Microsoft Office Mix [RIP]: Why Was It Offered At All?

This post-mortem analysis article raises many questions regarding: (1) Microsoft’s termination of its 2D content development/production solution Office Mix, and (2) Microsoft’s replacement of Office Mix with a widely criticized ‘transition’ solution. This post was first published on eLearning Industry.

Top 5 Reasons To Add iSpring Suite To Your eLearning Authoring Toolbox

Recently, iSpring released the new version of its powerful toolkit for eLearning authoring. iSpring Suite 9 contains a number of groundbreaking features, making a great set of apps for many eLearning authoring needs. This post was first published on eLearning Industry.

Discussing The New iSpring Suite Version 9

I started using iSpring just before version 6.0 was released. This was right around the time when Flash was announced obsolete, and we had to start thinking of the future of eLearning. Quite a few years have passed since, and iSpring has kept up to date throughout the evolution of HTML5. This post was first published on eLearning Industry.

Top 10 Features Of Trivantis Lectora Inspire 17 For Responsive eLearning Development

Today, Trivantis Lectora Inspire 17 is one of the leading authoring tools used for responsive eLearning development. In this article, I pick its top 10 features and show you how you can further enhance its capability with customization. This post was first published on eLearning Industry.

4 Reasons Why Page Progress Indicator Implementation Is Vital For You

For your learners to have the best possible experience, they need the ability to easily navigate your content and keep track of where they’ve got to. The new Page Progress Indicator from Elucidat will help you make your scrolling pages the best they can possibly be. Here are some ways how.

This post was first published on eLearning Industry.

Adapt Learning Review: Create Responsive, Multi-Device Courses

This is a review of an eLearning authoring tool I have been using in the past year; Adapt Learning. It creates responsive multi-devices courses that can be integrated into a Learning Management System.

This post was first published on eLearning Industry.

Building Better Games With Storyline 360

Play the Sponge UK Christmas game and discover how to create new types of games with complex interactions using the new features in Articulate 360. Learn about the new ways eLearning designers can use Storyline 360 to create more engaging games.

This post was first published on eLearning Industry.

Pros And Cons Of 5 eLearning Authoring Tool Types

There are so many eLearning authoring tools to choose from and so little time. So, how do you know which one is right for your next eLearning project? In this article, I’ll discuss the pros and cons of the 5 most popular eLearning authoring tool types. 

This post was first published on eLearning Industry.

Office Mix: To Mix, Or Not To Mix, That Is The Question

Are You Thinking About Using Microsoft's New eLearning Authoring Tool Office Mix? 

Let us see whether to mix or not to mix with Microsoft’s new eLearning authoring tool.

Dramatic Introduction

It’s July 2015, the sun is roasting relentlessly outside, and inside learning technologists are chatting about something intensely….

In walks the Head. “Hi everyone,”

An experienced learning technologist turns around on his swivel chair looking somewhat worried. “Our Articulate HTML5 videos aren’t playing on Chrome or Firefox,”

“What do you mean?” said the Head.

“They’re not viewable on Chrome or Firefox I think, but Flash fall-back is ok,” said the experienced learning technologist.

“Flash is ok, but HTML5 isn’t, what an irony, how’s that possible, it’s HTML5? Have you tried Internet Explorer, Edge or Maxthon?” said the Head.

“What’s Maxthon?” said another learning technologist.

“It’s that browser that no-one’s heard of,” said the experienced learning technologist.

The Head then calls out to an experienced IT expert, who was sitting in another room. “Find out what’s going on, and do it asap.”

After a while... 

“It was some updates to Chrome 44 that affected Articulate HTML5 output files on all Chromium based browsers and not on Microsoft browsers or Maxthon, but Articulate released a fix very quickly, and that was pretty impressive” said the experienced IT expert calmly.

“Could this happen again?” said the Head.

“As Google updates are not generally announced in advance, this could happen again, but then again, remember, updates can affect HTML5 output files depending on who’s doing them, and depending on what’s being done.”

