A surfeit of lampreys

It may have been Henry I who died from a supposed ‘surfeit of lampreys’ but at the moment, I feel like we’re going to drown under the authoring tools we are currently using! We seem to have a surfeit of authoring tools.

After not having anything to develop self managed learning, except PowerPoint, I find myself trialling and developing on 3 different tools. It’s been a hectic couple of months trying to keep up, so as part of my ‘reflection’ process I thought I’d post a few thoughts on my progress so far.

First up….

Atlantic Link by Kaplan

The company I work for is currently in the process of de-coupling from a large banking group and this is the group preferred option. This was only available to us from September, and I and another colleague had training from Kaplan. From having nothing I was initially excited about the possibilities this presented to us. Proper branching, scenario building and assessments were some of the functionality that attracted us. Exploring screens and using the bank of ‘assets’ meant that we could make our modules as in depth as we wished. Maybe it was because I left it a couple of weeks before having a good look at it, but I began to find that it didn’t quite work in the way that I wanted it to. This is what I found-

Layout looks a little crowded but enables you to keep tabs on all your chapters/pages
Find assets from a side bar and drag and drop onto your page
Each asset has a properties window which means you can manipulate the assets
‘content point’ is where you assemble your courses, ‘capture point’ is the screen capture tool.
More assets can be imported from the Atlantic Link library (although I couldn’t get this to work, and had to e-mail the asset to myself and then add it to the library-probably owing to our browser)
It is necessary to use the correct asset to do the action you want. You can’t seem to mix the assets-use a button to prompt some roll over text etc.
Very simple to produce a ‘show me, try me, test me’ feature for software simulations.
Not WYSIWYG. One you have amended your assets (colour etc) you need to publish to view correctly. There are two ways to view, either the page or the complete course.

At the moment we are heavily involved in producing software simulations so the simulation functionality was a real winner. However, we were then presented with-

Lectora Online by Trivantis via Success Factors

We are also launching an LMS (better late than never, even though it seems some people are moving beyond the LMS) and we get this product bundled with it. At first, the software looked a little ‘bare’ and simple, but this belied the power that this product offers. I found that-

This is WYSIWYG. Designing the page is great as you can see it how the end user would see it.
You still use assets but tend to just be buttons, text boxes, pictures, movies, audio
This sounds quite limited, but every item on your page can be modified in lots of different ways.
Actions can be added to everything and multiple actions can be added. Group multiple actions together and run them simultaneously.
Variables can be added to assets ( just getting my head around these!) to improve their functionality further
Simple preview button that shows the page and functioning as the user would see it-and it will show the page you are on and will move forward if you want-no need to run the whole course from the beginning
Easy to add assessments and to manipulate them in anyway you want.

This seems to be quite straightforward to use and the possibilities seem endless as everything can be manipulated. We don’t have Camtasia, which is packaged with Lectora inspire, so there is no screen capture software. You can do simulations though using interactive static screens. If this wasn’t enough to be getting on with, we are now getting-

Adobe Captivate

I’ve only been looking at a demo copy of this, but my initial thoughts are that it seems to combine the other two applications. This is going to be mainly for screen capture, but you can assemble courses as well. As you are building the course you see the slides as the end user will see them. To manipulate the assets there is a properties box which is laid out like Atlantic Link. What makes me think that this will be good for us is that the screen capture can be exported as a .swf or .flv and can then be exported to Lectora. I’ve not really begun to explore everything in this software, but I’m looking forward to getting to grips with it,

My preference then is for Lectora combined with Captivate which I think will give us the best options when designing online learning. I don’t think that Atlantic Link will be flexible enough for us as we try and develop the best learning offering that we can create.

Has anyone used any of these before? Anything to add? Pease let me know your experiences with authoring tools-hints and tips would be very welcome!

Atlantic Link

Lectora Online

Adobe Captivate


2 thoughts on “A surfeit of lampreys”

  1. Hi D. I remember going through the same process some years ago & we have used 2-3 authoring tools since then. We are currently using Captivate as our priority need is developing content for IT users. We have however used it to develop some non IT contents. So far it has proven very flexible & integrates well with Moodle.

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