Improving Efficiency And Consistency Across Your eLearning Creation Team

Authoring Tools: Overcome 3 Authoring Challenges
Summary: If you're creating eLearning with an authoring team larger than one, you're likely to hit various hurdles that impact productivity and the quality of your end product.

3 eLearning Authoring Challenges And 3 Suggested Solutions

Here are 3 common issues teams face when collaborating, coupled with solutions to look out for when choosing an authoring tool.

1. How Do I Enable My Team To Produce A Consistent Course Experience?

You've designed the look and feel for the course, selected an appropriate color theme, and deduced the most accessible font for your user base. You've agreed on the color for the text and how large the writing should appear. Then, your team of authors is set to work. You've now found yourself staring at numerous screens of eLearning content that appear to have been authored in isolation. The initial screen features a blue heading in size 24pt font, whilst the second features a black heading in 36pt font that is underlined. What happened, team? The problem is not uncommon. Each author had the best intentions with the design of their section of the courseware, but perhaps didn't share their style guide or theme with their colleagues or didn't really stick to a style at all.

Solution: Flexible Theming With Fixed Project-Wide Styling

Ensure you select an authoring tool that allows the style for the entirety of the project to be set in a single place, and restricts content authors to predefined fonts, formats, sizes, colors, and designs. If your authoring tools allow for the predefined templates or styles to be shared between authors, then ensure your authors are required to conform to these styles and cannot make amendments to the shared guides.

2. How Do I Provide My Team With Tools In Order To Have Their Project Artwork At Their Fingertips?

Your graphic design team has created a suite of imagery that will complement the course perfectly, and a series of photographs, external reference material (i.e., PDFs), and videos that are ideal to sit alongside the course content have been located. But where should we store them? A single hard drive doesn't cut it when you have more than one author, and even a network drive or network-attached storage (NAS) can quickly fall down when your distributed team requires the source material in multiple geographical locations. Cloud storage solutions like Dropbox, Google Drive or Box are common alternatives. They do, however, suffer from some common pitfalls including additional software installation, file security, permissions management and often an additional cost.

Solution: Cloud Storage Within Your Authoring Tool For No Extra Cost

It is sensible to look to keep your course source material together with your authoring tool. It provides an incredible efficiency boost for your team when they can locate the files they need easily, without having to install external tools, manage their access and permissions to cloud storage or wait for the files to download before they can be used within their course.

3. How Do I Promote Efficient Authoring Without Sacrificing Quality?

Alongside the quality of the education that your courseware offers your students, it is also important to deliver engaging and interactive content that retains the interest of your users as they progress through the course. This, however, is often counterbalanced against the need to author the content quickly. When your team has numerous hours of eLearning content to build, even a few minutes of inefficient authoring time can add up. Ideally, you would want to eliminate any repetitive elements (i.e., numerous rebuilds of almost identical screens) and reduce any dead time your authors may incur (i.e., publish or upload time). How can my authoring tool help me achieve these two juxtapositions?

Solution: Templates For Common Layouts, Superfast Course Preview, And Integrated Delivery

Ensure your authoring tool is working for your team and is enabling you to create engaging content fast across multiple authors. Ensure you can reuse pre-built templates for common screen layouts to reduce the authoring time of each screen and help arrive at a consistent feel to your course. When selecting your authoring tool, ensure you note any potential delay that may occur when previewing your course. Some authoring tools require you to wait seconds (or occasionally minutes!) to view a preview of the course you are building, and these precious seconds accumulate to a large productivity hit across all team members.

One More Tip

Ensure you evaluate each authoring tool in a production-like environment before making your ultimate decision, as there are potentially numerous inefficiencies that may only come to light after you have committed to a high software license cost. Look to trial the authoring tools where free trials are available, and also be on the lookout for monthly subscription models that allow you to utilize the software without a top-heavy license cost. There are numerous challenges when scaling up your authoring team capability, but your authoring tool should not be one.

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