I’ve been reading a lot about the color green.  What is symbolizes, what it means and what it represents.  I found out that depending on the shade of green, can mean something totally different.

According to several web sites, green represents nature and fertility. Some sites say it represent harmony, freshness and growth.  A few sites say it represents abundance and prosperity.  One site says it is also indicative of being novice.

As you can see, green can represent so much and equally so little.  But for me, green says something else.

It says pistachio cake (mmm),  80’s Izod shirts (making a comeback!) and sickness (who hasn’t turned green on a ride, your friends said was fun?).

In this week’s post, marvel at green.

Harmony

I’m not sure, harmony would be the ideal word, here but in one way, it is, for better or worse.  So far in 2014, the authoring tool space hasn’t really come out with anyone earth shattering, that would make you stand up and scream “Brussels Sprouts are the new “spinach”.

  • Avatars and background templates continue to “in” –  A few vendors are now adding “real life” scenario backgrounds- but “real life” is open to interpretation.  I just don’t see a human cartoon character looking at you – with a lame background as “real life”
  • Scenarios – As the Wizard of OZ once said, “Scenarios make Toto, look like a rock band” (unable to proof he said it), the truth lies in there somewhere.  Show me a scenario that you can honestly say, “that is just like what happens in our workplace” and I’ll be amazed.  Right now, not amazed.
  • Collaboration – How much longer are AT vendors going to push this out as “new”?
  • Layers, Triggers, Actions, Properties – Continues on its add path, but nothing really shocking (unless you consider the earthquake this morning in LA – and yes, slept right thru it)
  • Built-in audio narration tools including some editing
  • Screen capture and recording tool – I’m a big fan of this being included, but would like to see new capabilities beyond just the basics, then again, there are plenty of freebies out there that will do just fine
  • Timelines –  I’m not talking tracks here, I’m talking timelines (seen in quite a few education focused tools)

Growth

  • SaaS – Is showing up with the latest authoring tools and even some desktop diehards who finally are figuring it out that it is better than desktop (especially for folks on the go)
  • Lots of Templates – No longer satisfied with ten, now many vendors are offering extensive list of templates
  • People packs – Basically character/avatar packs. In most cases they are moving (well, in still mode) such as pointing one way, versus another and so on
  • Adaptive Learning – Not only is the term making a splash, but an increase in actually making it happen is showing up.  That said, you as the course builder has to utilize the capabilities to make it so (with the AT design and help that is). If you don’t, than having that feature will fail to materialize.
  • HTML5 output – Any vendor that doesn’t add HTMl5 output should be green with envy. It is still fresh with more vendors adding it.
  • Multilingual translation – Very nice.  But I have yet to see one that truly hits the mark. A couple of vendors allow the ability to edit the language to make it more precise.
  • More authoring tools –  Just as it is being seen in the LMS market
  • Use of the term “slides” to represent pages
  • Social – Snooze..
  • Mobile learning authoring tool – Geared towards and designed specifically to create mobile learning. Includes responsive capability. Most have an app, but the tool itself is not self-contained.
  • Preview on mobile device before output – Another cool capability. I’ve seen ones that show a variety of mobile devices including the Kindle.
  • Simulations – As close as you can get without buying an actual sim tool. 

Personally, this is one is beyond frustrating to the point of despair.  There are a lot of reasons that this continues on the growth path and none of which has anything to do with the true essence of e-learning.

It’s growth can be attributed (IMO) to

  • Some new vendors, who I wonder, whether they really know what is WBT and the nomenclature associated with it.
  • Use of PowerPoint in ILT and now those folks are moving over to WBT.  I get it you are new and are use to using PowerPoint, but PowerPoint is not an authoring tool, it is a “Presentation” tool – big difference
  • Use of PowerPoint in rapid content authoring tools – this has been a big irritant of mine, since the days when PPT first made its appearance in rapid content authoring tools.  Some vendors use chapter-page approach with PPT, but there are plenty who do not (why?)
  • People who create a lot of presentations and now since you can do it online, just stay with the terms.  There are a lot of online presentation solutions which state “presentation tool” and that is the way to go.  But, using the term “e-learning” OR “authoring tool” as a disguise for what it is – frankly is a disservice to anyone who has ever created a course, regardless if they are an instructional designer or not. 

