Summary: A reminder that Articulate Studio is much more than a PowerPoint tool.
Difficulty: Very easy

When I purchased Articulate Studio (from my own pocket!) in early 2007 prior to joining Articulate myself, my knowledge of PowerPoint was limited to say the least. I didn’t buy Articulate as a PowerPoint addon. In fact, I needed to scour Ebay to get hold of a cheap, second-hand version of PowerPoint 2000 just so that I could use the Articulate software. What interested me about Articulate was not the PowerPoint conversion features or my desire to get loads of PowerPoint courses converted into online material. What interested me was how easy it was to create SCORM trackable material for use with an LMS to track the quizzes and exercises I gave to my students. In fact, I didn’t even bother with PowerPoint at the beginning. The Engage interactions did the job just fine, giving me professional looking, ‘flashy’ templates to display my content and all with the simplicity for which Articulate is renowned.

Not PowerPoint, please …!

powerpointhorror

Let’s face it; a lot of people don’t like PowerPoint. They equate it with boring bullet point courses. (They are wrong of course). A few days ago, somebody wrote in asking if it were possible to use Articulate without PowerPoint. That question raised a few eyebrows but it reminded me of my own beginnings with Articulate. Studio ’09 is not just “powerful PowerPoint”. In fact the majority of the features in Articulate Studio having nothing at all to do with PowerPoint.

For Articulate Studio ’09, PowerPoint has two functions:

  1. It provides the “skeleton” or overall structure of a course allowing you to combine Engage, Quizmaker quizes and other elements into one single, trackable course.
  2. It allows you to convert PowerPoint slides into Flash.

The most important function is the first. If you don’t use PowerPoint to create your content, then you can leave out the second. Which is almost tantamount to saying that you don’t need PowerPoint for Articulate Studio.

You can build a brilliant, engaging and interactive course without ever using a single bullet point. Just use Articulate Studio.

What can you do with Articulate Studio?

Well most of you reading this will already know the answer to that question. But I know there are still many who prefer to shy away from all the amazing features of Studio ’09 and just stick to their basic PowerPoint presentations. So let’s remind ourselves again:

1. Add Flash movies:

Got a video? Go an interactive Flash movie? Then add that movie to your course via the Articulate menu: Articulate -> Flash Movie. You can add MP4, FLV or SWF movies.

2. Add Web Pages:

Want to reference an external site? Got an self-contained HTML based module? Add it to your course via Articulate; Articulate -> Web Object

3. Add games:

game2

Three fun Learning Games can be added to your course in seconds. Articulate -> Learning Games

4. Add text and multimedia content:

Use Engage ’09 to create your content with various sub-pages within each interaction. Choose from a choice of 13 templates or make your own. Each module is independent and can be inserted into multiple presentations. Add an extra element to your interaction, and Engage automatically updates the layout. There’s no need to mess about with the layout as you often need to in a PowerPoint slide.

5. Add quizzes and assessments:

Use Quizmaker ’09 to provide tests throughout your course and at the end. Use Quizmaker to provide content too.

6. Add narration and audio:

Use Articulate Presenter ’09 to record narration to all slides including quizzes and Engage interactions. Use Engage and Quizmaker to record narration within each module.

7. Branching:

branching

Use Presenter ’09 to branch from any of your slides to any other slide. Use the quiz settings to direct your learners according to their scores. If they reach a certain score, send them to a new part of your course.

8. Add attachments:

Got a Word or PDF document you want to include with your course. Use Articulate -> Attachments

9. Make your course SCORM or AICC compatible:

scorm

Got a video and want to make sure that your learners view it? Then simply slip it into Presenter ’09 and publish to LMS and you’ll be able to track whether or not your learner viewed that video or not.

10. Add external elements created with third-party products:

Captivate, Camtasia, Raptivity, in fact nearly all Flash based or HTML based media can be integrated into your Articulate course with a few clicks of a button.

etc

and finally, optionally…. !!

11. Add PowerPoint slides:

Want to convert an existing PowerPoint slide to Flash and add that to your course? Simply add a slide and design the layout. When you pubish your presentation, it will be included with the other modules.

 

how

How do you do it?

The simplest way to create a non-PowerPoint course is to use a series of Engage interactions. You can create an introduction in Engage and then move onto a series of interactions for each of your modules. You can even use the technique outlined here to create a menu in Engage which links to all the other slides in your presentation.

