Does Free eLearning Authoring Come At A Cost? 6 Pros And Cons Of Rapid eLearning Authoring Tools

Rapid Or Open Source eLearning Authoring Tools?
WAYHOME studio/
Summary: Authoring in-house saves time and money if you use the right eLearning authoring tool. But everything has pros and cons, so what are the benefits and drawbacks of "short-cut" eLearning authoring tools?

Rapid Or Open Source eLearning Authoring Tools?

In fables and horror movies, taking a detour never ends well. The same could be said for everyday life, but reality sometimes commands speed. In terms of eLearning authoring tools, you may be hemmed in by budgetary constraints. Rapid eLearning authoring tools can help you chop your online training budget. Developing your own online training material could save thousands of dollars. Assuming you’ve done your research and chosen an eLearning authoring tool that’s worth the ROI, what are the pros and cons of this kind of eLearning software? Let’s take a look at the benefits and drawbacks of rapid eLearning authoring tools vs. open source eLearning authoring tools and see if free eLearning authoring comes at a cost.

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eLearning Authoring Tools Comparison Guide
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1. Pro: It’s Faster

It’s right there in the name. Rapid eLearning authoring tools drastically curtail the development duration of the online training course. In the wild—or rather, at software companies—designing an online training course could take months, maybe even years. If you outsource the task, it may be faster, though you’ll pay more. But once you buy the eLearning authoring tool yourself, there are no additional software expenses, with the exception of updates that aren’t covered by the eLearning vendor or additional asset packages. You can set your own schedule and finish making the online training course in no time! On the other hand, open source eLearning authoring tools require a tech-savvy eLearning designer and a significant amount of time to set up the platform as they have to customize the eLearning authoring tool to suit your online training needs.

2. Con: It’s Limited

The reason rapid eLearning authoring tools are so fast is eLearning templates. They’re built into the software, and you do need to do some tweaking and organizing. But you don’t have to code anything from scratch, which saves tons of time. That said, unless your eLearning authoring tool has solid import features, you can only work with what you have. So even if you have 100-course stencils, that's still a limit. It’s a generous one, but it’s still a boundary. Your creativity and scope are somewhat stifled because you can’t build what you want. You can only edit what you have. Open source eLearning authoring tools often give eLearning course designers more creative control since they can add more personal touches to the platform. That said, there are some rapid eLearning authoring tools these days that offer greater design flexibility.

3. Pro: Anyone Can Use It

A typical eLearning course creation team has a content person and a coder. In rare cases, it’s the same person. But in most corporate scenarios the person who knows most about mandatory online training topics doesn’t work in IT. So, these two experts have to align with each other. This is fine in a software company. It’s a little trickier in a regular organization where their other job responsibilities make it difficult to synchronize. Rapid eLearning authoring tools generally have WYSIWYG dashboards, so anyone can use them. You don’t need HTML or Java. A regular keyboard will do. This is in stark contrast to open source eLearning authoring tools, which require a vast amount of programming experience.

4. Con: Quality May Suffer

There’s a reason all those app-making professionals take the time to perfect their talents. Think of it this way, we can all draw a circle using a compass or an upturned glass. But there are fine art students who can draw perfect circles, freehand, while blindfolded. Rapid eLearning authoring tools can be used by anyone who knows their way around a computer. And while the result will suffice, it may not be the same as an online training course built by a professional techie. However, with the right skills and experience and an intuitive UI, you can produce engaging and immersive online training content. This is why it’s crucial to find a rapid eLearning authoring tool that suits the skillsets of your team.

5. Pro: It’s Efficient

Some people prefer organizations to run with military precision. They’re all about structure, patterns, and replicable systems. This kind of business does well with eLearning authoring tools. You can build online training courses in a reliable and predictable manner. And you can use your tried-and-tested methodology and your rapid eLearning authoring tool to create multiple (un)related online training products. You can even assess the exact ROI down to the second—and the cent!

6. Con: It Can Be Less Engaging

Again, the same features that make your eLearning authoring tool efficient can also make it uninspiring. When you’re opting for speed, you often do it at the risk of excitement and panache. You might opt for a screen-recorded template demo rather than a live shoot. Or a self-voiced audio clip with in-built sound-beds laid under your words. This is far less immersive than something recorded in a professional studio with paid actors and independent tracks. In another scenario, your rapid eLearning authoring tools could replace a well-crafted illustration with an eLearning infographic that uses icons from the eLearning software library. The latter works but it’s just not as stimulating. For this reason, it’s crucial to choose rapid eLearning authoring tools that do support interactive formats and multimedia. Possibly even eLearning authoring tools that include videos, cut-out characters, and sound effects to enhance the immersion.

Rapid eLearning authoring tools solve lots of the problems associated with creating your own online training content. Especially if you weigh them against open source platforms that require programming know-how and longer development timelines. Rapid eLearning authoring tools are more affordable than buying a canned online training course. They also allow you to retain corporate secrets because no outsiders get to see your online training content, which is always a risk when you hire external contractors to build your online training course. You’ll be able to finish your online training course quicker, you don’t need coders, and it frees you up for other office tasks. On the downside, you may have limited scope or your online training course won't be as stimulating. Shop carefully, buy the right eLearning authoring product, and find qualified eLearning content personnel. Use their skills to maximize the upsides and diminish the flaws of your rapid eLearning authoring tool.

eLearning Authoring Tools Comparison Guide: How To Pick The Right Platform For Custom eLearning Content Development is your go-to guide to help you analyze, compare, and contrast all the possible eLearning authoring tools that compliment your organization's goals. Download it to discover how you can choose the best platform for custom eLearning content development.