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Usage of Adobe Captivate for Multimedia Creation in Education

Usage of Adobe Captivate for Multimedia Creation in Education

Iveta Žouželková | 31. 5. 2010 16:44:19
Zařazení: Informatika|Číslo 1/2010|Přehledová stať

Iveta Žouželková
Ústav počítačových a komunikačních systémů
Fakulta aplikované informatiky, Univerzita Tomáše Bati ve Zlíně
e-mail: zouzelkova@fai.utb.cz

Zdenka Prokopová
Ústav počítačových a komunikačních systémů
Fakulta aplikované informatiky, Univerzita Tomáše Bati ve Zlíně
e-mail: prokopova@fai.utb.cz


The growing interest of multimedia presentations motivates software developers to produce new applications for the creation of e-learning material. The paper deals with the conception of Adobe Captivate, which is a modern e-learning tool offered by Adobe Systems. It describes functions, methods and interactive content used in the created educational materials. It also discusses the advantages and disadvantages of the application. The final interactive videos are primarily designed for the students of the Database Systems subject.

Využití Adobe Captivate na tvorbu multimédií ve výuce


Nárůst zájmu o multimediální prezentace motivuje producenty softwaru k tvorbě nových aplikací, které umožňují vytvářet e-learningový materiál. Článek se zabývá koncepcí Adobe Captivate, což je moderní e-learningový nástroj nabízený společností Adobe Systems. Popisuje funkce, postupy a interaktivní obsah použitý ve vytvořených studijních materiálech. Věnuje se také výhodám a nevýhodám této aplikace. Výsledné interaktivní videa jsou primárně určena studentům předmětu Databázové systémy.


Recently, there has been growing interest in a connection between multimedia presentations and education, because they can provide a large amount of information in a relatively short period of time. The strongest weapon is the possibility of audio and video integration which makes studies more interesting and understandable. E-learning is a computer-based training which incorporates technologies supporting interactivity. Nowadays the popularity of e-learning courses has risen rapidly and software applications providing easy production of multimedia content have become progressively requested. As a result of this trend, many commercial and noncommercial screen-casting tools are offered in the market.

The primary purpose of the multimedia materials for the Database Systems subject was to present lectures to all students and interested persons who wanted to self-educate or just recapitulate information. In order to create them, the content of the trainings was specified and, consequently, the available applications were tested.

CamStudio was released under the GNU GPL. It enables screen and voice recording, but modification possibilities of the captured video are deficient. Another noncommercial program taken into account was Copernicus which requires Mac OS and has no support for audio recording. The best freeware appeared Wink, which is available for Windows and various versions of Linux. It captures screenshots based on mouse and keyboards input and records voice. On the other hand, commercial applications such as HyperCam, ALLCapture, Camtasia and other screen recording software also afford a wide range of functions, different output file formats and user friendly environment.  However, the previously mentioned applications suffer from some limitations. Therefore, the final choice fell on Adobe Captivate, because the main aim of the lectures is based on a software simulation and knowledge tests and it seemed to be the best tool for this purpose.

Description of Adobe Captivate

Adobe Captivate is an application for the Microsoft Windows operating system providing software demonstrations, scenario simulations, company presentations, quizzes and their combinations in a short time frame. An intuitive interface enables users to develope interactive material quickly and effectively - no programming or multimedia skills are required. Captivate is the latest successor of RoboDemo which once facilitated the development of simulations.[1,2]

Figure 1: Story Board View containing a slide scenario.

As can be seen from figure 1, the application is based on slide scenarios well known from Microsoft PowerPoint. Users are familiar with this approach, and moreover, it offers easy creation of branches and groups of slides. As a result, a complicated and sophisticated learner path structure can be projected. Each slide can be easily appended with pictures, labels, animations, audio and video recordings. E-learning authors are also allowed to add buttons, text boxes, click boxes and other interactive components to provide feedback in response to users' actions. Slides further include a Timeline to synchronize all actions, visual and audio effects, which are located in the simulation, in order to specify the amount of time that objects stay on screen. This feature saves time, because it performs an instant preview of the slide. [3]

The output video is usually in Flash Video (FLV) or ShockWave (SWF) format and requires the Adobe Flash Player installation. Flash Video is a container file format which can be embedded into SWF file. Users can also take the advantage of exporting into AVI files which can be easily streamed on the web and published on sites like YouTube. Export possibilities offer printing training handouts in Microsoft Word or generation of PDF portfolios collecting various formats in a single document. [2]

Rules for multimedia presentation in education

The extensive use of multimedia presentations in the educational process is resulting in formulation of the rules for interactive content. The offered guidelines deal with evaluating multimedia presentations in PowerPoint. This approach can be applied to software simulation as well.

The presentation is primarily designed to educate and display information. Other materials, e.g. pictures and music should communicate something important about the topic, not only entertain the viewer.

The technology is a tool for more effective communication and it should be used appropriately. Presentation should make it easier to analyze and evaluate content.

Communication between a student and a teacher should be bilateral, because appropriate feedback is important. [4]

Production process of software simulation

Software simulation seems to be the most effective tool for the Database Systems training which includes work in MySQL monitor and phpMyAdmin. Final videos can be supplemented with buttons, labels, zooming into different screen areas, highlight boxes and other effects to help focus the learner's attention.

Adobe Captivate uses two different procedures for screen captures. It automatically captures screen recordings as slides and creates a new slide when activity such as the clicking of the mouse and keyboard typing occurs. [5] The main advantage of this approach is in editing, deleting and reorganization of the generated slides. Slides can be further easily inserted from another project or additionally recorded. The second type is known as full-motion recording and it switches on and off for drag-and-drop actions.

Figure 2 provides details of the project Edit View. As can be seen, mouse movements are recorded as vectors. In other words, starting and final coordinates of a mouse pointer are stored and on the basis of these data a mouse pointer trace is generated automatically. Consequently, it allows users to change a trajectory, a pointer speed and a shape. Keyboard typing is recorded in similar way and provided with sound signs, which draw students' attention to the written text.

Figure 2: Edit View containing a mouse pointer movement.

Useful tools are buttons for slide control. Their application affects interruption of playback and students' interaction is required, such as answering some questions connected with the played sample. Another used utility is the zoom function focusing attention into different screen areas.

The most impressive of Captivate's features is the ability of audio recording and editing inside the application, which makes tutorial creation easier. Narration can be simultaneously recorded using text-to-speech and synchronized with slides. [6] Internal editor offers correcting mistakes, adding external sounds, music and effects. The example of voice editing is shown in figure 3.

Figure 3: Audio editing.


This report brings together all used features of Adobe Captivate which lead to creation of software simulation for the Database System subject. Adobe Captivate revealed as a strong e-learning tool applicable in the educational system and in the private sector as well. Projects can be exported in SCORM 1.2 or AICC format for use with an LMS. Sophisticated functionality and wide range of utilization can address exacting users.

The output videos are now used as a part of education. Students gained a new, interactive and useful source of information. The simulations assist students in exam preparation and help them with creation of their final projects. They are also treated as compensation of lost hours. In other words, students can watch the video which corresponds to the lesson they missed. They find it very helpful and the interest in further videos is significant. In contrast, it should be noted that the role of a teacher remains essential and it can not be replaced. Overall, students' positive response to this kind of material indicates, that this educational trend is unstoppable.  

Finally, it should be pointed out that this report focuses on software simulation. Less attention has been paid to quizzes preparation. This would be one possible direction of future work. The final videos can be found and played at http://www.ds.fai.utb.cz/videa.php.


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