10 Hidden Fees Associated With Free eLearning Authoring Tools

10 Hidden Fees Associated With Free eLearning Authoring Tools
Summary: Are free eLearning authoring tools really the best option for your organization? Or are there unexpected costs to consider? In this article, I'll share 10 hidden fees associated with free eLearning authoring tools.

Free eLearning Authoring Tools: 10 Hidden Fees To Consider

As the old adage goes "the best things in life are free". But does that also apply to eLearning authoring tools? Or are there hidden fees that you need to factor into your decision-making process? Calculating all the costs involved, allows you to create a more accurate eLearning budget and find the software that suits your needs. Here are 10 unexpected expenses that are commonly associated with free eLearning authoring tools.

1. Overage Fees

Some free eLearning authoring tools charge for extra users, online learners, or admins. For example, the platform is free of charge until you reach 100 online learners, at which point there is an extra charge for each active participant. As such, you should have a rough estimate of how many users you'll need to accommodate before choosing your next eLearning authoring tool. This helps to prevent possible overage fees or avoid them altogether by investing in paid software.

2. Upgrades & Updates

Does the software vendor automatically update the software to integrate the latest tech? Or do you have to pay for regular upgrades in order to make the most of the eLearning authoring tool? Many free eLearning authoring tools are equipped with the basics. However, you must pay extra for newer versions or updates that offer bigger and better features. Bring this up with the software vendor beforehand to verify which version you're getting, or to see if there's a low-cost, feature-rich alternative that may be better for your organization.

3. Online Support

There may be times when you need some guidance or troubleshooting tips. But does the free eLearning authoring tool come with online support options? Or is that an additional cost you need to consider? Support services may include a toll-free number, email contacts, FAQs, or online discussions. Some software vendors even offer on-site assistance. However, that's usually reserved for paid eLearning authoring tools.

4. Built-In Assets

A significant perk of using eLearning authoring tools is the built-in online asset library. For example, eLearning templates, themes, cut-out characters, and images that you can use at your discretion. However, free eLearning authoring tools usually have limited options or the assets may lack quality. For example, the video clips aren't in HD or there is only a handful of eLearning templates to choose from. In some instances, you may be able to pay extra for asset bundles or an expanded online library.

5. Add-On Apps

Certain free eLearning authoring tools come as stand-alone software. This means that you can add apps for a fee. As an example, you're able to download add-ons that allow you to create interactive simulations and serious games, or integrate social media into your eLearning course design. Explore the apps that are compatible with the free eLearning authoring tool and calculate the additional costs involved. For instance, you need to purchase 10 apps in order to make the tool functional for your organization. That may come with a high price tag.

6. Monthly Maintenance

Upkeep costs are always an important consideration. You must include monthly maintenance in your eLearning budget, such as updating the software, refreshing eLearning course materials, and associated hosting fees. For example, the eLearning authoring tool may host your eLearning course materials on their server for an additional fee. Meet with your eLearning team to create an itemized list of all monthly maintenance costs involved. They can also inform you of additional online resources, software, or add-ons they need to do their job effectively. For instance, after the first month of use, they might realize they need a handful of extra apps to optimize functionality.

7. Online Collaboration Tools

You must be able to review eLearning course materials, provide feedback, and communicate with remote team members. As such, your eLearning authoring tool needs to have built-in online collaboration tools. At the very least, it should support online collaboration app integrations so that you can work with your team from anywhere in the world. This may include video conferencing, task assignments, and eLearning course revision notes.

8. Training Fees Due To A Steep Learning Curve

Some free eLearning authoring tool options come at a high cost, especially when you factor in the training you'll need to use the software. This is particularly true for open-source platforms that aren't necessarily known for their intuitive user interface. Thus, you must consider the expense of a steep learning curve. How much time will it take to master the features and functions? Will you need to hire additional IT experts or graphic designers to utilize the eLearning authoring tool effectively?

9. Data Integration And Compatibility Issues

This hidden fee is two-fold. The ability to integrate or migrate your existing data may come at an extra cost. For example, to automatically import user information and transcripts. The second consideration is an indirect expense. Compatibility issues between the free eLearning authoring tool and your current software suite can lead to even more costs. For example, you'll need to foot the bill for replacement platforms. In some cases, you may be able to download apps or plug-ins in order to ease your compatibility concerns. However, that usually involves another hidden fee.

10. Brand Integration

Are you going to sell your eLearning course? Do you want to integrate your company logo and color scheme? If so, you should verify whether the free eLearning authoring tool allows for brand integration. For example, creating an eLearning template that features graphics, fonts, and borders that align with your brand image. Branding helps build credibility and provide a more cohesive eLearning experience.

Free eLearning authoring tools may not take a bit out of your eLearning budget. However, upfront fees aren't the only costs to consider. Support services, add-ons, and training time should all factor into the equation. In fact, you may want to think about a subscription or license-based platform if you require more features or functionality.

Are you thinking about using rapid eLearning authoring tools to develop your next eLearning course? Read the article 8 Advantages Of Using Rapid eLearning Authoring Tools to discover the top 8 benefits of rapid eLearning authoring tools that you may want to consider.