In our previous series of articles, we introduced some of the tools available for producing elearning content. These tools can also enhance projects for technical writers, enriching software documentation and online help content with engaging, interactive material.
These articles offer suggestions and tips for technical writers interested in applying useful elearning software to their projects.
Adobe® Captivate is an application for creating dynamic elearning and mlearning content. With it, you can build a roundtrip PowerPoint® workflow to generate presentations with engaging and interactive features.
The content generated with Adobe Captivate is useful for supplementing technical writing and software documentation projects. The following are some of the features I found useful and how you might use them to enhance your own projects.
Captivate offers a robust, in-program system for recording screen actions. Its smart recording function captures everything that happens on-screen, down to mouse movements and keyboard actions. Using this function, you can:
- Provide detailed, visually-oriented software documentation
- Supplement instructional material with thorough video-walkthroughs
- Add captions, or set Captivate to include them automatically
- Zoom in or pan across to guide the user’s focus
Content in Captivate can be set to appear when the user’s mouse hovers over certain hotspots. I enjoy the versatility of this feature, as you can make images, text, audio, and even video pop up in response to the user’s actions. You can expand your content by:
- Adding further details to the information you have included
- Showing internal components of a diagram when the curser hovers over it
- Adding visual callouts to a list of software process steps
The screen-capture function extends to software simulations. Recorded software processes can be used to form interactive simulations for the user to try. I like this added level of interactivity for software demos and instructions. Including simulations in your content can:
- Make material engaging with interactive demos
- Reinforce instructions with tutorials
- Allow users to safely test skills in simulations, without making changes to actual software
Captivate supports a variety of video types and functions. These videos can be embedded in other content, or placed in a video-in-video format. I enjoyed the ability to have related information interacting on the same screen. The application’s video support allows you to:
- Show detailed relationships between processes
- Simultaneously demonstrate alternative methods for similar processes
- Embed content in other elearning authoring tools, such as Articulate® Studio
Templates, Styles, Smart Learning Interactions
Captivate includes a variety of built-in templates and styles. These offer frameworks for everything from visual themes to interactive learning tools. Styles can be defined to unify certain types of objects throughout the content. These templates really sped up production time for me, and made it easier to use the program to supplement my projects. Some of the ways I took advantage of these templates were to:
- Use themes to lend visual unity to supplemental material
- Add actors to make material more personal
- Use templates for interactive elements to quickly bring material to life
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