Studio vs. Storyline - which tool is right for me?
Dear Heroes,

I need your advice. I’m a teacher in K-12 and I’m trying to decide which tool (Storyline or Studio) would be the best for a middle school curriculum? Currently, I have most of my presentations in PowerPoint, and my prep time is tight. I’m sort of familiar with both tools, but not super experienced. Any advice on which one would be best for me?

-Krazy for the Kats in Kentucky

Dear Krazy for the Kats,

Your question is a common one and while I’ll address the tools from an education perspective, I think my advice will hold true for other sectors as well. As someone who spent a fair amount of time teaching, here’s my take:

Articulate Studio 13: "I want to get my presentation out there as fast as possible. Oh, and some interactions and quizzes would be great too!"

Many educators (and stand up trainers for that matter) are similar to you in that you’ve got all these great PowerPoints that you’ve spent a lot of time creating. The awesome thing about Studio ’13 (Presenter to be specific) is that it’s a PowerPoint plug-in. This means that it shows up as a tab right within the PowerPoint interface. All you have to do is click the Articulate tab, select “Record Narration”, and within moments, you are adding audio narration to your slides. You can then sync your slide animations to the audio, add annotations to images, use the built-in characters to add some pizazz and in no time at all, you’ll have a slick looking multimedia presentation. It’s crazy fast!

On top of that, let’s say you wish to add some interactivity and an assessment at the end. You pop open Engage, choose from over 20 templates, add your content, and before you know it, you have a super cool interaction that your students will love. Finally, power up Quizmaker, quickly add your questions, go crazy and randomize them, maybe create a free form drag-and-drop or two, and the next thing you know, you have a killer quiz ready to insert into your polished presentation.

And that’s it. There’s simply no quicker way to take your PowerPoints and make them into amazing presentations for your students. When I first started teaching online classes, this was the approach I took.  My time was tight, but I wanted to create a great presentation with a little interactivity and a quiz. So if this describes you, then I’d lay down my money for Studio ’13. It will allow you to leverage your pre-existing assets and understands the value of your prep time!   If you’d like to see some examples of Studio '13, click on the the image below.

Articulate Storyline: "I want to create some really awesome scenarios, software simulations and have a tool that will grow with me."

On the other hand, let’s say that you want to take your curriculum in a more interactive direction. Perhaps you want to create some scenario based elearning for a business class, or a complex drag-and-drop interaction for a science class. This is where Storyline comes in.

Storyline is our standalone authoring tool that is not only super fun to use, but is also a tool that can grow with you as your eLearning skills progress. For example, you can start off by importing your current PowerPoints and then add audio to them and sync animations with the timeline feature. Next, add an assessment using the built-in quiz questions and an interaction using the built-in templates. Before you know it, you’ve created a basic presentation pretty quickly.

But Storyline is about so much more than just creating a presentation. As your skills grow, you’ll find that Storyline’s states, layers, and triggers allow you to create your own interactions from scratch. So whereas Studio is more of a form based tool, Storyline lets you apply your imagination and create some awesome interactive eLearning.  If you can dream it, Storyline can probably create it!  Also, if you happen to be teaching a business course such as Using Microsoft Office, Storyline has the ability to capture full motion software simulations. This allows you to have your students view your recording, or “try” to follow your actions, or “test” their ability to complete the same actions that you took in your recording.

I’m only scratching the surface of what Storyline can do, but for many people, it's a natural progression to go from Studio to Storyline.  So if you only have the budget to purchase one tool and you know that you'll eventually outgrow Studio, then I'd go with Storyline. It's got a gentle learning curve, it will let you do the basics, yet grow with you as your skills improve. If you'd like to see Storyline in action, click the image below.

I hope this helps you get started. You really can’t go wrong with either product as they’ll both help you create great content for your students. Speaking of which, before I sign off, I’d like to say “thank you”. As a parent, I appreciate your efforts to integrate your own e-Learning elements into the curriculum. I think you’ll find that your students will really appreciate your work!


P.S. Hey all you E-Learning Heroes!  If you’re also considering which product to purchase, please chime in with your advice in the comments section below. And if you’d like more e-learning tips, connect with us on Twitter.