If you are unfamiliar with elearning authoring tools and wondering how to use them. You are not alone. Corporate learning has had to shift over time to keep pace with workplace trends. One of the biggest workplace trends today is flexibility. According to a report by the Society for Human Resources Management, 69 percent of organizations allowed employees to work from home at least some of the time in 2019 and 27 percent of these companies offered full-time telecommuting arrangements. Michelle Armer, chief people officer at job site CareerBuilder, says this benefit will expand in 2020. So what does all this mean for corporate learning?
Basically, businesses need to cater to this fluid workplace style. No longer do you have someone working in the office all day. Some may be working at home, some on the road traveling and others may be working different schedules. Because of this learning needs to also be flexible and e-learning fosters this flexibility.
What is an e-learning authoring tool?
So when we talk about elearning authoring tools, what exactly does that mean? Basically, this tool is a software program used to create learning modules and training sessions. While more traditional classroom learning still has its place, we live in a digital age with flexible work options and there need to be tools to facilitate this online learning. Another way to think about it as a digital platform or vehicle to disseminate your training sessions to the employees.
Who can use content authoring tools?
Next, you may wonder what skill set is necessary to use elearning authoring tools. The short answer is you don’t need to be a computer programmer to use one. Most of these tools have built-in templates, support and features to make it easy to create your own courses. You can either create these from scratch or download pre-existing content. But with that being said some are more user-friendly than others and different tools have different functions.
Best practices for creating content using an authoring tool
Before we jump into comparing five great elearning authoring tools, let’s talk about creating content using one of these tools. If you are used to more traditional classroom training or are relying on PowerPoint presentations for your e-learning, how do you take your training to the next level? Here are six steps to get you started creating content.
1. Use the right e-learning authoring tool
The first step is to incorporate an e-learning authoring tool. While you can certainly create online courses without one, it will simplify the process and also organize your training program for your employees. So think about what features are more important to you? Also, think about what will work best for your learning team.
2. Research your learning audience
Before you can create new or refined learning courses, you’ll want to survey your employees. What are their learning needs? How do they feel your training program can be further improved? It’s important to ask questions around e-learning and how you can cater to workplace flexibility. Besides talking to your employees, look at your industry trends. What new skills and trends do your employees need to know in order to stay competitive within the industry? You may want to even consult an industry expert to get their thoughts. The more research you can do before you start your new e-learning program the better it will be once it’s rolled out.
3. Utilize e-learning templates
Like we’ve said before PowerPoint works fine for creating e-learning courses, but there are also various e-learning authoring templates available. You can either tweak these templates to fit your needs or by using one of the e-learning authoring tools you’ll have access to several templates. These are user-friendly and don’t require programming experience so it’ll be easier to get up and running quickly.
4. Choose cloud-based e-learning authoring tool
By choosing a cloud-based learning management system, it will offer an easy migration of current materials. Any training courses you have can be input into an LMS and modified. Plus, several offer branding and customization options. You can even create or input quizzes and other assessments as well as create a learning schedule for your employees.
5. Incorporate multimedia elements
The great part about content authoring tools is they offer endless options. Learning is no longer static presentations, but they can become robust by adding elements like video or podcasts. Not only will your learners by more engaged, but it will keep all your training materials organized. Employees can simply click on one training module and the links to other materials will be found in the same lesson. It will streamline the process.
6. Keep video, audio and graphics simple
On the flip side, you want to use video and other graphics to a happy medium. Too much multimedia can drown out your key learning takeaways. But you do want to include enough of these elements to break up large blocks of text and to keep the employee’s attention.
What to look for in an authoring tool?
There are several different options when it comes to choosing an authoring tool. And like we said what works for one company, may not work for the next. But by considering a few factors it will help you narrow down what’s most important when making a decision between providers.
Ease of use
Probably the most important element is how easy are elearning authoring tools to use? You’ll want to look at your team too. Do you have skilled programmers who need little guidance or do you have a small team that needs simple templates to begin? Several of these providers offer free trials so it’s a great way to test drive before you buy.
Although you are using a third-party provider, you still want control over the look and feel of your e-learning authoring tool. Things like can you add your logo, fonts or company colors? And how easy it to add these elements consistently? This is especially important if you have more than one team member creating these courses for your company.
Even if you don’t plan to grow currently, scalability is super important. You want a provider who can change if your company shifts direction. This may be expanding, but this could also mean pivoted in a different direction. Using a cloud-based provider will give you this flexibility. Plus, if you need to scale quickly, team members can be brought into use existing templates to create more training materials. And the templates are easily accessed from anywhere at any time.
