The term authoring tool can mean many things to people working in different industries. For some it can mean software that creates multimedia while to others it can reference software that’s used to create web pages. Meanwhile, to the learning and development industry, it typically means software that builds online courses. However, with the variety of authoring tools available, this still means that questions need to be answered.
What is an authoring tool?
In the world of eLearning, an authoring tool is software that’s used to create lessons and courseware. It’s traditionally been expensive to purchase and complicated to use. Modern eLearning authoring tools are becoming simpler thanks to the introduction of elaborate templates and shorter, microlearning-based lessons. These make it simpler to create effective company training programs as fewer people and less-qualified skill-sets are required to create learning content.
Authoring tools are primarily responsible for driving the success of employee training. Designing aesthetic, engaging and effective microlessons becomes a seamless operation when utilizing an easy-to-use, good authoring tool.
Authoring Tool Feature Set
It’s incredibly useful for authoring tools to use templates. This allows incredible, interactive, potentially-gamified microlessons to be produced simply by adding existing content to them. It also opens the door to Peer Learning as anyone can create a lesson.
Cloud authoring tools are different to standard ones, whereby they are designed for the modern learner. It enables L&D instructors to distribute new or updated content from a central cloud-based system, delivered straight to the personal devices of employees. With a cloud authoring tool, content is constantly saved in the trusty cloud, simultanesouly providing users with the ease of publication at any given time. The tool also enhances collaboration, whereby users are able to demonstrate their knowledge, compared against that of their counterparts, known as social learning.
Breaking learning material into bite-sized microlessons is incredibly effective for training: learners can learn about a topic in minutes and it has a much better chance of sticking. It’s one of the most important features of any eLearning authoring tool so look for microlearning when comparing features.
When learners are enjoying themselves, they won’t even notice that they’re learning. By gamifying your learning content (and potentially making it competitive or adding prizes) it becomes highly effective. Read more about gamification, here.
Learning is most effective when it doesn’t feel like learning. By transforming simple questions and answers into games using templates, it’s simple to create engaging micro lessons that are actually fun to complete.
If a free eLearning authoring tool has a leaderboard feature then everyone can see how everyone else is performing – whether it’s individuals or groups. This can motivate the competitive learners along with those who are performing poorly.
Smartphone ownership is nearing ubiquity so it makes sense to select a free eLearning authoring tool that is optimised for mobile. If an LMS simply is compatible with mobile it can offers a poor user experience and be annoying to use – which distracts from learning. With bright, vibrant screens and powerful computing power, m learning is capable of offering an engaging, interactive learning experience.
Distributing content to mobile devices makes sense as learners all have smartphones and they happily engage with them more than their work-based computers. They can access lessons wherever they are in the world, learn at their own convenience and their own pace and you can notify them of new courses and prizes and deadlines using push notifications. However, when making your eLearning authoring tool comparison, be sure that the resulting courseware isn’t simply compatible with mobile – if it’s fiddly and annoying to use, learners won’t engage with it. Ensure that lessons are designed to work on mobile as a priority. That way they can access learning like it’s a smartphone game.
Import/Export to SCORM
With your authoring tool, you should be able to import your existing SCORM content and to export your newly created learning material to SCORM. Being a widely-compatible format, SCORM can be used to integrate legacy platforms with EdApp, making it a versatile and incredibly useful tool for myriad organisations. EdApp’s free, mobile-based authoring tool allows users the option to import and export course content to SCORM or to use the integrated LMS.
Investing in a separate authoring tools and learning management system software won’t bother multinational companies who can easily absorb the expense. However, what does make a difference to organizations of all sizes, is managing and running those different systems. Both authoring and LMS software have the potential to be incredibly complex – thereby requiring specialist operators, developers and managers for each. Employing such people can be an enormous headache for HR people who are already tasked with delivering the training software and the training!
