Closed captioning (CC) allows you to provide descriptive information in your published eLearning project that typically matches the voiceover audio contained in your Camtasia project.
There are a couple of ways you can add closed captions to your project. During this post I'm going to show you how you can add the captions manually (by typing or copying/pasting from an existing script), and how to have Camtasia transcribe the voiceover audio using the Speech-to-text feature.
In the image below I've opened a project that already has audio on the Timeline.
To add closed captions, select the Captions tool. (Closed captions aren't the same as Callouts.)
If you'd like to listen to the audio and transcribe what you hear, click the Add caption media button.
You can then press [enter] to listen to the voiceover audio and type what you hear. When finished, press [tab] and [enter] to create another caption.
Personally, I'm not a fan of typing/transcribing. In an ideal world, you would have a voiceover script (perhaps a Word document). In that case, typing and pasting between Camtasia and Word makes the process of adding the captions a painless process. (If you've never created a voiceover script, check out our voiceover script-writing class and learn how.)
If you don't have the voiceover script and you're not a fan of typing, check out Camtasia's Speech-to-text feature. To begin, bring up the Captions panel as if you were going to add the captions manually and then click Speech-to-text.
The Tips for Generating Accurate Speech-to-text Captionsscreen offers some awesome tips on making the process as smooth as possible.
Click the Continue button and Camtasia will scan your project and transcribe the audio for you.
While I found the Speech-to-text feature to be awesome, it was a bit hit or miss. For example, the first caption you see below ("The if the if the left half the") was actually background music. I have no idea why Camtasia attempted to transcribe it, but the results were just a tad off the mark considering there were no lyrics at all. The second caption was a fair attempt, but there were several typos. The third caption was actually quite good.
Getting rid of the unwanted caption is no problem. Simply right-click and choose Delete caption text.
In the images below, you can see the significant edits I needed to make to the second caption. Nevertheless, I found it faster to edit the caption as opposed to typing it manually.
And in the following two images, you can see how little editing was required to get the caption ready to go.
And in the image below you can see how the second caption appears in my produced eLearning lesson as a closed caption.
If you're like to see a video of the process of manually adding closed captions to a Camtasia project, check this out.
PDFs are everywhere, and forms are still one of the most popular PDF types. Whether you are creating a form from scratch or updating an existing one, I bet I can show you a few things you didn't know about PDF forms.
This is the first in a series of articles that I'm planning on building and getting creative with PDF forms. Let's get started with the PDF form creation process.
Creating a New PDF Form
Regardless of which application you use to create the initial document, you can make it into a form in Adobe Acrobat. Keep in mind that if you can print a document, you can usually create a PDF.
I use Adobe Illustrator to create my documents and then I save them as PDFs. When it comes to form fields, I add them in Adobe Acrobat (see my example below). I use Microsoft Word to create the document, and Acrobat can detect and add form fields for me (see example below for this one, too).
We will review both those methods, but let's start with using Word to create the document.
These are examples I will use throughout this article series: at the top, I simply typed my text in a Word document and exported it to PDF. Above, I took the same information and created a postcard with colored boxes where I want the text fields to go. I can add and customize form fields in Acrobat.
Setting up a form in Microsoft Word
To create a PDF with Word, you either print to PDF or import a Word document into Acrobat, (which automatically creates a PDF).
In the example below, I set up a simple Word document.
To print to a PDF, choose File > Print. Then choose Save as PDF from the menu in the lower left of the dialog box.
Use the Print menu to save as PDF from Word. (This is a Mac screen shot; if you are on Windows, it may look different.)
Create the PDF in Acrobat
Create the Word document and save it. Open Acrobat.
From within Acrobat, choose File > Create > PDF from File. This will allow you to browse and find the document you wish to convert to PDF. You can convert Microsoft Office documents and most image formats using this method.
Adobe Illustrator to PDF
I happen to be a heavy Illustrator user so I will show you an example of how that same form information could be used to create a more visually appealing form.
This is the Illustrator document I created using the same form questions.
In a future article, you will learn how to create text form fields in Adobe Acrobat and drop-down menus.
To save an Illustrator document as a PDF, choose File > Save As > Adobe PDF (pdf).
Other Ways to Create a PDF
Here are some other ways you can create a PDF (not covered in this article):
Print to PDF from any application that prints by choosing Adobe PDF as your printer
Convert HTML pages to PDF
Merge files together into one PDF
Go from your camera directly to PDF
Publish your SWF videos in a PDF directly from Adobe Captivate
There are online services that will convert your documents to PDF for you
Next time: Turning the PDF into a form, adding form fields and learning to love the Button Tool!
