Tom Kuhlmann is VP, Community for Articulate, where he manages the Articulate user community. He also writes the Rapid E-learning Blog which is published weekly to over 95,000 readers. Tom has developed and managed e-learning courses for both large and small organizations. He’s passionate about learning technology and his core focus is on helping people succeed and grow. He is known throughout the industry for his practical, no-nonsense approaches to e-learning. He’s also a frequent speaker at ASTD and e-learning industry events. He has a Master’s in Education Technology from Pepperdine.
In this conversation, Tom discusses the new Articulate Storyline product.
Geetesh: What exactly does Storyline do, and what motivated Articulate to create Storyline?
Tom: Articulate Storyline is the authoring solution for those who build e-learning courses. You can create traditional e-learning & multimedia presentations as well as screencasts and software simulations.
In the past, creating rapid e-learning courses meant you needed an assortment of applications. Storyline removes this need because it’s a more complete authoring solution that includes screencast videos, interactive simulations, and the ability to do more complex type learning interactions with variables. For those who work on small teams or by themselves and have a limited budget, Articulate Storyline’s a great product because it doesn’t require using multiple tools and it includes over 40 built-in characters and photos. This saves a lot of time and money.
The courses can be published in Flash, HTML5, and for the iPad. That means you can build traditional e-learning, mobile learning, and even mobile presentations. I really love the iPad output. It’s very Flash-like and just looks cool. It’s fun to build a quick demo, and show my friends what it looks like on the iPad.
In general, software applications are becoming more powerful and user expectations are becoming more sophisticated. The goal is always to make the software applications easier to use and add more capability. With rapid e-learning, much of the focus has been on PowerPoint-to-Flash conversions like Articulate Presenter. This is an excellent way to create e-learning, especially for those who know PowerPoint and don’t know Flash. And PowerPoint’s authoring capabilities are more sophisticated than most probably realize.
Examples of interactive e-learning built in PowerPoint
The challenge with the PowerPoint-to-Flash publishing is crafting more complex learning. You give up a lot of programming control with PowerPoint so that means you don’t get even simple interactive elements like drag and drop, rollovers, and variables.
We have a generation of rapid e-learning developers who got their start in PowerPoint-to-Flash and now are ready to do more. The trick is building an application that is both easy to use and allows for more complexity. With Articulate Storyline you get that.
Geetesh: Can a newbie really create e-learning content using Articulate Storyline? Also will PowerPoint users be at ease, or will they need to unlearn some concepts?
Tom: Yes, what I find exciting about Articulate Storyline is that it’s a tool that can grow with you. If you’re a newbie, using Storyline is going to be almost as easy as using PowerPoint. That means you can jump right in and start creating courses, albeit simple courses.
Eventually your skills and expectations mature and you’ll want to do more than basic e-learning. In that case, Articulate Storyline grows with you. The first course you build probably won’t require variables. But eventually you’ll want to do more sophisticated e-learning. With Storyline you won’t need to change tools.
The challenge with some e-learning applications is that even if you want to build simple courses, you still have to learn a lot about all of the tool’s features; thus using the tool is not easy at the onset and not necessarily intuitive. That’s not the case with Articulate Storyline. The user interface has a very familiar feel. If you know your way around PowerPoint, then you’ll feel at home in Articulate Storyline. This makes learning to build courses easier and much faster. You’ll feel confident building that first course.
Another important feature for those transitioning from PowerPoint is that importing PowerPoint content into Storyline is really easy. And what you import can be edited in Storyline. So that means shapes remain shapes, text is editable, and any images or master files come in as well.
Geetesh: What about publishing to an iPad friendly format — will a Storyline user need anything other than Storyline itself?
Tom: That’s a good question. The iPad has taken the world by storm so there’s a lot of emphasis on getting content onto the iPad. With Articulate Storyline it’s really easy.
Articulate Storyline offers two options. The first is that you can publish to HTML5, and then view what you publish via the iPad’s browser. As it is right now, HTML5 presents some challenges because each browser offers different capabilities. This is especially true with mobile Safari on the iPad. To provide the best user experience, we offer a free Articulate Mobile Player via the iTunes app store. The advantage of the Mobile Player is that what you create in Storyline is going to work the way you want it. You’re not going to be constrained by HTML5 and some of the current issues.
You can check out some of the examples below, and view the links on the iPad through the Articulate Mobile Player. It works great and the content looks like it belongs on the iPad. It doesn’t have that blocky web page look that many HTML5 e-learning courses have.
Another benefit of the Mobile Player is that you can allow the person to download the content onto the iPad. This means they can view it when they’re not online. That’s not an option if you run it over a network via HTML5.
Obviously I manage the Articulate community, but from the perspective of an e-learning enthusiast, I am very pleased with Articulate Storyline. Articulate’s delivered a product that works both for beginners and experts. If you’re just getting started, you have a tool that will grow with you. And if you’re a seasoned rapid e-learning pro, Storyline offers a lot more capability than PowerPoint-to-Flash, but with a lot of PowerPoint comfort.
If you want to learn more about how easy it is to use, check out some of the Getting Started tutorials.
Or better yet, try the free 30 day download.