Lab 4 Notes

February 14, 2014

Create a software simulation in Captivate



Mac OS X 10.8.5

Memory: 16 GB


Firefox 26.0 on Mac (for running web-based software app)




I obtained permission to use my company's product in the demo. However, I will not be showing the company name or the product name in the demo. I settled on a simple task, that involves three screens of the web-based product UI and one screen on a separate device.




I was full of energy for this project at the start. I had so many ideas of how to explain concepts using the interface, and I was really looking forward to seeing what Captivate could do. It's been a few years since I created simulations for software, and I was really excited to see the advancements. So far, I'm not seeing any. As the project goes on, I am more and more frustrated with Captivate and it's screencapture "capabilities.C


Perhaps my expectations were too high.


Answers to questions

1.     How many hours did you spend on the readings and practice labs? 4-5 hours on readings, 15 hours (or more) on the lab.

2.     How you see using what you learned this week in either your Capstone project or the final eLearning product you will be creating for this course? When I started the week, I was excited to be doing a software simulation. I've done them before, although it's been a few years. My excitement quickly turned to extreme frustration, however. I have a limited amount of time to work on these labs and readings, and I was not able to complete what I wanted to do in the time I allowed. Also, I was very frustrated at trying to use the videos provided in the iLearn materials to learn the product. I find myself having to go back to videos to try to find the information I saw somewhere, and it seems like a very inefficient way to learn.


As for using what I've learned this week in future, I'm not sure how I'll use it. I had considered creating eLearning modules for my company's software product. But I learned this week that as a technical writer, I am not allowed to actually create such videos, although I can capture content for them using Camtasia. My company has a group that publishes eLearning content, and they don't want just anybody mucking with it. So I'm not sure how or whether I will be able to use what I've learned.




1.     I watched the demos listed in the assignment and tried to make sure that my settings, for capturing mouse clicks etc., were correct. I found watching the video and attempting to set preferences extremely tedious, even with dual monitors. I kept the video open on one monitor and performed the actions on another.


Note: In general, and for these demos in particular: When instructions are embedded in a video, I find them difficult to follow and reference. It requires a lot of stopping, starting, and replaying of the video to make sure I've got it right. Still, I have been asked to create videos like this, so I'm trying to keep an open mind.


I just had to replay the editing video again. The introductory information is so annoying. And scrubbing through to get to the parts you want to see is TEDIUS!!!


2.     Extremely disappointed in the screencast functionality of Captivate. Even though it was configured to capture mouse clicks and motion in the Preferences, it often missed mouse clicks and mouse movement.


3.     After repeated attempts and failures (I lost track at 10), I began manually capturing each screen change to make sure I would have it. Using this approach, I got most of the screens I needed, although I had to go back and capture a few again.


4.     As an unwanted side effect, Captivate added captions for the command key sequence I used to snap screenshots. I had to remove these since they were not part of the instructions. Captivate did not add captions for any of the clickables (links, drop-down lists, etc).


5.     Captivate did not correctly record drop-down lists. Items that were highlighted on drop-down lists were completely missed.


6.     I viewed the project after capturing the initial video. All of the mouse movements were incorrect. I had to fix the start and end position each time.


7.     In some cases, I was not able to find the start of the mouse movement. The mouse appeared as a cursor on the slide before the one I wanted to change, and I am not able to use any of the controls to change the starting position. The video instruction said to look for four red dots, but I could never find them.


8.     I thought that I selected the option to highlight checkboxes and other clickables automatically. That didn't happen.


9.     I wanted to insert a new screencast in the middle of the existing one. I remembered that the video had explained this, but I had to sit through almost the whole thing to find that 10 second piece of information.


10. I tried several mouse click sound effect and emphasis options. None of them worked well because the timing was off with the screenshots. The mouse clicks themselves were highly annoying.


11. Another annoyance in the demo: The narrator speaks too slowly in some places and too fast in others. Very unproductive learning tool for this learner.


12. I created a screencast using Camtasia and imported that into the project. Camtasia records all screen actions correctly. I recorded the audio while recording the screencast in Camtasia, and one important thing I noticed: I had trouble narrating as I did the actions onscreen – I had to separate the two activities (describe the action, then perform it) instead of doing them simultaneously. Cognitively, I was not able to do both at the same time.



For further exploration


Does Captivate have problems when capturing screencasts from web-based applications as opposed to applications running on the local computer? That might explain (but not excuse) the problems I encountered with the capture.




1.     Some elements seem to flicker in when they play. For example, videos flash briefly before they're displayed. Would be nice to figure out how to prevent this. Would transitions or alpha effects help? I've tried a few, but haven't found anything that works consistently, and previews don't always match published output.

2.     Closed Caption settings: It looks like you can't go higher than 50% alpha for background colors with closed captioning. Is that correct?

3.     Closed Captions don't always seem to be displayed in published output. I've verified that the notes exist, and that Closed Captions are turned on. But sometimes, they don't seem to show up. Not sure why.

4.     On the slide that includes the imported Camtasia video, the Closed Captioning button was disabled. I tried recording an audio track, and that seemed to enable the Closed Captioning button.

5.     It looks like Closed Captions always are left aligned. Is this correct, or is there any way to change it? I don't see any alignment preferences in the settings.

6.     Any way to control text formats, such as bold or italics, in Closed Captions?