An eLearning authoring tool is basically a software package that eLearning developers use to create the material, deliverables to learners. A range of programs can be considered as the authoring tools, such as PowerPoint and Flash, but only a few programs provide support for the standards of eLearning content such as AICC or SCORM.
So how would you know if the chosen eLearning authoring tool provides the functionality and features that are consistent with your specifications?
In this article, we will be comparing some eLearning authoring tools and will assist you in choosing the one that best suits your specific content requirements.
Here are some considerations which may significantly help you in developing content. Moreover, it will also help you in understanding if the authoring tool is giving you the required functionality - or living up to its end of the bargain - when developing or designing your eLearning content.
Before you choose an eLearning authoring tool, you must determine if it’s flexible or user-friendly to meet your content requirements. For instance, if you are using an authoring tool that is basic and user-friendly, will it also be able to incorporate your multimedia element? Or is it way too complex for the skill set of your developing team?
You may get an access to both installed and cloud-based authoring tools. But you must choose the one that can provide you the specific advantages you are looking for. While both of these options have their own strengths and weaknesses, one way to make the most of your authoring tool is to switch your options whenever needed.
It is imperative to choose the authoring tool that will enable you to deliver the eLearning content in mobile devices. While you may find some challenges in developing responsive eLearning content for the target audience, you might not be able to vary your content with different screen resolutions and sizes.
Ideally, you should choose the eLearning authoring tool that would seamlessly fit into your overall strategy of design and development so that you make the most of all the offered features of the eLearning software.
If you keep these above-shared tips in mind, either you are searching for an eLearning authoring tool or evaluating your current one, you will be sure for bringing something to the table.
So are you wondering which of these eLearning authoring tools are best for you?
Let’s review them individually and compare their features in terms of Simplicity, Layout, and Functionality
According to Adobe, Captivate is an authoring tool which goes seamlessly from a responsive design of eLearning to storyboarding. The desktop app provides an intelligent authoring paradigm, which helps in delivering the most interactive, engaging and device-independent content while ensuring the least possible fuss.
The authoring tool works both with Windows and Mac and does not require you to hold advanced technical ability. The authoring tool enables the content developer to update their information on storyboards, comprising of various eLearning elements, and easily publish all of it to the cloud, without having any need of additional software or app to view the content.
With this great tool, you get numerous options to customize the offered themes. Moreover, it offers you the chance to create a theme from scratch. So, if you need a tool with which you can avail abundance of layouts, games, cutouts, or interactions then keep this powerful authoring tool as your first choice in the list. To assist you, even more, their assets library is updated regularly and this indicates that you can constantly get some fresh content for your eLearning course.
However, being a desktop application, sharing of master slides and themes to ensure consistency in multiple installations (on some other computers) can at times, be a bit more complicated.
Pros and Distinguishing Features
Here are some of the crucial features of Adobe Captivate.
Users can customize and import material using the interactions library in order to incorporate video streaming of YouTube, search and browsing, and games such as Millionaire and Hangman.
Common mobile gestures can be recognized by the interactivity in the output such as zoom, pinch, swipe, etc.
Users may import or record various video formats including the synchronization of visuals /audio with timed object and slides.
Powerful and effective scripting capability
Group of actions (defined) can be shared across multiple objects.
This particular eLearning authoring tool is web-based which is not as intuitive as the others on our list of authoring tools. If you are using these eLearning authoring tools for the first time, then you might not find them hard specifically, but you may need some more time to get used to their functionality. However, SHIFT does not really offer any commendable powerful features including integrated tools.
SHIFT enables the user to develop courses as Unit> Topic > Screen hierarchy. Every layout has built-in interactivity and is responsive such as drag and drop, hotspot, photo carousel. While the template-based tools provided in the list save you from scripting, this also indicates that you might have to utilize the functionality as it is and the way it is provided already.
However, one differentiating factor is the SHIFT’s avatars that can be lip-synched. These ethnically and gender diverse avatars make use of a text-to-speech mechanism and move and lip-synched to some provided text. While the purists rather prefer having a live-actor video, these avatars are not that bad and are photo-relish.
Similarly, the tools offer built-in scenario generator. This enables the user to pose and place avatars in a setting of 2d-world and have them demonstrate various interactions. Moreover, it offers almost 20 game templates that help learners in learning more interactively with some meaningful games.
Pros and Distinguishing Features
Here are some of the many offered features of SHIFT.
Articulate Storyline comes with a variety of features that help to make your eLearning courses much easier. This is an outstanding desktop application which gives out the appearance and feel of PowerPoint. Some of the salient features of this advanced eLearning authoring tool include:
Read-only seek bar
Player button trigger like hide/next
This shows the flexibility of this authoring tool. It offers a quite welcoming and active online community with regards to the storyline. You may change the themes of the general page by using slide masters or project colors and that too, on a page-to-page basis. The authoring tool offers end-user interactivity with the help of triggers.
For instance, if a screen object is tapped on, the trigger would pop up. The same goes for clicking or rolling over to a screen object. Moreover, it offers a very friendly interface selection, for which the user needs no coding and all the authoring actions can easily be entered.
Pros and Distinguishing Features
Here is what Articulate Storyline has to offer:
An active online community
Software simulations such as try me/show me/test me which is reasonably powerful and have great eLearning capability
Good power and flexibility in terms of modest learning curve
Output smoothly runs on Android, iOS, desktop devices, but is not responsive in fact simply shrinks the screen.
In the arena, Lectora Inspire is the elder statesman. This is another Windows desktop authoring tool which is very powerful and enables you to do a bit scripting in order to avail the most flexible interactivity.
While you may find this authoring tool a little pricey along other listed tools, Lectora Inspire allows the intuitive creation of course. Also, it has an extensive templates collection along with library assets. Notwithstanding the learning curve, this authoring tool is so versatile that it enables to handle various builds as per the requirements. From complex user-navigated courses to simple quizzes, the functionality of Inspire makes for a smooth and seamless process for the users.
The authoring tool can be used on desktop or mobile but this is a limitation for users who like to use multiple devices at once. Once the platform is chosen, you may develop a black project, or import using PowerPoint including using a wizard to develop a usual Course>Lesson>Screen hierarchy.
If you like tweaking some of the provided screen templates and customize them then Lectora is a good option to go with. However, some of the factors offered through the development interface usually require a graphics package to enable the user for replacing the images already existed.
Pros and Distinguishable Features
Here are some of the many offered features of Lectora Inspire.
Capability of flexible scripting
Free access to graphics libraries – eLearning Brothers
Extended library of screen templates from eLearning Brothers
Bundled with Camtasia and Snaglt for exceptional screen capture
Effective online reviewer using Review Link
The bottom line
The above-listed eLearning authoring tools are just some of the many tools available out there. While you may find some of these similar in terms of their functionality, you must be vigilant in choosing the one that best meets your skills and the requirements of your eLearning course. If you really want to design and develop the eLearning content, which is highly interactive and that successfully achieve the learning objectives, then you must definitely incorporate the authoring tool that best meets your specifications. These authoring tools are not only easy-to-use but also most intuitive.By leveraging the simple interface and ready-made content library, your upcoming learning simulation can be designed in a matter of a few days and without even having any specific technical skills.