Developing Effective Online Courses: Tools for the Instructional Designer

Developing Effective Online Courses: Tools for the Instructional Designer

Today, an instructional designer (ID) requires more knowledge and skills than ever before. They need to be skilled with conceptual tools on one hand and technological/ software tools on the other.

Conceptual skills refer to the learning design theories and instructional design principles that IDs need to apply, when designing eLearning course material. Software skills help them develop eLearning courses. An effective eLearning course can be developed, if an ID understands technology and is comfortable using rapid authoring tools.

Here, I would like to share some of the important tools an instructional designer needs to know.

1. Rapid Authoring Tools

In today’s market, there are many eLearning course authoring tools available. It is important for the instructional designer to know the features, advantages and limitations of these tools. Let’s look at some of the rapid authoring tools.

  • Articulate Storyline: It has instructionally rich templates that help build assessments quickly. They are also very useful to create pages with rich text and media. We can build very complex interactionswith features like triggers, slide layers, states and variables, easily, using Storyline. With this tool, we can create any type of quiz, interactive content, software simulation and easily translate a course into any language.
  • Articulate Studio: It easily converts PowerPoint presentations into eLearning courses. It has many in-built interactivities and an inbuilt quiz maker to create assessments very quickly. It can be used to export the course content as an MS-Word document or XML file for translation.
  • Captivate: Captivate is an excellent tool for creating simulation based courses. It has a drag and drop interactivity and puzzle games that help you create interactive assessments. Responsive design is an outstanding feature of this tool.
  • Lectora: Lectora was one of the first authoring tools that allowed output to HTML5, making courses compatible to iPads and other mobile devices. Features of Lectora include customizable templates, new real-life characters, new Flash games, multi-lingual support (switchable interface) and compatibility with all web browsers.

For more information, click here.

2. Video Editing Tools

  • Adobe Premiere: This software is an excellent video editing tool. You can enhance your videos by adding sound effects, animated titles, special effects, adjusting colors and so on. It easy to use.
  • Video Pad: Video Pad can be used to trim a video clip that already exists. We can add subtitles to the video and it can also be used paste several clips together with transitions.
  • Camtasia: A video-capture tool that also allows you to edit videos and audio, remove color features, crop images, stitch clips and perform other functions. Camtasia provides flexible recording and import camera video, music, photos and edit them according to the requirement. Camtasia Studio also allows you to share your recordings on the web via the most popular social networking sites.

3. Audio Editing Tools

  • Sound Forge: Sound Forge allows editing and restoring audio. It also helps convert the sounds into various file formats with lightning speed. It creates streaming media. Sound Forge provides control over audio editing and volume. It allows mixing audio tracks and balancing audio levels. By simple drag-and-drop operations, the audio files can be edited.
  • WavePad: Using WavePad, audio can be recorded from audio inputs through a microphone and a record player. You can also import and edit sound files. It’s good for making mixes. It allows you to add effects, split tracks, merge tracks and do much more. It is user-friendly, supports most formats and easily accessible for anyone.
  • Audacity: This is a simple tool that can be used to edit multiple tracks of audio. It allows you to record audio using microphone or mixer. It can be used to cut, copy, slice or mix the sounds together. It also allows you to change the speed or pitch of the recording.
  • Adobe Audition: It supports multi-track editing. It has a clean, tabbed interface. Adobe Audition allows you to edit audio at desired frequencies instead of the whole wave of the sound.

4. Image Editing Tools

  • SnagIt: A screen capture and image editing tool. Snagit Editor can be used to make small changes to screenshots such as cropping, adding arrows, blurring sections and so on.
  • Adobe Photoshop: It allows users to paint and edit pictures interactively on the computer screen and save them in one of many popular “bitmap” or “raster” formats such as JPEG, PNG, GIF, and TIFF.(
  • Greenshot: It is a free software that allows us to take screenshots. It allows us to save them in one of many popular vector graphics formats. (
  • PaintShop Pro: It is a raster and vector graphics editor. It can be used to add arrows, rotate, resize, skew, crop, replace a color in the image with the current foreground color and perform other actions.

Mastering any one tool in each category will help you create highly effective and interactive eLearning courses.

Of course, there are numerous other tools that an instructional designer needs to know – so, what are the other tools? Please add on to the list!

View E-book on How to Select the Right Rapid Authoring Tool