For a long time, the Elearning Authoring Software Solutions industry has been getting along just fine. However, there has been somewhat of a surge in recent times which has led to quite a bit of excitement. Nowadays, there are wide range of products available for consumers whether it is a business looking for e-learning software for their employees or perhaps even school teachers creating courses for their students. This range of products can easily be compared in our Elearning Software Comparison Overview.
For the most part, you could say that the industry is made up of many ‘rapid development tools’. With this, we mean tools that allow the user to create very good content with little to no previous programming experience. In order to achieve this, vendors of the Elearning Authoring Software Solutions have limited the options available; for example, there may be an amount of templates in place so all that’s required is the content within the templates. If the templates fulfil the needs of the user, this is great news. This being said, there is a section of the customer base that need more customization and this niche are frustrated by the limitations in place.
On the other side of the market, we have the non-rapid tools that have unlimited power but need a certain level of expertise to use effectively. Additionally, the final product takes longer to create and the learning curve is a lot steeper for beginners. For people or organizations that have a team working on projects, this is a fantastic option because they are likely to have both designers and programmers. With these two working in unison, the final product is likely to look very professional and the needs of the company will be met without a problem. For those working alone, this type of Elearning Authoring Software Solutions becomes more difficult because you either have a programmer struggling with design or a designer struggling with the programming aspect. As you can see, a middle ground between these two sides is required and we could now have the answer with a third section to the e-learning software market.
Rapid Power Tools – Using the speed of the first half of the market and the power seen in the second, we have the ‘rapid power’ niche. As well as being easy to use, they also have the power to produce custom content. When you look at the different options within this segment, you will very quickly see three factors that they all share.
Customization – To allow for interactivity, the rapid power tools offer a wide range of events that respond to the inputs of the learner.
Variables – Immediately, we panic when we see this word but there is no need. Essentially, variables are boxes in which we store information coming from an input from the learner. Furthermore, variables are used within the calculations of actions; for example, a certain action may only trigger after certain conditions are met and variables allow for this.
Easy Interface – Just as we saw with the rapid development tools, these tools are still incredibly easy to use which reduces possible development times. Although there are some great options for advanced scripting, the user can just as easily skip these settings or use default systems to achieve the same interactive learning experience.
Once we combine the first two factors, customization and variables, the developers using the software can produce learning situations for a whole host of realistic interactions. With this, feedback can be customized, events are randomized, and decision-making can have many different layers. When you then throw the easy interface factor into the mix, the whole process becomes simple and fast whilst still achieving the desired result.
Sadly, the industry hasn’t yet embraced the ‘rapid power’ title or description and vendors seem a little reluctant to use the terms in fear of intimidating consumers. Since they have become important to many industries, this is unfortunate but there is still time since theElearning Authoring Software Solutions industry continues to impress and grow. However, you now know about this third niche in the market so what tools feature all three aforementioned factors?
Captivate – In the market currently, Captivate sits among the very best Elearning Authoring Software Solutions and for good reason. With the ability to convert simple PowerPoint presentations, version ‘4’ finally took them into the rapid power market after adding variables and customizable actions. Initially, the fact that they had been added later was a little blatant but it has been integrated a little more now. For mobile, their options have been improving all the time and this advancement keeps Captivate in conversations with the best Elearning Authoring Software Solutions
SmartBuilder – For a long time, nobody seemed to realize that SmartBuilder had added variables and perhaps this is because they tried it once and put it down a long time ago. Despite this, it is now easy to learn and could be worth another shot. For those who like cloud-based Elearning Authoring Software Solutions, you will fit right in with SmartBuilder and it seems to be relatively stable. Currently, the huge disadvantage to using this option is that it only publishes to Flash. Of course, this could change and HTML5 output is expected very soon.
Lectora – Again, this is another huge piece of software with many supporters and it allows for power and efficiency. Although many wouldn’t consider Lectora in the ‘rapid’ discussion, you cannot deny the advancements in recent years and users will have the ability to create an end product in good time. Compared to the two previous options, you could say that it is slightly behind in graphic development but it does publish to HTML which is a bonus – a move to HTML5 is expected in the near future. Once this is available, publishing for mobile use will be quick and easy.
ToolBook – As far asElearning Authoring Software Solutions goes, ToolBook has been one of the most powerful for some time. Furthermore, it has features that are desired by users including HTML5 and the ability to produce different versions for different browsers. When you first open the software, you will instantly notice the outdated interface but no programming is required so the intimidating feeling soon moves away.
The Top Two – So far, you may have noticed that we haven’t yet mentioned two huge names that feature all three of the major factors we have been discussing. In the market currently, these seem to be the very best in Elearning Authoring Software Solutions since they are easy to use and boast the power needed to create a fantastic end product regardless of your wish for it.
ZebraZapps – Firstly, we have the power ‘king’ and you have to respect the developers for creating such a powerful tool. Compared to some of our other options, the learning curve is noticeably steeper but it doesn’t fall into the category of being ‘frustratingly difficult’. In truth, we are a little cheeky to even claim ZebraZapps as ‘Elearning Authoring Software Solutions’ because it does so many other things. With this in mind, you will never find the software limiting even though it doesn’t seem to follow the PowerPoint structure. With many rapid tools, we like the comfort of the software being somewhat similar to PowerPoint but this isn’t the case with ZebraZapps at all. Once you learn where everything is though, you will have fun playing around and seeing exactly what you can do. If you have never used this software before, you may just be surprised by its capabilities.
Storyline – If you have done even the smallest amount of research into Elearning Authoring Software Solutions, you will have probably heard of ‘Storyline’ and this is because it is a favorite for many. Coming from Articulate, you will notice that the interface is very similar to PowerPoint and this will give you that ‘homely’ feeling automatically despite never loading the software before in your life. However, you will soon see subtle differences with the added functions and tools. Despite offering a superb array of tools, the program has remained easy to navigate through the years and this perhaps one of the main draws for people who are new to the industry.
If you need to use a screen recorder, Storyline also boasts this function as well as being able to publish to HTML5, Flash, or iOS. Although learners will need to download a player, this is a great effort from Articulate to cover all bases. If all this isn’t enough for you, the great community of Storyline users that are online is a huge bonus. If you ever have a problem or need tips, simply hop onto one of the many online forums and you will receive a response in no time.
Conclusion – If we lived in an ideal world, we would all have a team including designers and programmers to complete a project within a short amount of time. However, we don’t all have that luxury whether it is due to increasing demands, small budgets, or limited teams. If this is the case, rapid power tools are the answer as they have a beautiful balance between ease-of-use and power. Although the sheer amount of available options is a little daunting at first, you will soon find software that meets your needs and you can get started on various projects!