Author’s Note: This blog entry is part of a series I started to explore two of today’s most popular eLearning rapid development tools: Articulate Studio and Adobe Captivate. Here is a link to an article that contains the whole Articulate vs. Captivate series.
With the rapid eLearning development tools becoming prevalent in the market, course development is getting faster and some aspects are getting easier and less costly. Among the many eLearning rapid development tools on the market, Articulate Studio and Adobe Captivate have become the most popular and widely-used among our clients.
As an eLearning consulting company, we are often asked for advice on which is best, Articulate or Captivate? This question is often asked by corporate learning groups who want to choose a standard tool for use within their company or group.
I want to note here that when I refer to “Articulate” in these blog entries, I’m referring to the full Articulate Studio package. While it is possible to buy individual Articulate products (like Articulate Presenter), I don’t think this makes sense for most needs because without the full Articulate Studio, the functionality and results would be limited.
So which is better, Articulate or Captivate? Of course, there’s no clear way to answer this question except to say “it depends”. Both tools work well in different areas and for different reasons. I’ll start this series of blog entries with the things that both Articulate and Captivate have in common. In upcoming entries, I’ll look at what each tool does well and not-so-well.
I have to add that the skill and experience of the developer does still matter. These tools are often purchased with the expectation that anyone will be able to use them to create great eLearning courses. The problem is that as developers and learners have demanded more sophistication from the courses that these tools produce, the number of features and the complexity of using these tools has increased with each new version. Whichever tool you choose, there is no substitute for knowing how to use it efficiently and effectively. The more skilled and experienced you are at using these tools, the better your results will be.
Since I’m a developer, I can’t resist starting with ease-of-development. From this standpoint, both tools are relatively easy to jump into (at least at a basic level) without extensive coding knowledge or formal training. Basically, developers use the built-in templates to build courses by adding written learning content, creating interactive components, and then adding audio, and so forth. The templates take care of the user interface, the navigation, and other features so these don’t have to be built from scratch as they would if you were developing using other technologies like Adobe Flash.
Both Articulate and Captivate have a number of features in common:
Now we come to the point where the tools start to diverge. Articulate and Captivate work differently and each tool has advantages and disadvantages when it comes to certain features and uses. To understand which tool is a better choice, you need to consider the tools in light of you or your organization’s needs, and the types of training you develop or intend to develop. You also need to consider the developer skills you possess or, in the case of a corporate learning group, the skills you have available on your team.
In the following entries, I’ll walk through what I think are the key functions of each tool, the types of training that I think they work best for, and finally I’ll give some thoughts about developer skills, publishing and deployment concerns, and other considerations.
Author's Note: This blog entry was the beginning of a series of a series I started to explore two of today’s most popular eLearning rapid development tools: Articulate Studio and Adobe Captivate. Here is a link to Part 2 of this series.
Good stuff here. One huge distinction we make as users of both may be useful for others: Captivate and Camtasia are in the same category as screen capture tools, Articulate is in a class by itself as it is a “swiss army knife” (does many things well). Captivate is a surgical blade whereas Camtasia is a blunt instrument.
by Rick Koskinen
on October 19, 2010 - 7:00
Just stumbled on this, good article by Tao.
To RK’s comment, it’s ironic that the one thing that (IMO at least) that Articulate doesn’t do well, is screen capture/software training. Maybe Tao’s going to be addressing this in future entries, but what’s the best-practice for a workaround for this gap in Articulate?
Looking forward to more entries on this.
by Steve Johnson
on October 21, 2010 - 7:05
I’m one of the 5 Articulate MVP’s outside the company and work at 3M.
To work around this current gap with Articulate . . .
1) Use Captivate with Articulate - insert as a Flash movie (needs to follow Articulate recommendations for creating Flash movies) or do as a web object
2) Use Camtasia with Articulate - insert as a Flash movie (needs to follow Articulate recommendations for creating Flash movies) or do as a web object
3) Use Articulate’s free Screenr tool ( http://screenr.com ) for generating simple screencasts as MP4’s (5 min. or less) and insert as Flash movies into Articulate
4) Use a simple screen capture and use Articulate Presenter’s annotation or other PowerPoint features to draw attention to what is on the image. If done right, the image can be crystal clear and very legible--and low bandwidth.
by Gerry Wasiluk
on October 21, 2010 - 10:49
Gerry, thanks for the tips, esp #4. I’m trying that one now. Great info.
