Author:Darymple, Deanne

Captivate, CD-ROM, 2006, Adobe Systems Incorporated, $699.

Thirty-three training and education professionals rated the authoring tools they have used regularly to create instructional content. This review summarizes the comments of the panelists who have used this product and presents their overall average rating. The 24 products the panel evaluated are included in the TMR Report on Leading Authoring Tools, edited by Katica Roy and Deanne Darymple.

Captivate has been released in version 3, and I will be providing a detailed, hands-on review in addition to this panel review. You can review the features of the new version here and demo it here. For now, see my review of the previous version here. The basic functionality of the tool hasn't changed in the new version.

Best Uses

Captivate is known as "the tool" for creating software simulations. Basically, it allows you to capture software screens and movements in a video format, edit and annotate them, and then publish them to Flash format. The large number of panelists who rated the tool (14) reflects the product's popularity.

One member of the review panel listed these uses for the program:

* Screen capture of software process animations

* Creation of simulations

* Creation of interactive assessments

* Creation of animated storyboards

* Recording audio to MP3 format

After Macromedia--since bought by Adobe--acquired RoboDemo a few years ago, they vastly improved its ease of use and repackaged it as Captivate. The new tool's interface includes a timeline, similar to the one in Flash, that makes synching callout boxes and audio seamless and easy. One person pointed out that "it's so easy to learn that a moderately computer savvy user can be up and running in fifteen minutes."

Once you've captured your software screens, you can enhance them "by adding text captions, audio, video, images, animations, and quiz questions." In fact, said a reviewer, it "is so easy to record MP3 audio in Captivate that I prefer to use it over programs that are five times more expensive."

Other benefits of Captivate include its value and LMS and LCMS compatibility. For value, Captivate is hard to beat. "At $599 ($199 for the full-featured educational version), the product can fit the smallest classroom or business need." A few reviewers mentioned...

To continue reading