Quality over Hype: Giving Thanks to Articulate for E-learning and M-learning Development Tools Done Right
The holiday season is here, a time when we count our blessings, give thanks, and summarize the results of the disappearing year. So, please indulge me while I give a professional shout-out to one company that made this year (more) interesting for my company, SweetRush, and the entire e-learning and m-learning industry.
Articulate is, of course, the company that brought us Articulate Storyline—the tool that rose to be an industry leader after its release a mere two years ago. It feels like it’s been here forever.
SweetRush fully embraced Storyline, just as we have with most major industry-relevant tools, and the amount of e-learning and m-learning courses we turned around this year using just Articulate Storyline (while continuing to employ other means of rapid and custom development, of course) was staggering. And we certainly put it to the test, even creating a complex branching simulation.
I am not going to list the advantages and flaws of Storyline, nor am I going to compare it with other e-learning authoring tools. (If that interests you, check out eLearning Authoring Tools: Flash and Articulate Storyline Comparison). Instead, I would like to point out a few things that Articulate as a company does right, at least in my humble opinion. These attributes make it easier to use its current toolset for e-learning and m-learning development, and, I believe, have created a loyal following among its users. We pay attention to what these guys are up to now and look forward to what they’ll bring us next.
Articulate Hasn’t Been Bitten by the Must Work Everywhere Bug
Articulate did not build the marketing appeal of Storyline on the fact that it must and will work everywhere, nor does it suggest that it is the ultimate solution to all e-learning and m-learning needs there are and ever will be. Instead, it is forthcoming about the fact that even the HTML5 distribution of courses built in Storyline is geared specifically for iPads. As far as Android is concerned, Storyline documentation states:
Storyline content may work on some Android devices. However, Articulate does not officially support Android devices or browsers. From: www.articulate.com/support/storyline/android-support
Disappointing perhaps for some, but, in my opinion, it is far better to be disappointed about something that your e-learning and m-learning authoring tool cannot do than about something your tool claims to be able to do, but fails to deliver. There are other tools and other means to deliver to other devices, and the SweetRush team employs them as well. Indeed, why dream of a single silver bullet when you can have a full magazine?
Yet so many modern authoring tools were too quick to announce the embrace of HTML5 and that their products work on all tablets and all phones. Quite often a very basic test for m-learning courses (usually involving some sort of video or a drag-and-drop interaction) fails—if not on the first device, then on the second.Now, to be completely fair, Storyline HTML5 on iPad is also far from flawless; it’s got a long way to go by that measure. However, by concentrating on a single family of devices, Articulate has a far greater chance to solve the problems in a shorter time and in a better manner than its closest competitors.
Articulate Chooses the Path of Quality over the Race of Hype
In today’s world, when another new “revolutionary” mobile device appears just about every month and new operating systems show up with horrifying frequency rendering the old ones obsolete, Articulate is apparently not afraid to take the time to design and develop high-quality products. It took nearly four years to create the new version of the Articulate Studio—its flagship e-learning authoring tool. With the huge jump (by today’s measures) from version 9 to version 13, my sense is the folks from Articulate are trying to show that when it comes to quality, they cut no corners. The jury is still out on how well the new Studio performs, and whether it can really be a player on the mobile HTML5 scene, but the first reviews of the new Studio are very positive.
Articulate’s Support Community Are the Real Heroes
If you are using Studio or Storyline, you simply must join the E-Learning Heroes forum. Not only is it likely you will find the answers to your burning questions, but you will also benefit from active dialogues with Articulate staff members, who are willing to take a look at your work and suggest solutions and workarounds. And if you find a real bug, do not hesitate to report it. The chances are strong that it will be resolved in the very next update.
In summary I would like to state again that Articulate products are not without faults, and neither Storyline nor Studio can claim to be the ultimate answer to all e-learning and m-learning prayers. But this company clearly added our fantastic and talented SweetRush team to its loyal fan base. We produced many creative and engaging e-learning and m-learning courses this year with Storyline, and many more are forthcoming. See, we love pushing those creative and functional envelopes, and we know how to appreciate tools that enable our success.At SweetRush our motto is, “If you dream it, we can build it.” Find out more about our team and check out an interactive infographic on off-the-shelf vs. custom development e-learning tools.