It wouldn’t be practical for us to buy copies of Captivate just to produce screencasts to embed in Articulate courses, so #4 looks to be the best option for now. I’ll report back.
I don’t have any experience with Captivate, so maybe there are other features that would make it worth owning at least one copy for our group. Hopefully that’s where Tony is going with the next entry, it says this is a series so hopefully I’m just not seeing the other parts?
by Steve Johnson
on October 21, 2010 - 11:15
Hi, thanks for the comments.
To Steve, if you’re not using Captivate, items 3 and 4 on Gerry’s list (thanks Gerry!) are your best options. There are also other free/low cost screencast tools out there that can produce clips that can be embedded in Articulate.
I’m going to get into more details in this area in the next entry. Coming soon!
by Tony Tao
on October 21, 2010 - 11:30
If you go for my #4 suggestion, please see this Articulate blog entry: http://www.articulate.com/blog/how-to-get-perfect-screenshots-in-presenter-09/
It’s critical to follow that for getting, crisp clean images in articulate Presenter.
One minor caveat about Screenr. It was partly designed for posting videos to Twitter. It’s also a very simple tool and doesn’t have the power of a Captivate.
But when you create your Screenr recording, you don’t have to post to Twitter. You can record them, download them as an MP4, and then delete them from Screenr.
This means, since your Screers are public, you may not want to record confidential screencasts with the tool.
Even though your Screenrs may only be public for a short while (could be just minutes) before you delete them, and the chance of anyone finding one and viewing it is really, really small, there is still a chance. So you may wish to be careful with confidential materials.
You may also notice that Articulate is building up a huge series of tutorials and tips/tricks with Screenr.
One other thing nice about Screenr is that it produces a HTML5 version that can be viewed on iPhones and other Apple devices.
by Gerry Wasiluk
on October 22, 2010 - 1:55
Screenr published to HTML5?! Now there’s an interesting feature that makes this tool of more value.
by Rick Koskinen
on October 29, 2010 - 1:41
Yes, it publishes to HTML 5 for playback by Apple devices online.
However, you cannot download the HTML5 output. You can only download a Flash MP4 version of your Screenr.
Articulate has publicly stated they want their courses to play on as many platforms as possible. We can only hope that means more HTML 5 down the road.
However, browser support for HTML 5 is not there yet. Doesn’t work on IE8 and lower, FireFox doesn’t support the MP4, and Apple does not embrace Rich HTML 5 yet.
So, right now, HTML 5 is more a standard in the making than something you can bet the farm on yet.
by Gerry Wasiluk
on October 29, 2010 - 2:01
wonderful post, thank you.
by monica leon
on November 26, 2010 - 6:57
I echo many of the comments here that having both Captivate and Articulate makes for a complete toolbox. As Tony pointed out, there are pros and cons to each tool and in many cases a combo of the 2 tools can produce the best results. I actually wrote a post about how to integrate Captivate simulations in Articulate based projects with detailed instructions and a Screenr. Thought it might help out anyone looking to use both tools.
by Joe Deegan
on January 23, 2011 - 8:20
I saw Joe’s tweet on LinkedIn this morning, and wanted to add my 2 cents as an independent consultant in our field.
I agree with Joe that it’s good to have a complete toolbox. A corporate budget might not allow for the purchase of both tools for each member of the development team, and I understand that 100%.
Consultants, however, will be able to assist many more clients by having both tools not only in their toolbox but also have the proven experience in both tools.
Some clients prefer Articulate and other clients are sold on Captivate. When you are a consultant, you want to be available to both types of clients. ;-)
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on January 25, 2011 - 9:50
P.S. I am at: http://www.RidgeViewMedia.com
@jenisecook (on Twitter)
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