Flash is one of coolest, most dynamic development platforms I’ve ever worked with, and Captivate is the best way to teach someone how to use it. In this article I’ll explain the best way to produce a Flash tutorial using Adobe Captivate. Actually, the methods discussed can be applied to creating a tutorial for any software, but Flash will be the focus when I provide examples.
Identify the Topic
The first thing you should do is identify your Flash topic. Examples may be “Using the Flash Pencil Tool,” “Using the Flash Selection Tool,” or “Create and Edit Text in Flash”. Notice that these topics are specific and to the point. Too often I see Flash tutorials on the Web that are too vague and general. The tutorials may be entitled “Learn Flash Animation” or “How to Animate in Flash”. One has to watch the tutorial before they’ll know what type of animation is taught.
Flash offers many ways of doing the same thing, so to be clear, these tutorials should have titles like “Learn Flash Motion Tweening” or “How to Animate a Stick Man in Flash”. It is important to remember the KISS principle, which is short for “Keep It Simple Stupid”. If you remember the KISS principle, it will be easier for you to focus on one topic and produce a more effective tutorial. This approach will also help the learner focus on the specific topic you are trying to teach. If you have a big topic to cover, break it into smaller, manageable pieces by creating multiple tutorials.
Record the Screen
Preparing to record the screen is essential to producing a quality tutorial. Adobe Captivate offers several settings to help you create a tutorial that best meets your needs. These settings affect automatic events such as text pop-ups, highlight and click boxes, mouse visibility, click and typing sounds, and many others.
Adobe Captivate offers three recording modes for recording: Demonstration, Assessment Simulation, and Training Simulation. These modes have several preset options that can be customized to meet the specific needs of your simulation. For example, if you want most of the options that are associated with a demonstration, select the Demonstration mode, but then click the Options button, and next the Edit Settings button to open the Recording Mode drop-down list. At this point you can simply select or deselect the options to meet your requirements.
As I mentioned earlier, Flash has many ways of doing the same thing, but every method can’t be covered in one tutorial. I recommend demonstrating the most common method in your tutorial. If you are narrating your lesson, which I highly recommend, you can mention the less-common methods in your narration without actually demonstrating how they are applied.
Write the Script
Again, I highly recommend writing a script and narrating your tutorial. If recording your voice in this way is not natural for you, don’t worry, you’ll get better with practice. I suggest narrating your lesson because some people learn best by seeing the information in action, and others may learn best by hearing it. But everyone is more likely to learn if they encounter the information in more than one way. So, if someone were to hear and see the information, they are more likely to learn it than if they were to only hear it or only see it.
I also recommend writing the script after you have recorded the screen. This is because it is easier to write a script to match what is happening on the screen than it is record a screen to match a written script. You know the screen is accurate because you see the end result of all your actions. However, writing a script of how to perform certain steps from your memory is more likely to have missing steps or contain errors.
Narrate the Tutorial
Narration for the tutorial should be recorded on the corresponding slide, starting with the first slide and in sequential order, working your way through to the last slide. When screen recordings are produced, you’ll notice that some slides (e.g. those recording multiple mouse clicks or screen reloads) do not require narration. This is why it is important to record the screens first, and then add the audio narration to the slides that need it.
Test the Tutorial
It’s a good idea to test your tutorial often while it is being produced. After you’ve recorded the screens, watch the entire tutorial, even if the timing isn’t correct. By the way, in most cases the timing will not be correct initially because of preset times for actions in Captivate. However, watching the tutorial from beginning to end will help you ensure that all the required steps have been correctly recorded.
As you’re testing, there are a few things you should always check. Make sure that the audio is accurately synched with the actions on the screen. Also make sure that there is enough silence before and after actions occur on the screen. This gives the learner time to get oriented and ready for what is about to happen. Finally, adjust the timing for all the slides so that all actions are similar to what happens in the real world. This refers to making the timing realistic for selections in drop-down boxes and page reloads after a button or link is clicked.
So those are the basics for creating Flash tutorials with Adobe Captivate. There is enough information here to get you started, but you’ll only be able to produce top-quality tutorials with a lot of practice. If you want to see examples Flash tutorials made in Captivate, visit http://flash-tutorials.elearner.tv/