Preparing Data for Captivate Software Simulations

Software simulations can be made for either general purpose tools or online applications.  Most online applications require a personal account, with login credentials, and allow use of stored data.

In this blog, I’ll share some approaches for making simulations of applications that store personal data.

There are three basic approaches.

  1. Record and Edit. In this approach, a simulation is recorded using a real (existing) account, with personal information, and personal information is removed later.
  2. Create a Temporary Account. In this approach, both a temporary account and any required data are created prior to recording a simulation.
  3. Convert Existing Data. In this approach, existing personal account and related data are sanitized by the application owner before a simulation is recorded.

Approach #1 might be a reasonable approach, if there is very little personal information appearing in the simulation.  For example, recording a software simulation on how to make appointments using an online application may only have a personal login and password.   After recording the software simulation, the personal information can be removed from the text and background slide.

Approach #2 is typically the most efficient when the addition of a temporary account is not problematic.  This approach is also optimal if a simulation does not require extensive historical data.   For example, showing how to cancel an existing appointment requires minor data setup.  However, showing how to view banking transactions over a long period of time would require extensive data setup and may not be feasible.

Approach #3 is feasible only where an existing account can be completely sanitized and is no longer required.  This means that all personal and business confidential information must be completely removed prior to recording.  This approach often requires the technical support team for the application to undertake data conversion prior to eLearning development. Because of the effort involved, this approach is usually only undertaken on large application implementations where the effort is warranted.

For most software simulations, Approach #1 – Record and Edit or Approach #2 – Create Temporary Account with limited additional demonstration data are usually sufficient.   However, with Approach #1, there are some special considerations to ensure that information about the existing account and password are completely removed from Captivate.  I will cover this in my next Blog.

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Characters in Assets panel

Intro

The Assets panel is a nifty new feature, and I am confident that its use will be enhanced in the future. You could have read my first comments in this post. Under tip 2 I mentioned a special feature for the Characters of the Illustrated category. One of the complaints often heard about downloading characters is that you have to do this one by one, which is taking a lot of time. If you like the Illustrated category, and also have access to Illustrator, you can find a tip which could save you a lot of time. It is no secret that the new features for SVG’s are my favorites, and they’ll figure here as well. What would you think about characters i SVG-format? You can edit the colors within Captivate as explained here.

Step 1: Download Illustrated Work File

Open the Assets Library in Captivate. Go to the Discover tab, and open Characters. Choose Illustrated, and eventually the wanted category and find you favorite character. Look under the (mostly 25) possibilities for the Illustrated Working File. It is sometimes at the end, sometimes at the start. Only the sticky characters do not have such file. Download the file, while choosing the format AI. It will be stored in the Others subfolder under eLearnng Assets.

After the download you’ll be able to open the folder immediately from the popup dialog box. I mentioned already that it is under Others in eLearning assets (under Public documentsAdobe if you are on Windows).

Step 2 Illustrator – preparation environment

Be sure, personally I am not at all an expert in Illustrator, my expertise is more with Photoshop, Captivate, Audition and InDesign (some apps as well). It will be baby-steps here. Three items in the Illustrator environment will be import, try to make them visible and get acquainted with them. The workspace is not that important, I used Essentials:

  1. Selector tool (black arrow) which is the first tool in the vertical Toolbox, indicated by a red circle in the next screenshot. It has also a shortcut key V
  2. Properties panel: it may be open, just find it or you can open it from the Windows menu. You’ll only use it to identify the nature of a selection.  It is highlighted in light blue. In the screenshot you see that the selection is a ‘Group’. You are familiar with grouping in Captivate.
  3. Asset Export panel: you’ll probably have to open it from the Window menu, highlighted in green.This is the secret Illustrator weapon! It is a floating panel, I tend to increase its size.

Characters mostly have same poses with changed face: disappointed, speaking, normal and happy.

Step 3: Identify and change status of character

This sound terrifying, but it is not. Problem is that apparently the files for the characters were not created/finished all the same way. The ideal situation would be that each character instance was one group (of paths).

