In 2010, the RCAT market continued its upswing and nothing indicates to me it will be changing anytime soon.  Some acquisitions, some goodbyes, but overall very strong.  Innovation abounded and the push to focus on the “PPT to Flash” angle continued to shine. Yet, there were some products that stood out, if nothing else – for taking the lead and doing something that says “yes  it is possible, and oh, it works”.

The Big Dogs – which in this case, deals more with market share, for the most part continued to push forward, yet from an innovation standpoint, uh, solid, but not outstanding.

Ahh, such it was (okay, still is until Dec. 31st).

2010 E-Learning 24/7 Awards (No official icon logo handed out to winners, rather just a “WHOO-HOO” – uh, you can make that sound to yourself..thank you)

RCAT Product of the Year

SCORM Cloud - What’s not to love? You can use either your own 3rd party content authoring tool and upload it into the “Cloud” and then wherever you are, output either to your LMS, or onto Moodle or even WordPress (they have a plug in for that) OR place the course in Facebook or nearly any solution that accepts APIs.  OR you can create courses SCORM 2004 courses within their tool which is in the “cloud” and do the same thing. I said it when it game out and I will repeat it again. Game Changer!

Product Review of SCORM Cloud

Open Source Product of the Year (i.e. its FREE)

Course Lab -  It offers WYSIWYG, built-in assessment tool, Course & Module structure pane, simple frame & action-based object’s animation, rich media support, RLO (Reusable Learning Object) capability, scenario building feature for complex multi-interactions, lots of interactivity capabilities and features, offers cascading rules, publish to various delivery channels incl. LMS, web, CD, etc., ADL SCORM 2004 CERTIFIED.  Also SCORM 1.2 & AICC.   Offers optional screen recording program ($99).  Yeah and did I mention it was free and you can get the code, ideal if you are building courses for someone other than your own company?

Innovators of the Year

- These winners incorporated features or capabilities that make them stand out in the RCAT market.  Innovation is listed next to the product. The product is not necessarily the ultimate in RCAT, but they are solid at the minimum and should be at least looked at, before making any decision.

Rapid Intake: Unison

  • SAAS based
  • Unlimited storage and projects
  • Collaborative feature, multiple people besides the author can view the course and provide feedback/comments regarding the course, rather than the author or authors having to send the course to respective stakeholders and await a response
  • Equally impressive about the above, is if you have a client or your employer is located in another region, country, etc. and time is limited
  • Collaborative Review – which is integrated provides another level of Q/A
  • You get the Flash code – YES – you get the code, which you can do whatever you want with it. While you can continue with their product, you are not tied to them, and thus you can use the Flash code for whatever or whomever, best of all, for those who create courses for clients – and clients who want the code (for whatever purpose) – you can give it to them.  Sure, other vendors will say you can do that too, but you have to open each object file to get it. Who has time?  I just want the code in one quick scoop

Scate Technologies: Scate Ignite 4 Professional Edition

A product that has multiple uses, which can be either a standalone into your LMS as a course, or used as a Podcast Or

  • PSP  – one of the fastest portable markets in general
  • iPod, mobile phones, YouTube, message boards, e-mail
  • iTunes, iTunes University, Facebook, MySpace, CD, web server & more
  • Create SD and HD movies
  • Import and convert PPT to the web, add rich media
  • Comes with a screen capture tool, spell checker (many RCATs do not), Slide audio recording & editing
  • Supports HD h.264 codec, which the iPad supports, and a few browsers for HTML5
  • SCORM 2004/1.2, can capture video from web cam

You could even create content and use it in your 3rd party authoring tool, as an option, but really why would you want to?  Lots of innovative features here, that in some cases, you are not seeing yet. Clever and logical features, especially when it comes to emerging technology with e-learning.  Courses that can be seen on your HDTV via a connection from your computer, which is capable via Blu-Ray, some game players, internet TV, TV tuners (and considered by many as truly the next evolution of television, uh not the course part that is) – YES.   However, you can not create HTML5 courses, the codec is a video codec.

