No one wants buyer’s remorse about their authoring tool. That’s why we created an eBook that helps you select the right authoring tool. The eBook covers 6 different questions to ask as you’re researching eLearning tools. We explain why each feature matters and include comparisons between some of the major authoring tools.
In our free eBook, we cover these topics:
- Templates and Assets
- Interactions and Assessments
- Collaborating With Others
- Inclusive and Accessible Design
- Responsive Design
- Features That Ensure the Best Authoring Experience
Check out the first five blogs if you haven’t read them yet.
Ultimately, every instructional designer wants to have the best authoring experience possible.
The first 5 chapters of our eBook cover main features that most authoring tools offer, but you may want to consider other differentiators which could directly impact your user experience, such as:
When all of your eLearning tools work together harmoniously, you can save precious time and even money.
For example, if you work with video heavily or want to explore VR, having directly integrated tools at your fingertips (versus logging in elsewhere and or importing external files) could be a big productivity boost.
Also, if you already have a Learning Management System (LMS) in place, direct integration with a system such as KnowledgeLink®, HealthStream™, Saba®, and others may also impact your authoring tool decision.
If your authoring tool has built-in screen recording and editing, it’s a wonderful perk—assuming these features work smoothly.
Screen-recording is especially useful if you’re building any sort of simulation, software training, or want to show a step-by-step process of something that happens online. Or, if you'd like to personalize your course by recording your webcam, it’s helpful if you can use the same authoring application versus logging in elsewhere.
Obviously, you may still want to use an external tool to create multimedia in some situations—especially if you work with immersive learning. However, why pay for a separate screen recording and editing tool if it’s already a standard part of your authoring solution?
Luckily, Lectora, Storyline, and Captivate include built-in screen recording, and all of them are excellent. However, other authoring tools may not have this, so it’s worth investigating.
Since Adobe is discontinuing support for Flash® at the end of this year, you’ll want to make sure the authoring tool you choose does not publish Flash output. Most of the major authoring tools have already switched to producing HTML5 output, but it’s worth double-checking.
Secondly, if there are required formats needed for your existing delivery platform, such as xAPI for tracking data within a Learning Management System (LMS) or Learning Record Store (LRS), you should find out beforehand in the event your authoring tool doesn’t support it.
Having access to readily available product information makes a big difference in your authoring experience. Software products usually come equipped with a knowledge base and or some form of documentation. Some also offer a community where you can interact with other developers and designers.
Certainly, some resources will be better than others. In a moment of need, being unable to reach an actual person can be extremely frustrating. Therefore, you’ll want a clear understanding of how support tickets are handled, and who answers them. While very few companies offer on-demand phone support 24/7, they should at least offer a phone number and/or a sales representative who can assist during urgent situations. It’s also worth asking if product support comes with your purchase, or if it is charged separately.
Lastly, the price of an authoring tool will likely impact your purchase decision, especially if a vendor gives you a great deal or includes multiple tools in one package.
When considering an all-in-one type of option, it’s worth calculating what the cost would be if you have to purchase each item separately. For example, if you have to buy a screen recorder separately, a low price tag may be deceiving. Or if you need a bunch of extra storage, you’ll need to budget for it accordingly. Or, if you’re interested in dabbling in VR or immersive learning, you may get a better deal including it with your traditional authoring tool versus seeking a VR authoring tool separately at some point in the future.
Overall, your authoring tool vendor should clearly define exactly what’s included with your authoring tool package
Choose the Tool That Fits Your Needs
These are just a few of the questions to ask yourself as you’re evaluating authoring tools. You’ll also want to ask each vendor for customer references, and then sign up for a free trial of each product to compare the value of each authoring solution.
What else should you consider when choosing an authoring tool? Find out in our eBook: How to Select the Right Authoring Tool.