Thursday, May 3, 2012

Articulate Storyline Released

The long awaited new Articulate product "Storyline" has been released.

While I have yet to take it for a spin (the 200mb free trial is downloading as I type) here are the top 5 features that I am excited to check out:
  1. HTML 5 and iPad publish options.
  2. Screen Capture, aside from Captivate and Camtasia there hasn't really been another competetor in this field that also focuses on creating and incorporating your recordings in engaging E-Learning.
  3. Open Question Types. Storyline promises to be 'scalable' in that it will allow experienced developers to take advantage of its more advanced quizzing tools. Hopefully this improves in an area where Quizmaker fell short some times.
  4. Characters! Instead of packaging a dozen or so clip art characters,Articulate took a sandbox approach, promising a total of 47 500 combinations through their builder tool, with the ability to expand through added character packs.
  5. Template Sharing. A strong point of Articulate has always been the active development community, and Storyline looks to take full advantage of its user base by incorporating the ability to save and share course templates.
Hopefully I can post a follow-up review on these 5 features in the near future.

Friday, April 27, 2012


If you need them, you’re doing something wrong.

If users provide constructive feedback regarding problems navigating content, don’t start drafting up pages of help documentation and tutorial videos. Instead, identify what the problem is and if it can be solved through redesign. Navigation should use conventional terms and icons, and behave the way it is expected to behave. If you’re using clear icons and language, users should not need instructions to progress through the content.

Side note: My biggest pet peeve is LMS Course Players that strip the browser window of navigation, we should be able to design course navigation that compliments the standard browser functionality. Especially when designing non-linear content, the browsers back button should not need to be re-invented. Flash media can and should integrate browser navigation.

For engaging media, the objective and interaction of the exercise should be clear, or can be described with a couple concise sentences. Something like “Fill in the blank” should be all that is required, if the user needs to click a button to submit their answer, the button name should be all the instruction needed, it should just make sense.

For more complicated activities, consider building the instructions directly into the flow of the interaction. Allow the user to complete small goals, learning functionality of the total engagement as they progress to the main activity. Don’t forget to provide a skip to main exercise option as well though for the savvy or returning users.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Being Flexible

I’ve been playing around with Adobe Captivate’s Custom Widgets. While I can’t speak too highly about Captivate’s quizzing interface, I do think they’re doing it right when it comes to being flexible.

Allowing technical users to develop their own customized widgets for a Captivate project is a no-brainer. Not only does it allow users to develop beyond the restrictions of existing components, but with the developer sharing through Adobe Exchange, it actually grows their Captivate product line for free.
Articulate Quizmaker could learn from this model.

Want a fill in the blank question with more than one blanks? Nope, sorry.

Want matching question where items can match to the same responses? Nope, sorry.

Quizmaker is a fantastic tool, but its strength in being easy to use has a side effect of not allowing much customization. They needed to follow Adobe Captivate's lead and allow for Question Widgets through a Flash API.

I hear Articulate’s StoryLine is nearing finished, from what I hear it will be their first HTML5 centric tool. Here’s hoping they grow their product, develop a strong developer community, and allow for customization, all by being a little flexible.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Add a simple pause in the middle of a slide in Adobe Presenter

This seemingly simple request turned into a frustrating search for an answer.

Adobe's Support recommends you add "Pause after each animation" from the publish advanced settings, or I alternatively you could select "Advance by User" from the Slide Manager menu.

But these don't help for inserting a simple pause in the middle of a slide, and it wasn't until I stumbled on page 18 of a PDF from the University of Calgary that I felt very silly for not knowing how to do this before.

In the AUDIO edit of all places, we can right click the time line and choose "Insert Command" to add a Wait for User pause in the middle of a slide.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Goodbye *.swf hello student cheating

Adobe's business shift to focusing on producing development tools for HTML5 is fantastic. I believe there are a lot of champions and promoters of HTML5, but few realize for something like this to be fully applied and improved we need leaders like Adobe to provide us with the development environments where we can create our media without being concerned with something like writing Javascript Canvas Code.

There's just one small thing that's been on my mind however, something we've taken for granted. The SWF File format provided us with a 'reasonable' amount of security in terms of hiding answers to questions. It's far from secure, all you need is the ability to download the file, decompile it, and root through the source. However, this process for students is more cumbersome than actually just learning the material, not to mention technology that they're probably not familiar with.

As we move towards a Javascript, XML, HTML system for providing Assessments, we may find that increasingly web sophisticated students will find it easier to access answers to questions. You may not realize how quickly a determined student could root through your client side code, but any web familiar individual looking for a quick grade will find it quite easy to exploit your unsecured method of storing answers.

Tools like Quizmaker, or Captivate have provided us a fantastic way to create portable Learning Objects. Now, for reasons of security we may be forced into using our Learning Management System's proprietary Assessment Engine, limiting the shelf life and portability of our content.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Access Score Variables from an Articulate Quizmaker Quiz

I often get developers to my blog that are interested in using Articulate's Quizmaker to enhance their custom Flash based eLearning courses. I have previously written about how to load a Quizmaker quiz into your own Actionscript 2.0 swf and still report to SCORM. What if we want to do our own custom reporting? How do we access Quizmaker's score variables?

Well, assuming you've loaded the quiz into a MovieClip "_root.myContainer" here you are:

Score in % = _root.myContainer.g_oVariableMgr.m_arrVariables[7].m_nNumber
Total Points Awarded = _root.myContainer.g_oVariableMgr.m_arrVariables[2].m_nNumber

The Passing Percent = _root.myContainer.g_oVariableMgr.m_arrVariables[5].m_nNumber
The Passing Points = _root.myContainer.g_oVariableMgr.m_arrVariables[6].m_nNumber

Total Max Points = _root.myContainer.g_oVariableMgr.m_arrVariables[4].m_nNumber
Total Answered Max Points = _root.myContainer.g_oVariableMgr.m_arrVariables[3].m_nNumber