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From a nearly new user to a very new user

Captivate is the distant cousin of the Adobe family. It doesn’t care about the hours you may have put in with the other products, which all play well together and look as though they came from the same parents. Upon first opening it, nothing will look reassuring or familiar, presumably the coders and designers also sit away from everyone else in the Adobe cafeteria. This initial disorientation threw me when I started with the software, just a few weeks ago.

If you are using the 30 day trial of Captivate, prepare to reach the end still not completely sure how to do everything. That isn’t the fault of the software or user, rather a different mindset needed when using the program. Other software often leaves it fingerprints all over whatever is created using it: images that have obviously been created in Photoshop, perfect line art that could only have come from Illustrator. Captivate isn’t nearly so boastful. I’ve no idea whether or not I’ve ever interacted with something created on the platform in the past. For it to achieve its goal of creating effective learning materials, it needs to stay in the background. I can use any image software and expect to roughly express on screen what is in my head. I know that any video or audio editing program will let me arrange the sound and motion as I like, I already know the outcome before starting. With Captivate, not only did I not have a clear idea of what I wanted to create, I also didn’t know what I could create and how to go about it. Everything was a known-unknown.

Captivate for me has been full of ‘I wonder if I can do this…’ moments. Nearly always, I can do whatever it is I’m thinking, but it has taken time and effort on my part. The eLearning industry seems to be comprised of a dedicated group of people trying to undo years of damage caused by what were considered in the past to be best practices but are now viewed only as effective ways to destroy student’s souls. Despite the advances made in the theory of effective learning, as creators we’re still presented by a huge, daunting blank page and it is this sense of initial directionless wandering that I think creates this gap for new users between what is in their head and the mess they make on the screen.

So as a fairly new user to the very new, you’re going to have to work for your results, at least initially. Work smart however and it pays off. The Captivate community seems cosy (small) and welcoming. Pretty much anything you may want to do in the first few days and weeks has been done, recorded, explained and shared.


9 Responses

  1. Nice article, Gareth. I ‘discovered’ Captivate because as a college professor I was looking for innovation in the learning assets I offered to my students. That is probably a different background from most Captivate developers. I knew the goal of the application. When I started using Photoshop over 20 years ago, I also know that it could replace my old ‘dark room’ full of chemicals. Photoshop became much more than such a replacement during the years I spent with it. Same probably will happen with Captivate: it has so many features, scents, spices that you have to take time to savour all of them. However I deeply resent the switch from the Adobe-branded user interface which existed from version 5 up till 7, to the present UI which has IMO no brand-feeling at all. Not everyone agrees with this point of view of course.

    • Oh, I didn’t know that it used to be more in line with the other Adobe products. It would certainly help create more of a feeling of familiarity. I suppose that in a few years when the UI changes again I’ll be at the point where I can whinge about the decision and how much I loved the current soulless interface.

      • Be sure, I will never like this UI, to me it is a big relief when i can work in Photoshop, Illustrator or another Adobe branded application, because I can customize them and don’t have to live under the dictatorship of Captivate the Almighty who knows better than me what the work flow should be. Sorry, my sarcastic nature popped up again. I don’t like the MS UI neither, for similar reasons.

  2. Hi Gareth,

    Nicely said! Clearly you are a critical thinker, and Captivate really rewards that cognitive approach. It is logical, technically sound and as you stated “I wonder if I can do this…’ moments.” Nearly always can.

    In regards to the blank screen, this is common to any creative app I have ever used. Photoshop, Illustrator, Premiere Pro, After Affects etc. I call it the “curse of the blinking prompt”. Captivate won’t help you with that, but it will play nicely with all those the majority of Adobe apps.


  3. Hey Gareth,

    Yes, I concur with the other comments and love your summation of this wonderful and amazing product! And if you’re like me and have been using Captivate since it was born, you can see the progress that has been made. When I first started using this product, you couldn’t even create a variable. Now look at everything you can do. Captivate is, by far, the most powerful tool available on the market today. Yes, there is a learning curve – but if you’re serious about e-learning, then you’re willing to invest the time. And this new community is extremely helpful!


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