Choose the Selector (arrow) and drag a rectangle surrounding (or cutting) the character you want to save.  You’ll see a lot of blue lines (paths) appear in the image. If the Properties panel indicates that this is a group, it is great! Here is an example (character Sydney):

However if the selected paths are indicated as Mixed Objects, you need to group them. You can do this with the same shortcut key CTRL-G as in Captivate, or from the menu Object, Group. Here is an example before grouping (character Jessica):

Step 4 Drag objects to Asset Export panel

Drag all the assets you want to export to that panel. They’ll get a generic name Asset1…. but you can double click that name and edit to a more meaningful name. If by accident, you drag a character which is not grouped, you’ll get all assets separately as asset. That may be interesting for other situations (like the post I created about the Geographical question, or a future Color question).

Step 5: choose fomat(s) to export

You can now indicate to which format you want to export, and multiple formats are possible. In the screenshot below you’ll see that I choose SVG, but also PNG’s in 3 different sizes. The last option indicated an exact height for the PNG. That way you can increase the quality to what you want exactly, since the original image is vector-based. When you download a character in the default way from the Assets panel, you get only two choices, both with a fixed size (high and low).

Available formats are visible in this screenshot. For the characters, which have a transparent background you should not use JPEG because it will replace  the background by a solid color:.Now click the Export button. You will be asked to indicate the location for the images. You can put them in a subfolder of the eLearning assets or anywhere. They will not show up in the Downloads section of the Assets panel.

Conclusion

I like that Export Asset panel a lot. When possible I will use SVG format in this case, because it is so easy to edit colors in Captivate, or by roundtripping with Illustrator. This blog post is also meant as a possible workaround for having all characters available immediately without having to download them one by one. Too bad that you do not get such an overview image for the normal characters, only for the illustrated ones.

If you still want PNG’s you can convert them to exactly the wanted size, which is important to have the best quality for bitmap images. This is especially important if you want only part of the image to show.

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Certified Online Training Professional Certificate

Imagine if you only had the knowledge and skill levels that you contained immediately after college or university? I dare say you would be professionally out of date. As learning and development professionals, we often expound the benefits of continuous improvement, but we seldom take this advice ourselves. About once per year, I put aside time to “sharpen my saw” as Stephen Covey would put it in his highly successful book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.

Classroom and online facilitation are two very different things. I’ve learned first hand that many of the visual cues you get standing in front of a class of students often don’t exist in an online setting. For example, in a classroom, it’s easy for a skilled facilitator to pick up on facial reactions when the students require further clarification. Also, different facial reactions can let you know when students experience the “ah-ha” moments. In a classroom, a skilled facilitator can use these cues to transition to the next topic, reinforce key points, or ask students to share their thoughts. In an online setting, learners don’t always share their webcam with you. You can’t see how engaged they are or see those aforementioned facial reactions to what you are teaching. Not having this and other advantages of the classroom are something that I’ve found challenging about online facilitation.

I’ve selected to become certified by the International Council for Certified Online Training Professionals or (ICCOTP). Their Certified Online Training Professional Certificate gets me a certificate, a badge to display on my website, and my name added to the listing of council members. All of these items are great, but honestly, my biggest motivation to complete this certification is to improve my skills as an online trainer. While I think my training sessions and webinars are good right now, I think they could be better. I like the fact that upon completion of the certification, the assessment will be a live proficiency exam where I present a 10-minute lesson delivered in an online format. I will have to apply the skills learned during the training to be successful, rather than simply answering a series of multiple-choice questions.

I’m scheduled to begin the two-day online course starting August 21st, 2019. In part two of this article, I will share my key takeaways from this course as well as my recommendation as well.

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Use Job Aids to supplement learning in Adobe Captivate Prime

Job Aids can be accessed by learners at any time. They are useful as supplementary learning material. Job Aids are like quick reference material or user guides for on-the-job training. Checklists, user manuals, reference guides are all kinds of Job Aids. While they can be associated with various Skills, they cannot be used to achieve Skills.

Learn more: click on the link below to download the whole business document on Job Aids in Adobe Captivate Prime!

