As you add assets to your Camtasia Studio project (such as images, animations, and audio), those assets appear in the Clip Bin.
Once objects appear in the Clip Bin, you can add them to the Timeline by simply dragging and dropping. (Or you can right-click a Clip Bin object and add it to the Timeline at the Playhead position.) Each Camtasia project contains its own Clip Bin and the Clip Bin moves with the project as you back up the project to a server or other drive.
Unfortunately, you cannot share assets found in one project's Clip Bin with another project. That's where the Library comes in.
If you need to use project assets over and over, consider adding those assets to the Library. Once an asset is added to the Library, the asset is available to any Camtasia project on your computer.
When I teach Camtasia, I'm almost always surprised to learn that even veteran Camtasia developers ignore the awesome array of assets available in the Library. (Or perhaps they just didn't know about the Library's role.) Sure some of the music and effects can be a bit, shall we say, corny, but there's plenty of stuff you can really use in your projects. The assets are free from copyright restrictions so check them out. (As with Clip Bin assets, you can add them to the Timeline by dragging or right-clicking. And you can preview a Library asset by double-clicking... the asset will display in the Preview window at the right.)
If you cannot find a Library asset that you like, don't give up. TechSmith provides access to several additional assets online... free. In the image above, did you notice the Get more media link? If you click the link, you'll be taken to a TechSmith site where you can download a ton of additional Library Media. Did I mention it was all free?
Looking to learn all things eLearning? Check out these live, online eLearning mini-courses (including a 3-hour introduction to Camtasia).
Adobe Presenter and Adobe Captivate have some overlapping functions. Both can create eLearning lessons that can be uploaded to and report results to a learning management system (LMS). Both can work with PowerPoint. Both can create interactive quizzes. And the list goes on. But what are the key differences that tell me which of these programs to buy? Or, if I already have both, which to use for any given project? Let's take a look.
Adobe Presenter is a PowerPoint add-in, and is marketed by Adobe specifically to educators. It is the easiest path from PowerPoint to eLearning. You can use it to take existing PowerPoint slides, add voiceover narration, optionally record a self-video while presenting the lesson, add eLearning scenes and characters, add interactive elements, add a quiz, and publish the lesson to an LMS. Presenter lessons can be used to "flip" the classroom--the homework is to watch the lecture, and then practice assignments, worked problems, and the like are done in the classroom with the teacher's help.
Presenter is designed so that eLearning features are easy to add. But, as is typical with any kind of software, the easier the software is to use, the fewer choices you have about certain things. In Adobe Presenter, this is a good thing. This software allows you to focus more on the content than on eLearning functionality. With this software, the feeling is that you are designing your content, and the software handles the work of deciding things like how the learner advances to the next slide. Your energy goes into your content.
For example, if you want to create a scenario, where the learner chooses options and receives feedback by traveling down various "branches" after decision points, you can click a few buttons, choose between pre-designed options, type your content on designated slides, and let Presenter take care of which button takes the learner to which slide. Your choices are somewhat limited, but getting a functioning scenario lesson up and running is fast and easy.
Adobe Captivate is powerful, stand-alone eLearning development software. It can import PowerPoint slides as the background and basic content of a project, but from that point on, the file is a Captivate project file. You are no longer in PowerPoint. In fact, using PowerPoint is just one of many options for how to create a Captivate project.
Arguably Captivate's greatest strength is the ability to create software demonstrations and simulations by simply recording screen actions as you do them. You can create still shots of each screen or record a live video of a procedure. Captivate can add text descriptions of the actions automatically. But after recording, you can edit the recorded steps to add highlights, additional captions, voiceover instructions, hints, feedback messages, and much more.
Rather than having a lot of automatic presets (although there are plenty of predesigned themes for colors, backgrounds, and fonts), Captivate puts you in control of the details of your lesson's appearance and functionality. What will the learner click to advance the lesson? You can create a button or make any part of the background a clickable object. Want a button that does multiple actions? You can create that. Want to add a screen character or multiple characters? Captivate lets you do that, too.
Want a branching scenario? You map it out, you add scenes or characters, you create the buttons that take your learner down the various branches. You have complete flexibility as to how the lesson proceeds. But you are on your own. You have to remember to add that "back" button that keeps your learner from reaching a dead end. You have to create all of the links and make sure they go in the correct sequence. You have all the power, but you also have all the work of making the eLearning project function.
So which should you use for what?
If you need software simulations: Captivate
If you need flexible, responsive lesson sizes for various learner devices: Captivate
If you have existing PowerPoint slides and want to record your lecture with them: Presenter
If you just want to focus on content, and want the rest to be mostly automatic: Presenter
If you want detailed control over sophisticated branching, interactions, timings, and functions: Captivate
Captivate is a highly advanced, fully functional eLearning software development tool, and its cost reflects that:
$999 to purchase
$29.99/month to subscribe, with a year's subscription minimum
Student/teacher edition: $299
Presenter is a PowerPoint add-in that gives you a lot of eLearning pizazz for a lot less development work and costs significantly less than Captivate:
With traditional Conditional Build Expressions you choose to exclude specific content from your output. Once you generate the output, content is included or excluded from the output. If you use build tags to target multiple audiences, you have to create an output for every audience. Enter Dynamic Filters: With dynamic filters readers dynamically switch the information they want to see.
