August 19, 2017

10 Questions When Choosing an eLearning Authoring Tool

With each eLearning authoring tool boasting its unique selling features, it can be tough finding one that fits your specific content creation needs. Since we all have different needs, backgrounds and proficiency with new technology, there is no universal tool.  Below are 10 questions you should ask yourself when choosing an eLearning authoring tool.

1. What level of interactivity do we want in an authoring tool?  Ensuring that a course is engaging can be more difficult than producing the content itself. Some form of interactivity is essential to ensure that learners stay focused and retain information. Adding interactivity to a course can vary in difficulty, so it’s important you choose a tool that fits with your skills and resources.

2. Do we desire video delivery features in the tool?  With decreasing attention spans, video has become one of the most popular eLearning formats. With that in mind, ensuring that the tool you choose offers at least basic video is a good idea. Otherwise, adding video to a course can require a significant amount of external resources.

3. Do we need a tool that offers development collaboration?  This really depends on your work environment. Will you be working solo or collaborating with a team? The best collaborative authoring tools will be cloud-based. If you will be collaborating intensely, real-time collaboration is an ideal feature for efficient collaboration.

4. Should our courses be mobile friendly?  If your courses will viewed outside of a classroom setting, they must be mobile-friendly! This is where you should be looking at the publishing output (Flash, HTML5, etc.). Ensure that courses can be accessed and interacted with on all major devices.

5. What is more important to us, a short learning curve or more creative options?  With most tools, you get what you give. Meaning, a complex tool will likely be capable of more impressive results than an easy tool with minimal options. The complex tool will have a much steeper learning curve, but will typically offer much more creative freedom. It’s just a matter of knowing the scope of your needs, resources and capabilities.

6. Which fits our needs better, a desktop tool or web-based tool?  While both types of tools have their pros and cons, web-based authoring tools are increasingly popular. Some advantages include universal access, no installations, automatic updates and more. The opposite is generally true for desktop software. However, there are some benefits, such as offline access, quicker response time and more control over data.

7. Will we require any analytical data on learners?  Will you be tracking learner data through your LMS or must you rely on built-in analytics? Usage data is helpful in understanding how learners engage with your course and whether its design is effective. Some tools offer built-in analytics, but it also depends on the data you require.

8. Is it compatible with our LMS or LRS?  If you are currently using an LMS or a LRS, it’s important to know if the tool is compatible. The same goes for other technology you will be using in the content creation process.

9. How does it fit into our training budget?  Simplicity tends to go hand in hand with price. Below are key points to consider when reviewing pricing plans:
·         Free trial offers
·         Price per authoring versus team pricing plans
·         Monthly storage included and cost of additional storage
·         Monthly payments or yearly contract
·         Number of perks available as add-ons
·         Flexibility of cancellation policy

10. Are there any hidden costs we may not be aware of?  Consider all the features you need relative to how much you are willing to spend. Also consider the costs of external tools that are not included in the plan you are considering buying. For instance, external branching software can cost a few hundred dollars extra per month.

You should now have a good idea of what to look for when choosing an eLearning authoring tool.

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