Are you trying to decide on the best authoring tool for creating your digital or eLearning course? You are doing the right thing by researching. Lots of time and money can be lost using the wrong tools, and with the rapid development of software, you can easily be left in the dust before you get started. Keep reading to learn how to find the right authoring tool for you.
What Are Authoring Tools?
Authoring tools are software programs designed to create digital eLearning courses with minimal to no coding. This makes them user-friendly interfaces for content authoring as they require no programming skills. However, some authoring tools are designed for more experienced programmers, allowing for greater creative freedom.
Watch this video to know 10 of the most popular authoring tools.
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9 Steps For Finding The Best Authoring Tool For You
Look for something user-friendly based on your experience and knowledge level. If you are not an experienced developer, you don’t want to find yourself having to become one before being able to complete your authoring project!
Tip: Speak directly with a salesperson about your experience level and what you hope to achieve with the authoring tool.
Quality support features are essential for experienced users and newbies. Everyone can expect to have some hiccups when using new software. The product price should be reflected in the support features too. If you are paying top dollar, you want access to various support features. If you are paying for a basic license, you should still expect access to a knowledge base, tutorial videos and a community forum.
Here are some support features to look for and consider before purchasing an authoring tool:
- Online community forum– an online space for other users to share their questions and answers.
- Knowledge base– online library of information about a product.
- Live chat support– real-time chat support with staff to assist you.
- E-mail or phone support– customised contact form you can request help through or a direct phone number.
- Tutorials and how-to guides– videos and documentation demonstrating how to operate the software.
- Consultancy services– paid experts that can train you and your staff to use the software, help to develop projects and give expert advice.
- Webinars– live or recorded online events hosted by the company.
- Demos– videos demonstrating how to perform particular actions or complete specific tasks with the software.
- Updates & Upgrades– updates or upgrades that improve the software or resolve any technical issues.
If you are working with a team, you want to be conscious of finding an authoring tool offering this service. If your authoring tool will be used by various members of a project team and collaboration is an essential element of your overall management plan, team training will be invaluable to your business.
What to Expect From Team Training:
Each company will offer something a little different. However, you can generally expect to be offered live professional development webinars and team training courses run by eLearning industry experts.
Most companies will have a list of features, and you may not know what they all are. That’s okay. Make a list of the features you know to help find the best authoring tool for you. Run your list past the authoring tool vendor to see if their software matches your needs.
If unsure what features you need, list things you want to accomplish with your authoring tool. Ask the vendor which features can help you achieve your needs and if there are options to implement customisation to suit your requirements.
Example of Basic Training Materials & Features You Might Need:
- Assessment authoring
- SCORM authoring
- Quizzes and randomised questions
- Dialogue simulations
- Audio capabilities
- Track assessments
- Graphics and animation
- Templates, themes and skins
Although most tools should be compatible with Mac and Windows, you don’t want to make this rookie mistake! Always double-check that the software is compatible with the devices you use to create your courses. Many also choose platform-agnostic, cloud-based authoring tools to ensure it works well with any OS.
Here are itemized directories of:
- Mac-compatible authoring tools
- Windows-compatible authoring tools
- Software-as-a-service (SAAS) Cloud-based tools
- Desktop applications
To help your search, some popular authoring tools are:
A good company will have a list of compatible Learning Management Systems (LMS) on its website.
What’s The Difference Between your LMS and Your Authoring Tool?
The authoring tool is the program that allows you to create course content, and your LMS is the platform where your course content will be published for learners to assess it. Some people describe the LMS as a library and the eLearning courses as books. In this analogy, the authoring tool is the author writing the books! So as you can imagine, a compatible LMS is essential when shopping for an authoring tool.
Your authoring tool should support the universal eLearning standards. You may have heard of SCORM authoring tools. Here are some standards to look out for when browsing for authoring tools:
- SCORM 1.2
- SCORM 2004
- anxAPI (Tin Can)
If your authoring tool doesn’t support these standards, it will impact the content you can create with the software and limit you significantly.
When considering the price of your authoring tool, it is essential to understand the license type you are paying for and what comes with it.
When you pay to use an authoring tool for a specific amount of time defined in the payment agreement.
One single payment, and you own the right to use the software indefinitely!
You will own the authoring indefinitely but need to pay for maintenance, including technical support and upgrades.
Your choice of license type will be unique to your needs and those of your business. Many companies will offer subscription deals for teams, so be sure you have the correct information before making your choice. You don’t want to pay for an individual subscription if other people need access to the application.
Author your own path
It seems like a lot of information, but as you begin your research, it will all become very familiar. Content authoring tools can be a lot of fun, and you will surprise yourself with how quickly you become an expert.
So if you are looking for the best eLearning software to suit your needs, remember the 9 steps above, and you should have it in no time. Remember to take your time, ask lots of questions, and don’t be afraid to use trials if one is available
We are Strawberry Solutions
Our team consists of a talented crew of graphic designers, instructional designers, animators, video editors, voiceover artists and eLearning developers who create sophisticated, multimedia SCORM output. Once the content is created, we will export it as a SCORM package which can be uploaded to your LMS and delivered easily to your online students. Even if you change LMS in the future, your SCORM package can be uploaded into the new one, meaning you don’t have to create courses from scratch.
There’s a sweeter way to learn. Talk to us.
Email us today at firstname.lastname@example.org