What You Need To Know When Choosing The Best eLearning Authoring Tool
Imagine if your eLearning content always stayed the same. Or if the eLearning course content was updated so slowly and infrequently, that by the time updates were made, the information was already out of date. In this ever-changing, always-on digital world where information can change on a daily basis, that would be considered disastrous. No one wants these examples of poor-performing eLearning to happen, but they can be the norm in organizations where time, money and resources are not properly optimized. However, thanks to the technology behind the best eLearning authoring tools, custom content creation is as easy as clicking a few buttons. There are many eLearning authoring tools on the market, all of which offer a variety of different features that are appealing to learning designers and L&D (Learning and Development) professionals. If you’re looking to upskill your workforce, whether you’re new to eLearning authoring tools or are looking to ‘shop around’ for a better, more robust product, here are 6 things you should be looking out for when choosing the best eLearning authoring tool.
1. Responsive Design Means Reduced Development Costs
eLearning doesn’t just take place on desktop computers anymore – course content needs to be mobile-ready for on-the-go learners. So does that mean you need to build two versions of the same course, one for desktop and one for mobile? That could send development costs through the roof. The answer is a resounding no, thanks to the power of having a responsive authoring tool. With a responsive authoring tool, you only need to design one course and it will automatically customize eLearning content to fit whatever screen size, device or orientation (landscape or portrait view) your learners are using.
In addition, you won’t have to worry about creating icons, images, and other online content that is specifically for mobile devices because the authoring tool’s responsive design capabilities will take care of all that for you. But beware! While some authoring tools on the market will tell you that they’re responsive, you still have to design eLearning courses with five layouts in mind: Desktop, tablet, smartphone, landscape, and portrait. This means more work for the design team. With a truly responsive authoring tool, you build a course once and that’s it. The content will fill the screen on all devices, screen sizes and orientations.
2. Future-Proof Your Content
We’ve already started touching on the importance of mobile learning (otherwise known as mLearning) but here’s another reason why you need to design learning material with mobile in mind: Mobile learning is on the rise. The best eLearning authoring tools are responsive enough that using them means you’re future-proofing your eLearning content. Even if you’re not specifically targeting smartphones today, you can be sure that you’ll need to soon. Design your courses using a responsive HTML5 eLearning authoring tool and you’ve got mobile-friendly, responsive, HTML5-based content that will work on any device. Remember the days when Flash was the eLearning industry standard? These days it’s HTML5, which now comes built-in as standard with every web browser, whether desktop or on mobile. The best authoring tools are HTML5-ready for a better audience experience.
3. Integrated Gesture Support To Boost Interactivity
One of the major benefits of offering your course on a mobile device is enhanced eLearning interactivity. While face-to-face learning and desktop learning can be lacking in interaction, with mobile learning, your learners should have the opportunity to swipe through every page of the course or to enjoy continuous scroll features for instant access to the content that they’re looking for. The days of cumbersome ‘click next to continue’ have gone the way of outdated learning technology, such as delivering content on CD-ROMs. This adds a whole new level of realism and immersion to your eLearning experiences. Learners are no longer just gathering information but with the help of a good authoring tool, they can actively participate in the eLearning process.
4. Try Before You Buy
The best authoring tools know how to make content responsive – it’s already built into the authoring tool’s software. Some authoring tools are complicated, cumbersome and require expert knowledge to create great-looking eLearning, while others are intuitive. These types of intuitive authoring tools are so smart, with things like quick start wizards, that novices and experts alike can create courses quickly and easily, without needing to spend hours figuring out how the tool works. When it comes to deciding which authoring tool is best suited to your needs, it’s best to try before you buy. Authoring tools that offer free, no-obligation trial periods are the perfect no-risk way to find out if they can solve your learning needs quickly and easily, or if they’re too complicated and time-consuming to proceed.
5. Columns Make The Content Responsive
One of the best ways for an authoring tool to be responsive is using column design. You create content to appear in a one, two, three or four column layout, which will then automatically adjust to display on all devices in the most effective way possible. Content that sits across multiple columns on a wider screen will easily adjust for the smaller screen of a smartphone by, for example, displaying column #1 directly underneath column #2. In that way, columns ensure that text, images and video always fill the screen. No resizing is needed. With a cloud-based authoring tool, you can do all of this in your web browser.
6. Device Targeting With Display Conditions
Not everyone is familiar with display conditions but they are a very useful tool to make sure that eLearning content can be viewed successfully on multiple devices. While a responsive authoring tool will automatically adjust content to fit any sized screen, that useful piece of functionally may occasionally be counterproductive. A good example of this would be a detailed graphic on a desktop or tablet display might become unusable on a smartphone screen. Course designers can use display conditions to solve this problem by choosing to replace the graphic with a simplified version that works for a smaller screen, while the more detailed version displays on larger screens.
Last Word On eLearning Authoring Tools
These are just some of the things you should be aware of in your search for the best eLearning authoring tool. Depending on the needs of your organization and its learners, some aspects will be more important than others. Being mobile-ready with responsive eLearning design techniques is becoming best-practice in Learning and Development circles, so make sure your authoring tool is robust enough to deliver training that can be viewed on multiple devices.
Creating great eLearning has never been easier. Thanks to the technology behind the best eLearning authoring tools, custom content creation is now as easy as clicking a few buttons.