Rapid Authoring Tools - 4 Favorites of The eLearning World

Rapid eLearning development tools - it is no exaggeration to say that these software used to create online courses have radically transformed the training landscape. True to their name, these tools can be used to cut the digital course development time by at least 40%, compared to their traditional counterparts such as Flash. Today, it is possible to develop an online course of 30 minutes in 4 to 5 weeks. Development costs too have reduced considerably, almost by half.

Another major advantage of rapid eLearning development tools is that these software can be used effectively, even by people with little knowledge of programming. Instructional Designers (IDs) and Subject Matter Experts (SMEs), who have no coding skills, can actively take part in the online course development.

Indeed, rapid authoring tools have made the development of online courses simple, fast and affordable. But now comes the big question - how to choose the right tool that can satisfy your needs effectively? It is important to analyze the features of various tools before zeroing in on the right one. We will now look at 4 major tools that are widely used in the world of eLearning.

  1. Articulate Storyline

    This is a wonderful tool that comes with simple to use and highly intuitive Graphical User Interface (GUI). Anyone familiar with PowerPoint can easily use this rapid eLearning tool. It facilitates quick development of visually rich eLearning courses. Another striking feature of Articulate Storyline is that, it comes with 47,500 combinations of illustrated and photographic characters, expressions and poses, which eliminate the need to scour for appropriate visuals and recreate them.

    This rapid eLearning software comes with a rich library of built-in, ready-to-use templates for course development which saves considerable time. These templates can also be customized to suit your requirements. You can create simulations easily, thanks to the screen recording feature of this tool.

    This tool can be used to create courses that are highly engaging. This info graph provides some of the interactivities you can incorporate in your course using Articulate Storyline.

    Use of cloud based authoring tools and learning management systems (LMSs)

    You can effortlessly re-author your existing online courses developed using Articulate Studio to Storyline. You can publish courses to HTML5, Flash and also make them compatible with devices using the iOS platform

  2. Articulate Studio

    Articulate Studio is a comprehensive eLearning development package comprising of 4 wonderful tools, i.e. Presenter, Quizmaker, Engage and Replay.

    Using Articulate Presenter, you can create interactive and engaging PowerPoint presentations and convert them into online eLearning courses. You can also add audio, video, scenarios and custom animations to the courses, making them highly interactive to engage and motivate learners.

    Articulate Engage helps you to incorporate a variety of interactions in your courses. Check out more on this blog on how to customize interactivities in Articulate Engage 13, the latest version of this wonderful eLearning development software.

    Using Articulate Replay, you can create screencasts with your webcam and add multimedia to it in just a few clicks. This tool is capable of handling any type of files and allows you to import as many video clips as you wish. Your clips are displayed on two tracks, and all you need to do is just click and drag them to arrange them in the order you want. You can also mix videos, insert images and add audio using this very useful tool.

    You can develop complicated interactions for your assessments using Articulate Quizmaker. You can rapidly develop 25 questions with the simplified form-based editor. You can easily include drag and drops, hotspots, branching assessments in your course. There are default feedback layers which you can customize to your requirement.

    This article from Articulate gives a bird's eye view of the differences between their 2 most popular products - Storyline and Studio.

  3. Adobe Captivate

    Adobe Captivate comes with an intuitive interface that improves your authoring experience considerably with a multiple document interface and personalized workspaces. This software is widely used to create watch-try-do simulations, which provide hands-on learning experience to learners who need to gain expertise on certain systems or processes.

    This tool can be used to create widgets, that are configurable '.SWF' files created using Adobe Flash. These widgets are very useful in creating rich interactive content rapidly. Captivate also enables experts in Flash to develop Action Script Code to create customizable widgets.

    Adobe Captivate comes with quiz templates that facilitate creation of assessments rapidly. You can add pre-test, and audio responses to quizzes. This blog gives you a good idea on different question types you can create in Captivate 7, the latest version of this tool.

    This rapid eLearning development software allows you to publish courses to Flash and HTML5 outputs and create iPad compatible courses. Adobe Captivate courses automatically detect the delivery platform used by the learner, be it a desktop or a mobile device, and delivers the content as per the device.

    With themes, interactions, and smart shapes, you can develop faster eye-catching eLearning content quickly and easily to grab a learner's attention.

    Check out his post that compares the features of Articulate Storyline and Adobe Captivate.

  4. Lectora Inspire

    This tool from Trivantis Inc. comes with components that facilitate the conversion of text-heavy content into interesting and engaging courses. You can integrate audio, video and Flash animations into courses using Lectora to make learning more engaging. Lectora supports all digital images, audio and video formats that can be easily dragged from your computer and dropped onto the Lectora workspace.

    If there is a need to train employees in their native languages, then Inspire is the ideal choice because you can develop courses simultaneously in multiple languages using this tool. Another important feature of this tool from Lectora is that, it supports integration of multiple language versions of the same eLearning course in a single GUI. This feature allows learners to access a particular course in any language of their choice.

    Lectora Inspire

    Using this feature, the learner can be directed to any language to view the course instantly either from the home page, or even from the middle of the course. Lectora also supports right to left languages such as Arabic and Hebrew and languages that use double-byte character sets like Chinese, Japanese and Korean.

    You can customize the templates and GUI elements available in Lectora to give the course a personalized look and feel. Using Lectora, you can publish the course content to multiple platforms such as Web, LMS, LCMS, CD/DVD, iPhone, iPad, mobile or tablet devices.

    The latest version of this product, Lectora Inspire 11, includes 3 very useful software, viz. Camtasia, SnagIt and Flypaper.

    1. Camtasia

      This is an ideal tool to produce and edit video tutorials. This tool allows you to edit audio, remove color features, crop images, stitch clips, and perform other functions.

      Camtasia

    2. SnagIt

      SnagIt is very useful to convert screen captures into learning modules with little effort. It allows you to customize images with arrows, colorful speech bubbles and unique stamps that grab your learners' attention.

      SnagIt

    3. Flypaper

      Coming to Flypaper, this tool can be used to create powerful Flash animations even by people with very little experience. You can create, collaborate and share interactive content to use in your Lectora courses.

      Flypaper

It is no exaggeration to say that these 4 tools have radically altered the landscape of online training. They add value to your organization by helping produce high quality digital courses that effectively satisfy your needs. What do you think?

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