Whether you are an internal practitioner, and independent consultant, or an e-learning services provider, adding Articulate Storyline to your development toolbox can help you create interesting and engaging e-learning content without having to know programming code. It is one of the most popular e-learning authoring tools in the industry; a quick search on LinkedIn listed 152 jobs with Articulate Storyline as a keyword.
Here are eight of my favorite Storyline features that might make you want to add it to your e-learning toolbox.
- Layers. Layers are basically a slide on top of a slide that you can show or hide based on predetermined criteria. For example, you can have different layers show up based on which button a student clicks. You can also show or hide different content based on a preference set at the beginning of the course, such as whether the student is a supervisor or not. The layer that shows or hides can contain almost anything the base slide can have, such as images, text, audio, video, and animations.
- States. States let you have multiple versions of an object that you can change based on specified criteria. For example, you can have a button that looks one way before you click it and looks another way after you’ve clicked it. Or, you can have a customer character in a scenario who looks a little happier if you treat him well or looks more upset if you don’t.
- Timeline. The timeline, among other things, lets you have objects appear and disappear based on time, often in conjunction with audio or video. Many authoring tools have a way to time objects to the audio, and I always prefer those, like Storyline, that do it with a timeline. By simply dragging items left and right, you can have the objects appear exactly when you want them to.
- Cue points. When you are timing elements to audio, you listen for the right part of the audio and then move the object to that point in the timeline. With cue points, you can add little markers where you want those objects to appear and disappear. Then you can go back and line up your objects accordingly. This way, you don’t have to remember the specific amount of time you’d like to elapse—“put this in at 12.5 seconds”—before cuing in an object.
- Motion paths. New in Storyline 2, motion paths work much like they do in PowerPoint. With motion paths, you can create custom animations where objects move wherever you want on the screen. I don’t mean having things fly around on screen just because it looks cool. There are many times when motion can add real instructional value, such as rearranging elements of a sentence in a grammar course or showing the difference between an old process and a new one.
- Calculations. Even though Storyline is easy to use, it still has a lot of power. You can use the variables feature to do calculations. For example, you could add or subtract points in a game-based quiz, or have a dashboard in a scenario where a meter goes up or down based on the choices you make.
- Drag-and-drop questions. Most authoring tools have drag-and-drop question capability. Of those, I think Storyline’s is one of the easiest to use. You put your drag items and your drop targets on the page, and then a simple wizard lets you pair up which drag items go on which drop targets. You also get a lot of options about how the feedback works. For example, you can give instant feedback by having an object snap back to the starting position if the student puts it in the wrong place.
- Quiz feedback options. Like most authoring tools, you can provide correct and incorrect feedback for your questions. One of the things I really like about Storyline is how many options you have for that feedback. Because the feedback happens on layers (see reason one above), you can set up just about anything you want. For example, you can add audio, text, images, video, buttons, and interactions. You can set up extra actions that add points to a score, or send the student to a different page in the course after viewing the feedback. By having the correct and incorrect feedback on different layers, it is very easy to set up different sets of logic for right and wrong answers.
The best thing about all of these features is that you don’t need special expertise to use them. If you are a competent Windows and Microsoft Office user, you will most likely master the features of Storyline as well. So if Articulate Storyline isn’t already in your toolbox, perhaps it’s time to add it.