Tools these days come in three flavors
- Geared toward e-learning developers and instructional designers
- Geared towards the masses
- A combination of both
Authoring Tools for developers
The biggest problem facing the industry in the past few years are the lack of course authoring tools for e-learning developers and instructional designers.
Sure, you can use the extensive list of tools on the market, but for those who want real power and complexity ala from the days of Authorware, pickings are slim.
- Celtix – Enables you to create storyboards and scripts. It’s free.
- elearning animgallery – from e-doceo, provides a simple version but also offer more robust features including avatars, adjustment parameters, functions interpolation movements, the effects of camera to give depth, movement of avatars, plus it comes with 5,000 media objects including flash animations, videos isolated, sounds, voice-overs, illustrations (2D and 3D), characters, mascots, interiors and exteriors, objects
- elearning maker – another product form e-doceo; screenwriting, storyboards, media inserts, selection and moving of elements plus more; a beginner could use some of the features, but a developer has some additional capabilities and flexibilities
- Flash course development toolkit – provides the source code, features include ability to load your movies, creates a table of contents and provides complete navigation control
- JeL SIM- simulations requires experience of the Java programming language to create a numerical model of the system/concept being simulated
- Professional Presenter X – comes with sim tool, assessment, capture tool, documents to flash tool, etc. Works Windows and Linux, inc. documentary maker and iPhone/iPad/iPod touch developer kit
- MLOAT – Multimedia Learning Object Authoring Tool. SCORM compliant learning object generator, customized editing interface, web based media player that works across multiple platforms, video/audio, image slides, text synchronization
- Simwriter Professional – NexLearn probably makes the best sim tool in the market, but it is extremely expensive – I believe around 9K for one license, features include -ability to export scripts for audio or video recording in .txt, .doc, and .htm formats, implement scripting capability to code custom simulation behaviors, customize properties for every design component to control the look and feel of your simulation
- Authoring Pro – Developer and International Edition – comes with audio editor, video editor, image editor, screen capture and screen camera
- Thinking Worlds – offers a free version (lame) and a commercial version (better) – create sims and 3D games publish to iPad (have to purchase the TW Pro + iOS edition), very slick
- Articulate Storyline – Great product – read my review here – yeah, they pitch it for masses and yeah they can do some things, but this is really for developers and instructional designers
Course Authoring Tools for the masses
Common features include
- Ability to use PowerPoint
- Embed video – inc. YouTube
- Embed audio, images and Flash objects
- Offer linear and non-linear design, plus table of contents
- Desktop – still the mass approach in the market
- Add documents, materials including ability to attach to courses
- Add lessons – seen in the education versions
- Assessment tool of some nature – may include survey tool
- Screen capture
- SCORM compliance and/or AICC – there are tools out there who support neither – but that is not the norm and there are a few tools out there who also support PENS
- Multiple learning paths or branching
- Works with LMSs – exclusion – proprietary based content tools
New features appearing in many tools, regardless if they target developers or the masses
- Notes of some nature
- Reusable learning objects and repository
- Quiz tool comes with random questions and quiz bank
- Audio recording and editing
Next tier of features – growth is here and it is targeting the masses
- Ability to output to HD/MP4
- Offer ebook capability
- Can send course links via e-mail and even social media – seen in collaborative learning environments aka online authoring systems, some people call themselves training management systems – but the authoring tool is the key component
- Personalization – only a handful
- Scenario builders
- Mobile – but still has a long way to go
- Output to HTML5
- Spell checker – sheesh shouldn’t this be standard?
- Screen recorder or screen demo – what’s up with that? Should be standard
- Image editor
- Video editor – don’t worry, video management systems for e-learning are showing up and will take a chunk out of authoring tools; because video is on the rise
- Ability to include social media – I’m not talking about YouTube here
- SaaS – are you kidding me?
- Multilingual – should be more out there, not less
- Interactive simulations – people want this – I’m talking more than scenario builds
Please note that cold simply means that vendors as a whole are not adding these features. It does not mean that they are worthless nor are not features that should be included – they should be!
