What You Need to Look For in an Authoring Tool
Can your authoring tool do this?
Faced with many options to choose from, choosing the right eLearning authoring tool can be a daunting task. In today’s age of rapid development tools, novice designers can quickly and easily create sophisticated courses, but not all authoring tools are designed equally. If your objective is to invest in a cutting-edge tool that will satisfy both your designers and learners alike, the following list of characteristics will guide you in making your selection.
Ease of Use
The right tool will offer the right balance between ease of use and creative freedom. The factors that determine the “right balance” will vary from person to person, so consider your design team’s expertise, average project timelines, and general comfort levels with learning new technology. Programs that are classified as “rapid development tools” do not require knowledge of coding, although some present designers with blank canvases while others present more simplified templates as the basis for designs. The beauty of a rapid development tool is that it should be easy to use, allowing designers to produce work without a steep learning curve. Programs with clearly labeled features and intuitive design, as well as excellent customer service in the form of training resources and ongoing support provide designers with the scaffolding they need to jump in and get to work.
Cloud-based programs offer additional ease of use, as content is not restricted to the device it was originally created on or to the device storing it. Furthermore, cloud-based tools benefit designers whether they work individually or as part of a team. Designers may access their content anywhere, anytime, and from any device when it is stored in the cloud. This flexibility benefits teams spread across geographic locations, as well as individuals who may work remotely or travel to meet with clients. Cloud-based software also enables designers to continually work in the most up-to-date version and ensures content is saved securely and is protected against accidents and disasters such as power outages or damaged or lost devices.
The eLearning Industry cites many reasons why teamwork improves the instructional design process, such as designers offering each other feedback, improving productivity, and improving morale. As previously mentioned, tools that are cloud-based remove barriers for design teams who work across different geographic locations. For example, teams faced with short project timelines may realize a boost to their productivity by having designers “relay” and hand over work to each other over the course of a work day that spans several time zones. This method allows them to produce more than a normal day’s work across a single business day, and is easiest in cloud-based programs that ensure all designers work in the same, most recent version. Tools that allow teams to collaborate seamlessly make the best use of organizations’ time and resources.
Growth is a sign of a healthy organization, and as organizations grow they may find their learning and development offerings need to scale and grow as well. Maybe their course customization needs are as simple as branding content with the company logo, fonts, and colors. Maybe they wish to create simple microlearning content, linear courses with interactions created from templates, or complex courses with branching scenarios that present learners with options of how to explore the content. Maybe all of these options are needed to create a comprehensive suite of offerings or program for learners. Make sure your authoring tool allows you the creative control to produce all the content you envision or all the content you may someday grow to need.
Publishes to Flexible Outputs
To continue the idea of customization, consider where learners access your finished products, or where you wish they could. Beyond the traditional learning management system, do you publish content to your website or to any learning experience or engagement platforms? Choosing an authoring tool that is versatile enough to publish to multiple platforms offers creative control beyond the in-tool design features. By allowing your learners to access your content in the platform of your choice, and on the device of their choice (continue reading to learn the importance of choosing a responsive tool), you are not only meeting but anticipating their needs, and are providing a truly memorable and meaningful experience for your audience.
Today’s learners arrive on the job with their devices in hand, and expect to use them for work-related tasks such as completing training. Consider the difference between websites that are “mobile-friendly” and those that are truly optimized for mobile devices. User-experience significantly improves when content is built to be consumed on mobile devices, and today’s leading authoring tools produce responsive courses that function seamlessly on phones and tablets, as well as traditional desktop and laptop computers. Responsive tools simply work; they don’t demand that designers know how to customize their content for mobile devices or remember to enable this functionality. This tremendous feature saves designers time as well as creates superior experiences for learners.
If you’re interested in a rapid authoring tool that allows you to curate content at the click of a button, request a demo of knowbly™ to see how powerful it is.