Types of E-learning Authoring Tools

Calendar Icon March 15, 2022
Reading Time Icon Read Time: 3 min
By Firmwater

Choosing the right e-learning software and authoring tools for your business will depend on several factors, such as technical ability, the volume of e-learning that your company produces, the size of your team, and your budget.

E-learning software is a broad term that refers to the many elements within a learning technology stack, such as:

  • Learning management system (LMS)
  • E-learning authoring tools

Let’s go over the different types of e-learning authoring tools.

Why do you need a course authoring tool?

E-learning authoring tools create content that can be shared over the internet/digitally, and they can produce a SCORM file. Other benefits of e-learning authoring tools include:

  • Creating content that is dynamic and interactive, which can drive learner engagement
  • Developing templates for quicker production of courses
  • Being able to turn your in-person training into e-learning

Now that you understand why you might want to use an e-learning authoring tool, we can discuss the different types of authoring tools.

Types of e-learning authoring tools

E-learning authoring tools can be broken down into two main categories: SCORM compliant and non-SCORM compliant. What’s the difference between the two?

SCORM-compliant tools can:

  • Produce a SCORM file, which can be loaded into an LMS
  • Create training materials that can be tracked using completion reports in the LMS

Examples of Non-SCORM-compliant content include MP3s, MP4s, PDFs, and PowerPoint files. While these traditional tools are ubiquitous in the training industry, they inherently lack the ability to track and measure success in an e-learning setting. Some LMS will place video in a SCORM wrapper, enabling the LMS to track a user’s progress and completion. But to create dynamic learning experiences, you should consider converting your static learning materials using an e-learning authoring tool. Now, let’s talk about the different ways to access e-learning authoring tools.

On the desktop or in the cloud

Desktop types of e-learning authoring tools need to be installed on a computer, and you’ll have to upgrade them by purchasing and downloading the new software manually. These types of tools can be expensive and range in price, starting at $2,000 or more.

Cloud-based programs are accessed using a web browser. They can be updated remotely, so any new features can be accessed without installing new software. Cloud-based tools are also typically less expensive and easier to use due to the offered features. You can dive right into creating courses.

M-learning course authoring tools

Various types of e-learning authoring tools can create mobile learning (M-learning). They can create courses best completed on a mobile device or tablet, better known as a mobile-first design. E-learning authoring tools that can create mobile-first designs are often apps that can be downloaded to the mobile device. Learners download a package that includes documents, videos, and other training materials.

Mobile-first training can be built using SCORM- and non-SCORM-compliant tools, such as Adobe, videos, and PDFs. Other options include companies like Arist.co, whose software creates text messages that can be pushed to the learners’ mobile devices. Courses built with tools like Articulate Rise or Adapt provide a webpage-like experience in that they scroll vertically, not horizontally like slides.

So, when do you use any of these types of e-learning authoring tools?

How to determine the best type of e-learning authoring tool for your project

Although these questions are not exhaustive, here are a few to get you started. These can be asked either internally or to your clients:

  • Why are you creating the training?
    • To onboard new employees?
    • To help learners retain critical compliance information?
    • To teach clients, business partners, or vendors about your products or services?
  • What is the purpose of the training content?
    • To change employees’ behavior?
    • To reduce safety incidents?
    • To ensure that your organization passes a re-certification audit?
  • Who are the learners? Do they sit at a desk? Are they on the go? Do they have any prior knowledge?
  • How will the learners interact with the training content? Will it be loaded into an LMS?

These questions will help you select the types of e-learning authoring tools that best serve the training program.

Conclusion: Putting it all together

Understanding a few fundamentals will make it easier to select the correct types of e-learning authoring tools. Ask yourself:

  • Who is my learner?
  • What is the purpose of the training content?
  • Where will the learner complete the training?
  • How will the learner interact with the training?

Here are a few additional resources on the topic:

Here at Firmwater, we don’t just sell an LMS for training providers. We partner with our clients, giving them the tools and insights they need to implement the best practices in e-learning course development, growth, and delivery. We care too much about our customers’ businesses to have them wade through forums and chatbots for help.

Ready to use an LMS that’s designed for the way YOU work, with a team dedicated to YOUR needs? Book a no-obligation consultation directly with our team today!

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