Adobe Presenter and Adobe Captivate have some overlapping functions. Both can create eLearning lessons that can be uploaded to and report results to a learning management system (LMS). Both can work with PowerPoint. Both can create interactive quizzes. And the list goes on. But what are the key differences that tell me which of these programs to buy? Or, if I already have both, which to use for any given project? Let's take a look.
Adobe Presenter is a PowerPoint add-in, and is marketed by Adobe specifically to educators. It is the easiest path from PowerPoint to eLearning. You can use it to take existing PowerPoint slides, add voiceover narration, optionally record a self-video while presenting the lesson, add eLearning scenes and characters, add interactive elements, add a quiz, and publish the lesson to an LMS. Presenter lessons can be used to "flip" the classroom--the homework is to watch the lecture, and then practice assignments, worked problems, and the like are done in the classroom with the teacher's help.
Presenter is designed so that eLearning features are easy to add. But, as is typical with any kind of software, the easier the software is to use, the fewer choices you have about certain things. In Adobe Presenter, this is a good thing. This software allows you to focus more on the content than on eLearning functionality. With this software, the feeling is that you are designing your content, and the software handles the work of deciding things like how the learner advances to the next slide. Your energy goes into your content.
For example, if you want to create a scenario, where the learner chooses options and receives feedback by traveling down various "branches" after decision points, you can click a few buttons, choose between pre-designed options, type your content on designated slides, and let Presenter take care of which button takes the learner to which slide. Your choices are somewhat limited, but getting a functioning scenario lesson up and running is fast and easy.
Adobe Captivate is powerful, stand-alone eLearning development software. It can import PowerPoint slides as the background and basic content of a project, but from that point on, the file is a Captivate project file. You are no longer in PowerPoint. In fact, using PowerPoint is just one of many options for how to create a Captivate project.
Arguably Captivate's greatest strength is the ability to create software demonstrations and simulations by simply recording screen actions as you do them. You can create still shots of each screen or record a live video of a procedure. Captivate can add text descriptions of the actions automatically. But after recording, you can edit the recorded steps to add highlights, additional captions, voiceover instructions, hints, feedback messages, and much more.
Rather than having a lot of automatic presets (although there are plenty of predesigned themes for colors, backgrounds, and fonts), Captivate puts you in control of the details of your lesson's appearance and functionality. What will the learner click to advance the lesson? You can create a button or make any part of the background a clickable object. Want a button that does multiple actions? You can create that. Want to add a screen character or multiple characters? Captivate lets you do that, too.
Want a branching scenario? You map it out, you add scenes or characters, you create the buttons that take your learner down the various branches. You have complete flexibility as to how the lesson proceeds. But you are on your own. You have to remember to add that "back" button that keeps your learner from reaching a dead end. You have to create all of the links and make sure they go in the correct sequence. You have all the power, but you also have all the work of making the eLearning project function. So which should you use for what?
- If you need software simulations: Captivate
- If you need flexible, responsive lesson sizes for various learner devices: Captivate
- If you have existing PowerPoint slides and want to record your lecture with them: Presenter
- If you just want to focus on content, and want the rest to be mostly automatic: Presenter
- If you want detailed control over sophisticated branching, interactions, timings, and functions: Captivate
Captivate is a highly advanced, fully functional eLearning software development tool, and its cost reflects that:
- $999 to purchase
- $29.99/month to subscribe, with a year's subscription minimum
- Student/teacher edition: $299
Presenter is a PowerPoint add-in that gives you a lot of eLearning pizazz for a lot less development work and costs significantly less than Captivate:
- $499 to purchase
- $14.99/month to subscribe for a year
- $24.99 month-to-month subscription available
- Student/teacher editions upgrade: $149
Are you using one of or both of these programs? Give me your opinion. Which do you use for what?