In the case of authoring tools, you will really have to dig deep to figure out your business needs. That way, you will be able to fit in all of the needs and requirements of the tool in question with your users and eLearning team alike. That is the underlying main point that you need to remember at all times. It is quite a comprehensive process that is sure to fail if one takes a casual view of things. For first-timers, things can even be a bit tricky due to lack of expertise in this region, but there is more than enough that one can do to steer clear of any stormy waters ahead.
Even though authoring tools are still new to a lot of business experts and marketers alike, one thing’s for sure. And that is the fact that choosing the right authoring tool will go a long way in helping you create a smooth and effective eLearning course. But here is the main question – how does one go about the process of selecting authoring tools?
Actually, a better and more specific question to ask would be – What are the key aspects that one needs to consider? Hence, let us take a closer look at the top five questions to ask before selecting an eLearning authoring tool:-
- How easy it is to use: Sure, you may want to get a hold of the top authoring tools in the market of today, but if they are not user-friendly and hard to figure out, then both your time and money will end up getting wasted. Just think about it – if you are able to produce content without any help from the technical developers, the reduced time will make way for more time being spent on increasing the number of courses. That way, the ROI for your tool will be a lot higher as well.
- The aspect of a feedback system: One of the few ways to ensure quality is for your course authors to collaborate accurately and quickly with reviewers and stakeholders. With an authoring tool that offers a streamlined online system, you will be all set to go. With that system in place, you will be able to make all the necessary recommendations and comments on the very page that’s being reviewed. No more missed emails or duplicate change requests. This will reduce any frustrations as well as ensure that high-quality content is delivered.
- Design control and flexibility: Having control over the colour palettes and where all your logo appears is vital to you and your brand. A certain level of control is ideal as you would not want several people developing courses in non-standard ways. Here, an authoring tool such as Elucidat gives you the option of creating templates or themes that position key elements such as logos, text blocks as well as background colours. That way, you will be freer to take care of the dynamic aspects such as images and text content.
- Easy localisation: After a certain point in time, translating your courses into multiple languages will help you access foreign markets more easily. There are quite a few authoring tools out there that have a built-in translation workflow. Not only is most of the process automatic, but there is even the option of a human translator to enter alternative language versions.
- Thorough analytics: Unless you have thorough data on who exactly your learners are and how they access your courses, how will you know the overall efficiency level of your courses? With proper data, one may be able to find a potential market as well as innovative ways to serve their customers. Some tools even have a newsletter that you can subscribe to, just to get all the important updates.
What to do you when you cannot purchase an Authoring tool?
Before you decide to make a purchase and ask these vital questions, specially if you are an SMB or a startup operating on a shoestring, you can opt for open-source authoring tools as well.
The “free” stuff, however, can be tricky to opt for in a professional setting because of the attached risk of malware. So it takes an ample amount of research before you make your final decision. And to make this decision easier for you, we have picked up 3 of the best and safest open-source authoring tools for you to start with.
- Scratch by MIT Media Labs: Straight from the minds of MIT, Scratch presents an innovative and highly creative approach to content creation. It allows you to create complex animations, arts and even music to build an engaging storytelling-style study.
- H5P: H5P allows the course developer to reuse, create and share highly engaging and interactive content. H5P can help you in creating arithmetic quizzes, charts and diagrams, collages, dialog cards and much more.
- CourseLab: CourseLab gives the user unlimited timeline usage and allows you to create in the WYSIWYG model. All you need to make sure before downloading it is that you have the minimum system requirements fulfilled.
Although you may not realise it yet, the ideal eLearning authoring tool is undoubtedly one of the most important pieces of software that you will be relying on. Keeping the above pointers at handy is only the tip of the iceberg and one would be foolish to make the mistake of thinking that their work ends there. That is just laying the groundwork for what’s to come.
Hence, doing your homework thoroughly beforehand will help you a great deal in the long run. Don’t ever forget the fact that the right authoring tool will positively impact not only the learning experience but also the USP of your service as well.
Christopher Pappas is the Founder of eLearning Industry’s Network, which is the largest online community of professionals involved in the eLearning field. Christopher holds an MBA and an MEd (Learning Design) from BGSU