Inquisiq: Inquisiq Studio

  • SAAS or hosted on your own servers
  • Assessment tool built in, Powerpoint Integration
  • WYSIWYG, plus advanced features like master & dynamic layers
  • RLO, Themes, Widgets
  • Collaborative Learning Environment – Share building of courses in real time, albeit, not two at the same time, so no desktop sharing in that regard
  • Built in task system and task reporting
  • SCORM compliant

I Didn’t Know it was Possible Award

Composica: Composica 4

  • Social Learning Content Authoring Tool
  • Project blog, comments, & RSS feeds keeping authors connected
  • RLOs
  • Game based learning
  • Dynamic
  • Task lists, task reports and audit trails
  • Assessment tool built in
  • SCORM 2004/1.2 compliant
  • Blogs can be embedded into courses/content
  • Ratings
  • Mashups, Google charts
  • Bookmarking, state restoration

Market Trends Update 2010

  • Content Authoring tools that offer their own LMS – albeit it is a lite version, which only accepts their content authoring tool courses
  • Many vendors hyping PowerPoint to Flash angle as key feature
  • Courses appearing in the market in a linear fashion, a result of people entering the space from a ILT background, it fits under this category, because vendors are not explaining the non-linear nor the true essence of WBT of courses
  • 57% offer a trial at various length, this is significantly higher than any other e-learning tool with over 40 vendors in the market
  • Low percentile that include a multi-lingual feature
  • Low percentile that offer advanced features for advanced developers who want to push the RCAT to the next level, but who do not want to use 100% Flash
  • Greater usage of open source content authoring tools, across all sectors, not just education and regardless of tech skill set or instructional developer background

Moving Forward in 2011

These should be considered standards for vendors in this space in 2011 or at least those who want a competitive edge

  • SAAS based
  • Collaborative feature – Review by multiple stakeholders, Q/A
  • CSS
  • Offer a trial, minimum 30 days – people have lots on their plate but still register or download at the time they see the product, and the trial should be the full version, how else can someone really get a sense of what the product can do
  • Offer an option for people who do not want to be contacted by your company/sales person, trust me, people like this, and if they like your product they still will buy it
  • Spell checker, multi-lingual capability
  • Scenario based or sim feature beyond the standard few branching that many come with
  • Provide the code to course authors/developers without having them go into the individual objects themselves
  • Embed features such as Widgets, Mashups – that people can find on the web or create themselves or that you offer, or that other end users can create and an exchange for people to share – exchanges in 2011 are going to grow in all e-learning spaces
  • M-Learning capability for tablets, thus the ability to use with OSs including Android – the Galaxy tablet sold 1M units in less than 4 weeks, projected total number of units by end of 2011 for all tablets close to 60M; and they are finding out that end users still have laptops too
  • iPad feature, the iPad 2 is coming out in Feb. 2011, the iPad accounts for 95% share of the market
  • Support for Office 2010
  • API capability, so courses can be deployed into social media sites that accept APIs, Facebook is one, there are others out there. In social networking alone, over 385 sites. Granted not all will accept courses – per their standards. At a minimum create a plug-in for WordPress

As an End User what you should be doing when looking at RCATs

  • Look at a minimum of 5-6 vendors and not just the well-known ones like Articulate or Captivate – they are good products, depending on what you want, but there are 108 content authoring tool vendors (that I track), plus many more open source ones (see my latest Content Authoring Tool Directory
  • See if they offer tutorials, manuals, support, webinars, etc. – contact them to see what types of support they offer – many do not list it on their site, but offer superior assistance
  • If the vendor is SAAS, you do not have to be tied to your own country; there are many vendors outside of your own country that provide solid if not good products
  • My rule of thumb is see if you can create a course without looking at the guide, any course – basic, look at the navigation, ease of use, will it work in any LMS that accepts at a minimum SCORM 1.2, ideally SCORM 2004, 3rd edition (this is the goal – since they should) – but always make sure before you buy, that your LMS can support your course authoring tool. If you are using SCORM 1.2 and your LMS is SCORM 2004, it will work, since SCORM 2004 is backward compatible
  • If you are using SCORM 2004 and your LMS is SCORM 1.2 it will not work.  Same thing with PENS i.e. a SCORM LMS that does not support PENS will not work with a PENS content authoring tool
  • I strongly do not recommend any product that does not offer a TOC (Table of Contents) feature or drill down feature, so your end users can select where they want to go in the course
  • Ask yourself who is the primary person who is going to be building the courses & then ask yourself, will they be able to create a course with this product easily and in rapid time?
  • Go on Linkedin and ask around on the product, look for people who have similar experience to you – i.e. newbies or if you have limited tech skill sets – I have found one thing to be very true about RCATs compared to other e-learning solutions/products

Extreme Loyality to the product, if they like it.  Significant loyalty.

Last Words

I want to thank each and every reader of this blog this year, and I hope you have found the information over the course of the year beneficial and useful. I greatly appreciate all the positive feedback and comments and I am truly honored.

I wish all of you around the world a happy holidays, from here in LA.

Again, thank you for being part of my world each and every week.

Cheers,

Craig aka E-Learning 24/7

p.s. People have asked me who is “Diego” – it is my 4 year old Boxer. : )