[digg=http://digg.com/software/Assima_Simulation_Software_Initial_Impressions_eLearning_Weekly]I saw a demo of Assima today, which is a tool that can be used to create (nearly) fully functional software simulations for eLearning. Assima is considered to be a next-generation simulation tool because it captures application information at the object level rather than just grabbing screenshots*, and it gives the developer the ability to record the application’s functionality once and then output it as several different movie or simulation types.
In terms of eLearning, a simulation tool should allow you to create the following:
With many of the products I’ve seen, such as Adobe Captivate, you have to record three separate movies to get all of this functionality. With Assima, it appears that you can capture information once for an application and then output it in any of these three formats. If an application changes, you can “doctor” it in Assima. For example, let’s say IT adds two new buttons to a PeopleSoft screen after you built all of your PeopleSoft training. You can simply go in to Assima and add form objects (ex. buttons), and then apply actions to them instead of re-recording everything. Your changes are then automatically made for your demo movies, training simulations, and assessment simulations. That could be a huge time-saver.
So, if you want to create a simulation of an application, such as Microsoft Word, you first need to allow Assima to scan the application and read-in the menus, shortcut keys, etc. This is a fairly quick process, but it does need to be done for each screen and/or dialog box within the application. Of course, the true functionality of the application isn’t automatically captured; you have to “teach” the application’s functionality to Assima. If you want to teach the learner how to create a bulleted list, you need to record yourself creating a bulleted list. After that, you can tell Assima how to display the demo movies, training simulation, and assessment simulation for this task.
I’m excited to learn more about Assima. They definitely have the right idea, but I’m concerned that the file sizes for simulations will be very large. We’ll see. I’m also curious to see how easily the simulations integrate with learning management systems (LMSs). The movies are supposedly SCORM-compliant and AICC certified, but I’ve yet to see them published to an LMS with my own eyes. Assima is also quite expensive compared to other mainstream simulation tools.
* For the record, I know Knowledge Planet’s FireFly product can grab application information at the object level, but I’ve never been a big fan of its output format: big Java applets**. Plus, from what I’ve seen, Assima’s additional functionality beats it, hands-down.
**See this post’s comments for more details.
B.J. is the Founding Editor of eLearning Weekly and has contributed more than 150 articles. He works in elearning at Qualcomm, focusing on mobile learning.