Adobe Captivate 9 is very powerful authoring software. It’s also very challenging to learn. Sure, you can easily pick up how to do screen recordings, but to create interactive tutorials you’re going to have to roll up your sleeves!
Captivate is similar to Storyline, but it does not allow for easy rapid authoring like Storyline does. While Storyline has a similar feel to PowerPoint and allows you to get your feet wet by making something super simple, you’re going to go through a bit of frustration making even a simple tutorial with Captivate. But! Captivate will pay off – it allows you to customize anything and everything, and its Advanced Actions (akin to Storyline’s triggers) are much more powerful and complex. Also, many instructional design job postings want you to know how to use Captivate! If you can do this, you can do anything!
Captivate is also cheaper than Storyline – you’ll pay $300 if you’re an educator or if you work for a nonprofit. Buy a full copy for $1,099 to be able to sell your work.
Get Started With Captivate
First, download the free trial of Captivate if you don’t already have the software.*
Do you have access to Lynda.com? I would work through the Adobe Captivate courses. They have practice files for you to use.
Adobe has a robust collection of videos on YouTube as well. Get used to Pooja, you’ll see a lot of her! Her videos are really clear and helpful.
Work Through a Handbook
Alternatively, I also recommend finding a copy of Adobe Captivate 9: The Essentials. This book will walk you through learning Captivate and also offers practice files. I use this text for teaching students in our Master of Instructional Design & Technology program, it’s a really great book.
Adobe Captivate 9 includes free templates from the eLearning Brothers, so definitely take advantage of those.
In general, there doesn’t seem to be as many free downloads for Captivate templates as there are for Storyline templates. If you intend to do a lot of development in Captivate, I would work on creating your own templates and themes. Challenge yourself by attempting to recreate a neat Captivate tutorial you saw online.
There are some downloads and templates available on Adobe Exchange. Browse through the Teach and Learn categories on the left – I found a few under Learn -> Digital Assets.
Important to Learn
I also suggest learning to create your own image buttons, because Captivate’s buttons are mostly ugly. I also highly recommend learning to use Captivate’s Advanced Actions – which are equivalent to Storyline’s triggers, but allow for much more complexity and reusability.
What’s important is diving in and getting going – a lot of people find Captivate to be more challenging to pick up than Storyline, but done right, I think the software can offer a lot more customization and power.
You want something instantly pretty? Use Storyline! Want to challenge yourself and learn a marketable skill? Get going with Captivate!
*Important note: If you download a free trial of Captivate, your files will expire at the end of the trial period. So, if you want to keep evidence of them, perhaps take lots of screen captures or screen recordings to document your work. If you end up getting a paid copy of Captivate, you can reaccess and republish your files.