In the image above there are four holiday destinations in different countries. No country is selected in the Filter by area at the left so the reader sees all of the available content. If the reader selects US, only the content for the US (Mesa Verde, CO) is shown.
With Dynamic Filters you can create a single output where users themselves decide which content they need. You can use this to group content by user role, by module, or by locale.
Add Dynamic Filter to Output
Tag the content in RoboHelp.
Go to the Output tab and select your Responsive HTML5 Single Source Layout.
Select Use Dynamic Content Filter in the output.
Click Customize to open the Dynamic Content Filter dialog box.
From the Define area, click Add criteria button to open theTags and Expressions dialog box. (The Add criteria button is the second icon from the left.)
Select the tags and expressions you want to include as a filter.
Click the OK button.
Click Save to close the Dynamic Content Filter dialog box.
I received an email from a Captivate developer who was lamenting the fact that her Captivate videos didn't have closed captions. "Sure it's easy to add closed captions to a Captivate slide," she said, "but you cannot add them to a video." This was a real problem since she was required to create accessible eLearning.
Believe it or not, it's just about as easy to add closed captions to a video as it is a slide. (Easy, but not obvious.) Here's how:
Insert a video onto a slide via the Media menu. (When inserting the video, insert it as Multi-Slide Synchronized Video. Also, select Modify slide duration to accommodate video.)
On the Properties inspector, select Edit Video Timing.
On the Closed Captioning tab and click on a Timeline location to mark where you want to insert closed captioning text.
Click the + sign to add a closed caption and then type the closed caption text.
Lather, rinse, repeat! Once you have finished adding all of the closed captioning text, click the OK button to exit the editor. And that's it! One note: don't forget to enable the display of closed captioning via your skin editor.
A project can easily contain thousands of topics. When you generate a layout, all of the topics are generated. But what if you want to exclude several topics from being generated? Using Conditional Build tags, you can mark topics or topic content. When the time comes to generate, you can choose to create conditions that control which tagged content is generated. Using conditions, you can maintain one large project but generate multiple layouts; each layout can have unique content. Content that is excluded from a layout is not seen by your users.
Tagged content appears in RoboHelp 11 and earlier as text with diagonal lines (first image below). In RoboHelp 2015 tagged content appears with an overline. The overline makes it much easier to read the content and see which content is tagged.
The downside of tagged content in RoboHelp 11 and earlier is that you can only create Conditional Build Expressions that show which tags are excluded. A Conditional Build Expression is a list of tags to exclude from your output. These expressions can get confusing because it is not always clear which tags to exclude for which situation. For example, a company has two divisions: East and West coast. Based on the name of the tag below, will the tag exclude content from the East coast or the West coast?
With RoboHelp 2015 you use common sense names to easily distinguish which Conditional Build Expression you need in which situation.
To create a Named Conditional Build Expression, choose Project > Pods > Conditional Build Tag and then click Create a new build expression.
The Define Conditional Build Expression dialog opens. Double-click a tag to exclude the tag from the output and then click Save.
Name the expression and click OK.
If you have existing Conditional Build Expressions, you can easily change their names. Open the Conditional Build Tags pod (choose Project > Pods > Conditional Build Tag).
Click Create a new build expression.
From the Define Conditional Build Expression dialog box, select an expression from the Expressions drop-down menu.
If you select portions of a video clip on the Camtasia Studio Timeline and cut, you have historically ended up with multiple clips. At that point, it's possible to drag the split portions on the Timeline as needed or apply Visual effects. What you cannot do with multiple clips is apply an effect that spans multiple splits. I've always found that shortcoming to be an annoyance when working with Camtasia.
Fortunately, TechSmith addressed the issue in Camtasia 8 with a feature known as Stitching.
Stitching is enabled by default. You can confirm this by choosing Tools > Options. Select the Program tab and ensure that Enable auto-stitching is selected.
With Stitching enabled, I've selected a portion of a video on my Timeline and Cut it.
When cutting content in older versions of Camtasia, the cut portion of the video would be replaced by a split (two video segments). In Camtasia 8, instead of multiple segments you'll see a stitch between what would normally be two segments.
And here is where the Stitch feature pays dividends: I added an animation at the beginning of a video. In the image below, you can see that I've actually stretched the animation across the stitch itself (something that isn't possible when you're working with splits).
Looking to learn all things eLearning? Check out these live, online eLearning mini-courses (including a 3-hour introduction to Camtasia).
