As technical communicators, we share a goal with our peers in instructional systems design (ISD): we want our work to help the audience learn how to do something. At the October STC Carolina chapter meeting, Kevin Siegel of IconLogic demonstrated a Virtual Reality (VR) project that was created by using Adobe Captivate. Captivate has been a leading software package for creating software demos, video simulations, and quizzes. Its capabilities now extend into creating VR experiences.
While watching Kevin’s demonstration of the features in Adobe Captivate, another commonality between ISD and tech comm came to mind. Both groups want to understand how technology can increase audience awareness, and ultimately, improve learner outcomes. But is that where the common interests end?
At the intersection of instructional design and effective documentation
Unlike the readers of online help documentation or instructional manuals, VR users are able to travel within the space they are learning about. What makes VR training unique, is, in effect, its specificity to a place – one that the learners are immersed in and able to make decisions within that space.
Kevin’s walkthrough of this emerging virtual reality technology included:
- Setting up a project
- Adding assets like 360-degree photos and videos
- Adding interactivity and quizzes to the VR experience
- Testing and publishing a project
- A review of the necessary equipment and technology
- A question and answer session before closing
The technical writers and instructional designers who attended the demo asked several questions which led to some interesting takeaways. Several challenges and requirements were noted to really make sure the technology is used to its fullest. Click the following tabs to explore the Q&A.
What files are required to create a virtual reality project, and what makes them unique?
VR projects use a special image file, commonly referred to as “360° JPEGs” or “360° files.” 360° files allow a user to experience a space much like a person does: walking through a room, scanning the ceiling and floor, or getting a close up view of a detail.
How does Captivate work with 360° images?
A VR project is based on a 360° image file of the setting in which the learning takes place. A project created in Captivate needs 360° image files, and cannot use standard or panoramic JPEGs as the project environment. Besides the stock project environments in Captivate, you can import
.mp4 file types, if they are 360°.
How can I make my own 360° images?
A VR 360° camera is needed to produce an image. Quality cameras are easily found on Amazon, and pricing starts today at about $150 (example link). If you don’t have a camera, CAD programs and Photoshop have 360° image production capability. Or find a royalty free image online by googling “360 VR images” for the setting you want.
Note: Panoramic cameras that capture an image with a 360-degree radius do not capture the ceiling or ground level view, so they don’t make good VR project environments. An app or other device may be added to your phone to enable 360 VR features
How is a VR project hosted on my product or company’s website?
VR projects may be hosted on your own website, which offers you flexibility to upload photos and graphics. While you can use a Learning Management System (LMS) to track scores and report the results, no LMS is required to host a Captivate project. All 360° project files must be in their own project folder. Kevin recommends uses a Filezilla program to upload large project files while avoiding fees.
Can you customize interactions, like if you had your own HTML/CSS code for some type of widget? Can you feed the quiz data into your own backend?
Customizing interactions in Adobe Captivate is not possible in the software today. However, this is a feature request that Adobe is working on. Feeding quiz data into a back-end such as for scoring purposes is best done by integrating with an LMS.
How are VR projects being used?
VR projects are being created for a variety of exciting business use cases. Some ideas include the following.
- In classroom instruction for systems training on subjects like surgical procedures.
- To help new employees find their way through a large worksite or campus with many buildings, meeting rooms, parking and cafeteria.
- Manufacturing and equipment usage.
- Airline training for where in the aircraft they need to be, different models can be shown.
- Tours of operating rooms and conference centers.
- Those selling their homes without an agent may create 360° video walkthroughs of the interior and exterior of the home for a better browsing experience for potential buyers.
For additional resources, check out the video recording of the VR session, and explore some useful eLearning communities from Adobe and Articulate. Also included are links to IconLogic’s Captivate resources and a VR project time estimator to get an idea of how long it might take to make great VR experiences for your learners.
Event recap contributed by:
STC Carolina Programs Director
Aaron leads teams and develops technical content that focuses on driving organizational growth, client success, and business performance. A current student in the Duke University Technical Writing professional certification program, Aaron also serves as the STC Carolina Programs Director. Reach out to him if you want to see a certain topic or have an event idea for your local chapter!