If you are an e-learning developer, certainly you would’ve come across the term called as “authoring tools” and I am pretty sure you must be using some or the other authoring tool to create the courses and modules for your e-learning project. In this blog, I will address the FAQs about authoring tools.

What is an authoring tool?

According to Wikipedia.org, “a content authoring tool is a software application used to create multimedia content typically for delivery on the World Wide Web. Content-authoring tools may also create content in other file formats so the training can be delivered on a CD (compact disc) or in other formats for various different uses. The category of content-authoring tools includes HTML, Flash, and various types of e-learning authoring tools.”

Why should you use an authoring tool?

Here are some of the reasons why authoring tools are used :

  • Simplifies Course creation

By using an authoring tool, you can easily create the courses with the help of templates. Even you can add media elements such as text, images and videos as per your requirement.

  • Customizing the module

By using authoring tools, you can customize the module as per your requirements (provided the source file was created in the same authoring tool or else you can extract the assets and then redesign it into a new authoring tool).

  • Collaboration

With the help of authoring tools you can collaborate with your entire team irrespective of their locations and you can utilize diverse team’s talent and expertise.

  • Multilingual

Even you can develop the module in different languages and with the help of translation, a single module can be developed in a variety of languages which comforts the user.

What are the formats in which authoring tools can give output?

Authoring tools  can give the output in the following formats :

SCORM Packages (1.2 and 2004)

HTML 5

Tin Can API (xAPI)

What are the different types of authoring tools?

Authoring tools can be classified into three different types :

  • PowerPoint Plugins

You can find this type of plugin in Microsoft Powerpoint application and it appears as a tab with its own ribbon. If you are familiar with PowerPoint as a tool for developing content then it is easier for you to use these tools for course creation. These are inexpensive tools and helps the Small and Medium enterprises to convert their traditional classroom courses into digital courses with minimum expenditure

Examples of these tools are: Articulate Studio and iSpring Presenter

  • Desktop Software

These e-learning software have to be installed on your computer in order to access the software. They act as standalone products and they come with wide variety of features, which help the developers to create the courses which are engaging and interactive

Ex: Articulate Storyline, Lectora Inspire

  • Cloud-Based software

Cloud-based software can be accessed anywhere, anytime and across a wide range of devices just by logging into a web browser. It offers instant access to the developers and it also supports collaborative development for remote teams. These software are easier to use and it has very good user interfaces as well.

Ex: Lectora online, Easy Generator

What are the pricing models?

Since rapid authoring tools market is a competitive one, the pricing models are more or less standardized into:

• Monthly subscription

Tools like Articulate Storyline offers monthly subscription plans starting from $199 to $ 499 depending upon the user.

• Annual subscription

Tools like Articulate 360 charges are $ 1299 per year per user payable annually

• Pay as you use

Some tools like Jackdaw Cloud offers Pay as you use model.

Are there any free authoring tools available ?

Yes, there are free authoring tools available in the market.  Please refer to my other blog to get the complete list .

How can I know which authoring tool is best for me/my organization?

The answer for this question depends on your requirement. If you want to develop basic modules just like a slide show presentation then Powerpoint Plugins are sufficient. However if you want to develop interactive and responsive e-learning courses then you can go with the powerful authoring tool such as Elucidate, Articulate 360 and Adobe Captivate 2017.

Moreover most of the authoring tools offer a trial period which ranges from 14 days to 60 days. During the trial period you can build a familiarity with the tool and accordingly make a purchase decision.

More companies are moving from traditional classroom learning to e-learning. By using an authoring tool it helps the organization to reduce the costs and to develop the courses faster and accomplish the organizational learning objectives.