“Holy shit, how the hell are we supposed to work, if things like this are going on?” said the Head (to himself).

“But, then again, surely, it’s very unlikely that an Office Mix HTML5 output file will be affected by an update done on Internet Explorer or Edge…” said the Head (to himself pragmatically). 

Can Office Mix Provide The Right Solution For My Institution?

Is there really such a thing as future proofing? Isn’t that an oxymoron? I mean nothing is certain in life, not health nor wealth, and nothing is certain in the technology arena too where big tech players appear to be vying for a greater market share, mostly ostensibly through competing with one another. With regard to eLearning authoring software specifically, it’s looking increasingly like future-proofing means opting for the less risky option.

A reliable eLearning authoring software company needs to address or be able to address a growing list of requirements (quickly). For instance, there is increasing legislative pressure to adhere to section 508/WCAG2.0. Multi-device compatibility, improved analytics functionality, and being/remaining affordable are also important factors; but for me, the most important criterion is, does the company have a vision of where technology enhanced learning (TEL) is going/will be going and will it be able to develop a strategy to realize its vision? Microsoft can only be as good as its senior management allows it to be though; any entrenched big-ego power freaks that stifle real out-of-the-box TEL thinking need to be expunged because it’s actually a company’s failures that evidence whether a trend-setting environment, with its right mix of whacky people, has been created and is being safe-guarded.

Microsoft evidently wants a bigger piece of the education pie, and, after all, it’s only natural for Microsoft to want to leverage itself more into education, and the push to promote the preview version of its rapid eLearning and knowledge sharing tool, Office Mix, surely pays testament to this. Another indication that Microsoft is exerting its presence more in education is the growing array of imaginative products on the Microsoft education site.

Be Pragmatic When Choosing A Rapid eLearning Solution 

Appertaining to rapid eLearning software, random unannounced security updates/bug fixes/improvements on browsers only underscore the importance of choosing a company that you feel you can (learn to) trust to find solutions to problems; I feel an addendum is required here however, in life, love, and IT, trust has to be earned (over time). For instance, one of my IT assistants informed me in July 2015 about “fixes and improvements” on Chrome 44 affecting Articulate HTML5 output files only on all Chromium-based browsers (i.e. they were not viewable); Articulate did however release a fix very quickly and were not to blame. For the full story regarding this incident, click here. The point being, as fixes and improvements are not as a rule announced in advance, I guess problems with HTML5 output file browser compatibility could happen again. However, one might conclude that it’s very unlikely that an Office Mix HTML5 output file will be affected by security updates/bug fixes/improvements done on Internet Explorer or Edge. And that’s a plus for me.

More About Office Mix 

Office Mix, which is a PowerPoint plugin, is free if you have Office 2013 or Office 365. It looks sleek and robust, and I understand Microsoft is improving things on a daily basis. And with the leitmotif of trust still in mind, maybe I should -as any person venturing in a new direction in life might do- look at the down side first.

One point of concern is that all Office Mix HTML5 output production files run from somewhere in the cloud, they do not appear to be downloadable; even though I know that there are other download options (i.e. SCORM 1.2, PowerPoint, MP4 video), I really would have liked it, if there were a local HTML5 file back-up option too. But then I say stoically to myself, “Why am I so fixated about keeping control of content locally? And is that really going to be safer? Nothing really belongs to you in this world, not even your body, and your creative ideas, if you actually have any, might at best, outlive you for someone else to enjoy”.

Secondly, according to a local Microsoft rep (NB at least that’s what I understood quite clearly), Office Mix HTML5 production file storage is “apparently” free; but that seems too good to be true, is storage really going to be free (forever)? Things are, for me at least, still a bit iffy. And, if Office 365 for Education “fairly opaque” 1 terabyte, recently updated 20000-item free storage policy is anything to go by, maybe I should be concerned. Furthermore, an example of Microsoft storage policies not being etched in stone was the sudden announcement on 2 November 2015 of the downgrading of free OneDrive storage to 5GB for Office 365 customers. Is it therefore an acceptable risk to trust Microsoft will always be so benevolent with Office Mix storage? After all, any shrewd drug pusher knows that first you make them dependent, and then you get them to pay for the stuff. A trade-off therefore for relinquishing control over HTML5 content is better reliability on Microsoft browsers and possible uncertainty regarding future storage overheads.

