It is well known that the advent of rapid authoring tools has radically altered the landscape of eLearning development. Today, learning professionals such as instructional designers and subject-matter experts (SMEs) are able to produce high quality online courses thanks to these wonderful software.
But, are all rapid authoring tools of the same kind? Well, rapid authoring tools can be categorized into 3 distinct groups.
- PowerPoint Add-ins
- Installed tools
- Cloud based eLearning software
Let us see more.
A PowerPoint add-in appears as a tab in the Microsoft application, with its own ribbon. Examples of these tools are Articulate Studio 13 and iSpring Presenter 7. These tools are very easy to use and anyone familiar with PowerPoint can use them. This results in a very low learning curve, facilitating rapid development of online courses. These tools are much cheaper than installed tools. Many of these course authoring software enable companies to develop digital courses with lower initial expenditure.
But on the flip side, several PowerPoint add-in tools do not provide the flexibility of installed software in terms of customization and lack the “powerful features” of the latter, which go a long way in creating highly engaging courses. For example, many of these software do not support the effective use of user variables.
These eLearning course authoring tools need to be installed on your computer to work with them. They are not dependent on any other software and come as stand-alone products. Tools such as Articulate Storyline, Adobe Captivate and Lectora Inspire belong to this category. Many installed tools come with features, which can be used to develop highly engaging and interactive courses.
However, it takes time to gain expertise on these authoring tools. Moreover, installed tools are more expensive than PowerPoint add-ins and cloud based tools.
Cloud based eLearning software
Cloud based tools are mostly offered as SaaS (software as a service). You don’t have to install these and can access them by logging into your account provided by the service provider. Lectora Online, Udutu and Easy generator are some of the better known tools in this category.
Cloud based software have 2 major advantages over other types of tools. They are cheaper as there are no installation and maintenance costs. Furthermore, most SaaS products charge you on pay as you use basis. You don’t have to pay the entire license fee at one go as in the case of non-cloud based authoring software.
These tools help make development of eLearning courses truly anytime anywhere. All it takes to access these tools is an Internet connection.
Despite these benefits, several companies hesitate to use cloud-based tools because of a major concern – security. Loss or pilferage of confidential information, stored in the cloud, could result in catastrophic consequences. You also need to remember that cloud-based technologies are still evolving, and it may take some time before they mature.
When you evaluate a rapid authoring tool, apart from considering the pros and cons of the genre of the tool, you also need to be guided by the support it provides to your instructional strategy, availability of skilled professionals and the most important of all considerations – time and money available.
Hope you find this blog informative. Do share your views.