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Oct
22
2012

Articulate Storyline – A real value add for the e-learning industry?

Articulate Storyline Box

If you are in the e-learning or training industry, there are more chances that you would know about the articulate’s new product Storyline. A new rapid e-learning authoring tool, which is capable of producing output in HTML5, Flash and iOS formats.

The big picture is, author the content once and deploy in any platform. This product caught the attention of the industry pretty quickly. I am going to share some of my thoughts about this product in this post.

Overall this product is an impressive idea. You would agree with me after going through all the product features.

However when it comes to the real implementation, you will realize that there is a long road ahead and you cannot just like that jump in and start using this tool in full fledge.

Let’s see some good and challenging aspects about this product.

 

The Good

Easy to migrate – If your organization already has got tons of courses made of articulate e-learning studio, then you can import those contents into storyline. This way you don’t need to start from scratch to re-author them with storyline. However to import the articulate authored content into storyline, you will need the articulate e-learning studio product installed as well.

Multi-platform support – Once you produce in storyline and you can publish the output in Flash, HTML5 and iOS all in one package with auto-detection feature for any of these platforms. This conceptually could improve the productivity and maintenance.

LMS support – The output content can be made compatible for SCORM 1.2, SCORM 2004, AICC and the brand new Tin-Can API. This will make the content compatible virtually with every LMS in the market as of today.

Characters support – Storyline makes it easy to use the characters (as static graphics) in the slides. If you dig-down a little deep you will also notice that you can buy these character libraries as real life photographs as well or what is called as Character Packs. This will be great feature for building real life conversation scenarios realistically. Areas like sales training could greatly benefit from this feature.

Localization support – One of the key costs saving requirement for localization projects is storing contents in XML and localize the contents stored in XML files directly. The storyline makes this workflow very easy by enabling the authors to export the entire text contents into XML format.

 

The Challenges

HTML5 – Even though the content can be published to HTML5, the performance of the HTML5 content will be pretty bad in tablets. If you take the performance in iPad, the Google Chrome for iOS would be little better than native Safari, but still the overall output simply will not feel like finished and no way you can imagine deploying a course with lot of interactivities and audio for the learners with such poor performance benchmark.

Articulate claims that these performance issues are mainly related to the HTML5 immaturity. But I am not very sure about it. I think there is a huge scope for improvement here. There could be many different ways to implement the same functionalities.

Articulate would rather encourage you to use their iOS native app format for better performance. But what about tracking?

 

Tin Can APITin Can API is again a very new concept and it’s not yet matured and not yet caught much of the industries’ attention yet. It’s like a new generation of SCORM which enables tracking from anywhere (any platform) and anytime (online or offline). It also introduces some brand new concepts like LRS or Learning Record Store. I am planning to cover more about Tin Can API separately.

With the first product update Storyline now supports the output with Tin Can API support. This means you can deploy your content in iOS with tracking ability using Tin Can API.

Sounds exciting? But here is the big catch, the Tin Can API is still under development (as I write this post the version stands as 0.95) and only a handful of small LMS vendors at this point adapted to this technology. I am not sure if the major players like sumtotal, successfactors LMS (plateau) etc. who serve the big corporates have even turned their interest yet into Tin Can API.

That means, the iOS and HTML5 format outputs almost becomes unusable with existing LMSs and what’s left is the same old Flash format.

 

Is it the old wine in a new brand new bottle? – Finally, this is the big catch. Storyline has got a brand new authoring interface and plenty of features we have covered so far. But ultimately it all ends up in the same old e-learning style output. That is a sequence of boring slides that the learner got to navigate back and forth and go through the text and visuals.

You can add some fancy layouts, interface, conditional navigation all blah blahs. But for learners, it’s a not a whole new experience. Yes, they end up consuming the same content just in a different platform and if so, why do I spend tons of money and effort just to make something play in the mobile platform such as iPads.

The real learning and its success will be achieved in mobile platforms only when the content is designed to work best for the mobile devices. Take a simple case; Imagine an iPad game based learning against an old style next/previous navigable course with same boring text, images and audio combination. I just don’t see a point in making big investment at the end of the day just for making something to be viewable on the mobile platforms.

But who knows in future, the storyline can be made flexible with lots of APIs for developers to build custom courses. If something like that happens, that will enable the developers to build something really cool that creates a feel of ‘made for iPad’ rather than ‘somehow make it work in iPad’. But, I don’t see that’s going to happen any time soon.

 

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