Job Aids – Doc B

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Completely Customize Your Learning Experience with Adobe Captivate Prime

The “headless” avatar of Adobe Captivate Prime is extremely useful when your business portal includes but is not limited to a training vertical. An organization that offers diverse platforms and data sites, that wishes to integrate training within a larger platform, is one that can fully optimize the various functionalities of a “headless” LMS. The embedded fluidic player along with APIs that call information from the engine that is Adobe Captivate Prime, are the key differentiators that set this LMS apart.

Click on the link blow to download the business document!

Complete Customization of Your LMS – Doc B

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Automate a Learning Path with Learning Plans

Add automation to learning paths, and efficiency and convenience to your role as Admin/Author in the Adobe Captivate Prime LMS.

Use a Learning Plan to ease the workload of an Admin/Author. The automation of assigning LOs on the occurrence of certain events is a useful tool to ensure timely assignation of training requirements. It also ensures that no learners are missed out and that a process is accurately followed. You can keep track of all the Learning Plans in the Learning Plans page. You can filter them, and easily enable, disable or delete them as required.

Click on the link below to download the entire document on Learning Plans in Adobe Captivate Prime!

Automate a Learning Path with Learning Plans

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UPSKILL YOUR WORK FORCE WITH ADOBE CAPTIVATE PRIME

Want to learn how to use ‘Skills’ to align learning content with your company’s business goals? Assign Skills, Levels and Credits to Learning Objects so that all learning activity leads to the achievement of Skills.

Click on the link below for the entire business document!

Achieve Organizational Goals with ‘Skills’ in Captivate Prime

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Forced navigation for playback controls in captivate

Hello, I’m using Captivate 9 and would like to create a forced navigation using playback controls. Can I use an action when user clicks the next button from playback control (not a custom next button), the slides jumps to a specific slide instead of next slide? I appreciate any advice.

Thanks,

Maryam

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Learning Interactions – Tips

Intro

In the past I published a free table with some details about all the Learning Interactions in Captivate 8. Meanwhile some new interactions have been added, and with 11.5.1 some have disappeared (deprecated because of lack of use). That is the reason why I updated the table, which you have included here. You will find information about each interaction, and links to blogs I created about some specific interactions.

The Help documentation has a page dedicated to Learning Interactions, with 5 examples described in detail:

  • Accordion interaction
  • Radiobutton interaction
  • Checkbox interaction
  • Certificate interaction
  • Bulletin interaction

Table can be found under this link:

Interactions11_5_1

Static versus Interactive interactions

In the former Widgets panel, which disappeared in the new UI of Captivate 8, you could see the three types: Static, Interactive and Question widgets. The last type has disappeared, leaving for Interactions only two types: Static and Interactive.
A Static interaction is like a static object: it has no Actions Tab in the Properties, it has no Events to trigger actions, you cannot attach a score to it. An Interactive Interaction, like any interactive object (shape button and other button types, click box,  Text Entry Box, hyperlink) has events  able to  trigger an (advanced/shared) action. It can have a score possibly to be added to the Quiz total. To allow actions such an object can pause the timeline with a pausing point. For normal object there is also a color code for the Timeline: the static objects have a blue timeline, the interactive objects have a green timeline. If the interactive object has a pausing point it will be visible on its timeline. Look at this screenshot, which has several interactive objects, all pausing at 1.5sec. The Title and the three shapes in the group are static, have a blue timeline and no pausing point.
All learning interactions are Static in 11.5.1. The Games category, which is now deprecated, were Interactive. Beware: although the score for some Games is stored in the associated user variable, you cannot add that score to the Quiz total. The points attributed to a Game in the Reporting section, are granted to the user in the same way as most questions in Captivate (with exception of the MCQ): black-white. If the game has been played, the user will be awarded the points, whatever the score of the game was.
Disappearance of the interactive Interactions solves something which is bit confusing: they used to have a blue timeline, whereas the static ones have a green timeline. That was contrary to the normal color code, still find it confusing because green means to me that I could have an action, and a pausing point. The green object in this screenshot is a static widget (pyramid).