There are authoring tool vendors whose product interfaces via a ribbon with PowerPoint, and if you take a look, most follow the chapter-page approach and state it as such. I find that it acceptable as long they use the appropriate terminology.  Studio always has done a great job with their PPT integration because they use the right terminology, and offer a TOC, offering non-linear for those that want it. – Totally respect that.

Fertility

To me, fertility means new beginnings and hope.  Some of the items below offer promise, others not so much (except to the vendor).

  • FRED – Framework for Responsive Design is a mobile learning framework to build responsive courses/content.  I will be seeing a demo of it later this week (with a review soon afterwards)
  • Private Cloud SaaS Authoring Tools – the latest item to hit the AT airwaves
  • Multiple devices without losing course look and feel – This pitch is appearing not only in mobile learning authoring tools, but also some LMS vendors and yep, the CAP systems (see below)
  • Courseware Authoring Platform – Anytime I see this “new platform”, I have to ask myself is this a good or bad thing for the space.  Some vendors are pitching as “for those who do not want a LMS”, others call it an “Adaptive Learning Platform” and still others are coming up with all types of terms to pitch it.  For me, it is a new spin on what is basically an Online Authoring Tool Platform.

What constitutes a CAP or ALP or non-LMS AT platform?

  • Has a built in authoring tool – some are proprietary based and have no compliance standard attached to it (such as SCORM), others do.  And some simply mean you can toss content up there (usually with no compliance standard as a component)
  • Some analytics and some reports – The analytics are really very basic here, usually in the form of a histogram or graph/pie charts.  But even without SCORM or other compliance standards, there is tracking.  Even with just content only – like PPT or video files
  • There are a few vendors who offer the ability to accept other authoring tool built courses, such as those from Articulate/Captivate, beyond just their own authoring tool. 
  • Some include the capability for asset repositories, such as a RLO area.  This however is not universal
  • Built in assessment tool – common
  • Ability to create users/user groups, send a link for users to take a course
  • Mobile supported – Does not mean they offer a mobile app, or output to HTML5, but a few do
  • Tin Can/xAPI –  A year ago, it wasn’t universal. Now it is a must have.
  • Private Cloud – This is just showing up – not universal
  • Multiple devices without losing course design or your place in the course (funny, for most LMSs who allow for mobile support, this isn’t really an issue – in fact, the issues tend to be tied to the authoring tool itself)
  • Several use the “GB” storage as a key pricing component, I surmise you will see more in terms of this angle

Back to Fertility

As one person who has visited Ireland and tasted the fine G Stout beverage, I can attest that it does taste different than having it in say England or the U.S.  No that this has anything to do with authoring tools, but for those who wondered – it does. 

Anyway a few more wonderful newness

  • Gamification – With SaaS tools – I like it.
  • Gaming courses – Yes, actual gaming courses and not those lame Jeopardy ones or 20,000 Pyramid (great if you grew up in the 70’s, but today?).  I know of one vendor who is really going to the tilt on enabling this capability with some oomph.  I hope they succeed – because it would be a major game changer (no pun intended) .  BTW, gaming is not the same as gamification.
  • Apps – Basically a series of APIs or widgets that can go into your course build. 
  • PENS – This compliance standard has been around for 8+ years, but several vendors are offering it as a capability.  Lots of potential here. Claro does the best job with it.

Bottom Line

The other day I was taking a look at Lectora Mobile, and found it is more an online authoring tool system with its focus on mobile deployment than say a true m-learning authoring tool.

Which was sad, because I am still waiting for it. 

An authoring tool that enables you to create a course on your device within a self-contained app, with all the capabilities of an authoring tool and then pushing to the web, your LMS, etc. via a wrapper or PENS. 

 

Perhaps in 2014 it will be built, by someone willing to think out of the box.  I know there are folks out there.

Whether they are green (novices to the space) or seeking to embrace the nature of the authoring tool market, they have a chance at making something unique and special.

It’s not a rebirth, but a re-awakening.

Re-awakening to what is possible, without

Wearing green.

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