There’s a wide variety of LMS authoring tools on the market and they come in a price range that stretches from free to eye watering. Some are standalone products while others are integrated into Learning Management Systems. The effectiveness of the courseware they produce, as with eLearning in general, varies considerably. So, whether you’re looking to replace your current system or augment it, we detail what you need to know about authoring tools plus which features you should look for.
What are LMS authoring tools?
LMS Authoring tools are computer software that creates eLearning-based training courses and lessons. The resulting courseware then gets sent to a Learning Management System (LMS) which then distributes it to learners. The learners engage with content and answer questions about it while the LMS records their performance.
Which LMS authoring tool features make the best authoring tool?
eLearning courses tend to be dull and ineffective. Adult learners are harder to educate as it is without forcing them to take long boring courses on subject matter that may not be very interesting or relevant. This situation is often worsened by courseware typically being produced on a one-size-fits-all basis by a singular training company who then distributes it to multiple client organisations using the most unsophisticated features possible (usually a SCORM file to maximise compatibility and market size). The course author is unlikely to get feedback regarding the success of the course, the course content won’t be directly relatable to those taking it as it’s not tailored to their own organisation. Furthermore, courses frequently become old and out-of-date because updates are expensive and time consuming to produce. So how can LMS authoring tools be better?
Mobile based microlearning to the rescue
Microlearning is a thriving element of eLearning that is dramatically improving learning. While typical eLearning courses see completion rates that struggle to surpass 20 per cent, mobile-based microlearning courses regularly hit 90 per cent and beyond. The following are the features of LMS authoring tools that help make this possible:
Mobile first. Most eLearning courseware will function on mobile devices but not well. The user experience is frequently poor with interactions being fiddly and presented information not matching the screen size. These distractions make learning ineffective and annoying. However, when LMS authoring tools that are designed to work primarily on smartphones are used, the experience becomes more engaging and effective. Videos look great on modern phone screens and the touchscreen interface, backed with powerful computing chips, allows for an engaging interactive experience and effective learning.
Templates. The idea of creating interactive lessons might well ring alarm bells regarding the complexity and expense of course creation. However, good LMS authoring tools will make use of microlearning templates that turn even the most basic question and answers into interactive quizzes and even games.
Spaced Repetition. Spaced repetition is an ancient learning technique that has become increasingly popular in recent years. By repeating a course with increasing gaps in between iterations, knowledge becomes cemented into long-term memory. Naturally, doing this with long and boring eLearning courses is impractical. However, if a short microlesson is being repeated on a mobile phone, learning becomes more effective.
Peer Learning. Experts state that up to one-third of training should come from colleagues. This makes sense as external course creators will not know more about your own organisation’s customers, practices, processes, clients and policies than the people already within it. But regular workers aren’t L&D professionals or authoring tool experts. However, by using simple, template-based LMS authoring tools, only a basic technology competence is required to create an interactive and engaging lesson. At worst, a topical expert might need a little help from someone to upload the questions and answers. When learners are taught by colleagues and tasks that they can recognise and relate to, learning becomes much more effective. It also makes the new teachers feel valued and learners feels like they are growing professionally.
Cloud distribution. eLearning courses take weeks to create and are large in file size. They’re naturally difficult to distribute across large workforces as internet infrastructure becomes an issue. However, if LMS authoring tools are creating lessons that can easily be accessed by using an app in the major app stores, lessons (and updates) can be distributed globally in an instant.
Just-in-time training. JIT training is on-demand training and refers to training that can be delivered when needed. It’s superior to ‘just in case’ training which tends to be delivered long before it is required and is easily forgotten. The lessons created by mobile-based microlearning are easy to access right before they are needed and the knowledge is subsequently less likely to be forgotten.
Rapid authoring and agility. The ability for LMS authoring tools to create a lesson quickly mean that c==ourses can also updated very quickly. Rather than an old course referencing a case study from the 1990s, it’s far more engaging and effective to use up-to-date information that might cite events that were reported on the news the night before. With template-based microlearning you can author in the morning and distribute in the afternoon.