I received a call from a friend of mine who is the head of human resources at a large company. While the company is typically ahead of the curve when it comes to technology, she was being tasked to spearhead a corporate initiative that was outside of her field of expertise. Specifically, she was being told to move all of the company's traditional in-person training classes online.
It seems that corporate was looking to find ways to trim expenses and one sure-fire way to do that was through a reduction of travel expenses. My friend told me that they had 40,000 employees worldwide. When there was a need for a training class (and there were usually multiple classes each month), employees were flown into the corporate offices in New York. Between airfare, hotel, and other travel expenses, the costs were astronomical. In addition, the corporate training facility could only handle a set number of attendees making it impossible to host large groups.
The scenario above is the perfect combination of circumstances that makes virtual training rooms ideal: employees who are spread across the country (or the world), limited travel budgets, and inadequate meeting spaces/training rooms. Since my friend knew that I had been developing and teaching online classes for years, she asked for my guidance when it came to selecting the virtual training space for her company. What follows is the information that I shared with her.
What Do You Need to Host an Online Meeting/Training Event?
These days, the technology you need to begin hosting virtual sessions is minimal... no fooling. All that you need is:
Headset or Telephone
A Meeting Space Vendor
You can use any modern computer (laptop or desktop). It doesn't matter if you're a PC user or a Macintosh die-hard, both platforms can be used to host virtual spaces. The power and speed of your computer isn't critical. In fact, when my main computer died just before a scheduled online class, and my backup computer decided to die as well, I hosted the class on my young daughters Dora the Explorer laptop. Her laptop was tiny, cheap, underpowered, and very, very, pink. (The class went great by the way... my students never suspected a thing.)
Any computer purchased in the past 5-10 years will be able to access the internet out of the box. While you can access the Internet wirelessly, I'd encourage to host your online sessions via a hard-wired connection. While wireless connections to the Internet perform reasonably well, nothing beats a hard-wired connection to your corporate routers like Ethernet cables (they're almost always faster and more reliable).
Headset or Telephone?
Some online training rooms support Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOiP), some vendors support telephones (either toll-calls or toll-free), and some rooms support both VOiP and telephones. Should you elect to use VOiP, you'll need a headset plugged into your computer. You can find a computer headset at Best Buy or any office supply store. I'm often asked to recommend a quality headset. Personally, I don't think you can go wrong with any kind of headset manufactured by Senneheiser (their headsets are a bit more expensive than others, but the audio quality is incredible).
While you will likely sound awesome when you are using VOiP, keep in mind that you're basically using the Internet to transmit your voice. If your computer is low on resources, or your Internet connection isn't the best, VOiP won't be the best option. Your voice could sound choppy and your students might miss what you're saying.
When I connect to my online classes, I use a traditional telephone with a headset that I purchased at Office Depot (it cost around $50). My meeting space does not offer a toll-free number for me or my students without an extra monthly charge (that can get very, very expensive). Instead, I access the training room by dialing a long-distance number provided once I open my training room. Because my office pays for unlimited long distance (we use AT&T and the option is only $50 per month), I don't worry about long-distance fees. My classes typically last all day so $50 per month for unlimited long distance calls is a bargain.
So you've got your computer, a great headset, and access to the Internet. Great! You're just missing the final and most important part of the puzzle... the vendor that will allow you to run your online sessions.
There are many companies that allow you to host online meetings. While some solutions are free (Skype for example), vendors will typically charge you anywhere from $50 per month to several hundred dollars each month, depending on the options you need. In my opinion, here are the top vendors offering online training spaces: WebEx (owned by Cisco), GoToTraining (owned by Citrix), and Connect (owned by Adobe System). I'm not saying that there isn't a perfectly good solution out there beyond the three I've mentioned. However, I've used several different vendors and technology over the years. In my experience, the three vendors mentioned here performed the best.
All three of my top vendors provide a free 30-day trial so I encourage you to test-drive each of their products. When the time comes to set up a room using any of the tools, you'll find it a painless process since there's little to install. With GoToTraining, for instance, I set up an account, downloaded a small application, and was using my first training space in literally 10 minutes. The only issue you might run across when setting up your training space is being blocked by your corporate Firewall. In that instance, you'll need to coordinate your efforts with your IT department so they'll grant you unfettered access to the vendor's site and grant you the necessary installation privileges.
Once you've got your hardware and vendor sorted out, your final concern is what your learner will need to access your virtual room. Like everything else about the virtual experience, getting your learners into the room is easy. All that your learner will need to access your room is the date and time of the meeting, a computer with Internet access, a headset or telephone (just like you), and the address of the training room. (The address is a link you'll create at the time that you set up your virtual room. You'll be able to copy/paste the address and send it to your students via email.)
Of course, there's more to hosting online meetings or classes than the technology. In reality, there's an art form to leading an online class (it's not easy leading a class to a group that you cannot see). If you'd like to learn how to teach online classes effectively, check out my online (of course) Train the Online Trainer class.