#AdobeCaptivate Timelines Demystified

Hello Captivate Rock Stars young and old. I’ve been plugging away on this one for a while now – in part because I realize how really central it is to understanding Captivate as a whole. I’ve always been fascinated by learning, but there is one phenomenon in learning which I find particularly compelling; the paradigm shift. We all hold paradigms in our mind. You can think of them as models or patterns that help us figure out new things based on our past experiences. Usually paradigms are very useful, because they give us the pattern to crack the code of some new mystery. Sometimes, however; the paradigm actually stands in the way of learning – because it makes us blind to other possibilities.

As I’ve taught, I’ve seen this phenomenon over and over again. Some people describe it as the need to practice, others call it the need to break down conventions before learning anew. Alvin Toffler famously said “In the future, the definition of illiteracy will not be the inability to read, it will be the inability to learn, unlearn and relearn.” I like to think of Toffler’s ‘unlearning’ as the necessary erosion of old paradigms in order to adopt new ones. A language teacher I once had used to tell me that learning a language required a certain amount of tolerance for ambiguity – willingness to accept and experiment with words, phrases and ideas without needing to create a literal map of a in language 1 = b in language 2.

Timelines are probably the most significant timeline that eludes new users of Adobe Captivate. Honestly there are simply not a lot of extant paradigms in normal daily living that can be easily drafted to create an inherent understanding of Timelines. These simple interface tools have been used for a long time in video editing and animation – to represent the sequence of events over time, and it is certainly no suprise that the timeline forms a really significant portion of the Adobe Captivate interface. But most eLearning professionals do not come into the field with a background in animation or television or multimedia, so the timeline at first glance can seem like a very odd thing. It doesn’t really resemble the workflow common in Microsoft PowerPoint or other slide creation tools, and it can be even more of a puzzle for people who come from cultures where time is not commonly mapped from the left to the right. (Yes, there are a lot of ways to visualize the flow of time.)

So I’ve decided to start, what will be a multi-part series on the Captivate timeline, with a simple overview of the paradigm and some examples of how you actually use it. If you’re an advanced user or you already have a strong mental model for timelines then this video & article may be less useful than amusing, but if you are just starting – I hope you’ll find the overview beneficial in helping you shape your own paradigm for the timeline. You’ll find that it helps not only with using Captivate, but also with using any number of other media editors which also rely on the Western representation of time and the most common multimedia interfaces.

Below you’ll find the YouTube video. Please be sure to comment, post response videos, Tweet etc. to share your thoughts and feedback. I picked up some trolls on last weeks video so I feel terribly famous now. 😉

5 Responses

  1. Dr. Partridge,

    Thx for tackling this issue. We are using CP 5 software sims embedded in CP 5 CBT modules and have had some timing issues with this concept. I look forward to more in this series and have already forwarded this link to my team.

  2. What is the name of the red arrow that you get if you hit shift+right arrow until the object’s timeline hits the end of the slide timeline (that has the effect of “sticking” it to the end of the timeline)? I’d like to know more about it, but don’t know what to look under. Also, I have noticed that if you have several objects selected and some of them are a fixed length and some are the rest of the slide, that when you drag them to the right, sometimes the total timeline length will extend and sometime it won’t, but I haven’t been able to find a definitive pattern about which object to grab/where on the object to grab it to get which result. Could you cover these more obscure topics that don’t appear to be documented?

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