Beware: 

Slide will not be paused when inserting an interaction. To give the learner time to watch the slide you need to insert a pausing object (button, click box)!

Tips

Insertion and formatting of Interaction

Two possible work flows:

  1. In the Big Button Bar, use the button Interactions, last option. A dialog box with thumbnails of all interactions will be opened. You’ll see a badge ‘New’ or ‘Updated’ sometimes, when a new version has been pushed to your system.
  2. From the Insert menu, choose Widget and if necessary browse to the appropriate folder. In Windows that would be Public DocumentsAdobeeLearning AssetsInteractions_11_5. Choose the wanted interaction.

The second work flow is also valid for Widgets. But since they are not compatible with HTML5 output, will not talk about them here. The second workflow can be used if you have problems with the Thumbnails dialog box not showing up. After insertion, you’ll see the the dialog box to edit the properties and parameters for the interaction popping up. In this screenshot you see the dialog box for a simple radiobutton interaction with 2 options (True/False). I unchecked Highlight because that puts a rectangle behind the words ‘True’ and ‘False’. This is one of the interactions with an associated variable (see later), labeled v_one in this case.

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Building Captivate eTraining for applications | Adding Audio using Text to Speech

Why use Text-to-Speech for Systems Training?

  1. Text-to-Speech as a “draft” for Client approval of script.
    For Systems Training, there may be several cycles of client review and approval.  In the first review, a client may be confirming that both the business process and application step sequence are correct.   It is during this stage that the client may change or expand the step sequence.   Since changing a sequence of steps would alter the timing of the training components, it is best to leave any voice recording until the last cycle.However, you may want the client to experience the eTraining with a draft voice-over.  Indeed, you may wish to have the client approve the voice-over script at this stage.  Using Text-to-Speech enables both.
  2. Text-to-Speech as a Client Preference
    In some cases, clients may prefer the Text-to-Speech option for eTraining because of its flexibility.  It is not unusual that, after implementation, clients expand on the description of the business process in eTraining.   If the voice-over is done using Text-to-Speech, clients can modify and regenerate voice-over when the eTraining does not change substantially.

How it works

The text used to generate Text-to-Speech is stored in the Slide Notes.   This text is used to generate an audio file using tools within Captivate from NEOSPEECH.  The audio file is stored in the Library and plays with the slide associated with the Notes.

Steps to Add Text-to-Speech

  1. Confirm the “voices” available.
    If there are only a few voices, you may want to reload the Voices available from NEOSPEECH.I installed these voices when I installed Captivate. However, the installation can also be accessed here.

    https://helpx.adobe.com/ca/captivate/kb/captivate-text-speech-converters.html

  2. Add Notes to each slide using.
    Open the Notes window using:  Window > Slide Notes

    Then, select the + symbol.

  3. Setup to Generate the Audio File from the Notes.
    Check the slide note(s) to be converted.  (Do NOT select the closed captioning icon if these notes repeat instructions in the Text Caption.)

    Click the Text-to-Speech icon 

    The Speech Management window opens.

  4. Generate the Audio File from the Notes.
     Note: I have selected the “voice” called James.

    Click the Generate Audio button.

    When complete (it takes seconds), click Close on the Speech Management window.

    The audio file appears in the library.

    Note 1: Remember that each time the Notes are changed, the audio needs to be regenerated.

    Above you see two audio files:  Audio1 includes the first note only.  Audio2 was generated after adding the second note and regenerating to include both notes in the slide.

    In the Library, you can see which audio file(s) are active and the number of users from “Use Count” column (column 3 above).

    Note 2:  Since prior generated audio files also appear in the Library, you may wish to remove them to preserve space.  In this case, Text to Audio2 was generated and Text to Audio1 can be removed.

  5. Align the audio recording in the Timeline.

    You also see the generated text to audio object in the timeline.
    The above timeline is not adjusted.

    Once the Text-to-Speech audio is finalized, the timing of the audio and slide objects can be adjusted.

    Note:  I like to start audio slightly after the start of a slide so that the user sees the entire slide before any instructions begin.

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