Storyline Training Review

I posted this on my website and thought the readers here might appreciate some insight into the available training.

In March of 2014, I was fortunate enough to attend the on-site Basic and Advanced Articulate Storyline training provided by Yukon Learning, the official Storyline training provider.  If you register for training on the Articulate website you are actually signing up for a Yukon course.  The training costs a considerable amount of money ($750 for the two day Basic course and $999 for the three day Basic and Advanced course) so you may be wondering what you get for your money.  I couldn’t find a review of the program before I took it so I decided to write one.  Here are some of my observations on the training.

First, let me explain my experience with Storyline.  “Designing Computer-Based Training” was the third course I took as part of the University of Wisconsin-Stout Instructional Design graduate certificate program (you can read my full review of the certificate program here).  During this class, I built a segment of a computer-based training course.  I was allowed to pick the course authoring software I wanted to use and after a lot of research I decided to use Articulate Storyline.  The software’s 30 day free trial allowed me to complete my assignment without having to buy the program.  I learned how to use Storyline through trial and error and with a lot of reading at the E-Learning Heroes community.  Fast forward about nine months and I received the go ahead from my employer to purchase Storyline.  I experimented with the program for a few weeks before the training started in March.  At that time I considered myself somewhere in the area of a novice to intermediate user.

The two day Basic course I attended consisted of 12 students.  About two thirds of the class worked in private industry (healthcare, food, auto, etc.).  The other third worked in the government arena (defense contractor, state government and federal government).  Everyone was sent to the class by their employer.  As expected, most of the students had limited knowledge of the program that ranged from no prior experience up to several months of experience.

The first day of the two day Basic class focused on the building blocks of Articulate Storyline: slides, layers, triggers, and states.  We also worked with video and audio.  There were lots of opportunities to practice and the class schedule was flexible.

The instructor, Ron Price, did an excellent job.  He was approachable, very knowledgeable, and entertaining.  He regularly asked if anyone needed more “help or time” and was willing to help a student get up to speed.  I believe everyone in the class felt free to ask Ron questions.  He also gave his opinion on whether the “juice was worth the squeeze” for many potential tasks (meaning was the effort to figure out a way to do something worth the benefit).

It was clear to me that Ron wanted the students to use and understand the material.  He used a “tell, show, do” model and each student worked problems on individual computers while Ron demonstrated with the help of a projector.  One of the key takeaways from the class was that there are many ways of solving a problem in Storyline.  There is no right way, but some methods are generally more efficient and “cleaner” than others.  To that end, we were introduced to many shortcuts and best practices to help streamline the development process.

The second day of the Basic class included the Storyline player, publishing, quizzes, and scenarios.  We created various types of assessments and learned the advantages of free form questions in certain circumstances.  We also created a branching scenario in one exercise.

The third day was the Advanced class.  Four of the twelve students in the Basic class were not signed up for the last session and left after day two.  At least three of them indicated that they regretted not staying for the final day.  Although we lost four students, our class welcomed one new student who was only signed up for the Advanced Storyline training.  The last day included variables (text, number, and true/false), javascript options, conditions, and progress meters.  Once again there were plenty of opportunities to practice.

Throughout the training Ron demonstrated concepts using examples developed for actual clients (with the clients’ permission of course).  The examples were useful in a practical sense and also provided inspiration.  We received a thumb drive with numerous resources including example course files that can be examined and deconstructed in the future to see how something works.

Do I recommend Yukon’s Storyline training?

Yes!  Despite what may be considered a steep price tag, I believe the training was worth the money (it should be noted that I’ve taken other on-site classes in different subjects that were more expensive per day than this one and less useful).

You may ask yourself “Couldn’t I learn everything they teach by experimenting myself and searching for answers online?”  The answer is yes, you could self-teach everything we learned.  However, I believe there are two distinct advantages to a training class like this one.  First, Yukon’s Storyline training is likely to speed up your learning curve significantly.  I was taught how to work in the program by an expert and it is hard to compare that type of hands-on, purposeful learning to randomly searching out answers on the internet.  Not only did Ron teach us how to do something, he provided insight on the most efficient or “best practice” method of accomplishing a task.  Second, and possibly the most important, I was exposed to a myriad of possibilities available in Storyline.  Ron constantly challenged us to consider how we would tackle a problem.  Oftentimes the task seemed beyond the capabilities of Storyline.  But of course, there is almost always a way to do it!  The class helped to me to start “thinking like Storyline” and I believe this will help me to utilize more of the program’s capabilities instead of being stuck in a linear “slide, next slide, next slide” mentality.  Simply being exposed to what is possible with Storyline will help me consider new approaches as I develop e-learning courses.

As with any training class, the students had varying skill levels.  Sometimes class would slow down when someone fell behind, but Ron was able to quickly resolve issues and kept the class moving.

Should you take just the Basic class or stay (and pay) for the Advanced class?

I really believe that you should stay for the Advanced Storyline training day.  At least three of the four people who left after the Basic class regretted not staying for the last day (I never got a chance to talk to the fourth person about how she felt about leaving after two days).  Additionally, the one person who came just for the Advanced class discovered many new methods and tricks even though she was an experienced Storyline user.  The Basic class flows seamlessly into the Advanced class and missing it would have felt like leaving the theater 90 minutes into a 2 hour movie.  I would have left wondering what happened next and what did I miss.

In summary, I really enjoyed the Yukon Storyline training and I’m glad I attended all three days.  I definitely recommend it if you are on the fence about whether you would benefit from a live training session.  I didn’t leave the class as a Storyline guru, but I believe the course greatly improved my abilities.  If you do decide to take the training, I suggest that you play with the program some before you arrive.  Just a little familiarity with Storyline will keep you from feeling overwhelmed.

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