Rapid course authoring tools also known as rapid eLearning tools have been around for quite some time. Adobe Captivate, Lectora Inspire, and Articulate Storyline 360 are the most popular desktop-based authoring tools.
Some other tools that are also used by organizations to author their eLearning courses are – Composica, iSpring Suite, Absorb Create, and Gomo Learning. This list on the eLearning Industry website provides a comprehensive list of rapid eLearning course authoring tools. There are various options at different price points. Organizations should opt for a tool that best meets their requirements.
This blog will focus on the benefits of using rapid course authoring tools, features to be considered when investing in a course-authoring tool, and how these authoring tools are simplifying the whole process of eLearning design.
Benefits of Using Rapid Course Authoring Tools
The benefits of using rapid course authoring tools for eLearning design and development are manifold. Listed below are key points that will help you understand how the whole process of eLearning design gets simplified when using such tools.
Savings in Time, Effort, and Money
If you are a large organization working on multiple eLearning projects at the same time, getting your best content and design minds to focus on every project is practically impossible. This is the reason why larger organizations have dedicated teams that try to bring in a balance of experienced and less-experienced members.
When one uses a course-authoring tool, the effort needed to render a storyboard with content and visual suggestions is significantly lesser. If the learning experience designer is a skilled practitioner of the specific course-authoring tool and if the content is fully approved by the editorial team; then nothing can beat the speed with which the course content is converted to a proper eLearning program.
For an eLearning course to function seamlessly across devices and learning management systems or mobile learning apps; it should be compliant with SCORM regulations. SCORM is a set of standards designed for eLearning solutions. Adherence to these standards ensures that the eLearning course looks proper and functions as it is designed and meant to function for the learner or end-user of the course.
Modern rapid course-authoring tools ensure that the final output that is given by the tool or software is a SCORM-compliant course and that it works properly across all learning platforms. This makes a world of difference for both the development and quality teams who would otherwise have to spend a significant amount of time ensuring that the program files are converted to SCORM packages and that they run properly on the LMS.
In-Built Interactivities and Assessments
Designing interactivities and assessments that will interest the learner and also test their skills on the concepts taught in the eLearning program can be a time-consuming task. Most eLearning courses therefore usually restrict themselves to simple drag-and-drop activities, match-the-following activities, or arcade games/shooting-type games.
Most modern rapid course authoring tools come with a library of pre-defined interactivities and assessments, which can be customized and used to enrich the eLearning course. This is an interesting advantage that these course authoring tools offer.
Library of Visual Elements
Ask any graphic designer or illustrator and they will say they spend a long time creating images and illustrations that match the inputs provided by the instructional designer. Not every image can be bought from iStock, not every image will have a free option on Pixabay. In such a scenario, course-authoring tools that incorporate a library of visual elements, photographs, vectors, illustrations, and animated videos can make a major difference in the time taken by the graphic design team. Most of these tools have such libraries, which are updated periodically and offer more visual options.
Content Management and Collaboration
An eLearning course could be a mix of many different things, a short video, an audio clip, a brief presentation, a PDF, quiz; these are all different content types. Modern course authoring tools allow for the use of multiple content formats and the ability to manage them effectively. Similarly, the ability to collaborate between different users is a big plus. When one adds simple version control features to the tool, it helps ensure that there is always one “current” file on which all collaborators work at any given point in time and that there’s no confusion.
Evaluating Different Course Authoring Tools
In the previous section, we looked at the benefits of course authoring tools. In this section, we will list down some points that you should consider and ensure that your course authoring tool integrates with it to get you maximum value for your money. Here’s what you should check:
Will an open-source course authoring tool suffice my organizational requirements or do I need to invest in a proprietary paid course authoring tool?
Remember that an open-source tool may be free but it may come with a steep learning curve and not offer the full set of benefits that a proprietary tool offers.
Should I opt for a cloud-based authoring tool or software that runs from my computer?
This again varies on your requirements and how the pricing matrix affects your operational costs. It is also dependent on the number of users in your organization who will be using the tool. Opt for a tool that lets you scale as the number of users grows.
What are the must-have features that my course authoring tool should have?
Ease-of-use – The interface should be easy to understand and use.
Dedicated support – Opt for a tool that provides dedicated support via chat/email/phone.
Flexible pricing – Opt for a tool that lets you upgrade pricing plans as your users increase.
Content and visual library – Opt for a tool that has a rich library of content, visuals, assessments, and interactivities. This will make a significant difference to the efforts and time put in by your team to develop digital learning solutions.
SCORM compliance – This is built-in by default and ideally all course-authoring tools offer this feature.
Content management – The ability to handle different forms of content or content types when developing the program is a good feature to have in the tool.
Multi-user collaboration – This is a feature that the tool should offer. It will help your team work with greater efficiency.
Workflow management – The tool should offer workflow management and administration set-up features, which will allow different team members within the organization to access role-appropriate content and features. It will also allow administrators to oversee and evaluate the work of the junior team members.
Training support – Look for a tool that offers dedicated training support and is powered by online user forums and support communities that help users understand the tool and use it to its full capabilities.
Study this list from Capterra which offers a quick and comprehensive analysis of different course authoring tools available in the market.
Transforming eLearning – One Authoring Tool at a Time
Rapid course authoring tools have brought significant positive changes in the way in which eLearning is designed. From content packaged in CDs and DVDs to learning delivered online, learning accessed through mobile apps, and immersive and simulated learning environments; the world of eLearning has evolved at a great pace.
As the content consumption requirements of learners and organizations change; eLearning vendors need to use the best course authoring tools to prototype and develop digital learning solutions. One flip side of all this progress is the blurring of roles in eLearning.
One can no longer say, “I only do content” or “I only do visual design.” We are seeing designations like “Learning Experience Designer” that require the applicant to be proficient in both content and design and the ability to use one or more course authoring tools with ease.
At S4Carlisle, we are proficient in using leading and popular rapid course authoring tools for eLearning development. If our clients want us to use a specific tool to design their eLearning programs, we accommodate their requests. If you are looking for a trusted partner to develop your next eLearning program, need help with LMS consulting, or would need advice on transforming your existing training solutions, please write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will respond to your queries.