how to get the most out of your authoring tool

category: software
You’ve planned out your project and chosen an authoring tool, now it’s time to start building! Using the software correctly will result in a better end product, which means a happy team, happy stakeholders, and happy learners.

The key is to familiarise yourself with the tool and play around with it to get up to speed – the same goes for the rest of the project team, too. If you haven’t used an authoring tool before, you might be surprised at the range of tools out there (What is an eLearning authoring tool?). Here’s a few tips to get the most out of your authoring tool.

getting going

Start from the bottom up and get your branding and design completed first. Think about drafting some core templates for your modules and assessments, which you can easily duplicate and populate with content. One of the great benefits of cloud-based authoring tools is the ability to reuse the assets you build, so templates are a great way to dive in. This will also help you get used to the functionality of the tool as you learn to navigate creating simple items.One thing to keep in mind is to stick to your original project plan. It’s very easy to get bogged down with perfecting the design, coming up with new ideas and revamping your whole course content. While it is great to try new themes and designs, stick to your content outline. This is another reason to create templates first to deal with this initially.

make the most of interactions

The great thing about authoring tools is the ability to create interactive learning, rather than static learning. If you were only intending to use your authoring tool to create a PDF or a passive learning experience – why not take a new approach? The simplest things can help to keep your learner engaged, whether it is adding a quiz, a flip card, or something completely new and bespoke. Anything the learner can interact with will keep them engaged and give them control over their learning journey.

it’s not just about you

If you work in a team, your authoring tool can be really useful when it comes to collaboration. To get the best out of shared assets, keep your files organized and up to date. Choose file and project names which will mean something to your colleagues, not just you. If you are creating different versions of a course for testing purposes, label them as such. If your authoring tool offers you the ability to create a share a branded theme with colleagues, make sure everyone has access to this to avoid multiple versions of the theme floating around, not to mention the time wasted creating these unnecessarily.

testing

As with any project, testing your course and constantly reviewing it is an essential part of the process. Make use of responsive content by testing mobile and tablet formats frequently. Have your subject matter experts sense check your work periodically, and allow stakeholders to feedback during the process. The best thing is they simply need to log in from their computer, making it easy for you to manage expectations and keep the process transparent.

don’t be afraid to ask

Last of all, don’t be shy – a good authoring tool will provide you with some level of customer support. Don’t be afraid to send an email if you have a query or get stuck. Some technical aspects might be new to you, but you’ll have experts at hand to resolve issues and answer questions. There might be some guidance on the website via FAQs, or have a look through blogs like this one to get some inspiration. No question is ever a silly question, you are the user and it is important you are able to use the tool as you need to.