There’s a whole bunch of other Office Mix problem issues that worry me much less - I mean, this is Microsoft, they’ll fix it (I hope). For instance (and at the time of writing this article and to the best of my knowledge), on mobile devices/tablets: Gesture support is very limited and as Office Mix doesn’t currently appear to be device aware, only non-interactive videos are available on mobile devices, on surface tablets however, which are basically small portable computers and not tablets, Office Mix HTML5 output files are viewable. Some other issues are: (1) it’s only a pre-view version; (2) there’s no pop-up blocker, which can be annoying during screen recordings; (3) there’s a navigation usability issue in recording mode i.e. you cannot go back and re-record a slide without leaving the record mode and coming back in to record mode; (4) there are presently limited quiz capabilities; (5) analytics needs to be improved; (6) you can’t embed YouTube films; (7) there’s no geo-location; (8) accessibility compliance needs more work e.g. interactive in-sync transcript, synchronized audio descriptions as a separate audio track, or sign language support; (9) there’s no responsive screen capture.

Some of Office Mix good points comprise: (1) It’s Microsoft after all - they’re less likely to make a balls-up of things (I hope); (2) it’s easy to use and is constantly updated; (3) closed captions can be exported; (4) it’s a PowerPoint plugin; (5) it’s a scalable free service with Office 2013 or Office 365; (6) it’s very likely to be compatible with all other Microsoft products; (7) Office Mix HTML file outputs will be reliable on Edge or Internet Explorer.

Final Comments 

Even though products such as Adobe Captivate 9 or Articulate Storyline 2, which are non-PowerPoint plugins, in many respects are currently more advanced, I think I like Office Mix (more)! Why? Its cost of scalability, its ease of use, its compatibility with other ubiquitous Microsoft products/technologies, its speed of development, and, the fact that any challenges will, more than likely, be addressed in the future.

But, does Microsoft have a vision of how it intends to improve access to learning? Does it have a vision of how it intends to support improvements in real/deep engagement in learning? Does it have a vision of how it intends to support improvements in the effectiveness of measuring learning? Does it have a vision of how it intends to address the way technological innovation affects learning design? Does it have a vision of changing models of education?  Does it have a vision of how to address the changing roles and expectations of the modern-day, tech-savvy, app-overdosed, social-media-addicted, gaming-adept, smartphone-doting, increasingly disestablishment, increasingly economically frustrated, increasingly self-directed, and increasingly rhizomatically networked Millennial learner?

This post was first published on eLearning Industry.

Adobe Captivate 9 Review: Create Amazing Responsive eLearning Courses!

Adobe Captivate 9 Review: From Storyboarding To Responsive eLearning!

Adobe states that Captivate 9 can “go seamlessly from storyboarding to responsive eLearning design”.  It also boasts an asset store with over 25,000 items and the new Adobe Captivate Draft, which is a storyboarding app for the iPad that allows you to streamline your eLearning design and development process. On top of all these, Captivate 9 includes a variety of upgrades and enhanced features that you won’t find in the previous versions. But is it worth the investment? Let’s delve into the features, pricing, ease of use, and support services that you may want to consider during the decision making process.

