There are lots of eLearning authoring tools out there. And you probably don’t have the money or time to work with all of them. Here’s a quick look at the most popular eLearning authoring tool types. See which one, or ones, might be a good fit for your organization.
eLearning Authoring Tool: PowerPoint
Use if: You don’t have access to anything else.
Many eLearning authoring tools use PowerPoint directly or are based on it. So, it’s a logical place to start. By themselves, however, PowerPoint files don’t use any eLearning standards like SCORM or xAPI. In other words, your LMS can’t track learners’ progress, completion, or pass/fail rates in them. That’s a big problem. It’s also very limited in terms of the kinds of interactivity you can make. And the interactions you can create are easier and faster to build in specialized eLearning tools.
eLearning Authoring Tool Type: PowerPoint Add-ins
Examples: Articulate Studio, iSpring Suite
Use if: Your eLearning needs to work in an LMS, but is pretty basic.
Several of the eLearning tools on the market are PowerPoint add-ins. This means you need to have PowerPoint already or they won’t work. They usually appear as a new tab in the default PowerPoint ribbon. These tools allow the finished files to follow eLearning standards, like SCORM or xAPI. That’s good news for your LMS. You essentially work in PowerPoint like you normally would. Then you add eLearning-specific features, like questions and navigation. You’re still limited to basic interactions, such as click-to-reveals.
eLearning Authoring Tool Type: Standalone Program
Examples: Adobe Captivate, Articulate Storyline
Use if: Your eLearning needs to work in an LMS and you want a faster work flow with more features.
Other eLearning authoring tools are their own programs. You don’t need to have PowerPoint for them to work. They’re designed with eLearning in mind and follow eLearning standards, like SCORM or xAPI. You can probably make a click-to-reveal interaction in a few minutes using PowerPoint. It only takes seconds in one of these. And they have the expected question types and navigation too. They also offer additional features, which vary by tool. One bonus they tend to have is a feature called “variables.” In short, variables are what allow you to create advanced interactions. They’re what lets learners type their name in and see it onscreen during the course. They also let you create custom scoring systems, have the course adapt based on the learner’s actions, and more.
Whether you’re starting out or you’ve been creating eLearning for years, it helps to have the right tools. What “the right tools” are depends on your needs and budget.
Would you like to read more about training, learning, and instructional design? Check out the rest of this author’s blogs.
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