The Rapid Elearning Blog

The Rapid E-Learning Blog - next generation elearning evolves

Rapid elearning played a role in the evolution of elearning mostly because it took course creation out of the hands of a few programmers and placed it into the hands of anyone who wanted to create a course.

I see this as the democratization of elearning. And it runs parallel to how digital media’s empowered people all over the world to create and deliver content using a host of online tools and social media applications.

Some people lament this democratization. They think that only they should be able to create and deliver courses because they apparently have some sort of special training. But that’s all just nonsense.

It’s a good thing when people are empowered. In fact, the industry used to spend a lot of time talking about the programming part of elearning. But now we’re spending that time discussing instructional design and effectiveness of elearning. And that’s good. What people lack in terms of instructional design skills they can surely learn just as well as any of the lamenters did.

Speaking of evolution, last week was a hallmark week for me. It was my fifth year working at Articulate and we also released Articulate Storyline. I’ve been blessed to work with a great group of people and have spent the past five years getting to meet so many passionate elearning developers.

I am really excited about Storyline because it falls right into the evolution of our industry. The tool is easy to use and at the same time it’s empowering because it offers a level of capability that didn’t exist years ago without requiring some programming know-how.

My Favorite Features

In today’s post I want to show off a few of my favorite features. While I’ve been in this industry for a while, I’m still like many of you. For the most part I work by myself, I’m not a programmer, and I have to make do with the tools I have…and I have no budget. So when our developers gave me a copy of Storyline I was giddy with excitement. Finally, I could create a lot of the interactivity that I wanted to do but couldn’t because I didn’t have the Flash programming skills.

Build Drag & Drop Interactions in Seconds

Who doesn’t want to use drag & drop interactions? The challenge for many of us is knowing how to build them. Storyline makes it super easy.

Any slide you create in Storyline (or import from PowerPoint) can be quickly converted to a drag & drop interaction. It literally only takes seconds to do the conversion. That’s pretty powerful.

The Rapid E-Learning Blog - create elearning drag and drop interactions

Click here to view a drag & drop interaction.

Now instead of spending time on programming, you can spend your time determining the best way to use drag & drop interactions in your elearning courses.

Tutorial: How to build drag & drop interactions. Learn how easy it is to convert any slide to a drag & drop interaction.

Use Interactive Characters to Enhance Feedback

The challenge for many people is having the assets to build elearning courses. Storyline comes with 40 illustrated and photographic characters so that you’ll always have a consistent set of characters to use in your courses.

The Rapid E-Learning Blog - characters allow for interactive elearning feedback

The illustrated characters are tied to Storyline’s triggers so you can change the character’s expressions based on user actions. This is great for giving feedback to the learners.

Here’s a demo that Jeanette and her daughter created on how to make a Green Monster drink. It’s fun and shows an effective use of the character set.

The Rapid E-Learning Blog - example of interactive elearning course

Click here to view the Green Monster demo.

Tutorial: Create interactive feedback with Storyline characters. Watch how I build a quick call center scenario in just a few minutes.

Easily Customize the Course Player

Rapid elearning is great because it simplifies a lot of the production process. But with that simplification you give up some customization. This is really evident in the course player. It reminds me of the old Henry Ford line, “You can have any color you want as long as it’s black.”

Storyline makes player customization super simple. Take a look at some of the demos from the showcase. As you can see they all look a little different. That’s because you have more control over the player.

The Rapid E-Learning Blog - examples of custom elearning players

You’re not tied to a specific look or size of the course player. You can easily move things around, turn them on or off, and change the dimensions of your elearning course to meet your needs. And you’re always free to create your own controls within the slide. That’s what DFLearning did in this example.

Tutorial: How to customize the elearning course player. I walk through the player customization. Check out the lightbox feature for the player.

Easily Edit Screencasts & Software Simulations

At a previous company I had to build a lot of interactive software simulations. I really didn’t enjoy it because the editing process was always so cumbersome. I hated having to edit screens or do multiple takes of the recording, especially when it required resetting all of the screens and activities.

The Rapid E-Learning Blog - example of interactive software simulation

Click here to view screencast demo.

One of the things I truly enjoy about Storyline’s software simulation is the way editing works. First, you record your software demo. Then you decide if you want to insert just the video or an interactive simulation. And here’s the best part. At any time you can go back and change it.

For example: you insert a video, but the client wants to convert that to a simulated software interaction. In the past, you’d have to recapture everything. Now, you just go to the video and switch modes. It’s
as easy as that.

Same with editing. If I get an artifact or something on the screen I don’t want, I just right-click to access the fine tuning feature and select a frame without the issue. Editing only takes a few seconds. That sure beats all of the time I spent doing recaptures in the past.

