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Comparing eLearning software solutions: How do I choose the right authoring tool for my online courses?

Direct comparison of three tools

 
Authoring tool search visualization

Choosing the right authoring tool can be difficult. Not only because there are so many suppliers on the market, but above all because authoring tools all have different features, strengths and weaknesses. But what criteria can we use to distinguish between them? And how can you tell if you’re looking at a truly professional tool that also meets your eLearning project? In this article, we look into all of these questions and compare three successful authoring tools for you.

 

Authoring tools: The software for creating your eLearning courses

No eLearning course can exist without an authoring tool. An authoring tool or learning-content management system (LCMS) is the software you use to create your online courses. Authoring tools basically work very similarly to systems such as WordPress or Typo3. Content management systems like these allow users to create and manage websites and blog posts without requiring any programming skills. Learning content management systems do exactly the same thing, but are specifically designed to create educational content for eLearning courses. They therefore have special features, such as learning interfaces with interactive media, quizzes and tests. But how do you choose the appropriate authoring system? There are a variety of different software solutions on the market and all claim to be the one for you.

When choosing the right authoring tool, various factors are important. Firstly, it is important to clearly define your own requirements and objectives for the course. Some authoring tools are better suited for creating certain types of content or have specialized features that are required for specific learning objectives.

In addition, the usability of the authoring tool should be considered. An intuitive interface and ease of use are key to working efficiently and without frustration. Training and support offered by the provider can also play a role in ensuring that users can utilize the full potential of the authoring tool.

The ability to collaborate and share content between different authors is another important aspect. Some authoring tools offer functions for joint editing of course content and versioning to facilitate collaboration between different team members.

The flexibility and scalability of the authoring tool are also important. It should be able to keep pace with the changing needs and growth of the organization and support a variety of course formats and content.

Finally, cost and budget also play a role in choosing the right authoring tool. It is important to consider the cost of licensing, implementation, training and maintenance of the authoring tool and ensure that it is within budget and provides a good return on investment.

Overall, choosing the right authoring tool for creating e-learning courses is an important step that requires careful consideration and evaluation. By considering the above factors and conducting tests and demos, organizations can ensure that they find the authoring tool that best suits their needs and helps them create high-quality and effective e-learning courses.

 

What’s the difference between the various authoring tools?

While all authoring tools (learning content management systems) will help you to create eLearning courses, there are differences between the basic features they offer. The following criteria provide initial pointers to help you distinguish between individual software solutions and decide which authoring tool is right for you. The best thing to do is to draw up a table and note which of the functions you need for each individual item. You should also consider what future goals your company may have. Your answers will help you choose the right tool and avoid having to compromise.

 

Number of people creating courses

Some learning content management systems allow several authors to create courses in parallel, while others provide access for one individual. So the key question is: What is the scale of your eLearning project and do several authors need be able to work on the courses simultaneously?

Templates or individual solutions

The next thing you may be wondering is how complex or customized you want your eLearning courses to be. There are authoring software solutions on the market that offer ready-made templates and save you time on course creation, but there are also tools that enable you to run complex and tailor-made eLearning courses. This takes more time, but gives you a lot of creative scope.

Single or multi-language content

Not all authoring tools offer sophisticated translation management—after all, it’s not always necessary. This way would allow international branch offices to use the same courses. When making your choice, be mindful of any expansion plans your company may have.

Support and advice

The more complex your eLearning project, the more important it is that you have individualized support from your software manufacturer. Staff can often provide support not only on technical matters, but also advise on the design and educational purpose of content.

Reusable content and one-off projects

Some authoring tools allow you to create one-off, project-based courses. Others, on the other hand, give you the option to reuse content and combine features of different courses to create new courses. The latter type of tool provides a basis for sustainable knowledge management and may save a lot of time, but it of course takes more effort to manage.

Compatibility

Depending on whether you also want to use a learning management system (LMS) for your communications, you may need to ensure that you can export eLearning courses in common formats so that you can integrate them into an LMS at a later stage. An LMS is always extremely helpful when it comes to creating courses for more than one department in your company.

Budget

And last but not least: The question of costs. Of course, the different software solutions also differ in price. As always, Functionality and quality are usually more expensive. It is therefore all the more important to consider the above criteria as well as you can in order to choose the right tool in terms of cost.

 

Tip for choosing the right authoring tool

Analyze your requirements and goals carefully before deciding on an authoring tool.

Before you decide on an authoring tool, it is important that you define your requirements and goals precisely. Think about what type of content you want to create, what features and interactions are needed and what target audience you want to reach. Also consider factors such as ease of use, flexibility, integration with other systems and support options. By clearly defining your requirements, you can ensure that the authoring tool you choose is the best fit for your needs and will help you create high-quality and effective e-learning content.

 

A comparison of the 3 most successful authoring tools

Lectora, Knowledgeworker, Articulate 360

Lectora, Knowledgeworker Create and Articulate 360 are three different but equally successful authoring tools for creating e-learning courses. However, they each offer different features for different application scenarios. 

