M-learning Development - 5 Excellent Tools

According to Horizon Report, 2011, by 2015 about 80% of people will be accessing the Internet from mobile devices only. The phenomenal growth in the number of users of the mobile Internet has brought revolutionary changes in all facets of human life and learning is no exception. A good number of organizations are already using mobile learning (mLearning) and the demand for mLearning solutions is increasing at a staggering pace. 39% of organizations are already using mLearning. There is a growth rate of 29.3% among US companies buying mLearning - American Ambient Insight Report (2011). So, how can companies develop mLearning courses in a quick, efficient and cost-effective manner? Well, rapid authoring tools are the right solution to meet the mLearning development needs of organizations.

Authoring Tools to Develop Your M-learning Courses

There are a number of rapid authoring tools available in the market that can be used to develop mLearning courses. But, 5 of these software are used extensively by the online training world. They are:

  1. Articulate Storyline 2
  2. Adobe Captivate 8
  3. Lectora Inspire 11
  4. Articulate Studio 13
  5. iSpring Presenter 7

Let us now look at the features of each tool.

Articulate Storyline 2

This brand new version of Articulate Storyline is a wonderful tool to develop mLearning courses. It comes with Articulate Mobile Player, which ensures excellent experiences for learners on mobile devices. This is a native iOS app and is also available in an Android version. Articulate Storyline 2 is ideal for organizations that have developed courses in Flash and would now like to make them mobile compatible. This is because it can be used to re-create many effects which are possible with Flash.

Another major advantage of this tool is that it has an interface very similar to that of PowerPoint. This lowers the learning curve of this tool substantially. Furthermore, Articulate Storyline 2 comes with a wide variety of in-built interactivities and library of about 47,500 characters in different poses and styles. This makes the work of instructional designers (IDs) easy and goes a long way in reducing the time taken for developing mLearning courses. You can create highly engaging mobile learning courses and include learning games in your courses, using Articulate Storyline 2. You can also use this tool to publish to Flash, besides AMP and the mobile- compatible HTML5 formats.

Adobe Captivate 8

This is another incredible tool for creating courses for mobile devices. This software can be used to create responsive online courses that can be accessed on all devices including various kinds of mobiles and desktop computers. It is power-packed with responsive themes that help render mLearning courses differently, yet very effectively, on different mobile devices with diverse screen sizes. This rapid authoring tool is ideal for building courses that are accessed on "touch devices" as learners can navigate through these courses, with their fingers very easily.

Adobe Captivate 8 allows you to preserve the layouts and the learning content of your mLearning courses, irrespective of the device on which the courses are delivered. This is possible as the position and the range of the size of the objects in the course can be specified according to the size of the screen. This tool can also be used to preview your mLearning courses to get first hand feel of how they look like on multiple devices. Courses developed using Adobe Captivate 8 can automatically detect the device on which they are being delivered and adjust accordingly. Another very useful feature of this tool is that you can include various interactivities such as drag and drop and learning games in your mLearning courses. Adobe Captivate 8 can be used to provide geo-location support to your learners and publish courses to various formats including Flash, HTML5, MP4, EXE, and PDF. You can also export the courses as MS-Word documents and print them.

Lectora Inspire 11

This is another popular rapid authoring tool used widely to develop highly interactive courses for the mobile. Lectora Inspire 11 is ideal for converting your text-heavy content into highly effective mLearning courses. This tool comes with 3 very useful applications - Camtasia, Flypaper and Snagit. This tool comes with a very intuitive interface which makes it easy for the mLearning course developer to work with it. Lectora Inspire 11 comes with templates which are very useful to create courses for the iPad in quick time.

This tool allows you to convert your audio and videos into the MP3 or MP4 format and this helps provide better experiences to your mobile learner. This is because the files are compressed more effectively and this reduces the time taken to load them. It helps serve learners who do not have constant access to the Internet on their mobile devices and provides total compatibility with all browsers. The MP3 and MP4 files can be played in a Flash player or using HTML5, depending on the device the course is being accessed. The courses can be seamlessly delivered on devices, irrespective of their platform. You can use this tool to publish courses to the Flash, HTML5, CD-ROM, .exe formats and to the web.

Articulate Studio 13

Do you have stacks of PowerPoint presentations that need to be converted into mLearning courses? Then, Articulate Studio 13 is a very good option. This tool is made up of 4 applications - Articulate Presenter 13, Articulate Quizmaker 13, Articulate Engage 13 and Articulate Replay. Articulate Studio 13 is an add-in for PowerPoint and anyone familiar with the Microsoft application can use it easily. This tool can be used to provide excellent learning experiences on iPads through the Articulate Mobile Player. A major advantage of Articulate Studio 13 is that it supports several animations of PowerPoint when the presentations are converted into online courses and published to the HTML5 and Articulate Mobile Player formats.

This tool comes with large packs of human and animated characters, making it possible to develop engaging courses. However, this tool, like several other PowerPoint add-ins cannot be customized. It provides good support to a wide variety of instructional strategies and allows you to use 25 types of questions. Articulate Studio 13 can be used to publish to Flash, HTML5, iOS and MS-Word formats.

iSpring Presenter 7

This is another very useful tool used to convert PowerPoint presentations into good mLearning courses. iSpring Presenter 7 is a PowerPoint add-in and is very simple to use. This tool uses a technology called HyperPoint 4.0 that supports 189 types animations, which can be created using PowerPoint, when presentations are converted into mLearning courses. It also preserves all transitions of PowerPoint in your courses. This rapid authoring tool provides excellent support to various instructional strategies and supports 23 question types.

ISpring Presenter 7 comes with a wide variety of publishing options. You can use this tool to publish courses to HTML5, Flash, and .exe formats. You can also use this tool to publish courses as ZIP archives and to the Web. You can also publish quizzes to iPad, using this tool and export them as MS-word documents.

All the above mentioned tools allow you to publish to AICC, SCORM compliant Learning Management systems (LMSs). They can also publish courses to the LMSs compliant to tin Can API, the latest standard for online training.

The choice of the right rapid authoring tool for the development of your mLearning course needs to be made on the basis of your training needs, nature of learning content, availability of skilled manpower and above all, your budgetary and time constraints. For more details, on selecting the right rapid authoring tool, check out the below presentation.

Using the right authoring tool helps you develop top-notch mLearning courses that meet the needs of your mobile workforces very effectively and efficiently in quick time. Hope you find this article useful. Which tool do you use to create mLearning courses? Do share your experiences with us.

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