12 Tips to Choose the Best e-learning Authoring Tool for your Business
An e-learning authoring tool makes or breaks a corporate training program. This is because an authoring tool lays down the bricks and mortar at the right places, and fills the concrete to build a sturdy learning course for the employees.
Employees are choosing an organization that has an active learning environment to help them upskill at their job. L & D teams are scaling up employee learning and development programs to retain employees. But, this is a tough process, and it takes time. Authoring tools help L & D teams to accelerate this process. With the help of the right authoring tools, L & D teams can fulfill the employees’ needs of acquiring new skills on the job without compromising on quality
The question is - how will an L & D team know which authoring tool is the right one for them? But, before that, let’s be clear about authoring tools and how they help.
What is an authoring tool?
An authoring tool is learning software that allows you to create learning courses and training programs in an easy and thoughtful manner. Easy because most of them come with in-built templates that you can use and customize to build content in your style. Thoughtful because you can mix different types of content like images, text, animations and videos into your content. This way you can keep the learning experience exciting for the learner.
But, that’s not all about the authoring tools. They also have interactive features which you can use to run quizzes, use on-screen objects like sliders, variables and markers to assist the learners. At the end of the course, authoring tools also help to assess how the employees have fared. How much of the course material they have retained and how you can improve the course content to make it more effective.
How to choose the best e-learning authoring tool?
When it comes to choosing the right authoring tool, a lot of it depends on what your expectations are from the tool. This differs from one organization to another. With that said, we have tried our best to list the most common factors you should consider while making an investment in an authoring tool
1. Overall usability
There is no point in investing in an authoring tool that has all the bells and whistles, but is tough for your team to use. When it comes to selecting learning tools, we suggest you choose ease of use over features. This is because a tool that has an easy user interface and is convenient to collaborate with your team, you will produce better results and faster.
2. Theme options
The in-built themes in an authoring tool help you to get started quickly. You can select a theme, add your branding elements to it like color and logo, paste your content and your course is ready. Basically, you don’t have to worry about starting from scratch. With themes, it is also simple to guide other team members, especially new ones, to create content on their own. But, this is possible only with those tools that allow you to place the logo and use brand colors the way you want it. This way you can create a customized theme for your organization which your team can keep as standard no matter what learning content they’re creating.
3. Learner’s requirements
So long we covered how the appearance and features of a tool can help you decide if it’s the right choice for your team and organization. But, deciding on a tool also depends on your learners' needs. How familiar are they with interactive learning? Do they prefer a more nimble slideshow kind of learning course? These are some questions that you would want to ask the employees to gauge their technical exposure and learning expectations. With that in mind, you will be more confident in choosing an authoring tool that’s right for you and the employees
4. Budget and cost
Always ensure that you have sufficient budget to afford the tool that is on your top list. Getting a budget approved before proceeding with the selection will help you set boundaries. If you find yourself in a spot where you have to make a choice between two tools - one that has more features, but also costs premium. And, the other that has less number of features, but fits into your budget. Then do a cost-benefit analysis to make the best choice. If the one that costs premium has practical features which your team will use on a regular basis, then it makes sense to stretch your budget. While you consider the initial investment amount, don’t forget to factor in the maintenance cost. A tool that has more features will require more time to train your team. Besides, some features might require a separate integration to use it fully which ultimately will increase your cost
5. Tool compatibility
If you’re already using a Learning Management System (LMS), then you have to ensure that the new authoring tool is compatible to work with your LMS. This will help in syncing the data that you create in one tool with the other. If the authoring tool SCORM is compliant, then there is a high chance that it will easily integrate with your LMS.
As your team becomes more familiar with the tool, you might want to add more features or customization to have better control over the deliverability. In another instance, if your L & D team scales to different locations, then you might want to give access to the new members joining from different locations. Either or both can happen. Therefore, when you choose the right tool for you, check how easy it is to scale its functionality. How quickly it could adapt to your needs and how it performs along the way
7. Device support
As the work environment has become dynamic with employees having the freedom to choose between work from home or office, corporate training has become dynamic too. To support your employees’ learning needs no matter where they’re working, the authority tool should work on different platforms including mobile devices. The advantage of this is that you can readily update content on your authoring tool, and your LMS delivers it on the device employees are using instantly. There is no back and forth required. Everyone gets complete access to the learning content without any hindrance
8. Language support
Multiple language support is crucial when you’re creating a learning course for employees in different geographical locations who speak different languages. An authoring tool that has an in-built translation feature will allow you to translate your content by uploading a file or a document. This will expedite the process without requiring extra resources or additional investment
9. Cloud vs on premise
If you constantly create learning courses and other online training programs for employees, then cloud-based authoring tools will be a better option for you. As you create more courses or update the older versions of content, you will require more manpower to do that. In the case of an on-premise tool, you have to buy extra licenses and your team cannot work on an urgent issue or some other task at the same time. A cloud-based app is more flexible as it is easy for anyone to take control and get things done more swiftly
10. Feedback exchange
It’s no surprise that creating a corporate learning program requires an all hands-on deck approach. With that said, to make the course wholesome there is frequent feedback and suggestions from the reviewer and other members in the team. We recommend choosing an authoring tool that facilitates such discussions without anyone getting overwhelmed or losing information. In-built features that help everyone to comment, track the status of it, brainstorm ideas and resolve issues will help to have a transparent process
Not just the deliverability, the outcome of an e-learning course should also be measurable in an authoring tool. However, the number of metrics that you can measure depends on what you’re looking for. For example, if you want to run quizzes within the course and analyze how the employees have fared, then you will need an advanced module. But, if you want to track basic metrics like how many employees attended the course and the average time spent, then you can settle for a lower trim of the authoring tool.
12. Level of support
During the course of using an authoring tool, it’s possible that you might run into technical glitches or lack of understanding about a particular feature. At such times, you would need the vendor’s support to resolve the issue. If you have a trained team who are experienced handling such issues, then you might not require heavy support from the vendor. But, if your team is less experienced, then going for a premium support option will be more advisable. So that the support team is always available to help you on chat, email and phone.
Authoring tools are an essential investment for organizations that are serious about creating a learning environment. But, to make that decision you have to be cautious about the factors that will help you make that decision. This blog compiles all the necessary elements that you should be aware of. By all means, discuss them with your team and find out if there are a few more that will help to make a more calculated choice.