What Does Experience Look Like? Closed Captioning.

I am in the process of publishing around 100 Captivate projects which came from a software vendor – I have never seen them before. At some point I hear that many learners will not be able to listen to the narration and will need to read the captions. Realizing that the courses have Closed-Caption text, I suggest setting the courses to display the captions by default. This will avoid the challenge of educating learners about the feature while ensuring it gets used. But Captivate Skin Editor doesn’t have a setting to display CC by default. I Google around and find a Flash animation that is supposed to provide the functionality. I try it and it doesn’t work. Time to crank up the custom actions and build a script! A minute later and I have the captions displaying – yay!

Since narration begins on the second slide I think “this looks more polished and professional if I raise the CC bar when the narrator starts talking.” Testing reveals that this change prevents the CC from appearing when returning to where I left off in the course.  Switch it back to slide one and the CC is back. Captivate always loads Slide one before resuming at a bookmarked slide.

Probably 99% of what I am doing is repetition – publish one couse after another. I suppose I could train a monkey and leave the gig. A trainer assigned to “do eLearning” may have shrugged when automatic CC display didn’t appear to be an option. But because of broad experience with Captivate and other tools, I was able to poke around for less than 20 minutes and come up with a significant improvement to the content.

Experience is valued in the abstract, but rarely makes tangible appearances where a client can say “That’s what I am paying for!” A lot of the value of experience is negative: not doing things that didn’t work before. Not wasting time. No one gets to see that, including the experienced practitioner. There are many habits and patterns that have become automatic through experience – not celebrated.

I am very conscious of this fact. I try to notice when I do something tangible in case it helps my client justify hiring my experience on a project. It can be a challenge to recognize when it happens. I am reminded of interviews where a reporter gushes about a heroic rescue, and the fireman says  ” I was just doing my job.” (Not to compare professions).

So I can relate to the uncelebrated Closed Caption bar that finally will make an appearance in a starring role.

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