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How and Why are College Students Using Adobe Captivate

Before I tell you about the exciting eSeminar we had this week watch the video below. With nearly four million views on YouTube you may already have seen it. It’s a great introduction to the topic at hand. Which was essentially; why are students finding, using and innovating via products like Adobe Captivate 5.

The video above was created by students from the Kansas State University as a project for Dr. Michael Wesch’s Basic Anthropology course. In this amazing effort the students examined themselves and their situation and consolidated their findings into an incredibly popular YouTube video which resonates with Truth. Beginning with an appropriate nod to MacLuhan Wasch’s student’s video expresses perfectly the ironic misalignment of 21st Century Students in an 18th Century educational system.

Our topic this week focused on the surge in students using Adobe Captivate for a wide variety of purposes. I carried through the narrative approach begun last week and introduced four representative students in order to summarize the personal accounts that i’ve gleaned from a variety of sources; Lab administrators with Captivate site licenses, educators, students, & personal observations.

You’ll find the slide deck for the presentation below. Or click the link to view it directly (notes included.) You’ll probably enjoy the presentation which begins to explore these issues and examines the question, “How and why are college students using Captivate?”

In order to explore the how and why for typical students I gave four examples of students in the arts, health, education and business. We began with a little context and then met the model students. Here are some highlights from the presentation in case you’re still debating whether or not to ‘check it out’;

It helps set the context to understand both how rapidly technology has permeated our culture, and how rapidly it continues to escalate. It also helps to understand how social and collegial interconnectedness influences daily life for college students in 2010.

They are always connected; to each other, to families, to the web, to information, to colleagues and to teachers. They connect with instant messages, text messaging, telephone calls, email, twitter, and a slew of social networks. They also continue to connect with face to face experiences in and out of class. They rely on their universal communication devices, especially their cell phones – and they likely don’t understand why their teachers freak out every time they see them using one in class.

Students of 2010 are very likely digital natives. Ask about their first computer experience and it was probably in their home and probably as a young child. They have had digital devices for entertainment and to supplement their education for their entire lives. They would be hard pressed to imagine a world without computers and more importantly, a world without multimedia. They likely have found text only textbooks dull and painful and struggle with the stark difference between the linear world of school, and the extra-linear world around them.

Marshal MacLuhan famously observed that every new media form initially takes on the properties of those forms which precede it, at least until the new media form can be allowed to come into its own through manipulation over time by those who don’t ‘know’ how to use media based on the earlier forms. A former mentor used to tell me that it was a pity the wheel had already been invented – because now all the darn wheels are round. The idea expressed here is that our prior-knowledge of media makes us the worst possible stewards of new forms of media. We always try to make it into old media instead of trying to let it ‘become’ new media – with its own unique properties. Today’s students are infinitely better equipped to manipulate new media, because they are less encumbered by old media.

They are therefore virtual explorers. The pioneers who will discover the possibilities of new media. It is in that spirit of exploration that we find todays students engaging with Adobe Captivate.

Today we’ll look at four ‘typical’ students. Well okay they aren’t real students, they are amalgams of the kind of students I have seen and the projects that they will show us are stereotypical of the ‘kind’ of projects that I have seen from students in these situations.

4 Responses

  1. Hi Allen,

    Great video, but I don’t understand how it really relates to Adobe Captivate?
    Did the students use Captivate to capture and edit the footage? Or is the link actually more tenuous than the blog title suggests?

    • Ian,

      Thanks for the question. I am actually charged with going well beyond Captivate, so this post along with some of my other recent entries begin to delve a little deeper into the overall eLearning landscape. You’ll see that this one is actually a way to introduce the eSeminar I did that focuses on College students’ uses of Captivate. You’ll find it through the link before the video – and can peruse the slides embedded below the video. It was an interesting investigation and got me thinking a lot about why college students are using Captivate, and in that investigation I stumbled upon Dr. Wesch’s work. I think it’s salient to the investigation overall, but of course Dr. Wesch’s students are focused primarily on social media, specifically YouTube. The students I describe / discuss in the 1 hour eSeminar are the ones focused on Adobe Captivate for delivering their content. Thanks again for the question.


  2. You are committing a huge crime in Kansas, mixing up the University of Kansas and Kansas State!

    The video was made by a professor at Kansas State NOT the University of Kansas 🙂

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