Tutorial: Quickly make edits to software simulations. Learn to make quick edits and change modes without having to recapture the video.

Create Courses that Look Great on the iPad

I really love the way the content looks on the iPad. I’ve probably showed it off to all of my friends and neighbors. It just looks good. And it works great, too.

All of the demos and showcase examples work on the iPad. Download the free mobile player and you’ll see that you get a really rich experience. Much better than what you get with HTML5 which has some limitations when it comes to interactive content.

The Rapid E-Learning Blog - interactive elearning on the ipad and for m-learning

You’ll notice that with the mobile player all of the interactivity works the way it was designed to work. I like to pinch the slides out so they play full screen. The content just looks like it belongs there. It doesn’t look like a clunky web page.

Easy Sharing of Storyline Files

My focus is always on how to give away assets and content to help people build their courses. One of the best things about Storyline is the ability to share slides and templates with other Storyline authors. It’s about as easy as sharing slides in PowerPoint.

The Rapid E-Learning Blog - free interactive elearning templates & PowerPoint templates

We’ve already added some content to the downloads section that are free for you to use. I’ve even converted a few of the free PowerPoint templates to Storyline templates.

You may recognize these two:

Over time there will be all sorts of free interactive content that will save you money and time.

There’s really a lot more to Articulate Storyline, but those are some of my favorite features. As I said earlier, like many of you I’m not a programmer so I’m really excited about the tool and all of the stuff I’ll be able to do with it.

If you want to learn more, checkout these videos. And feel free to download the trial and use the free templates to test it out.  I look forward to your feedback.


Free E-Learning Resources

Want to learn more? Check out these articles and free resources in the community.

Here’s a great job board for e-learning, instructional design, and training jobs

Participate in the weekly e-learning challenges to sharpen your skills

Get your free PowerPoint templates and free graphics & stock images.

Lots of cool e-learning examples to check out and find inspiration.

Getting Started? This e-learning 101 series and the free e-books will help.

36 responses to “The Next Generation of E-Learning”

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May 8th, 2012

Hi Tom,

Can you provide a quick and easy demonstration on how DFLearning created controls from within the slides? I especially want to see how they made it track that the user completed specific sections (check marks appeared on the “menus” to show that a section had been completed).

Thanks so much for all you provided to help all of us trying to create more effective eLearning.

May 8th, 2012

Hi Tom,

DFLearning has a “journal” where the users can record their personal notes. How did they build that into the course? And do you know if the notes persist when the user leaves and returns to the course?

Thanks again.

@Michael: good questions. I’ll see if I can get her to do some quick tutorials on how she created the course.

May 8th, 2012

Thank you for the nice Storyline introduction! It’s great to see some capabilities of the product as well as how easy it is to work with.

May 8th, 2012

Hello Tom,

I am new to the whole elearning enviroment and first I want to say this blog is amazing. I have read multiple files and learned so much. Thank you for that.

As I am so new I am in the process of trialling all the software products available. I love Studio 09. Is story line part of Studio 09 or is this a seperate product? I love the features it offers.

Again Thank you for the wealth of information you have shared.


Congratulations on 5 years with Articulate. In my opinion, they don’t pay you enough. You may be the most effective “spokes model” in the history niche marketing. You do a great job.

Joe Kirby

@Joe: thanks…I hope my boss is reading this. 🙂

@Christine: Studio and Storyline are two different suites. The key difference is that Studio works from PowerPoint and used form-based authoring. And Storyline is it’s own application that provides a more complete and robust authoring solution with screencasts, software simulations, and custom programming. They’re both great products, it’s just a matter of which one best meets your needs.

What about Quizmaker, Engage and Video Encoder? Are they integrated into StoryLine? Or they have to be used independently and then integrated into StoryLine? Or they are nor compatible at all?

May 8th, 2012

I am wondering about the accessibility features of this product. What features does it include to make sure the content we create can be viewed, heard, or adapted for use by anyone?

May 8th, 2012

Happy 5th anniversary Tom! Articuate and the Articulate community are lucky to have you!

I been working with the Storyline free trial but haven’t done much with Studio. Like @ Christine, I too am struggling with the Studio vs. Storyline dilemma, especially when looking forward to the Studio upgrade. In order to decide which solution will best meet my needs going forward, I’m one of those people who could benefit from a side-by-side feature comparison similar to what you see when shopping for electronics, cars, etc.

[…] The Next Generation of E-Learning E-learning is hot. And for good reason. If done right, it can produce great results by decreasing costs and improving performance. Also, unlike a one time classroom session, the elearning course is available for others. This includes the static elearning course as well as any ongoing conversations in networked communities. Recently, I had a conversation with someone new to elearning and it struck me that she didn’t fully understand the value of elearning. […]

@Jill: the main difference will be the authoring process. Studio is built around PPT and then converting the slides. So all of your authoring happens in PPT, but you give up some of the programming capability to do so. Engage and Quizmaker are form-based tools.

