Desktop Vs. Cloud Authoring Tools: How To Choose Your eLearning Solution

eLearning Authoring Solutions For Your Organization
Summary: While desktop software used to be the only viable solution for eLearning authoring tools, recent technological advancements have made it possible to create robust, cloud-based solutions. Here is how you can choose between desktop and cloud-based tools based on your organization’s needs.

eLearning Authoring Solutions For Your Organization

Not so long ago, eLearning authoring tools were just emerging, which meant training managers were quite limited in their options when creating new material for their company. However, the industry has come a long way since then. One of the major advances is the introduction of cloud-based tools for authoring content. But some organizations still swear by traditional desktop tools. So when it’s time to select your eLearning authoring solution, you’re faced with two choices: either you go with a desktop software tool that is installed directly on your local machines or you can go with a cloud-based provider that makes all the tools—and your content—available from anywhere using internet browsers. Several factors come into play when choosing which one is the best for your organization. Let’s dive into it.

What’s The Difference Between Desktop And Cloud Authoring Tools?

eLearning authoring is not the only industry that has been hit by the innovation of cloud-based tools. POS systems, accounting software, and even design software have all had their own moments of cloud-based revolution. But what differences can you expect in terms of experience?

1. Pricing

Typically, desktop software requires a large upfront fee. Some companies require you to renew your license each year, while others allow you to keep older versions of the software and only pay when you want or need an upgrade. On the other hand, cloud-based solutions usually allow the flexibility of monthly or yearly subscriptions, although desktop tools have started to move in that direction. You are not so much buying a product as you are subscribing to a service, hence the term ''Software-as-a-Service'' (SaaS).

2. Accessibility

Because of the nature of desktop installs, desktop software is automatically accessible whether or not you have an internet connection. Of course, some features may only be available online, and in this case, the only accessibility benefit of desktop tools falls flat. Why? As soon as you are away from your machine, you no longer have access to the authoring tool. If you require access on several machines, a desktop authoring solution will require you to purchase several licenses for several machines, whereas cloud-based licenses work anywhere you have an online connection. In an age of growing remote teams, accessibility from anywhere and anytime is key.

3. Data Safety And Backup

From the moment you install an authoring solution locally on your desktop, you’ll be required to perform your own backups to protect your data. In some cases, some companies may offer backup solutions, but most of the time, you’re on your own. For sensitive data, this means you’re also in charge of hosting and protecting your own servers. If something happens to your hardware, your data could be compromised, leaked, or destroyed completely. As the name suggests, cloud-based authoring tools store your eLearning content on the cloud. The responsibility to protect the data from cyber attacks or damage falls on the software company, not on you. And since these companies specialize in software, they often have ways to protect your data. In most cases, these cloud-based authoring solutions will back up your eLearning content 24/7.

4. Software Updates

Cloud-based authoring tools won’t require you to perform updates since they are not directly installed onto your machine. However, you’ll be in charge of updating your desktop tools. In many cases, this requires an IT professional, since the process is not always simple. You can also run into issues if your machine is no longer powerful enough to support the newest updates.

5. Mac Users

If your organization uses Macs instead of PC desktops, your choice of authoring tools gets dramatically reduced. Not many great eLearning authoring solutions exist at the moment for Mac. On the other hand, cloud-based tools can be accessed via a browser, which means any type of machine can support it.

6. The User Experience

To have great User Experience with a desktop authoring solution, you need to have a powerful machine. Otherwise, you will experience slow previewing and publishing that will bog down your entire workflow. In many cases, desktop eLearning tools force you to toggle between your building mode and your preview mode instead of giving you a single at-a-glance view—this further slows down your process compared to user-friendly cloud-based tools.

7. Customization

One of the best features to come out of cloud-based solutions is the ability to integrate tools with other third-party apps. This means the customization possibilities are virtually endless. The same can’t be said for desktop authoring tools. The software you get is all you get. Some tools may allow you to integrate third-party apps, but these possibilities will be much more limited.

8. Users

When you have many users authoring eLearning content, each user will need a license for every single machine in the case of desktop tools. If you have many users, this can get confusing and expensive really fast.

9. Sharing And Publishing

Sharing and publishing your eLearning content is definitely a tough and lengthy process on desktop. Every time you want to update the content, you’ll have to go through the exporting process all over again. There’s no easy way to share the eLearning content with your organization either. This is where cloud-based eLearning really shines. In most cases, you can update—and share—your content with the click of a button. Employees who need to take the training can access it from anywhere you would like.

What To Think About Before Choosing Your Authoring Solution

Still not sure whether or not to take the plunge into cloud-based authoring tools? Here are 4 signs you could benefit from creating your eLearning content on the cloud:

  1. You have a team of authors developing the content and you need team authoring features.
  2. The authors in your organization are either completely or partially remote and need to access the tool from several locations and devices.
  3. You don’t have (or want) an IT department to manage the tool for you.
  4. Your authoring team changes often, which means licenses need to be switched out on a regular basis.

Overall, cloud-based eLearning authoring solutions, like Koantic, are more flexible than desktop software and can easily scale up and down with your team.