If you're creating an e-Learning or digital learning course with an authoring team larger than one, you're likely to hit various unexpected hurdles that impact productivity and affect the quality of your end product. Here are three common issues content teams face when collaborating, coupled with solutions to look out for when choosing your authoring tool.
Challenge 1: How do I enable my team to produce a consistent course experience?
You’ve designed the look and feel for the course, selected an appropriate colour theme and deduced the most accessible font for your user base. You’ve agreed on the colour for the text and how large the writing should appear.
Then… your team of authors are set to work…
You’ve now found yourself staring at numerous screens of a single e-learning content that appear to have been authored in isolation. The initial screen features a blue heading in size 24pt font, whilst the second features a black heading in 36pt font that is underlined. What happened, team?
The problem is not un-common. Each author had the best intentions with the design of their section of the courseware, but perhaps didn’t share their style guide or theme with their colleagues or didn’t really stick to a style at all.
Solution: Flexible theming with fixed project-wide styling
Ensure you select an authoring tool that allows the style for the entirety of the project to be set in a single place, and restricts content authors to pre-defined fonts, formats, sizes, colours and designs.
If your authoring tools allows for pre-defined templates or styles to be shared between authors, then ensure your authors are required to conform to these styles and cannot make amendments to the shared guides.
Challenge 2: How do I provide my team with the tools to have their project artwork at their fingertips?
Your graphic design team have created a suite of imagery that will compliment the course perfectly, and a series of photographs, external reference material (i.e. PDFs) and videos have been located that are ideal to sit alongside the course content. But where should we store them?
A single hard drive doesn’t cut it when you have more than one author, and even a network drive or Network Attached Storage (NAS) can quickly fall down when your distributed team require the source material in multiple geographical locations.
Cloud storage solutions like Dropbox (https://www.dropbox.com), Google Drive (https://www.google.com/drive/) or Box (https://www.box.com/) are common alternatives. They do however suffer from some common pitfalls including additional software installation, file security and permissions management and often an additional cost.
Solution: Cloud storage within your authoring tool for no extra cost
It is sensible to look to keep your course source material together with your authoring tool.
It provides an incredible efficiency boost for your team when they can locate the files they need easily, without having to install external tools, manage their access and permissions to cloud storage, or wait for the files to download before they can be used within their course.
Challenge 3: How do I promote efficient authoring without sacrificing quality?
Alongside the quality of the education that your courseware offers your students, it is also important to deliver engaging and interactive content that retains the interest of your users as they progress through the course. This, however, is often counter balanced against the need to author the content quickly.
When your team has numerous hours of e-Learning content to build, even a few minutes of inefficient authoring time can add up. Ideally you would want to eliminate any repetitive elements (i.e. Numerous re-builds of almost identical screens) and reduce any dead time your authors may incur (i.e. publish or upload time).
How can my authoring tool help me achieve these two juxtapositions?
Solution: Templates for common layouts, superfast course preview & integrated delivery
Ensure your authoring tool is working for your team and is enabling you to create engaging content fast across multiple authors. Ensure you can re-use pre-built templates for common screen layouts to reduce the authoring time of each screen and help arrive at a consistent feel to your course.
When selecting your authoring tool, ensure you note any potential delay that may occur when previewing your course. Some authoring tools require you to wait seconds (or occasionally minutes!) to view a preview of the course you are building, and these precious seconds accumulate to a large productivity hit across all team members.
One More Tip
Ensure you evaluate each authoring tool in a production-like environment before making your ultimate decision, as there are potentially numerous in-efficiencies that may only come to light after you have committed to a high software licence cost.
Look to trial the authoring tools where free trials are available, and also be on the lookout for monthly subscription models that allow you to utilise the software without a top-heavy license cost.
There are numerous challenges when scaling up your authoring team capability, but your authoring tool should not be one.
Find Out More
To find out how our authoring tool thirst.io can enable your team to be more consistent and efficient, go to thirst.io/free-trial to sign up for a free trial.