What are authoring tools and which one is right for me?

Image containing title of the blog and a person using an authoring tool

Authoring tools are software applications used to create E-Learning programmes and content. There is a massive selection of authoring tools available on the E-Learning market and we aim to highlight some of our favourite products and outline considerations you should take into account when deciding which authoring tool is right for your E-Learning needs.

There are many types of authoring tools available:

Nine logos for various authoring tools. Including Articulate tools, Composica, gomo, Snap! and more.

 

These can be divided into three main groups of authoring tools:

1. Standalone tools

Watch our short video: The Pros and Cons of Storyline

Tools that do not require any other software to be installed.

 

2. PowerPoint based plug-ins

Watch our short video: The Pros and Cons of Snap!

Tools which extend the functionality of PowerPoint.

 

3. Online tools

Watch our short video: The Pros and Cons of Composica

Web-browser based tools, platform independent.

 

A good authoring tool allows E-Learning creators to use rich media; audio, flash animations, videos and games and to build interactions around the rich media.

Generally content created by authoring tools can be published for use on websites, CDs or Learning Management Systems for consumption by your learners at a time and place that suits them best.

At our recent masterclass series, we gave an overview of the benefits of building internal capability by developing your own E-Learning using authoring tools. You can view and download the presentation here. We’ll also have the recoding of this presentation online soon. During this session, Gavin Woods, our Business Development Manager gave an overview of:

An overview of Articulate Studio. Why? +Based on familiar tools (PowerPoint), + Easy to use, + Good for beginners. Why not? - Some limits on functionality, - Plug-in architecture creates some issues.

 

An Overview of Articulate Storyline: Why? + Most powerful authoring environment, + Unlimited authoring capability, + Work remotely (desktop based). Why not? -Steeper learning curve, - Needs some training, - Appropriate licensing can be an issue.

 

An Overview of Adobe Captivate: Why? + Broad range of features, + Part of a wider Adobe E-Learning Suite, + You may have a license already. Why not? - Not as user friendly, - Weaker set of interactions, - Some minor issues with uploading images.

 

Overview of Camtasia. Used for: Screencasting, Talk to cam, Slides plus video, Slides plus voice over.

In a non-rapid environment (think E-Learning companies developing in Flash) there are at least three people in the development team plus the subject matter expert (SME) and the client. In a rapid environment, there is normally just the DIY E-Learning developer along with the SME. It is very often the case though the DIY E-Learning developer is also the SME, Instructional Designer and client all rolled into one. It’s lovely up to a point…but is also feels pretty lonely. As time and resources are often limited, it’s imperative that you are selecting the right authoring tool.

What factors are important when choosing an authoring tool?

  • Multi-device publishing;
  • The ability to incorporate rich media;
  • The ease of creation of interactivity;
  • Cost;
  • Compatibility; and
  • Skill level in-house.

It’s important to select an authoring tool that allows you to create engaging, aesthetically pleasing and interactive E-Learning content without requiring the technical know-how of a computer genius.

At Aurion, depending on our client’s specific E-Learning project requirements, we select the right authoring tool that best fits the brief. Articulate Storyline has the most powerful authoring environment and now that Articulate have launched a new, improved version; Articulate Storyline 2, it’s worth taking a closer look at this formidable tool.

Our team of E-Learning designers love the features of Articulate Storyline 1 because it is effortless to use, has a strong tracking and reporting functionality, simple integration of interactivity and rich media and content means that it is immediately publishable across a wide range of devices.

So what’s different about Storyline 2?

Whilst maintaining a similar look and feel, Storyline 2 offers the same functionality as Storyline 1 and more. On a practical note, the introduction of auto recovery means that you needn’t worry that you’ll lose any of your hard work if you experience technical difficulties with your device. The new dockable panel functionality enables you to work effectively across multiple screens and the fact it is no longer necessary to compress videos ensures that you can maintain high quality graphics and animations.

Both appearance and interactivity in Storyline 2 are better than ever before with the new motion paths, animation painter and a range of new transitions and animations. Our favourite new feature is the slider interactions which allow learners to play around with data and discover causal relationships in a highly visual and interactive format.

Storyline 2 allows you to both import questions and attribute negative scores, thus allowing you to change how tests are created and assessed.

If we’ve managed to tempt you to give Storyline 2 a go, you can try it out for free here.

Although we’re big fans of Articulate Storyline and have used it as a solution for a wide range of E-Learning needs, we know that there is no one size fits all in digital learning. For more advice on choosing the right authoring tool for you, we recommend watching our webinar: Choosing the Right Tools to Create Your Own E-Learning.

Please let us know your comments or share with others who you think may benefit from this. Follow us on twitter @aurionlearning for our latest blog articles and updates.