The expression “authoring tools” may sound uncertain and confusing. What are these tools and what for could I possibly use them? It’s pretty simple actually. An authoring tool is a developed software within which to create e-learning course on whatever topic you heart desires. Some of them work a bit like advanced Powerpoints, where you can add texts, images, audios, videos, animations, but unlike Powerpoint, they allow us to create interactive content, that can be tracked and analyzed.
But let’s talk about everything in the right order. Technically there are several options how to build the training course you need.
Custom made course development
The first option is the most demanding one – it is an option to create a course from scratch by hiring programmers. This definately is the best option if you want something very specific, original, tailored to your company’s specific needs (emphasis on the word “specific” – as adaptable to your needs, of course, are all the ways). Here you can let your creative side go crazy, just keep in mind that realization of wildest dreams is usually the most time-consuming option. (Raise your hand, if this sounds surprising to you)
Course creation with authoring tools
The second option- and here we finally come to what was promised in the title – is to choose one of the existing e-learning content creation tools (Lectora, Articulate, Captivate, etc.). To make it easier to understand – these tools are like complex PowerPoint, allowing to build courses also for people who are not programmers; they can add text, images, animations, videos, etc. materials to build tests – and most of it can be done without in-depth knowledge of IT. When choosing one of the tools, it is important to know if you want your e-learning course to be supported by mobile devices and should it be usable in both iPhone and iPad. Each of these tools, of course, has its own specifics – price, complexity and the options provided. The three most popular authoring tools have become such by different reasons – Adobe Captivate is currently the cheapest choice, cloud version available for less than 50$ a month, but here we have to admit that the financial gains may bounce back on the nerves because of the possible bugs; Articulate storyline seems to be be the world’s most popular e-learning authooring tool with many users and fantastic online community, but with somewhat limited functionality, while Lectora in our opinion is the most universal tool, but also the most expensive from the three, at least for now. All three authoring tools are recommended by us, just that the choice may differ depending on your project’s needs.
Course creation with e-learning templates
Third option, the fastest, most convenient, easiest and cheapest is to build your course with ready-made templates, that are built for one of the authoring tools. Templates are preprogrammed and predesigned with an aim to let others – us – who can not or do not want to program anything – still operate and create an e-learning course that suits our tastes and needs. It works almost as a colouring book! Examples of templates created by us can be found here. The drawback of using e-learning templates is that your possibilities are somewhat limited, they put your instructional design in some kind of frame, on the other hand having a very structured way of designing course, usually means courses are built faster and cheaper.