 
Articulate 360 logo
for national small companies
with few trainings per year
similar to PowerPoint

Articulate 360

  • template-based course creation
  • manual design customization
  • external task and review management 
  • low barrier courses
  • no full responsiveness 
  • data protection conformity with EU directive
Knowledgeworker Create Logo
for national & international companies
medium & large enterprises
AI Integration

Knowledgeworker Create

  • template-based work (own CD) 
  • integrated AI (content, images, translations)
  • integrated task and review management 
  • accessible courses 
  • responsiveness (fully automated) 
  • collaborative work
  • central update management
  • integrated translation management
  • reusability of learning content
  • separation of content and CI-conform design
  • central database (media, course content, questions)
  • data protection conformity according to EU directive
Lectora logo
for national medium-sized companies
with few trainings per year

Lectora Online

  • design templates and style packs
  • manual design customization 
  • external task and review management 
  • low-barrier courses 
  • manual responsiveness maintenance 
  • central update management
  • data protection conformity according to EU directive
 

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Tool comparison

Banner comparison authoring software
Visualization of authoring software comparison in e-learning

Knowledgeworker Create, Lectora and Storyline 360

How to identify the right authoring tool

This white paper gives you a quick overview of which learning content management system best meets your requirements, what its advantages and disadvantages are, and what special features it has. It compares Storyline 360, Lectora and Knowledgeworker Create directly with each other:

  • Functions
  • Question types
  • Import and export formats
  • Technical criteria; and
  • Prices.
 
 

9 must-have features your authoring tool shouldn’t be without

An effective authoring tool is the backbone for creating engaging and impactful e-learning content. With the multitude of options available, however, it's crucial to make the right choice. To assist you in this endeavor, we've compiled nine must-haves that an authoring tool should bring to the table. These features are critical to ensuring that you can create high-quality learning materials that effectively engage and resonate with your learners. From user-friendliness and versatility to advanced interactive features and analytics tools, the following must-haves are essential for selecting an authoring tool that aligns with your requirements and goals.

 

Responsiveness

A good authoring tool provides a fully responsive display of all content without the need for any further adjustments, meaning that you and your learners are free to choose whether to work on desktop PCs, tablets or smartphones.

Drag-&-drop editor

In this day and age, you can expect authoring tools to provide a drag-&-drop editor to make it quick and easy to put content together without needing any programming skills—even for interactive elements.

Easy integration of media

In the interests of usability, it is vital that your authoring tool has a media library where you can upload and manage graphics, videos and audio files. It should also be closely linked to the editor, so that you can position media in the right places within your courses and reuse them multiple times.

Interactive features

Successful eTraining courses are characterized above all by the fact that they actively engage learners in the learning process. After all, you’re not aiming to deliver knowledge in person, you also want to benefit from learners’ own active acquisition of knowledge. This requires special interactive features such as video breaks with calls to action, accordions to open up, hotspots, matching exercises and active exploration of on-screen features, to name but a few.

Accessibility

Accessibility and inclusion are as relevant to the digital world as they are to the analog world. A state-of-the art authoring tool should therefore provide different options for designing courses with as few barriers as possible, to enable people with disabilities to take full advantage of courses. Solutions can include the provision of speaker texts as audio files, keyboard controls to enhance usability, and the provision of descriptive texts for image media.

Range of question types

Your authoring tool should also offer a range of question types that enable you to test knowledge in a variety of ways: Single or multiple choice, matching exercises, picture selection questions, gapfills, open questions, dialog questions. The greater the number of question types, the more fun it is to learn!

Compatibility with standards

The authoring tool should be compatible with industry standards such as SCORM (Shareable Content Object Reference Model) and xAPI (Experience API) to enable smooth integration with Learning Management Systems (LMS) and other systems.

 

Collaboration functions

It should offer functions for collaboration and joint editing of content by several users at the same time in order to increase efficiency and productivity in the team.

 

Analysis and tracking tools

The authoring tool should provide tools to track and analyze learner performance and behavior to gain insight into learning progress and content effectiveness.

 

 

The bottom line.

 

In conclusion, choosing the right authoring tool is a crucial step in the development of effective e-learning content. By carefully considering factors such as user-friendliness, versatility, interactivity, compatibility, collaboration features, analytics capabilities, flexibility, and support options, organizations can ensure that they select a tool that meets their specific needs and goals. The right authoring tool empowers instructional designers and educators to create engaging, interactive, and impactful learning experiences that resonate with learners and drive knowledge acquisition and skill development. Therefore, investing time and effort into the selection process is essential to maximize the effectiveness and efficiency of e-learning initiatives.

 
Magda Lehnert | Blogger
Magda Lehnert
Copywriter
 

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Banner authoring tool "Knowledgeworker create"
Banner authoring tool "Knowledgeworker create"
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Use drag & drop to build state-of-the-art interactive online courses in minutes—it’s easy and no programming knowledge is required. Integrated task, review and translation management allows you to work collaboratively and accelerate your course creation.

 

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