Best of the Best
Just like the academy awards, it is time to announce the nominees for authoring tool of the year.
- One will be named – Best Course Authoring Tool of 2012
- One will be named – Mobile Learning Course Authoring Tool 2012
- One will be named – Newcomer of the Year 2012
- dominKnow Claro – it just keeps getting better and better
- Articulate Storyline – Yes, an Articulate product in the running – and no the end of the world is not coming
- Zenler Studio – A surprise pick. I love the ribbon style approach, the custom branding angle with your player, audio and video narration, SCORM/AICC – perfect for the masses
- Thinking Cap Studio – Vastly improved – offers features for the masses and the developers
- iSpring Suite – Supports HTML5 output, audio and video narration, awesome feature set including branded player, SCORM 2004, 1.2 and SCORM support and learning objects
- Rapid Intake m-Learning Studio – Strong solution for the masses and developers, forward thinking approach, they also offer an online/offline product called m-Learning synch which includes a mobile learning online platform, rather than connecting to your LMS
- Aura Interactive – Sh!FT Learning – Avatars with the ability to synch voice to them – i.e. they move their lips and it matches with your voice. Gamification, scenario builders, collaboration, audio options include allowing voice actors to upload and crop their audio from anywhere. Search and replace content, mix and match new modules with existing modules
The authoring tool vendors will say their products are for everyone. That their products are meeting the demand.
The demand from developers? The demand from the masses?
Or the demand from themselves, the vendors.
Because if it is the latter, than everyone doesn’t necessarily mean you.
Just curious. Any reason why you chose to omit Adobe Captivate from this list of authoring tools? It would certainly seem to have a larger market share than any of the other tools mentioned.
Also interested to hear your comments on why widgets are now regarded as “cold”.
Cold simply means that they are not being implemented or being seen in the market. It does not mean that they are not of value nor should be implemented – all the cold features – should actually be used.
Captivate was not included because I don’t see it as best of the best. There are over 120 vendors in the space. As for developers, the product still is targeting the masses – nothing wrong with that mind you. But from a developer standpoint, even an Adobe person once told me that Flash is ideal for developers. That said, it can be used for developers, but many have told me it just isn’t as robust for them.
OK. I’m glad that you see widgets as something that “should” be implemented. But I agree that by and large they still aren’t getting the traction they could in the market. I think the issue is mainly that they are still too hard to develop, and unless developed well, they are also still too hard to use. My company builds and sells some of the most popular widgets for Captivate. But I can earn four to five times better money working on elearning contracts for clients.
As for Captivate, while you are welcome to an opinion, I find your views somewhat surprising about it. As an experienced e-learning developer (who previously used Flash and other tools) I find Captivate VERY robust, though like all software it still has its faults.
I find that most people with opinions about Captivate don’t actually use it themselves to develop online courses (or else they used it a long time ago and still retain that view). Sure there are features targeted at the masses (why else would it now be the market leader) but once you scratch the surface a bit more you find features that can ONLY be used by hard-core developers. In fact, one complaint many people make about Captivate is that the learning curve is steep because of this extra power under the hood. So Adobe has tried to cover both ends of the user spectrum, rather than just going for one group.
Anyway, I guess we’ll just have to agree to disagree about Captivate. Thank you for publishing your blog. I like to keep up with where the LMS market is heading.
Good article Craig, I have been asked many time what course authoring tools should I use. It’s all about the skills a person, to segment into developers and the masses is a good approach. Our authoring suite is very good for the masses as it has many features you mention and most users can become productive with in 20 minutes.
It would be great to know which of these products supports collaborative development. Articulate for example is a real pain to get multiple developers working on a piece of elearning. Such a pain that we gave up on it.
Rapid Intake and Claro offer collaborative/peer review.
Great summary Craig. Any idea how big the overall market is that all of these authoring tools play in?
You mean from a revenue standpoint? Its hard to know because nearly all are private, so when you see the numbers by other folks they are estimates.
That said, it is a huge market and is continuing to grow. What is great is that you can gain market share more quickly than you can in the LMS space and even web conferencing.
Comments are closed.