Storyline is a more robust authoring environment where you have more control. You also have the screencasting capabilities.

If you work mostly from PowerPoint content and don’t want to do as much programming, then Studio is the better solution. If you want more control and do some software training, then Storyline is a better solution.

It really all depends on what you want to do. Price will be the same for either suite. Email if you want to participate in the Studio beta when we get there.

@Melissa: here’s some info on the accessibility features. You can always download a trial and see how it works with your needs. If you have more specific questions, jump into the forums and connect with one of our community managers or contact me.

@Tom: Studio and Storyline are two distinct suites and not tied to each other. Quizmaker(+) and the video encoder features are built into Storyline. You can build your own interactions and we provide a few pre-builts. We also have a robust marker feature in Storyline so you don’t really need Engage.

If you have older Studio content you can import that into Storyline.


Yesterday I saw this and I was about to cry of happiness!!
Really, I’m not exagerating.

All that I was trying hard with Studio is available with Storyline, I was really amazed with the demos, different scenarios, players, characters…

I’m really grateful with this tool as I’m not a programmer but an instructional designer, and I’m willing to try different things with Storyline.

Well, let’s see if I change to Storyline soon!!


May 9th, 2012

Congrats Tom! Can’t believe I’ve been following your blog every week for 5 years! I just wanted to mention that while looking at the Business Circles demo you provided in Storyline format I noticed that the modules on the main menu screen didn’t get checked off as being viewed if you selected the module from the drop-down menu at the top. Not sure if that is a bug in Storyline, or just the way it should be because it depends on whether you actually click on the module on the home screen. Thanks!

@Pink Lady: good catch on the visited states. I only added visited states to the buttons. To get the slides to activate the state, I’d add a variable that tracks what slides have been visited and then I can use a trigger to change the state of the buttons.

@Belen: I love the enthusiastic response. 🙂 Studio is a great product but because you’re working in PowerPoint, you give up some of the programming capabilities. If you’re looking to do more custom interactivity, then Storyline should help.

@Pink Lady: I created a quick tutorial on how to change the visited states when using the menu.

Some have asked how I created the drag/drop video player in a previous post so I created two quick tutorials and posted in the forums.

[…] via The Next Generation of E-Learning » The Rapid eLearning Blog. […]

May 14th, 2012

I am trying to help evaluate if our company should continue with Articulate Studio or switch to Storyline. I see that one of the benefits to Storyline is that you can view published files on the ipad. But Presenter ’12 will allow that as well, so that won’t be an issue.

I do a lot of design within powerpoint right now for some of my slides and would hate to lose that ability. Is there something else that would be major that I’m missing if I generally like Studio 09 and would hopefully be upgrading to ’12? Any general prices floating around out there to compare the upgrade to Storyline?


@Rebecca: in your case, Studio may be the right product. The main difference would be that Storyline has the screencasting and more programming control. Buy if you don’t need those and feel comfortable in PowerPoint and the form-based authoring of the other tools, then stick with Studio. You can always take a peek at the getting started videos to see what you can do and how it works.

Helo Tom, Do you plan to present Storyline in Toronto Canada at any time?

@Debbie: David was in Canada last week. I’m always open to doing a presentation. I don’t solicit them, though. If you have a local learning chapter or group that’s interested in having me present, tell them to contact me.

Thank you Tom. I’ll look into it locally.

[…] I mentioned earlier, the capabilities of the authoring software has evolved. This has opened the doors to do more with elearning. But easy course creation is not going to […]

[…] is a blog post by Tom Khulmann discussing some of the features of Storyline. In it, he offers several examples and […]

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Hi Tom – I really like the Articulate iPad player. Our problem in our efforts to implement an mLearning strategy is the other devices. Most of my users won’t have an iPad, so if I’m creating an interactive course on SL, most of my users won’t be able to view it, meaning I would need to create 2 versions. Any chances Articulate would develop an Android player for the tablets? and if not, what would you recommend? Thanks

@Shanee: In Storyline you can publish for three modes: Flash, HTML5, and iOS. That is a single click publish. Assuming you link to the story.html file, the user’s device will load Flash by default. If they don’t have Flash they can access the HTML5 version and if they’re using the iPad it will go to the mobile player by default. If not installed they can access the course via Safari and HTML5.

An Android device should play Flash and if not, then HTML5 version.

[…] I mentioned earlier, the capabilities of the authoring software has evolved. This has opened the doors to do more with elearning. But easy course creation is not going to […]