bobby Meyers and I work as a Senior Systems Engineer @ Sealund & Associates Corporation. I came across you on Twitter today and saw that you are looking to add some eLearning tools to your toolbox. You might want to give Interactivity Creator a try. Based on the information on your website and your blog post, it looks like it could benefit you in some of the projects you work on. Interactivity Creator let’s you create interactivities that can integrate into eLearning easily. www.interactivitycreator.com

Shameer Ayyappan said...

Since soft skills training is the key driver for this alternate tool- being able to create multiple-conditions-based branching scenarios will be a key requirement; also viewing and editing the branching map will be important.
Why spend another $1800 for being able to add audio narration and quizzing from within PowerPoint? Captivate allows you to author your content in PowerPoint and bring this into Captivate for further enhancement. You can roundtrip back to PowerPoint and continue editing your slides at any point from within Captivate. Also, with Captivate, you will have complete flexibility to edit the look and feel of all objects in your course to meet your customers’ specific requirements.

Joe Deegan said...

Thanks for the great advice everyone. Sounds like there are definitely some differing views out there between going all Adobe or bringing Articulate into the toolbox. I don't think I'll really know until I jump into some trial versions and attempt to justify the cost. Trial versions here I come....

Steve said...

Joe, You already kind of hit the nail on the head in your post. I think Articulate and Captivate serve two different purposes. The way you are using Captivate for heavy technical or software training. And Articulate for lighter soft skill training.

To your point about your use of Powerpoint...I did an experiment once. I took a PPT deck and published to both Captivate and Articulate. The biggest difference is that Captivate publishes to one huge SWF file. Articulate chunks it up. But even with that, the Captivate file turned out to be quite a bit larger than what came out of Articulate.

So IMHO, Articulate and Captivate are two distinct tools to have in your toolbox.


Joe Deegan said...

Thanks Steve. File size is definitely a hot spot for me. I struggle to keep the file size down using Captivate 3 which causes problems when I want to use SCORM.

I was sent a link to an interesting conversation comparing Captivate to Articulate on the Articulate forums. Brings up some interesting points.

Rajat said...

Hi all,

I own both Captivate 4 and Articulate studio 09. I love Captivate 4 for its ability to do advanced interactions and branching but it seems to take too much time for doing simple tasks. Articulate, due to its power point integration is a much simpler tool especially for producing self paced audio narrated e learning content.

Is is possible to create self paced and voice narrated courses in Adobe Captivate where majority of the content is animated power point. I am struggling to do the same since there is no sync animations (by mouse click) functionality in Captivate similar to the one found in Articulate or Adobe Presenter. Any help in this regard would be appreciated.

Vicki Kunkel said...

I do soft skills training using a lot of character animations. (The character animations are developed using either CodeBaby or Oddcast).

Currently, I import those to Captivate, but it's very "glitchy" and a bit of a headache. Has anyone had experience creating/importing character animations into any of the other rapid development tools discussed here?

Any insights would be greatly appreciated. Thanks! :)

Joe Deegan said...

Hi Vicki,
I don't have any experience importing character animations but I am sure someone out there in the Articulate community has tried this and can fill you in on how it went. If you don't get any responses here you might try posting your question in the Articulate forums (Link below). I'm sure you'll get an answer and possibly some examples from developers who have tried it. Another option would be to download the trial version of other programs and see how it goes. Hope this helps and good luck.

Unknown said...

Atlantic Link by Kaplan Learning Technologies may be the better choice. It is a client/server colaborative tool for rapid development. It also has a screen capturing tool that can produce a Show Me, Try Me, and Test Me from a single screen capture. It compresses everything by at least 10:1 and pushes out the courses slide by slide vs forcing the learning to DL the entire course. Take a look at that.