Allowing a learner to use the keyboard to navigate around a published Adobe Captivate project is a large part of ensuring that your project is accessible (you learn about accessibility and Section 508 compliance during our live, online, 2-day advanced Captivate class).
However, if you've added a Table of Contents and/or a playbar to your Captivate project, you might want to ensure that only slide items can be accessed via tabbing.
As an experiment, add a TOC to a project (via Project > Table of Contents), publish it and view it in your web browser. As you press the [tab] key, you'll notice that you can go down the TOC and then across the playbar.
Back in Captivate, display the Publish Settings dialog box via the File menu. Select (check) Restrict keyboard tabbing to slide items only.
Republish the project. This time when you [tab] through the lesson, the TOC and playbars are not accessible, but screen objects are.
Note: If you publish the project as HTML5, the learner will end up in the browser's Address bar after all of the slide items have been tabbed.
When enabling player notes in published Storyline projects, you might end up with overlapping text. This can happen if your slide titles are long (requiring three lines at the top of the notes pane in the player).
Unless you plan on adding extra white space below the title or above the script in the notes panel, you will need to shorten the slide titles to a take up a maximum of two lines. (Note that adding extra space should be done with paragraph "Space Before" or "Space After" otherwise consistency is going to be a problem.)
Another issue that you will likely run into with overlaps are titles that overlap the separator line as shown below. (Separator lines are on by default via the Player settings.)
I am not suggesting that you make the title a single line only, but I've found a way to make the separator line invisible by making it fully transparent. You will find the setting to modify the separator transparency in the Player settings under Custom > Colors & Effects tab. Here's how:
Click Show advanced color editing
From the Edit item menu choose Transcript > Separator
When creating a template (you can learn how by attending my 3-hour mini course on building templates), you'll likely need to add colors that meet your corporate brand. Fortunately, it's easy to create color swatches in Captivate and reuse them again and again.
To create a custom swatch, create or select an existing text caption. On the Properties Inspector, Character group, click Color.
In the Color panel, click Swatches.
At the right of the Swatches window, click Open Swatch Manager.
Click Pick Color.
Pick a color or mix your own and then click the OK button.
After clicking the OK button, you will be prompted to name your new swatch.
Once you have created your swatch, it will appear on the Swatch Manager.
The next time you click Color on the Properties Inspector, your custom swatch will be available for use. You can create as many swatches as you need; and if you create the swatches in a project template, the swatches will appear in any new projects that are based on the template.
People love to talk about how they want their eLearning courses to be interactive, but to be really effective eLearning, it has to do more than just interact with the learner; it has to engage them.
Just adding a simple button is interactive, but it's not engaging the learner. They have not been asked to think about anything other than tapping a button. No learning here!
In this example, I am giving the learner a choice, asking them to make a decision based on what they have learned. Both buttons will take them to the next slide and explain the correct answer, but they have been asked to think. Therefore, I engaged them. This is a simple but effective way to add engagement.
Learn. Then Do.
Just as you would review with students in a traditional classroom, it's equally important to review with them in an eLearning course. Think "Learn. Then do."
This technique can be accomplished in a number of ways. One is to use survey questions after each topic the learner is taught. Survey questions are usually non-graded questions you can ask a learner--to keep them interested and to help review and retain the content.
Something as simple as a survey question can increase retention of knowledge learned. (By the way, the answer is the Comstock Lode in Virginia City, NV.) Try different types of questions--drag and drop, multiple answer, etc. to keep things interesting.
Including video in your eLearning courses is another brilliant idea for adding engagement. Short, well-produced videos can spice up a course, and multimedia is always a welcome addition. Consider adding short (3-5 minute) videos throughout your courses, and follow up with a quick review.
Multimedia, such as video, adds a new layer of interest to your eLearning courses. Mixing it up is a good way to keep your learner on their toes.
To give your learners a non-linear learning experience, consider branching. Branching means you ask a question and based on the learner's response, they go in a different direction.
In this example, the learner is asked to choose a button. Each button takes them in a different direction--perhaps with detailed information on their hometown, or pricing sheets based on their location. Always give them a way to navigate, just in case they realized they chose the wrong answer or want a way back.
In conclusion, the best way to help your learners retain the knowledge is to engage them while they are learning. Interaction is crucial to any eLearning course, but give it a purpose.
An effective infographic has the power to inform, impress, and influence. As learning tools, infographics can support learning transfer and retention. On top of all that, they are FUN to concoct!
During this class you will explore visual communication basics and design principles as well as traditional infographic categories and when to use each. You will be introduced to some infographics that work well--and some that do not. You will also get started with a very cool free tool for creating infographics online: Piktochart. Finally, your instructor will guide you in publishing an infographic.
Bring with you: examples, ideas, and some creative juice!
Who Should Attend?
