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Evolution of Lectora Inspire to Enable Technology-Based Learning

Lectora, as we know is an authoring tool released by Trivantis Corporation in 1999. Since then Lectora has continued its run as a popular tool with e-learning designers. To meet the demands of enhancing technology-enabled learning, Trivantis has over the years brought out many versions of Lectora till date. CommLab has been with Trivantis Corporation in this journey from early days and has developed considerable experience in making good use of its tools for numerous projects.

Lectora has managed to keep pace with the demands of instructional designers and learning designers to meet various training challenges. A landmark version introduced by Trivantis is Lectora Inspire in 2013. Lectora Inspire is a suite of rapid development tools that helps create interactive courses. Lectora Inspire has consistently reinvented itself and four versions of the tool have been released till date. Based on our expertise in using the tool, here is a look at the evolution of Lectora Inspire from its launch to its present version.

Lectora Inspire 11

This was the first version of Lectora Inspire, introduced in 2013. This version was in response to the need for simplifying and accelerating the e-learning development process. Lectora Inspire 11 was an answer to the demand for rapid authoring tools that could create online courses in minimal time. The most visible change in the version was the new interface of tabs and ribbons which provided easy access to tools and wizards.

The new feature was the addition of the latest versions of three tools – Camatasia, Snagit, and Flypaper. The addition of Camatasia provided the option to create and edit high-quality screencasts for online courses. Snagit converted screen captures into e-learning quickly. Flypaper was a worthy addition because it could create Flash animations and made it easy to share Flash content, media templates, and assets.

The version also came with predefined page layouts useful for designing courses for multiple devices. The HTML5 media support helped in the delivery of courses across multiple platforms. There were also pre-designed themes that could enhance the aesthetic value of the course.

The tool has valuable options for translating e-learning courses. It allowed for converting courses into Rich Text Format (RTF) files for translation. The files, once translated could be imported back into the tool to create the translated course. An important addition was the ability to develop a switchable GUI that helped learners access the course in the language of their choice, at any point in the course.

The tool was packed with numerous options for assessments to make the e-learning designer’s life easy. Apart from graded tests, there were options to include pre- and post-assessments, randomized tests, standalone quizzes, and surveys. There were options to modify parameters such as the feedback and number of attempts by learners.

The advanced features and capabilities in this version of the tool were useful when responding to clients with varied requirements in their courses. For instance, a medical equipment manufacturing company wanted to teach employees the anatomy of the respiratory system through a graphically-rich and effective e-learning course. The course had to be learner-centric and also visually rich.

Lectora was used because of its compatibility with Flash and ability to develop a visually-rich course. The tool helped to:

  • Embed facts and procedures
  • Support different image formats
  • Integrate multimedia, assessments, and Flash animations into the courseware

However, this version of Lectora did have its share of drawbacks, in spite of an intuitive user interface; the tool was designed more for experienced instructional designers than novice users. And it lacked in capabilities to produce rich graphics and animations compared to other contemporary tools. The next version of Lectora Inspire made an attempt to overcome these drawbacks.

Lectors Inspire 12

This version of Lectora released in 2014, had features that promoted better designer usability. This version provided flexibility while working with images, shapes, and buttons, much like PowerPoint. This was intended to save time as in the previous version, external tools had to be used to create these effects.

This version had enhanced content development capabilities that included:

  • Rotate, flip, and crop options for images
  • Boundaries, shadows, and reflection settings for images
  • Options for numbered and bulleted lists
  • Opacity options for layering text and images

In this version, a course could be published for offline use and a web-based review was possible.

The HTML-based Run Mode gave an accurate view of how the course will appear and function.There was also an HTML back-end in published courses that complied with Section 508 and WCAG guidelines. This version of Lectora could match the features of rival authoring tools.

Lectora Inspire 16

In response to designing e-learning courses for a multi-device world, this version of Lectora Inspire was released in the end of 2015. The Responsive Course Design or the RCD feature in this tool had learning designers design courses only once for the desktop version. The content is then positioned and sized based on the device either in the landscape or portrait mode.

Another feature in this version was the ability to detect the device the learners are using; based on this information, the learner can be alerted on which mode to view the page – portrait or landscape. The Additional Status Action Condition Relationships feature in this version made it easy to check on status updates such as not completed, not in progress, etc. Another important addition in this tool was the addition of BranchTrack, a free plug-in. This application helps create, import, and edit scenario-based exercises.

The RCD features in this version made it feasible to transform previous versions of courses built in this tool to be imported to this version and made responsive. We leveraged on this to meet the demand of a client who wanted to convert courses developed in an older version of Lectora to HTML5, to reflect their current branding and also make the courses accessible on mobile devices.

Lectora Inspire 17

The latest release from the Trivantis stable, this version has enhanced features carried over from the previous version. The enhanced RCD features in this tool allow you to create courses for the desktop view which will automatically be rescaled to fit mobile devices. Views can be customized based on the device. The responsive bar can adjust the views to get a perfect layout.

The tool also offers the option to automatically play media on mobile devices, which makes it simple to deliver voice-over narration and video content on the device. This version includes an enhanced version of BranchTrack which can be integrated with the tool. This will help you directly add scenarios to the course.

A complaint in the previous version was the poor transition between pages. During transition, a white flash was appearing on the pages; with the Seamless Play option in this version, the transition is smooth from page to page, helping viewers with a more immersive view of the course.

Another addition is the Anchor position feature that provides the option to fix the position of elements on a scrolling page in a mobile device. This feature allows you to lock down an object’s location on the page, even when scrolled. This is perfect for use in mobile devices where it is possible to anchor logos, headers, footers, navigation, images, and videos.

We chose this version for its ability to work across multiple platforms and devices when we converted a repository of 500 legacy courses into mobile compatible courses for a US-based telecommunications company.

Looking Forward

 All versions of Lectora Inspire were continually upgraded with enhancements, bug fixes, or new features. The next version will most likely focus on improving ease of use and including features required by users. Lectora Inspire continues to evolve and has proved to be a versatile tool that tries to meet the dynamic demands of online training.

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