Creating your own eTraining sessions
Use this checklist to identify the right eLearning authoring software
If you want to bring in eLearning to your company, it can be difficult to find your way through the maze of software and options. What tool do I actually need to create an online course? And how exactly do I organize virtual learning for specific target groups across different departments? In our article eLearning software for companies, we presented the three basic tools companies need for eLearning: The learning content management system (LCMS), the learning management system (LMS) and the gamification apps.
This article will now take a closer look at the learning content management system (LCMS). It tells you about what the authoring software does, the benefits it offers for online course creation, and the 13 features it must include if you want to provide your employees with professional training. We also give you a checklist with 60 selection criteria that you can use to identify the perfect software solution for your requirements.
The learning content management system
Online course creation software
Authoring tools, authoring software, learning content management systems… sometimes the terms used in eLearning are enough to drive you crazy. But let us reassure you—all three terms mean the same thing: A software solution that allows you to create your own eLearning courses without knowing anything about programming. You may already be familiar with content management systems from other areas. WordPress and Typo3 are often used for creating websites and blogs, for example. These content management systems allow users to create content in the backend and manage it without having to do any programming. Users can thus focus exclusively on content. Design and appearance are regulated separately by a template that is customized to the company’s corporate design and incorporated in all presentations.
A learning content management system (LCMS for short) works in the same way as a content management system, but has been specially developed for the creation and management of eLearning courses, in order to enable educational content to be created. So authoring tools should ideally also offer a large number of special eLearning features.
The benefits of authoring tools at a glance
The editor shows you how participants will see your courses later [“what you see is what you get”—WYSIWYG]
No programming skills required.
Content and design are separated, allowing you to work with templates. So you don’t need to become a designer yourself.
Clear management of your eLearning content
You can also work on your online courses as a large team.
A task management system allows everyone to work in a coordinated manner.
Integrated translation management makes your courses international and translation a breeze.
You can reuse previously created training content at any time.
You have access to special features for creating eLearning courses, such as question types or interactive learning features.
Key functions and features
Learning content management system
To take advantage of all these features and create successful eLearning courses, good authoring software has to meet particular requirements. The following checklist summarizes all the properties, functions and features that your LCMS should have.
Translation management Integrated translation management simplifies your processes and shortens creation times.
Even in small companies—and definitely in large corporations—content often has to be provided in different languages. The LCMS therefore needs an integrated language management system that not only translates content, but also organizes it in the system in such a way that several languages and fonts can be stored alongside each other in the same course. Ideally, the LCMS will also enable you to export and import specific content easily in the form of XML packages in case you need to collaborate with external translation providers.
Sustainability Build up online courses whose individual components you can combine with each other again and again.
A professional authoring tool stores complex content as individual modules in a central database, permitting multiple use for sustainable knowledge management. This means you can recombine individual modules to create new courses. If you update a module, the changes are automatically applied to all courses that include that module.
If your authoring software doesn’t already provide you with password-protected server space for your courses, it is essential that you can export your eTraining courses to all common formats so that they can be made available on the required network later. So play it safe and ensure you can download your finished courses as PDF, HTML web file, HTML SCORM or xAPI (TinCan) packages—the latter two are particularly important, as they store user-based information and thus allow progress to be measured.
Easy integration of media In the interests of usability, it is vital that your LCMS has a media library where you can upload and manage graphics, videos and audio files.
Easy integration of media
It should also be closely linked to the editor, so that you can position the media quickly and easily at the right points in your courses.
Interactive features Good 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
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 Ideally, your authoring tool should offer a range of question types to enable you to test knowledge in a variety of ways:
Range of question types
Potential question types: Single or multiple choice, matching exercises, picture selection, gapfills, open questions, dialog questions—the greater the number of question types, the more fun it is to learn!
You may also be interested in the following articles
Learning paths: Structured paths for individualized learner journeys
LCMS, LMS, LXP, LRS: the key eLearning terms explained
Learning on demand: Effective learning at the precise moment of need
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