Instructional designers who want to include infographics as part of their learning toolkit
Marketing and web wonks who want to add flair to their value added content
Anybody who wants to understand how to use and create attention-grabbing infographics
Insight into the usage of your help content helps to identify difficult or incoherent policies, procedures or parts of your software. For example, if you notice that a specific instruction is used frequently, it may mean that the process is unclear. Otherwise readers wouldn't need to access your help so much.
Adobe offers RoboHelp server as an add-on product for tracking help usage. But you can also use Google Analytics. It offers fewer options but is completely free! Here are the steps to add Google Analytics tracking to your help content:
I often get asked the question about choosing the right slide size in Articulate Storyline. The Slide size or as it's known in Storyline as "Story Size" in not one of those things that you really come across casually in Storyline. It's a bit out of the way.
When creating a new project in Storyline, you are not presented with a dialogue box to input slide size. Therefore, Storyline simply goes ahead and selects a size default for you which happens to be 720 x 540 pixels.
The more important value in project slide dimensions is really the aspect ratio which happens to be 4:3. (Width/Height for 720/540). This default aspect ratio is the most commonly used in computer monitors, TV sets, and most tablets. The other aspect ratio is 16:9 which is suitable for widescreen devices and should be used only if you know that your audience is using 16:9 displays.
Accessing the area in Storyline where you can modify slide size and aspect ratio should you decide to do so, is under the "Design" tab in either the story view or slide view.
The default slide size of 720 x 540px is a throwback to the NTSC video standard. One reason you may want to modify this default is if you need more canvas (real estate) in your slide. Perhaps your design and content require more space or just need to spread out.
Another factor that may need consideration when selecting slide size is the "Player Size" used when publishing your project. The default player setting is "Lock player at optimal size". This setting forces the output to maintain the scaling at exactly 100% of pixel dimensions (no scaling). Modifying the "Player size" to "Scale player to fill browser window" will scale the project regardless of the set width and height.
In March, Kevin shared his techniques for improving sound quality by using sound absorbers. In this article, I cover two of my favorite microphones for voiceover recording: the Heil PR-40 and the Shure MV51. Each of these microphones delivers high quality sound for eLearning and podcasting applications. There are, however, important differences you should understand to determine which is right for you.
Let's start with the Heil PR-40, a dynamic microphone (meaning that it doesn't need power from a battery, USB connection, or mixer (sometimes referred to as "phantom" power). Dynamic microphones have a downside; they require a good quality microphone preamp to generate adequate recording levels. Without an amplifier, dynamic microphones produce recordings with low audio levels. This means that you may need to boost levels in post-production.
The PR-40 is well suited to recording voice-over because it has a full, warm sound that enhances the speaker's delivery. It is an "end-fire" microphone, which means you speak into the end of the microphone and sound is rejected from the side and rear. This design reduces unwanted room and background noise. Sound rejection is an important characteristic when recording in less-than-ideal circumstances. To get the best results from this microphone you will need a pop-filter and shock mount. If you want the "radio broadcaster" look, then get a boom mount that will allow you to position the mic in the most ergonomic position. The cost of a PR-40 is around $350, although a bundle that includes the shock mount and boom will push the price to almost $500.
The USB counterpoint to the PR-40 is the Shure MV51. The MV51 is a USB condenser that connects to your computer and draws power from the USB cable. The downside is that you can't connect the MV51 to an analog mixer to further boost or adjust the sound. For eLearning developers who are not using a studio or mixer this limitation may be a benefit.
The MV51 may look retro but it features several innovative "high-tech" capabilities. You can adjust the sound for different recording applications. For example, you can press a button to change from voice-over to music mode. The microphone will use an internal digital signal processor (DSP) to optimize the sound for the recording need. You can also adjust levels, mute audio, and monitor your recording directly from the microphone. Monitoring is very useful to make sure you hear how your mic position and speaking style are affecting the recording. You can monitor with your laptop or audio interface, but sometimes this introduces a delay which is disconcerting to the talent. The cost of a MV51 is $200. This includes the integral "kick-stand" that allows you to record on your desk or connect to any standard microphone stand. The MV51 uses a built-in pop filter so it may not be necessary to add an external pop filter depending on your talent.
After reading this you may be thinking, "no brainer, I'm buying the MV51." Whether this is the right choice depends on your recording needs. If you record a solo speaker, directly into an application on your computer and you don't need the flexibility of using a mixer, then the MV51 is likely the best choice. If, however, you have bigger plans to record multiple speakers at a table or on-stage, then you should seriously consider the PR-40 and other professional analog microphones that use XLR connections.
Do you want to learn more about eLearning audio? Join me in the upcoming Audio Essentials course where I will get into more detail about these and other professional-class microphones and audio equipment.