6 Steps to Choosing the Best eLearning Authoring Tool


The mere thought of choosing a new e-Learning authoring tool may make some eLearning professionals cringe, but it doesn't have to be a stressful and time-consuming task. In this article, I'll walk you through the process of choosing the best eLearning authoring tool for you.

The Steps to Follow When Choosing an eLearning Authoring Tool

Choosing an eLearning authoring tool that you can use to create engaging eLearning experiences is often a challenge in and of itself. The process usually involves a fair share of trial and error, research, and lengthy comparison checklists, with an abundance of stress thrown in for good measure. But it doesn't have to be like this. In fact, this article features a step-by-step guide you can use to choose an eLearning authoring tool that offers you the features and functionality you need, without any headaches involved.

1. Determine your budget and objectives.Before you even begin to research the various eLearning authoring tools that are available today, you'll need to figure out how much you are able and willing to spend. For example, if you have limited funds, you may want to opt for a free eLearning authoring tool or something like Snap! by Lectora® that offers an affordable entry into the eLearning world. On the other hand, if you have more room in your budget, getting an eLearning authoring tool that includes a wide range of helpful features and functions you need (and the flexibility you want), may be the ideal solution. You will also need to determine what you hope to achieve by using the eLearning authoring tool. Are you planning on producing highly interactive quizzes and/or eLearning scenarios? Do you want to be able to develop a variety of multimedia presentations and/or eLearning games? If you want an eLearning authoring tool with all the bells and whistles, then you can usually expect to pay a higher price, but you will get the functionality you need to create customized eLearning experiences.

2. Assess your eLearning team skills.Even the most expensive and high-end eLearning authoring tool isn't going to be of much use if your eLearning team doesn't have the appropriate skills or experience to utilize it effectively. As such, you'll want to take a close look at the current skills, knowledge and talents of your eLearning team so that you can determine which eLearning authoring tool will offer the ease of use that you need. Is there going to be a steep learning curve involved? Is it worth the investment of time and training resources? While some basic desktop authoring tools may be easier to work with, more complex tools that offer more features and functionality may take some time getting used to, but in the end will allow you to create more robust training content.

3. Narrow down your list of features.The sheer abundance of features that many eLearning authoring tools offer can make it challenging to pick the one that's just right for your organization. As such, when looking at the key features that each tool offers you, consider the needs and goals of your audience. For instance, if you do choose an eLearning authoring tool that is more advanced and gives you the chance to create fully interactive eLearning materials that are dynamic and engaging, is this really going to benefit your audience, or would they probably get more out of a simple and straightforward slide show-based eLearning course? Also, consider where and when they will be accessing the eLearning course when all is said and done. For instance, if they will be on the go when participating, then you may want to opt for an eLearning authoring tool that will allow you to deliver your content in various mobile devices. The Lectora® family of authoring tools from Trivantis has always published to HTML, allowing Lectora courses to be played on any device.

4. Define the level of support that you will require.All eLearning teams need some level of support, just in case the unexpected should ever happen and a glitch threatens to derail your current project. As such, you will want to ask the vendor about the level of support that it is offered. Will you be able to reach them 24/7 via email or phone, or do they just offer online support? If you ever run into technical issues or have questions about the eLearning authoring tool, you need to know that you can count on them to help you figure it out and get the most out of your new software. You may want to check out online user communities, as well.

5. Examine the ease of integration with your current software.If you are currently using a learning management system or other eLearning authoring tools, it's important to determine if the new tool will easily integrate. Is it compatible with other eLearning tools that you use often, or will the new tool hinder the functionality of the software that you are already using? If you find out that the eLearning authoring tool may conflict with your current technology, then you may need to look into plug-ins that offer you the same features or functions as your existing platforms.

6. Research, review, and make trial runs.Before you click that “buy” button or sign on the dotted line, you will want to research every option that is available to you, based upon the above criteria. Look up reviews that other eLearning professionals have posted online about the eLearning authoring tool you consider buying, do research into the vendor's background and track record, and ask for a free trial or live demo. Assess every feature that the eLearning authoring tool offers and determine if it's the right fit for your organization, or if it comes with functions that you may not even need.

Use this eLearning authoring tool step-by-step guide to find a solution that meets your needs, so you can design eLearning deliverables that exceed expectations, regardless of your budget or your eLearning experience.

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