Sunday, February 7, 2010

Development Tools - Should I Cut Out the Middle Guy?

Adobe Flash Logo

Back when I first started developing e-learning courses, I used Macromedia's Authorware. For more interactive elements, I used Flash and imported the SWFs into Authorware. Over the years, I have used ToolBook, Trainersoft, and even Dreamweaver with Coursebuilder. Almost every course involved using Flash for interactive elements (animations, games, quizzes, simulations, video, etc.). It has gotten to a point where some of my courses are all developed in Flash and the e-learning authoring tools (DHTML) have been used more as a "shell" that decompiles it as a SCORM package. I really prefer the robust ability of creating courses in Flash and only use the DHTML e-learning authoring tools for their ability to make the course SCORM or AICC compliant.

So,  do I really need to continue using these authoring tools? No, I can skip the middle man and produce entire courses in Flash. These courses can be published as SCORM or AICC compliant courses. This includes the learning interactions that are easily added as components. The learning interactions can be used for multiple types of quiz questions that will be tracked by a learning management system (LMS).

Here is a tutorial on How to Add Basic SCORM code to a Flash Movie from Pipwerks.

And from Adobe, Creating e-Learning Content, which includes configuring learning interactions and tracking to a SCORM or AICC compliant LMS.

Granted, many authoring tools provide a great deal of  ease when adding content, navigation and quizzes, but the interactions they include within these tools are limited.  For me, if I am already developing so much of the course in Flash, I might as well use the Flash learning interactions for the quiz questions and publish the entire Flash file as a SCORM compliant course.  I will note that I will keep Captivate in my toolbox, as it is more effective for developing software/application simulations than building them from scratch in Flash. Of course any sims developed in Captivate (also SWF files) can easily be included, or launched from, a course developed with Flash.


  1. This is something I have been doing and saying for years and its nice to finally read about. You also will want to add Adobe Dreamweaver's ManifestMaker to your toolbox, if you haven't already.

  2. Joseph,

    Thanks for the comment and for the tip about Dreamweaver’s ManifestMaker. I will definitely check it out.

    I may also follow-up with you on more advice about publishing Flash and Dreamweaver as SCORM compliant if that's OK.


  3. One of the interesting problems with Flash is Steve Job's insistence it will become obsolete with the advent of HTML5. This locks out the iPhone/iTouch and other Apple device. As an independent producer for corporate e-learning modules, I am anxious to hear your input on the matter and of course other experts in the field.

  4. I think it is too soon to say whether HTML 5 can really compete with Flash. And if Steve Jobs is waiting for HTML 5, he will have a long wait before HTML 5 is at the point where it can provide the level of RIA development that Flash provides. That's my 2 cents.

    Thanks for the comment,



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