Learning professionals have long been familiar with Articulate's Studio line of e-learning tools. The suite allows content developers in both enterprise and educational contexts to easily leverage PowerPoint slideshows in building out interactive, scored and narrated lesson modules. The Studio suite of apps (Presenter, Quizmaster and Engage) offer a good mix of powerful capabilities and a relatively shallow learning curve, at a premium price -- the current special deal offers Studio for just under US$1,400.
Studio '09 is a Windows-only offering, but that's not the limitation that has proved most challenging to users over the past two years. It's the suite's lack of a compelling Flash-free output option for mobile devices (for all values of "mobile device" = "iPad") that's been a thorn in the side of content pros desperate to get their modules out to the iOS ecosystem.
While Studio itself won't gain iPad or HTML 5 savvy until the subsequent Studio '12 version ships, there is an all-new platform rising for training designers who need those flexible output choices. Articulate Storyline (Windows only, US$1,398 with a 30-day demo) steps away from the PowerPoint underpinnings of Studio and delivers downloadable, playable content for iPad users via the Articulate Mobile Player app (free in the App Store).
Storyline users can take advantage of accessible slide templates and animated character presets, slide layers with multiple interactive moments, a full set of action triggers and object states and more. Storyline can set and read variables, making it easier to track user activity across a slide or a module. Assessment tools, quizzes and a full screencasting environment round out the feature set. iPad and HTML 5 output are both one-click easy. The Mobile Player doesn't yet fully support SCORM tracking or other enterprise e-learning management features, but they are on the way.
It may take a while for Studio customers to get comfortable with the new toolset in Storyline, but the opportunity to get content onto the iPad easily should help motivate them.