Choosing An Instructional Design Software 101

How To Choose The Right Instructional Design Software 101 For You
Summary: In the absence of an experienced Instructional Designer, Instructional Design software or rapid authoring tools are making it easier for companies to develop rich and interactive courses nonetheless. Looking for Instructional Design software tools? Use our guide to popular course authoring software.

Instructional Design Software 101: Which Tool Is Right For Me?

Instructional Design is the art and science of producing quality eLearning, is the key to building engaging and compelling content for your learners. Good online learning experiences begin with assessing the learner needs and determining expected outcomes, then using learning and instructional theory to design the teaching or training.

Fortunately, an abundance of Instructional Design software and related tools make this process easier than ever before.

Frameworks Or Models For Instructional Design

While choosing the right training technology is important, having an Instructional Design strategy in place before you begin your online course development project should be the first step.

If you haven’t adopted one yet, start by choosing a framework that works best for your training team. Several Instructional Design frameworks are available including Rapid Prototyping, Dick and Carey, SAM, and the popular ADDIE model.

Rapid Prototyping is an iterative approach where learning is developed in a continual design-evaluation cycle. Similarly, SAM, an acronym for Successive Approximation Model, is a rapid development model where analysis, design, and development can all take place at the same time.

The Dick and Carey model, popular in schools and educational environments, uses 9 stages [1], beginning with identifying instructional goals and ending with conducting a summative evaluation.

The ADDIE (Analysis, Design, Development, Implementation, and Evaluation) model [2], prevalent in business and organizational environments, uses a serial process where each phase is perfected before moving on to the next one.

Some Learning Management Systems even have their own framework already built in, making it that much easier for the Instructional Designer to get started. SchoolKeep uses a 5-step methodology, called The Beginner's Guide to Creating an Online Training Program, which guides the Instructional Designer from defining the learner needs to starting designing, creating content, marketing the course, and providing access and, finally, measuring the success of the online training.

Choosing The Right Instructional Design Software Tool

When deciding which Instructional Design software to use, give some thought to these questions:

  • What can your organization afford? Explore free, open source options as well as commercial software.
  • What types of files and images will you be working with? Will your output easily upload to your LMS?
  • What functionality do you need? Are you creating videos, audios, or gamifying your online course? Do you need to collect data to assess the effectiveness of your content?
  • Does the product come with training or online support? How easy is the product to learn? Are there others in your organization or network using the tool?

A Roundup Of Common Instructional Design Tools

Whether you’re just getting started in the industry or you’re looking around for new and better tools to help design and create your online learning, it’s helpful to know what others in the eLearning community are using and writing about.

The contributors at in their webpage on eLearning Authoring Tools write about challenges and opportunities surrounding course development, as well as the full range of course authoring tools available today — including these:

  • Adobe Captivate
    A rapid response HTML-based authoring tool which is used to create eLearning content such as software demonstrations and simulations, randomized quizzes and branched scenarios.
  • Articulate Storyline
    Suitable for beginners and experts alike, it creates interactive eLearning courses, content, and quizzes. With a styled PowerPoint interface, it includes built-in functions and templates, screencasting and a rich character library.
  • iSpring Suite
    It turns PowerPoint slides into online courses, creates quizzes and surveys. It also records lectures or your screen as you teach and turns them into online videos. Includes a screencasting tool and character library.
  • SoftChalk Cloud
    Primarily used in education, it is an eLearning solution with content creating, sharing, and delivery. Combine existing content (Word, PowerPoint, PDFs, videos) with web resources (videos, web widgets, textbook media) to create interactive web-based modules.
  • Brainshark
  • A cloud-based tool that enables users to create presentations, using a wide variety of media types including PowerPoint, PDFs, web pages and more. Add attachments, interactive surveys, and quizzes.
  • Articulate Studio
    It is designed to transform PowerPoint slides into an online course quickly. Easy to add quizzes, interactive activities, videos and audio.
  • Articulate 360
    It includes Storyline, Rise for quick and simple design, and Review for reviewing content.
  • Elucidat
    It enables you to produce different versions of your learning content in multiple languages, through its translation feature. It also includes an analytics feature that provides a dashboard for viewing how your learners access the course, how long they spend viewing it and at what point they left the content.
  • Adobe Presenter Video Express
    It enables Instructional designers to create eLearning videos quickly, add comments or highlight key points. It includes an assessment tool to ask learners questions.
  • Lectora Publisher
    It creates interactive, multimedia content for eLearning. It supports a wide variety of media files and is LMS compatible. Includes a review tool for SMEs to review a course and provide feedback.
  • gomo learning
    It provides 2 great products that enable you to create, host, update, and track beautiful multi-device learning, anywhere. gomo creates responsive and adaptive HTML5 content automatically.
  • Easygenerator
    It is an online eLearning authoring tool for people without an eLearning background. Create courses and quizzes and host them in our cloud and see learner’s results at no extra charge. Uploading to your website or LMS is also possible.

For those who want to take a deeper dive into more tools, published a comprehensive list of Instructional Design software in its Top Course Authoring Software Products. The list can be filtered by product rating, a number of users, features and whether it is cloud-based or installed.

A Simple Way To Get Started With All Your Tools In One Place

In many ways, the choices for Instructional Design software can be overwhelming, and the hunt for new tools time-consuming. Some Learning Management Systems essentially replace the need for stand-alone software by having built-in course authoring software.

Add in a framework designed to work with the LMS, include a media library to host your videos, presentations, SCORM and other media, roll them all into one complete solution, and now you don’t need to be an expert to efficiently produce quality eLearning courses.

In fact, investing in an LMS with a built-in course authoring tool and an Instructional Design framework may be a better long-term decision for your organization. Being able to develop course content and publish your course all within one platform may decrease your learning curve, your workload and, ultimately, company costs.



  1. Dick and Carey Model
  2. ADDIE Model
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