a guide to eLearning authoring tools

category: software
It can be difficult to know how to start building an eLearning course, from creating content to ensuring usability. Thinking in terms of the project budget and time constraints, the authoring tool that you use will directly impact the success of the end product. Here’s a few tips on how to identify the right tool for you.

ease of use

The crucial thing to consider when building your course is to use an authoring tool that allows for easy design, editing and collaboration. While it might not be necessary for everyone, the simplest way to guarantee all of these things is by using a cloud-based tool. Essentially treating it as a software product first, you’ll gain a lot more flexibility and a range of other benefits that come with it. Cloud-based development requires much less technical input from your team and will ensure rapid development for many reasons. Using a web application means it is accessible from anywhere, and at any time. You aren’t limited to working from certain locations, meaning you can work with a wider team more frequently if needed. You can involve subject matter experts more periodically in the design process to ensure it stays on track.

Authoring tools are built to make eLearning content creation as simple as possible. The right tool will give you a solid outline for your project. You should have access to ready-made templates or at the very least a user-friendly interface that your team can easily build with. Take a look at ‘How to get the most out of your authoring tool’ for more ideas.

flexible

While standardised templates are useful, they’re of little use if they aren’t customisable. You want to show your brand and values in more than just the tone of your content. Most tools will have the ability to brand your course and add that personal touch, but to different degrees of flexibility. Remember that different modules might be delivered in non-standard formats such as multimedia. Select carefully so that you can fully adapt the course to your needs.

mobile responsive

If your team have a non-technical background, creating something that is fully functional can get quite complicated. Considering the different devices people use, not to mention the variety of web browsers, you need to ensure it is compatible with all. Your chosen authoring tool should incorporate responsive web design into development for you. This means that when your course is used, it reacts to the specifications of the device and the size of the display, making sure it is always user-friendly.

LMS compatible

How will your course be delivered? If your company or institution uses a Learning Management System (LMS) then it is important that your finished course is compatible. LMS software is popular because it brings together everything the student needs; courses, documents, mark schemes and more. Make sure your authoring tool exports your content in a format your LMS can understand. Usually, this is SCORM, but it is worth bearing in mind there are different versions of SCORM (e.g. SCORM 2004, SCORM 2.1…) so an authoring tool which can export to different versions of SCORM is always useful.

tracking

There are plenty of other factors to consider too, but their importance really depends on your particular situation. If it’s likely that you’ll be amending and updating courses in the future, an authoring tool which can track your history could be useful, especially if you are working as part of a team in a shared workspace. A cloud-based solution would also be beneficial here as all of your content is stored centrally, not on individuals’ computers, meaning assets are easily accessible for re-use.

It might be difficult to know what is important to your eLearning authoring from the start, but it’s always advisable to choose an authoring tool using the most up-to-date technologies to future-proof your plans. You might not need to integrate with other software right now for example, but things could change in a few years’ time.

thirst.io takes the flexibility and development capability of traditional desktop apps, but brings it together with software-orientated course building through the cloud. We offer a great deal of flexibility in our authoring tool so that no matter what you’re trying to build, you can do it all within our platform. You can see the list of features included in thirst.io here.