There was a time when eLearning developers needed to have high-level coding knowledge to develop interactive eLearning material. Also, eLearning development was time-consuming too. Thus, creating interactive activities became very expensive. Only large organizations were able to afford such eLearning applications.
However, thanks to the introduction of rapid development authoring tools, eLearning developers and instructional designers who didn’t have coding knowledge were also able to develop their own interactive eLearning course content without the help of a programmer.
This article on eLearning Industry talks about three main different types of eLearning Authoring Tools.
These are very basic authoring tools. If you have a low budget and don’t have any prior experience with any authoring experience, this might be your starting point. The author of the article explains most of the PowerPoint-based authoring software doesn’t offer tons of powerful features like other desktop installed authoring tools. It`s true; However, I will introduce one PowerPoint-based authoring tool that shares a lot of essential functions as a desktop installed authoring software.
iSpring Suite is one of the popular authoring tools that works as a PowerPoint Add-in. You can start off the e-learning module with your PowerPoint slide deck. iSpring will transfer all your effects including transitions, complex animations, and triggers, etc. iSpring boasts about converting 189 of 199 PowerPoint animations when converting into an iSpring presentation.
iSpring courses can be published as both flash and html5, that means they are fully responsive, and the users will be able to view them on any device. With the iSpring suite, you will not have to create different copies of the same course to work on different devices.
Also, iSpring Suite has course templates, photographic characters, backgrounds, interior items, icons, buttons and navigation controls and quizzes, etc. It also has a lot of powerful features such as inbuilt screencasting tool and will enable branching scenarios.
Thus, if you have a low budget and if you don’t have a lot of time to spend on learning a new tool, this might be something you want to research.
Installed desktop tools
Most popular authoring tools are desktop installed software. I will introduce two desktop installed authoring tools. Adobe Captivate and Articulate Storyline are the two most popular rapid authoring tools in the market. Both are very rich in features. Even though there can be a longer learning curve than iSpring Suite, these are very easy to learn. Both of these tools will help you develop very high-quality interactive applications without any knowledge of coding. I use both of these tools for my authoring needs. Even though the author of the article questions about the responsiveness of most of the desktop installed authoring tools, the latest versions of both Storyline (Storyline 3) and Captivate (2017 release) are highly responsive.
I think every instructional designer should take time to learn these two authoring tools. It will be an investment for your career. You will be able to learn the basics in minutes/hours and will be up and running in no time. After a while, you might pick one over the other as your favorite authoring tool. That’s fine. However, it’s important to understand the basics of both.
Cloud-based eLearning software
Cloud-based authoring tools have also become popular over the past few years. As the author of the article outlines, there are some advantages of using cloud-based authoring tools. You don’t have to download and install the software on your computer; rather you can access the software on a web browser and develop your interactive application on any computer. Allen Interactions Zebrazapps is an excellent example of a cloud-based authoring tool. If you are a Zebrazapps user, you work on your application at your home computer and then when you come to the office, you can login to your account, and you can start where you left off.
Articulate (the company that offers Storyline) also offers a subscription-based suite called Articulate 360. This suite includes Storyline 360 and several other course development tools. Storyline 360 will not be available on a web browser like Zebrazapps. However, since Articulate 360 suite is cloud-based, you will be able to collaborate with your team members and will be able to utilize their content library for your developments.
I hope I have provided some important information about authoring tools and hope you will further research them and find your new favorite tool to help you develop your eLearning activities.