Like many of today's technical communicators, I wear many hats and use multiple tools to communicate with my learners. For instance, I use Adobe Captivate to create most of my eLearning content, and Adobe RoboHelp to create my Help Systems.
It wasn't all that long ago that eLearning content and Help Systems served different roles and different audiences. There was rarely talk of combining the two technologies. These days, more and more technical communicators are being tasked with creating effective Help Systems for an audience that is more distracted and stressed out than ever before. It's a daunting task, but one that is made easier if you follow a few best practices.
If you have created an eLearning lesson using eLearning tools such as Adobe Captivate, TechSmith's Camtasia Studio or Articulate's Storyline, you can insert the multimedia directly into RoboHelp Help Topics. When the topic is displayed in a web browser, mobile device (iPad, iPhone, etc) or HTML Help, the lesson will play (and remain interactive).
When creating help content (Help Topics), I suggest that the topic contain just enough information to make it easy for a learner to quickly find the information they are looking for. Specifically, today's perfect Help Topic will:
- Contain no more than one or two paragraphs to explain the most important concepts of a feature.
- Contain an image or eLearning simulation/demonstration to support the text.
- Treat users as learners... not users. (As far as I'm concerned, a Help System is really just an opportunity for the author to teach something.)
eLearning Best Practices
The perfect playtime for a typical eLearning lesson is 5 minutes (give or take a few minutes). However, if the lesson is expected to be included within a RoboHelp topic, the person who will view the lesson is looking for specific information, not necessarily a complete lesson. I'd encourage you to keep eLearning within a Help Topic much shorter than standard eLearning lessons; 30-90 seconds is the perfect amount of time to get a quick point across.
When creating content within Adobe Captivate, avoid using Captivate features that are not supported by mobile devices (such as Flash animations or rollovers). Prior to publishing a lesson, choose Project > HTML5 Tracker to open the HTML5 Tracker (shown below). If the HTML5 Tracker displays any Unsupported objects, consider visiting the affected slides and removing those objects.
Choose Project > Skin Editor and edit the lesson's playbar so that it doesn't contain features that might cause problems within a Help Topic. For instance, in the image below, I've specifically deselected the Close option (lower left). I've found that if I embed a Captivate demo within a topic, the Close button on the Playbar doesn't work and will simply lead to learner confusion.
When publishing, take the learner's device into consideration. If the learner is going to use a standard Windows PC or Macintosh computer, SWF output is fine. However, if your learner is going to be using an Apple mobile device such as an iPad or iPhone, you'll need to select HTML5 from the Output Format Options area. You'll end up publishing two distinct output formats, but both can be imported into RoboHelp (at the same time).
eLearning Integration within RoboHelp
Once you've published the Captivate lesson, getting it into a RoboHelp topic is simple. Open or create a topic and choose Import > Adobe Captivate Demo. From within the Adobe Captivate Demo dialog box, use the Browse button to the right of Multimedia Name and open the SWF; use the Browse button to the right of HTML5 Output and open the HTML5 start page.
When you generate WebHelp or HTML Help, RoboHelp will automatically use the SWF within the generated Help System. If you generate Multiscreen HTML5, RoboHelp will automatically use the HTML5 output for all of the screen layouts (although you can edit the Properties of the Desktop layout and force it to use the SWF output instead).
Note: If you'd like to see the process of embedding interactive eLearning within a Help System, check out my video demonstration on our YouTube channel.
Looking to learn Captivate quickly? IconLogic offers multiple live, online Adobe Captivate 6 classes each month including Introduction to Adobe Captivate and Advanced Adobe Captivate. And if you're looking to learn Adobe RoboHelp, we offer a two-day introduction to RoboHelp class.