However, it doesn’t need to be so difficult. Even if your organisation already has a sizeable investment in existing course authoring systems, adding a lightweight, mobile authoring LMS allows you to quickly and easily create microlearning courses using templates – you just upload the questions and answers. The result is effective, easy-to-produce (and update) microlessons that can be distributed to learners, globally, via the cloud.
Distributed practice is a highly-effective form of learning and the best free eLearning authoring tools have it built-in. With smartphones remembering which answers learners got right, they can focus on content that learners got wrong, making it more effective to use.
Many will remember when Google Translate was a novel tool that could translate individual words and basic phrases. Many will also be unaware that Google’s cloud translation technology is now A.I.-based and dramatically more powerful. As such it can enhance eLearning courseware tools and save organisations time and money through automating translation for global, multi-lingual user-bases.
Instructional designers and L&D professionals will tell you that getting people to complete their courses can be like herding cats. However, with push notifications going directly to their smartphone, it’s simple to advise them of new courses, prizes won or looming deadlines.
Co-workers can make excellent and effective teachers. Colleagues will engage with them better (as well as the content and context) as they can identify with them and relate to everything. When comparing eLearning authoring tools, check for built-in Peer Learning features.
Comparing things sometimes takes an expert eye.
The primary differentiator between authoring tools is its functionality and aesthetic. EdApp’s forward-thinking authoring tool provides users with exclusive access to a vast library of exceptional templates, proving to be considerably more time and cost effective. All you need to do is import your unique content into the ready-made template, enabling the creation of whole microlessons in a matter of minutes or hours, rather than days or weeks.
Our templates vary in their functions, allowing managers to pick and choose which templates they would like to use for specific content. We have three predominant template categories to significantly boost your existing employee learning program.
Knowledge transfer encapsulates the utilization of microlessons to transfer knowledge to learners for the first time. With multimedia or web content authoring tools, this is achieved through features such as narration, video, text and images to fully immerse users in a positive and informative learning environment, contributing to personal and professional development.
Interactive templates are a front-running feature of our authoring tool, responsible for lessons being completely interactive, using engaging UI/UX. Interactivity has been proven to significantly increase the rate of how much content is understood by learners in their first interaction with new material. The consolidation of knowledge has been made a seamless experience with interactive templates.
Gamified learning is at the forefront of mobile learning success, whereby authoring tools adopt the strategy for the reinforcement of key concepts, whilst simultaneously ensuring message retention. Game templates provide learners with tactile challenges, requiring them to virtually perform skills which are easily transferable to practical application in the real world.
Let’s break these three categories down into 8 specific templates.
Content templates showcase new knowledge to learners for the first time, creating an initial learner-content interaction. They must be clear and concise in order for learners to understand the content and to be intrigued to learn more.
Concepts templates are used to teach various individual concepts, usually requiring learners to create and filter presented statements. This embeds the knowledge in learners’ long-term memories, avoiding the risk of Ebbinghaus’ Forgetting Curve or cognitive overload.
Multiple Choice Templates
Multiple choice templates are common in training programs and are primarily used to consolidate key concepts through the selection of one option. The exposure of varying responses to one question works well to test learners on their knowledge by requiring the retrieval of pre-learnt knowledge.
Numbers templates are dedicated to asking numbers-based questions, facilitating familiarity with numerical concepts.
Relationships templates allow learners to match concepts to gain a holistic understanding of specific concepts. This promotes a chunking strategy, whereby similar concepts can be bunched in the learner’s brain to create a greater understanding of an overarching topic.
Games templates utilize gamification to engage and motivate learners. Interactive questions are presented to learners in various forms in an attempt to reinforce essential content.
Feedback is essential in the action learning cycle, whereby learners and L&D managers are encouraged to provide thoughts and opinions on course content. Survey templates facilitate feedback through asking learners to provide a short response to the quality and content of lessons. This information can be effectively used by managers to improve, adjust or maintain lessons in the future.
Advanced templates offer a higher level of unique features, unlocking the full potential of your authoring tool. This way, lessons become multi purposed and more complex.
If you would like to learn more about these 8 template categories, click here.