To round-trip or not to round-trip

One of those new buzzwords I hear a lot about these days are round-tripping features in rapid eLearning development tools. Some suites live up to their claim for full round-tripping better than others, but even the best can’t do it all.

When working with complex modules that need features beyond one program’s capabilities, round-tripping does not always work. This is not a bad thing though. By combining different programs, it’s possible to stretch our creativity. Combining tools  frees us to think more about what we can do, not what we can’t do because our tool has limitations.

When I have round-tripping in mind, I have two products that seem to be my favorite examples and favorite combination. Lectora and Captivate. Lectora does a great job at variables and simplifying the published content to be cross browser compatible and even mobile compatible. Captivate does a great job at training and assessments.

I was able to develop a game in Lectora but for the most part allowing any complex movements of objects on the screen is very template driven and limited, it’s not good for the learner. Captivate extends these capabilities by combining advanced actions and objects of unlimited types allowing the designer to come up with endless combinations of interactivity.

The wonderful part about all of this is that the two can be joined beautifully and flawlessly completely transparent to the learner. Here’s where round-tripping comes in. Nothing in the Lectora suite and nothing in any Adobe suite can rapidly do what can be done by combining these two programs together.

Branching is simple to do in Lectora and for the learner to be able to choose their path is invaluable. The most valuable option when creating an action in Lectora is the ability to check based on time, I was able to update the score of a game in real time without switching pages using this method. As the learner is picking their adventure, they can also have a great deal of interaction as they run into a carefully crafted Captivate lesson that puts the learner into the learning environment.

The question I posed at the beginning was to round-trip or not to round-trip. No would be the simple answer but the problem isn’t that simple. Our job is to motivate the learner and captivate their attention, limiting ourselves with one tool from one developer is not the proper way to do this.

Experiment a bit with combining programs. Create an animation in Flash Professional and export it as video to create an amazing illustration, don’t be afraid to embed content from a program into Storyline, Captivate, or Lectora.