Storyline - best tool for interactive educational content
November 16, 2015
Storyline - best tool for interactive educational content
Score 7 out of 10
Overall Satisfaction with Articulate Storyline
We use Articulate Storyline to deliver learning material for flipped classrooms in a post secondary institution. The purpose is to deliver content in an interactive and engaging way online, then bring students into the classroom for group work and hands on activities. This reduces the amount of classroom time needed, and makes that classroom time more productive.
- Storyline is incredibly flexible. It incorporates a wide range of media formats (images, videos, etc), if you want to add a quiz you have a wide range of question formats (drag and drop, text, etc), and the Triggers and States features let you customize what happens based on the user's actions. You can basically build a choose-your-own-adventure activity.
- The basics of Storyline are easy to learn. When you open Storyline for the first time, you can immediately start building simple activities with minimal training. That said, you'll want to refer to the online video tutorials to learn the advanced features.
- Once you've created an activity, you can publish it in multiple formats, including web format, mobile, SCORM, and Word. I usually publish an activity to both web format and Word (which I then convert to PDF). The Word/PDF version serves as a transcript of the interactive version for people with auditory disabilities.
- Learning the more advanced features of Storyline does take some time. When I was learning Storyline, I was able to set aside about 45 minutes at the beginning of each day to watch 1 or 2 tutorial videos and then practice what I had just learned. I got up to speed very quickly this way! And once you have some advanced skills with Storyline, that's where the fun really begins!
- Some of the output options aren't ideal. For example, you can publish an activity to a DVD, but the output is an exe file, which some computers won't run. Also the Word doc output is fairly terrible looking. (Although, if you have a little skill with Word styles, you can easily fit it up.)
- Our goals were to deliver certain content online in order to reduce classroom time and make classroom time more effective, and we achieved those goals.
The other main software program I've used for elearning development is Camtasia.
- I prefer Camtasia for software tutorials because it's quick and easy to make a screencast and load it into YouTube.
- I've used both Camtasia and Storyline for converting a powerpoint + audio into a video. I find Camtasia is better for shorter presentations that are meant to simply be watched straight through. However Storyline is better if want want to let the user decide how they move through the content, or if you want to pause at certain points and ask "check your knowledge" quiz questions.
- For complex topics I generally prefer Storyline for its interactive features and ability to represent concepts visually.
- Storyline is by far the best tool I've seen for creating interactive diagrams.
Do you want to create an interactive learning activity? Are you prepared to rework your content into a format that allows users to take the reins and decide how they want to move through the content (rather than you giving them the content in a linear fashion)? Do you have time to invest in learning how to use the advanced features of this software? If yes, then I would highly recommend Storyline.
Articulate Storyline Support
The Articulate user community (including staff and users) is amazing. There are so many people willing to help each other and offer advice. You can tell people are passionate about this software and supporting new users who are struggling. When you're a new user, it really helps to know you're not alone if you get stuck.
Problems get solved
No escalation required
Support understands my problem
Support cares about my success
Quick Initial Response
No - I've never needed it. The online support community (including Articulate staff and software users) have always responded to my questions in a reasonable amount of time (usually with in an hour or two; always within a day or so).
A couple years ago, I was building a quiz game in Storyline and couldn't get the scoring system to work right. I wanted users to be able to earn points, and then spend them within the game. But I couldn't figure out the program logic to stop someone from spending more points than they had earned. I posted my question on the Storyline community boards, and a staff member replied with a suggestion to fix it. She even mocked up an activity with the solution programmed in, so I could see how the program logic worked and copy it into the game I was developing. It worked perfectly!
Using Articulate Storyline
The basics are easy to learn but you won't get really robust activities from using just the basics. However, if you can invest the time in learning how to use all of Storyline's features, you'll have tremendous learning development power at your fingertips. I do have to say, though, that there is a beautiful logic to how everything in Storyline works. Once you learn a few of the advanced features, you can learn them all because there's a similar underlying logic. The interface is also very appealing and friendly.
Like to use
Easy to use
Technical support not required
Feel confident using
Lots to learn
- Adding media (e.g. images, shapes, videos, audio)
- Adding triggers (basically, if X happens, do Y)
- Using the timeline to control what happens when (e.g. to make something appear at a certain point during the narration)
- Making custom object states (it's not really difficult, it's just fussy).
- Customizing the player, the frame that the activity appears within. I recommend using the built-in options whenever possible because it's a lot of work to make your own.
- Learning how to use the variables takes time but is so worth it! There's a huge payoff in terms of how far you can customize your activities once you learn how to use the variables effectively.