Why I love Articulate Storyline

So, a little while ago one of my trainees asked me why I seem to like Storyline so much – for those of you who have been through my training you may remember that at certain points in the course I tend to get a little (over?) enthusiastic/excited: and the following may explain why…

I’ve been in the eLearning industry for several years, and over that time have used a number of content development tools, all of which could be considered to be ‘rapid development tools’, primarily because   at first glance  none of them require scripting capability, rather than them actually being quick to use.

Some of these tools I’ve chosen to use; some have been chosen for me; others have been foisted upon me. I won’t name and shame any of them here for anything specific but depending on your own experiences you may recognise some of my frustrations.

Back when I first started using these ‘rapid eLearning development tools’ (my first foray into this world was in 2004) the ability to produce varied and engaging content in them was limited. Static screenshots that ran in order with closed-captions displayed in a fixed location did soon give way to on-screen captions you could move but not format, producing some amazing colour combinations if your organisational branding didn’t coordinate with the almost luminous callouts or contrasting navigation bar. It’s an experience I recall every time I see the Don McMillan ‘Death by PowerPoint’ routine that cites loss of bladder control as a symptom of bad colour schemes: not that I ever experienced that particular symptom but the headaches, confusion and nausea also mentioned definitely made an appearance!

These tools sometimes had the capability for you to replace the default captions with your own but it could put a definite dent in your development time if you chose to do so, in some cases more than doubling the time needed to build a course.

Templated interactions started to appear but it helped if you were familiar with various scripting languages so you could decipher the lists of properties you apparently had control over, and more than familiarity became essential if you wanted to build your own.

Screen captures also became more sophisticated, giving you a choice of output modes and some ability to branch, but much beyond the standard ‘click here’ ‘type this’ again took a team from NASA to figure out and should you want to blend your software simulation with other eLearning functions; such as information, interactions, quizzes and assessments, it often meant combining output from multiple tools.

While we’re talking about needing a team from NASA, let’s think about how usable the software is, what about the interface? I’m (hopefully) a relatively intelligent individual who is, generally, comfortable with technology but some of these tools were really hard work. Navigation, project structure, object placement, bespoke document templates, on-going maintenance, branding and colour schemes – these are just some of the areas that required huge effort (or continuing costly support from your vendor).

So, having not mentioned it since the start of the article, why   do  I love Storyline? Simple: it makes all the above easy…