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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.

 

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.

 

One basic tip for choosing an authoring tool

Introducing eLearning usually takes up a lot of resources and can quickly become overwhelming, especially to begin with. However, once digital learning has become part of your daily routine, there will be lots of opportunities to extend your eLearning project to make it sustainable and effective. So when you’re choosing which eLearning software is right for you, don’t be put off by the initial challenges.

 

Lectora, Knowledgeworker Create, Storyline 360: Comparing the three foremost authoring tools

Knowledgeworker Create, Lectora and Storyline 360 are three different—but equally effective—authoring tools for creating eLearning courses. However, they have different features for different application scenarios. While Knowledgeworker is a professional solution and a good team player for global knowledge transfer, Lectora is more suitable for smaller companies. Storyline, on the other hand, is a user-friendly way of transforming PowerPoint slides into online courses when you’re in a hurry.

 
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  • Intuitive user interface and drag-&-drop editor
  • Ready-made templates and features
  • Content, media and questions can be reused
  • Clear centralized course administration
  • Crossteam working
  • Integrated task management
  • Integrated review management
  • Integrated translation management
  • Rapid authoring features
  • Template-based working
 
  • Drag-&-drop editor
  • Limitations on accessibility
  • Archive images and templates
  • Integrated task management
  • Tailor-made design of interactive learning content
  • Various programming options (may be time consuming for greater detail)
 
  • User interface similar to PowerPoint
  • Range of tailor-made layout options
  • Template library with media and layout templates (less professionally designed) 
  • Extensive induction training and work with layers, variables and object states

Tool comparison

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.
 
 

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

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.

 

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!

Gamification

Gamification tools are the ultimate in eLearning—not only do they make learning child’s play, they also act as regular checks learners’ knowledge. So make sure your software includes appropriate tools. These can include quizzes, interactive flashcards or multiple-choice tests, for example.

 

The bottom line.

It’s not easy to choose the right authoring tool, but if you apply the criteria outlined here, you’ll quickly find your way through the software maze and be able to rule out a number of tools at an early stage.

 
Magda Lehnert | Blogger
Magda Lehnert
Copywriter
 

Try it out

Preview Autorentool Knowledgeworker Create
Preview Autortentool Knowledgeworker Create

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Try out Knowledgeworker Create free of charge

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.

 
 

Image source: Dean Drobot/shutterstock.com/shutterstock.com

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