First Look at Captivate 2019: Is Virtual Reality elearning finally in reach?

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I’m generally not a fan of Captivate, but I will admit that I am intrigued and even, dare we say, excited by Captivate 2019’s new 360 and Virtual Reality capabilities.

Jump to the bottom to try out a Virtual Reality Project published in Captivate using stock images included with the program. 

The newest release of Captivate gives you the ability to insert your learner into virtual environments using 360 images and videos, and to allow them to interact with the environment through hotspots that you insert.

I spent some time playing around to learn how these new features work, and to preemptively discover the limitations and bugs that always seem to plague Captivate projects.

Captivate 2019 and Virtual Reality

The newest version of Captivate really is exciting, because it marks the first time that your average elearning developer is able to create an immersive learning experience. Until now, even the fanciest elearning you produced was limited to a flat interface. It’s only recently (Captivate 2017) that you could create elearning that was even mildly responsive and usable on a mobile device. Heck, I love Storyline, but they are slow to release new versions, and it’s only in Storyline 3 that we got truly stable HTML5.

The elearning industry has been all atwitter about the possibilities of augmented and virtual reality for YEARS, but it’s always required special equipment and exceedingly precious software to make it happen.

Captivate 2019’s Editing Interface

When you create a new project in Captivate 2019, you now have a new option: Virtual Reality Project. This kind of project ONLY allows 360 image and video slides. Furthermore, your customization options, including Advanced Actions, are almost nil.

A Virtual Reality Project limits you to using only 360 images or videos as the backdrop for each slide. Once your image or video is inserted, you may only insert Hotspots or very simple text labels. Captivate 2019 comes preloaded with 20 noncustomizable hotspots. Or, you may insert an image to function as a hotspot, but you may only insert jpg images, and you had better edit them to the right size before you insert it. If it’s too big, you’re out of luck. Captivate offers no editing functions for any of your images, including for the 360 image and video.

While blue in this image, they are black and white in the project itself.

Once you insert a hotspot, you have a short menu of associated actions. The default, as always, is Go to Next Slide. You may elect to show an image when the user clicks, play an audio file, show some text, or insert quiz questions. The quiz questions look surprisingly good for Captivate. You cannot customize the quiz slides (unsurprising) but they feel like they fit in the experience, hovering neatly over the 360 background. You may only add multiple choice or true/false questions, however. If you choose to show text, you cannot customize the look or feel of the text.

You can insert simple text labels (these are static, but you can customize the style.) This screenshot also depicts a hotspot that triggers an image.
Screenshot of triggered image. You can’t click to make it go away. It’s set to display for a given number of seconds and then hides on its own.

 

I was surprised that you cannot add variables or use advanced interactions. I assume these features will come in the next version of Captivate.

However, limitations aside, you can use the VR Project format to create a solid elearning experience, as long as you’re happy with point and click and multiple choice quiz questions. I think this format would be great for an orientation to a new workplace, for example. But I wouldn’t use it for an advanced or intricate project.

 

You can add simple multiple choice quiz questions to a VR Project. But there’s no branching possible.

 

However, Captivate 2019 still has Responsive Projects, which allow you to insert 360 slides. Unlike Captivate 2017, you cannot switch over to a different project format by copying and pasting slides. Once I realized the limitations of the VR Project format, I attempted to copy and paste my slides into a Responsive Project. No luck. I will have to recreate what I’ve already done.

Thus, unless you’re actually going to deploy using a VR headset, it’s probably a better choice to start with a Responsive Project. You CAN copy and paste from a Responsive Project to a VR Project, interestingly! And a Responsive Project has all the features you expect from Captivate 2017, with the added bonus of 360 slides.

One more interesting feature: when you go to publish a Virtual Reality Project format, your main publishing choice is “Publish for Virtual Reality Devices.” At first this struck me as hyperbole, because it publishes the same format it always does! You launch the project just the same as you always have. It just defaults to HTML5 and doesn’t have a Flash fallback.

But then I opened the published file on my phone (I have an old Android phone). It gave me the option to Enter VR. So I gave it a shot:

Opening the project on my phone…

 

Interesting! I’ll have to get a headset.

 

Looks neat on my phone, and you physically move to look around the “room.” However, it may just be my phone, but I was unable to use any of the hotspots, even when it wasn’t in full VR mode. Later, I did discover that there is a sort of “target” that will trigger hotspots if you hover the target over them. Functionality was very limited, I’ll have to get a hand controller to play with it more!

Publishing options for the Responsive Project format remain the same – Publish for Devices, and Publish for Devices (App).

I intend to test the Fluid Boxes in this newest version, because I found them to be glitchy in Captivate 2017, but I suppose that’s a blog post for next time!

Try It Out

I used only the included stock images to create this short project. Your exploration may be glitchy when using your mouse – try clicking and then using your mouse rather than clicking and dragging.

View the Virtual Reality Project fullscreen

Play the VR project

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