6 Standout Features Of Adobe Captivate 9

  1. Adobe Captivate Draft.
    Adobe Captivate Draft
    is a free iPad app that can be used in tandem with Adobe Captivate 9, and it gives you the power to transform your storyboard into a fully interactive online course, complete with scenario branching, question slides, and a variety of other multimedia elements. It involves an iPad app, which also means that you can create online courses on the go and share them with online collaborators. In fact, other members of your eLearning team don’t even need to own Adobe Captivate 9 or the app in order to review the contents. After the storyboard is perfected, simply import it into the authoring tool and publish.
  2. Device-Aware Delivery.
    Responsive design is must-have, as so many learners are now accessing eLearning courses on their mobile devices. Adobe Captivate 9 offers you the ability to create just one master course that can adapt to any device. For example, if a learner is accessing the eLearning course on their iPad, the tool will automatically adjust the layout of the page to fit the screen size and resolution. There is no need to design a separate eLearning course for every tablet, phone, or laptop; it’s all done for you.
  3. Asset Store.
    If you’re looking for a tool that features an abundance of games, layouts, interactions, and cutouts, then you should probably move Adobe Captivate 9 to the top of your list. It has a library of over 25,000 free assets that you can use to make your eLearning course more interactive, engaging, and effective for your learners. The library is also updated on a regular basis, which means that you will constantly have fresh content to choose from.
  4. Multimedia Integration.
    There are almost too many interactive elements to mention here. Adobe Captivate 9 offers an impressive selection of multimedia tools, ranging from HD screen capture and screen casting to audio synchronization and scenario branching. It also boasts audio-text captions, text-to-speech capabilities, and pan and zoom support. Adobe Captivate 9 truly excels when it comes to creating interactive eLearning experiences.
  5. Branch-Aware Quizzing.
    Not only does Adobe Captivate 9 offer pretests that assess learner knowledge before they complete an online module or course, but it can also point your learners in the right direction after they complete the pretest so that they can get the most out of their educational experience. After they complete the recommended module, the system then quizzes them again to monitor their progress. The new version also includes Knowledge Check questions to help learners stay on track.
  6. Geo-Location Support.
    This is a feature that you won’t find with many other eLearning tools. Geo-location capabilities give you the power to detect the exact location of your learners so that you can deliver online content that is region-specific. For example, if you plan on localizing your eLearning course for an international market, you can offer them the translated version of the eLearning course immediately.

Pricing

You can either opt for the monthly subscription or one-time fee pricing model at the Adobe Captivate 9 pricing plans. The subscription option requires a $29.99 monthly fee, as well as an annual commitment that includes an early termination fee. If you’d prefer to purchase the license outright, the price tag is $1,099. However, if you already have Adobe 8 you can upgrade for $449.00. There is also a student and teacher edition that costs $349.

Ease Of Use

With so many features and functions, one might naturally assume that the Adobe Captivate 9 interface involves a steep learning curve. However, the UI is surprisingly intuitive and user-friendly, but still gives you complete control over every aspect of the eLearning course design. For example, when you are designing online content for multiple devices, you can simply design as you normally would and then use the previewer to get a sneak peek of how the page will look on the device. Publish the eLearning project just once and the tool automatically delivers the best possible display for your learners.

Support

Adobe has one of the most active online user Captivate communities and an extensive database of help resources, including how-to articles and tutorials that can be an invaluable asset for those who run into any issues along the way, or want to get the most of the tool. Adobe also offers a chat option if your questions aren’t answered on the forums. For more extensive support, Adobe does provide a premier support package that covers phone assistance.

Conclusion

If you already have an Adobe Captivate subscription, then you will already have access to version 9. In which case, you should definitely consider making the switch, thanks to the wide range of upgrades and new features. On the other hand, if you are new to Adobe, then you may want to try out the product by signing up for the free demo. It will give you a chance to explore the features and functions, so that you are able to discover if it’s a good fit for you.

Adobe Captivate 9 is a great tool for eLearning professionals who want a flexible design platform that also happens to be affordable. If you are an iPad user, then the Adobe Captivate Draft feature is a big plus, as it gives you the opportunity to create and collaborate anytime, anywhere. The asset store is another significant perk, especially if you are looking for ready-made interactions and templates for rapid eLearning development.

This post was first published on eLearning Industry.