What Are The Best Authoring Tools for Developing Interactive ELearning Courses?
There’s no doubt that the future of learning is in eLearning. According to Forbes, the size of eLearning is set to cross $325 billion by 2025. Given the right authoring tools, this ballooning of the global eLearning market provides instructional designers the ability to explore interactive eLearning opportunities even further.
The right tools
Sure, you could probably pull off an eLearning course using Microsoft PowerPoint or Google Sides. You could use powerful imagery and create riveting handouts and course notes to supplement your slides. But will that be enough? Probably not!
To really produce highly engaging, interactive eLearning content, you need some great course authoring tools to support you. Why?
- The “manual effort” involved in creating interactivity and spontaneity in eLearning content isn’t worth it! A tool makes it much easier to do that
- Most tools include huge libraries and archives of powerful supporting content, like icons, graphics, videos and images, that bring life to eLearning courses. Using stock images and icons in your courses is unprofessional, and doesn’t leave learners with a favorable impression
- Content created using interactive eLearning authoring tools is “build once deploy many times”. That means, once designed and developed, you can quickly launch your course on multiple platforms and devices. Manually created content lacks that type of flexibility
- Almost all the authoring tools available today seamlessly integrate with some of the most popular Learning Management Systems (LMSs). This makes creating, deploying, and updating eLearning content simple and easy to do, especially in a broadly distributed enterprise learning environment
Here are three authoring tools, for developing interactive eLearning courses, that aspiring and veteran instructional designers might consider:
Anyone looking for a fully web-enabled interactive eLearning content authoring tool will love CourseArc. Grounded in instructional design best practices, the tool’s template-based design blocks are a great way to standardize eLearning content, while ensuring uniform corporate branding and messaging. Here are just some things you will love about the tool:
- Flat learning curve – no downloads, installation or local configuration needed. It’s all “in the cloud” – so you can just log-in and start using the tool
- Pre-built templates serve as building blocks for a quick start. Pick your template and start creating eLearning content around it
- Ability to create highly engaging content with drag/drop features, using rich media and interactive maps, graphs, and much more
- Section 508 and WCAG 2.0 compliance enable broader access to your content
- Whether your learners will be accessing courses on their mobile devices or on desktop computers– CourseArc supports multiple devices on multiple operating systems
- Your CourseArc development environment integrates with your LMS system. Learning Tools Interoperability (LTI) ensures that the integration is seamless and stress-free
- Comprehensive dashboards, supported by CourseArc’s data and analytics features, allow you to keep track of learner progression, assessments, and scores
- The highly customizable interface gives developers the ability to have the tool work like they do – and not the other way around!
Best of all, CourseArc has a built-in work flow processor that enables multiple designers and developers to collaborate on an instructional design project. Create task lists, schedule team assignments, and communicate seamlessly through the tool – no need to send copious amounts of emails or text messages outside of CourseArc!
Looking to author fully-responsive eLearning content that embraces new learning landscapes? If that’s what you are after, then the 2019 release of Adobe Captivate is worth looking at. Here are some benefits that this tool offers:
- Create 360o learning content based on VR, which enables learners to explore real-life learning situations from the safety and comfort of their learning stations (homes, offices, classrooms, or on the go – in trains, airplanes or busses)
- Use your webcam to create highly engaging interactive eLearning experiences, and integrate them right into your courses
- If it’s depth and breath of themes, characters and other eLearning resources that you are looking for, then you’ll find Adobe Captivate’s 75,000+ assets ready to use – free! Use them to enhance your learner’s experiences while producing highly engaging and interactive course content
- Feel you need more control when authoring your eLearning courses? With Adobe you can write your own scripts, configure learner action based on conditional logic, and create highly complex and interactive branching scenarios
With its ability to support a wide range of simulations, and create powerful VR-based courses, Adobe Captivate 2019 is probably a next-gen tool that will define the future of eLearning content.
If you are new to instructional design, and are looking for an easy to use yet powerful authoring tool to develop interactive eLearning courses, then Articulate Storyline 360 might be worth looking into:
- Its highly intuitive interface means there’s not much of a learning curve involved to get you to a flying start
- The tool comes packed with a well-stocked content library, which gives you convenient access to slide templates, icons, photos, videos and other media and characters to use in your courses
- Articulate Storyline’s use of modern text rendering uses cutting-edge font technology that allows you to produce well-spaced, beautifully flowing text content that’s easy to use read and pleasing to the eye
- Enhanced object editing features give course designers flexibility to drag/drop objects within the course. The tool will provide designers visual cues that help dynamic object placement, rotation and resizing
And if all that’s not good enough to compel you to take a closer look at Articulate Storyline 360, the fact that its interface is available in multiple popular languages – including English, French, Chinese, Spanish and German – should convince you to evaluate it as a potential choice for your next eLearning project.
Do you have a wealth of legacy training content, all in PowerPoint and other Microsoft Office authoring tools? Are you looking to quickly turn your PowerPoint slides into highly engaging interactive eLearning content? Well, if that’s your goal, then perhaps the iSpring Suite of eLearning authoring tools is worth looking at:
- No special training needed. Simply use your PowerPoint skills to edit or produce course content, and iSpring will do the rest
- Need to sync video content with those PowerPoint slides? No problem at all! The tool’s features allow you to quickly create supporting video and synchronize and publish them as highly interactive eLearning courses
- Use video, branching, drag-n-drop and other rich media elements to create highly interactive assessments on the fly
- Build your assessments around flexible testing and assessment rules so that you avoid the “cookie cutter” approach to authoring interactive eLearning modules
- Where your eLearning modules depend on screencasts, you can now record them through iSpring’s native screen capturing tools, without the need to buy or license other 3rd party screen capturing utilities. Embed your screencasts as part of your slide presentations, or use them as standalone content
Not only is iSpring Suite content fully compatible with most popular LMS standards, such as SCORM 1.2, SCORM 2004, AICC, cmi5 and xAPI (or Tin Can), but it supports interactive learning on multiple devices, such as smartphones, tablets and desktops too.
More choices to consider
While the three tools highlighted above are, in our opinion, excellent places to start your review for interactive eLearning content development, these don’t represent the full universe of course authoring resources available. Other’s that you could look at include:
But if you are new to creating interactive eLearning tools, or wish to create a learning module “on a budget”, then perhaps what you need is a tool like H5P. This free Open Source tool is highly effective in producing rich HTML5 content on popular publishing platforms like WordPress and Drupal.
While H5P might lack some of the high-end features of a paid eLearning content authoring tool, it certainly holds its own when it comes to creating entry-level interactive courses.
And if you are looking to simply enhance your existing content with some great video content, then you can use Tech Smith’s Camtasia to add some zing into your eLearning content.