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 Studio ’13.
Geetesh: Tell us about the new Articulate Studio ’13 – I know there are tons on new features in this version but if you could tell us more about your favorite new features—that would be awesome.
Tom: We launched Articulate Studio ’13 earlier in the year and the response has been phenomenal. We’ve added a bunch of new features and design changes that make production a lot more efficient. And we also did a lot under the hood to make publishing courses faster and more capable for mobile learning.
For those not familiar with Articulate Studio ’13, it’s made up of four applications that allow you to build interactive elearning.
- Articulate Presenter ’13 leverages PowerPoint’s easy authoring. Essentially, what you build in PowerPoint gets converted to an elearning course. That includes syncing narration to animations and building branched interactions.
- Articulate Quizmaker ’13 is used to create quizzes and surveys that can be inserted into the slide or published on their own. Most elearning courses require some sort of quiz to assess the learner’s understanding. PowerPoint doesn’t offer this feature but Articulate Quizmaker ’13 does. You can also build drag and drop interactions and interactive scenarios.
- Articulate Engage ’13 offers 20 professional looking interactions. PowerPoint authoring is easy but there are some constraints when it comes to interactive elearning. That’s where Articulate Engage ’13 comes in handy. They’re super easy to build and add a lot of capability to your PowerPoint-based courses.
- Articulate Replay ’13 allows you to create screencasts and video tutorials. They can be published as standalone videos or inserted into your elearning courses.
Here are some examples of course that include PowerPoint slides, Quizmaker ‘13 quizzes, and Engage ‘13 interactions:
Now that you have a basic understanding of what makes Articulate Studio ’13, let me share some of my favorite new features:
Illustrated Characters: Building elearning courses often requires characters. All three of the Articulate Studio ’13 applications come with 40 illustrated characters that can be used in all sorts of settings. Each character comes with 12 expressions and a host of poses. There are over 47,000 variations of these characters which really helps those on a budget who want to build engaging elearning. The applications also include a photographic character bundle with hundreds of poses.
Customizable Unified Player: I love the new unified player for two main reasons: it can be customized and when adding the other applications you get a single player with a unified look.
Articulate Presenter ’13 allows for a lot of player customizations. For example, you can place the menu on the right, on the left, or as a drop down in the top bar. It also comes with a built-in glossary. Just add the words and definitions and you’re done. Of course, if you want a more dynamic multimedia glossary, use Articulate Engage ’13.
I also like that I can turn off features I don’t need. The Previous and Next buttons make sense when you have previous and next content. But there are times when you don’t need those buttons. For example, the first or last slides of a course only need either a Next or Previous button, respectively. Or perhaps I want the learner to interact on the screen to navigate. Having navigation buttons in the player can be confusing. No problem in Articulate Presenter ’13, you can turn them off.
The unified look in the player is also important. Most rapid elearning courses augment the PowerPoint slide content with interactions and quizzes. That means adding content created in separate applications. In the past, adding additional content created conflicting players since Presenter and the individual applications each had their own players.
That’s not the case with Articulate Studio ’13. When you add an interaction or quiz to your PowerPoint slide, you’ll see only a single player. This makes the course look more polished and provides a better user experience. You’ll also notice that the Engage ’13 interactions steps are visible in the player’s menu. And the same goes for Quizmaker ’13. The menu even includes the right and wrong quiz answers.
Drag and Drop Interactions: One of my favorite features is that you can create drag and drop interactions in Quizmaker ’13. That’s something you can’t do in PowerPoint. The cool thing is that it only take about 30 seconds to build the drag and drop interactions.
Here’s an example of a drag and drop interaction built in Quizmaker ’13:
Import Questions from Excel: Another new feature in Quizmaker ’13 uses Microsoft Excel to create and upload quiz questions. That means you can have your client or subject matter expert create the questions for you. And all you’ll need to do is import them. That’s a big time saver.
Engage ’13 has a new look: The old interactions have been updated and we’ve included a bunch more. Publish the interactions as standalone files or insert them into the PowerPoint slides. As I mentioned earlier, they’re really easy to build and allow you to augment the linear PowerPoint content to create engaging and interactive elearning.
Bonus Application!: Articulate Studio ’13 also includes Articulate Replay ’13 which lets you quickly create tutorials and screencast videos that you can add to your courses or use as standalone videos. See an example of an Articulate Replay video.
Geetesh: And will PowerPoint users be happy?
Tom: PowerPoint users will love Articulate Studio ’13! PowerPoint is an awesome application. Personally I think it’s one of the most powerful pieces of software out there because it combines ease of use with all sorts of multimedia capability.
Your success building good elearning courses depends in large part on how well you know PowerPoint’s features. What you build in PowerPoint is converted to an elearning course. So if you’re a happy PowerPoint user, you’ll be a happy Presenter ’13 user.
Another nice enhancement is not being limited to slide dimensions. In the past, PowerPoint and most elearning was designed around the 4:3 aspect ratio. But PowerPoint doesn’t have that constraint and your Articulate courses won’t either. You can use any aspect ratio you desire.
On top of all of those features above there are a lot of user interface improvements and under-the-hood production efficiencies. You’ll notice a lot less clicking when editing quiz questions and working with the interactions. You’ll also notice that the slide properties manager is a lot easier to use to make slide-specific adjustments like branching and whether or not to include navigation controls.
Of course there are a lot more new features. You can learn more here.
Geetesh: I wanted to ask you about iPad compatible outputs — can you tell us more.
Tom: Yes. All three of the applications publish with the same output options. They are Flash, HTML5, and iPad app. I always select all three by default so I have access to any version.
On the iPad, you can view the HTML5 output through the mobile browser or use the free Articulate Mobile Player app (see in the image below). The best option is to view the course through the mobile player. It’s optimized for the iPad and gives you a very Flash-like experience. Otherwise use HTML5. However, if you choose HTML5 as an option, you’ll want to test your content and become familiar with some of the constraints of delivering interactive, multimedia courses on mobile devices. You can learn more about the browsers via HTML5test.
There are a lot more features that make Articulate Studio ’13 the ideal product for those who do PowerPoint-based elearning. And of course, the community of Articulate users is itself a bonus because they’re other elearning developers who are quick to help you build better elearning.