If your e-learning authors will be collaborating together, it makes sense to look for a system that allows for comments and feedback. This allows for an online discussion between team members and other stakeholders. These comments can be recorded right on the page a person is reviewing clearly marked for others to weigh in. If you have a distributed team, this is a nice feature to have as well. This process also cuts down the need for emails, lengthy conference calls, and confusion as to what comments were recorded.
Since more and more employees are on their phones or away from their desks, it makes sense to look for e-learning authoring tools that are mobile-friendly. You want to write content once and have it available whether an employee is on a laptop, desktop or their phone. This not only makes it easy to create one set of content, but it makes it easier for your employees to get the same level of learning no matter what technology they are using. Plus a course could be started on a desktop and finished on a laptop.
Content is always going to need to be refreshed, reworked and created. So having an e-learning authoring tool that can maintain your standards for content is key. Again cloud-based providers are better than desktop options since materials can be pulled and changed quickly no matter who is accessing the files.
If your company is global or you use contractors from other countries, you’ll want a provider who can translate your courses into different languages easily. Look for an e-learning authoring tool with either a plug-in option or one with a built-in translation workflow.
If your team’s main function is course authoring and not programming, you’ll want to look for e-learning authoring tools with flexible templates. In other words, you want options of several different types of templates without the headache of programming language needed. Take a look at a provider’s library of options. Do they offer interactive options? Can you drag and drop components easily? Are they set up to add multimedia elements?
You want elearning authoring tools that gives you the needed integrations. You want to incorporate existing programs with your e-learning authoring tool and this can be easily accomplished through the integrations offered by a provider. That way other tools and content from various vendors you already work with can track learning progress.
You’ll also want to look for e-learning authoring tools that offer feedback. Analytics, charts, and reports are important for learning what’s working and what’s not within your courses. Then based on what you learn you can further refine your program. So you want a tool that has enough functionality that you give you insight.
What tools are available?
Now that you know what features to look for in e-learning authoring tools, which provider is best for you? What companies should you compare? We’ve listed the top five content authoring tools. We’ll break down their different features and capabilities so you can judge for yourself which one works best for your company and training needs.
Continu offers a versatile cloud-based interface and is one of the only LMS companies offering a blended learning tool for both online and classroom training. Their platform is easy to use, doesn’t over complicate the implementation process, and keeps up with changing technology. Besides using Continu as an LMS, the platform is also a knowledge base or Intranet system which helps cut company costs and save time. Learning Tracks is how administrators create courses, facilitate onboarding flows, quizzes, and more. Continu is also an authoring tool which means companies can create training materials directly onto this platform without the aid of third parties.
Bridge by Instructure is an outcome-based talent management system for companies large and small. This company provides training, development, and a platform to bring companies together to better retain their current workforces. Bridge is a performance management software that helps define new company strategies, new decisions with analytics, and promotes employee and management development. Some of the features include continuous innovation and advancement, and customer service support. With Bridge, companies can achieve happier and well-trained employees.
Allego’s mission is to give sales teams and other employees the tools to succeed through accessing and using knowledge. What sets them apart from others is a unique training platform. Instead of a one-size-fits-all approach with long training sessions, they offer more of a modern approach to learning. Allego feels this learning that combines technology and brain science is better than long training sessions resulting in obsolete material that is forgotten easily. With their learning platform, they aim to help sales reps close deals easier and faster.
TalentLMS is a cloud-based LMS that is SCORM and TinCan certified. Users can easily transfer presentations, videos, and other online material through their integrations. Plus, administrators can create custom domains, logos, and themes.
5. Absorb LMS
Absorb LMS is a learning management system that offers an HTML5-based user interface that works well with companies’ various hardware platforms. This technology works on smartphones, tablets, and desktop computers. Absorb LMS gives self-guided lessons that have tasks, videos, quizzes, documents, surveys, exams, and more. The learning materials enable users to access only the materials like or are required by the company. Companies can buy a standard version or upgrade with an add-on called Mercury Module. While Absorb LMS offers an extensive list of features, it is also a bit pricey and may not work for smaller companies.
How will you take your course authoring to the next level?
Now that you know how course authoring tools can help expand your training platform, which partner will you choose? By comparing and contrasting their different key features, you’ll find a provider who will become a strong learning partner for you. So take the next step and add elearning authoring tools to your company and reap the benefits of employee e-learning.