What’s the best e-Learning authoring tool?

For those of you involved in the world of Digital Learning, whether you’re an Instructional Designer, E-Learning Developer, or involved in Learning Design or Administration in any other way, I know you have lots of options. I receive (on an almost daily basis) a new promotional message, advert, or e-mail highlighting why this authoring tool or system simulator/emulator is better than all the rest. Having used many of the most common tools over the last 15 years, I’m always dubious about such claims. And in my line of work, I regularly get asked by clients to support and advise on Learning Technology investments, or to help implement them in a way that offers the best possible learning experience for their employees. So I thought I’d share my experiences, opinions and some quick demos on the tools I’ve used in the hope of giving you something useful to take away from this session, here’s what I’ll talk about:

Simplicity: How easy it is for a ‘novice’ like a content/process SME to create engaging and effective content and what’s the UI like?

Speed of Design & Development: How quickly you can go from Concept to Implementation

Feature Range: How ‘clever’ you can be with your design (as an author)

Integrations: Is it integrated with any LMS/LXPs or anything else.

Output options: What are the different ways you can publish?

Pricing: How much is it, and what’s my opinion on the cost of a single license?

Disclaimer: Everything is my personal opinion (as objective as I can make it). I’m aware I may not have delved deep into some things, so if you think I’m wrong, get in touch afterward and I’ll gladly stand corrected.

What would I recommend for you?

All authoring tools have an audience and if you’ve used as many as I have (or more) you’ll know each has a specific thing it’s really good at.

What this means for how I’ve advised my clients about authoring tools is this:

  1. Before purchasing any authoring tool, know what your Learning Strategy, Desired Learning Culture and Learning experience is first. This will dictate whether you need a comprehensive tool to make innovative experiences, or whether a rapid authoring tool would be best.
  2. If you have an LMS with an attached Authoring tool (Like CrossKnowledge/Gomo) it makes most sense to use the attached too. It’s built to work with it.
  3. Designers are an absolute pain for asking for new tools (me included). The truth is, however, you’re probably better off investing in their skills using the tools you have, instead of buying something new.

Beyond these 3 points, the other important thing for everyone to know about Online/E-Learning/Systems authoring tools is that they are mostly very similar. There isn’t a single tool out there that does anything so unique that it’s head and shoulders above the rest. For this, you’re probably better of partnering your learning experts with developers who can create things from scratch using whatever code is best for the job. This way, you can get the learning to do whatever you want.

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