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.