Product review: New version of Raptivity
Harbinger Group’s Raptivity is among the most well-known of the wizard-led interactivity building software tools for the professional learning designer/ developer. It comes with a library of pre-built templates, including over 190 interactions such as games, simulations, brainteasers, interactive diagrams and virtual worlds – and can be used to create a stand-alone piece of learning content or import that file into another tool, such as Captivate, Articulate or Lectora.
The latest version of this tool boasts a number of major advances in online learning development, via a ‘re-energised user interface (UI)’ which, according to Harbinger Group, is the result of its continual commitment to collaborate with customers and take their feedback and wish lists into account.
As a result, Raptivity’s latest manifestation includes a redesigned screen layout which – in-keeping with every new version of every piece of software – is intended to be more intuitive for users and enables them to reduce the number of mouse clicks needed to get to where they want to go.
Raptivity now keeps track of how users have used the tool – enabling users to return quickly to where they left off working, via the ‘Frequently Used Interactions’ button. In addition, the ‘Select Interaction Model’ screen opens from the stage where the user closed it. Furthermore, the tool’s new, dynamic ‘move and resize feature’ in the customization panel gives users more control over how they see and use the program and interactions.
The tool’s ‘welcome’ screen now provides access to all Raptivity updates – including help videos, community discussions, blogs and Evolve updates – and users also have access to more dynamic and visual help about the product (accessing it by clicking next to a label or name). The ability to get help within the context of, and without having to leave, the screen on which you’re working appears to be unusual, if not unique, among the interaction building tools currently available and with which this reviewer is familiar.
The new ‘product search’ option enables users to find additional resources related to Raptivity. Allied to this is the ‘interaction model search’, which allows users to search not only for a particular category of interaction (such as games, simulations, assessments and so on) but also for various compliances (including AS3, 508 and TinCan) supported by each interaction built via Raptivity.
In addition to providing Action Script 3.0 publishing support and TinCan tracking support, the new version of Raptivity offers HTML5 publishing with support for all browsers and even allows users to preview their work in HTML5 while they are customizing an interaction that they are building.
All of this is intended to enhance users’ productivity as well as their comfort and delight in using the tool.
There is a wide – and, it has to be said, potentially confusing – range of purchase options for Raptivity. The maximum price is currently $2,500 and the lowest – including a copy of the latest Raptivity software – $395. Users can also get a support package which includes online support along with a dedicated customer portal. Via the portal, users can get, 22×5 (it’s not 24×7 but it’s still impressive), a live chat facility and details about their serial key, version and current activation status. In addition, they receive information about their support renewal date and the process associated with it. Users also receive free upgrades to the latest version of Raptivity and are automatically subscribed to Raptivity Evolve, the interactions builder based on collaboration with users.
Despite its new design, Raptivity still clings to a dated, even ‘clunky’, ‘web 1.0’ look and feel – although its supporters may claim that this is now merely ‘retro chic’ and, thus, trendy. Of course, content and functionality should count for more than mere cosmetic look and feel – and these appear to be Harbinger Group’s priorities as it continues to develop its product. However, this may not commend even the new, improved Raptivity to users who are mostly influenced in their learning and working preferences by visual stimuli.
Although the user interface has been both simplified and enhanced – enabling users to do more, faster and so be more productive – Raptivity is still a tool which is likely to be most helpful to professional online learning developers. This is because Raptivity’s underlying logic and contents are solidly – even joyfully – constructed on the basis of accepted instructional design theories. Professional online learning developers are more likely to understand, and be able to apply, the theories of instructional design. In addition, they are most likely to have a reason to need to access and use the impressively large pool of Raptivity’s available interaction templates.
Overall, then, the new version of Raptivity, with its re-energised UI, is a marked improvement on the previous version (as you’d expect). It’s an extremely useful tool for building interactions into online learning materials – and the recent improvements to the product enhance this benefit. If you liked Raptivity before, you should really like it now.
By Bob Little
For over 20 years, Bob Little has specialised in writing about, and commentating on, corporate learning – especially e-learning – and technology-related subjects. His work has been published in the UK, Continental Europe, the USA and Australia. You can contact Bob via firstname.lastname@example.org