Add a quiz at the end, and a few videos and you’ll have a super, professional-looking course in a matter of hours.

If you use other Elearning tools, then the chances are you’ll be able to add some of that content to your course too. Merge that with Engage and Quizmaker and you’ll have the best courses in town!

Demo

Regretably, I don’t have as much time as I would like to build demos and experiment with the software ( :( ) so here is an extremely quick demo showing an Engage menu branching to five distinct modules; another Engage interaction, an HTML page, a Flash video, an externally produced Raptivity SWF and a quiz.

I didn’t use any PowerPoint functions as such other than having blank slides to insert content.

I have included the project files as an attachment. I have also added a mock Presenter information interaction in the tab. I also set up the branching such that when the learner has viewed a module, I sent them back to the menu. Finally I used a slightly more complex technique described in this article to create a customized sidebar, again without using PowerPoint.

 

nonpowerpointdemo

View Demo

 

Points to remember:

 

  • If you aren’t using PowerPoint slides in your course, then you’ll find that the Presenter window (with picture and mail of the Presenter) will display behind quizzes, Engage interactions and web objects. It is probably better to not use this function at all and maybe use Engage to create a Presenter Info tab at the top of your course. You could even include a video from the Presenter in that interaction.
  • Of course, just because you are avoiding PowerPoint to a maximum, that doesn’t mean you can’t have ONE PowerPoint slide in your presentation. It could be your main menu hyperlinking to each module and on that slide, you could have the Presenter information. When you hyperlink to your other modules, show them in No Sidebar view or Slide Only view to avoid your Presenter window appearing behind other elements.
  • Don’t forget that you can include Presenter panel videos and logos from within the Articulate interface.
  • Presenter will not preload any of the modules, be they Flash videos, web objects, Engage interactions or quizzes (except if you place them on the tabs at the top of the player). Engage interactions and Quizmaker quizzes have their own loading mechanism which should work fine, and Flash videos generally stream if you compress them correctly.
  • Because you are choosing not to use any (or very few) of the PowerPoint functions, then you can get by with a copy of PowerPoint 2000. All of the Articulate-only functions work in PowerPoint 2000, 2003 and 2007.
  • There is a known issue, unfortunately, when linking from Engage to Engage using the method described here. For the moment, if you want to link from Engage to Engage, you’ll need to link to an empty slide first which automatically moves on to the Engage slide. You might just want to use a PowerPoint slide for your menu rather than Engage.
  • If you edit your Engage interaction or Quiz and you’ve already placed your presenter video panel SWF in place on that slide, both Engage and Quizmaker might remove it. You’ll just need to put it back.
  • Of course, PowerPoint is not all bad, far from it. There are many great and clever things you can do with it. Be sure to check out Tom Kuhlmann’s Rapid Elearning Blog which covers a number of PowerPoint tips.

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    6 Responses

    1. I have also used Articulate to produce stand alone Flash files (swfs).
      When a customer wants some text to float in, then an image appear, then more text, etc… I ask them to mock it up in a ppt. I can then pretty up the ppt, publish from Articulate and then load the swfs into my flash engine.

    2. daveperso says:

      Hi James, That’s a clever trick to play on your clients – getting them to demo what they want in a PowerPoint slide :) Easy then for Articulate to convert it into Flash. Thanks. Great comment! Yes, you can use Articulate to create content that won’t even be viewed in an Articulate player. If any one else has any tricks up their sleeve, please let us know!

    3. Brian Batt says:

      Great article! I would love for you to write an article describing the Slide View in Quizmaker ’09 and how you can use it to create engaging presentations without PowerPoint.

    4. danroddy says:

      Dig a little in to QM09 and it’s clear that there is a standalone authoring tool itching to get out!

    5. Chris says:

      Hi Dave, enjoy your blog. Always good to read during my downtime. I do eLearning courses for the City of New York.

      Had a question for you about the Learning Games. I like them a lot but they are kinda well..ugly. have you found any work around for custom skinning them?? I put in a feature request but who knows how long that will take.

      any help would be greatly appreciated

      Chris

    6. Kate says:

      This is interesting. I’ve just started checking out Articulate and I was beginning to wonder if you can use it without Powerpoint. I hadn’t even considered that I would need PPT!

      Things I am yet to work out:

      Without PPT how do I create a simple text only or Splash page (I don’t want an interaction or a graphic with my text – just pure, plain, simple text.)

      How to I create a menu that takes the learner to topic/screen of choice?

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