Monday, August 26, 2013

New book, "Learning Articulate Storyline" from Packt Publishing

It's been a while since I've blogged so I thought a book review would be a great way to start blogging again... And that review gets easy when it comes to the author, Stephanie Harnett!

I think Stephanie and I have talked once in the past on the phone and we've communicated on and off in the social media world. Full disclosure: I am a big fan of Stephanie. She is professional, smart, passionate and always interesting in her many Screenrs that she's done on Articulate Storyline and Articulate Presenter.  That said, aside from being her fan, I really enjoyed her book, "Learning Articulate Storyline".

Articulate Storyline has been around now for about 1.5 years in production mode. It's still a version 1 .x product with several updates released as time went on. Storyline is fun and engaging to use. Is it perfect? No. But it delivers in most of its claims and does a good job of creating good and compelling eLearning.

Storyline helps you think interactively!!!

Stephanie's approach in this book is a combination of guided tutorial with great advice, tips and tricks, as well as a reference manual with exercises. This is the book that should have been included with Storyline!

The book starts with a basic overview of the "story" in Storyline. This is a crucial chapter as it introduces basic concepts that are foundational to learning the tool.

In Chapter 2: Adding Content into Your Story, things get more interesting. We quickly get into the timeline, slides and working with objects like text, pictures, animations and transitions.

Did I mention that there are many, "Follow Along" exercises in every chapter... Oh no, no slacking in this book; Stephanie puts you to work to ensure you learn what you need to know, which is good!

Chapter 3 covers Interactivity...  The concept of States, Triggers and Buttons are crucial elements of Storyline interactivity and the introduction is complete and functional. Youu even get to practice a publish of your project! Stephanie, is a task master! Triggers are also introduced in this chapter and they are a crucial part of making things happen... Without "triggering" an object to do something, Storyline would be very boring...

The book does a great job of introducing Triggers at exactly the right time. Almost everything can rely on a trigger for something so pay close attention here...

But things keep getting better as we head into Chapter 4: Adding Characters and Audio... This is a great chapter as it gets into the use of characters and their "states" as well as how to create interactive "conversations" between characters. And unless you like silent movies, which I'm sure some of you do, voice narration and timing is also explained.

In Chapter 5: Extending Slide Content, we continue to have fun with Storyline. In fact, to this point we've built some pretty impressive eLearning interactivity and no one was injured in the process. On the contrary, if you're like me there's a smile on your face as you realize that this is pretty easy!  Layers, hotspots, markers, buttons, lightboxes and, of course, more triggers!

At this point, we're halfway into the book and, believe me, you now have a working knowledge of Articulate Storyline. You'll be doing things with what you've learned that can make your content engaging and useful. But wait, there's more! I know, I get happy when I read a good book...

Chapter 6: Using Variables to Customize the User Experience. Enough said... At this point you're adding more power to your course and also getting into the beginnings of text entry and simulations.

Chapter 7, covers the joy of branching and going places where no learner has gone before... Branching is fun and easy in Storyline and there are good examples of how to do this properly without going into dark corners where evil may lurk...

OK, now we come to everyone's favorite thing: Questions! The major ones are covered here with some intermediate tips.  That was Chapter 8, but you'll be tested on that shortly so don't worry if you weren't paying attention (low organ music in background...)

Chapter 9, Adding Visual Media to a Story... Stephanie left some of the best stuff for last like using video, Flash files, screen recordings and the ever popular pans and zooms.

We've learned a lot so far but it won't do us much good if we don't know how to publish it... Chapter 10 makes sure your project can be shared with the world, or at least your co-workers, and the local LMS (learning management system).

In Chapter 11, Stephanie offers advice on re-usability, templates and other goodies which make for a great ending to a very good book.

An appendix is included and the book includes many screen shots and is aesthetically pleasing.

While it has a lot of content, it is a quick read (a little slower if you actually do all the "follow alongs" in the book. It is a great beginner to intermediate level book with some material that even advanced users could find useful. More importantly, it is very well organized and the information is in useful, bite-sized chunks.

Bottom line is that I am still a big fan of Stephanie Harnett, have a great reference/tutorial on Articulate Storyline for the more junior members of our staff and enjoyed reading the book. Here's the link to get the book (and you should)...

Learning Articulate Storyline by Stephanie Harnett

Thanks so much for reading the review and stay tuned for Stephanie Harnett's appearance on our show, eLearnChat, in the very near future.

eLearnChat episodes

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