The eLearning industry is awash with misconceptions about what authoring tools can and cannot do. This post looks at five common eLearning authoring tool myths to debunk some out-of-date thinking on the best possible use of authoring tools.
Authoring tools are the cornerstone of today’s online course development efforts. They allow learning professionals who don’t necessarily have coding skills—for instance, instructional designers and subject matter experts—to take an active part in the development of web-based eLearning resources.
Authoring tool technology has evolved in leaps and bounds over the years. So much so that it’s now widely accepted by the eLearning industry and organizations more generally. Yet with all the advances in authoring tool technology, there are still some widely-held misconceptions about these tools that can make learning directors hesitant.
Don’t let the many myths about eLearning authoring tools influence the way you create your own course content. Take a look at five of the most common myths surrounding authoring tools, and the truth behind those myths.
Authoring Tool Myth #1: Cloud-Based Solutions Are Not as Easy to Use as Desktop Tools
Not only is this untrue, we’d argue that cloud-based authoring tools are actually a quicker, easier and more cost-effective solution. Here’s why:
Desktop-based authoring tools must be downloaded and installed on individual computers. Once created, content has to be uploaded to a Learning Management System (LMS) so that learners can access it. In today’s busy working environment, these steps are neither efficient nor cost-effective. And certainly not always easy!
Enter Software as a Service or SaaS authoring. With this one-stop-shop solution, a cloud-based authoring and delivery tool can combine for the ultimate way to quickly and simply deliver essential training to your entire workforce. On a global scale—quickly and easily.
Downloading, installing and maintaining software on several machines required by a traditional desktop authoring tool—what’s so easy about that? A cloud-based solution saves that time and effort. Below are some other benefits of cloud-based authoring tools.
1.) Cloud-Based Solutions Can Deliver Content More Quickly
Course administrators can create content within the cloud, get courses approved, publish them instantly and distribute them from the cloud, with staff instantly on their way to getting everything they need to know.
2.) Cloud-Based Tools Offer More Collaborative Opportunities
Since all content is stored in the cloud, rather than on a single computer, it can be accessed on a multitude of devices, anywhere in the world. There’s no limit on who can work together. If your organization has global offices and wants to combine the expertise of your employees in widespread locations, switching to a cloud-based solution could facilitate much easier collaboration.
3.) Cloud-Based Tools Enable Instant Revisions
To revise and upgrade your content as changes occur, you simply need to log into the authoring tool and make the necessary changes.
Authoring Tool Myth #2: A Single Course Can’t Be Used Across Multiple Devices and Screen Sizes
This depends on the authoring tool you’re using. Not all eLearning authoring tools are created equally. The good news is that it’s totally possible to create eLearning content that automatically adjusts for screen size and device type (desktop, laptop, tablet or smartphone).
How? Through adaptive and responsive design. Both are responsible for controlling how eLearning content displays on a screen and across various devices, but they have some different qualities.
Adaptive design templates are usually pre-designed and are instantly ready to detect the device and screen width, able to present the viewer with the correct layout based on the device.
Responsive design adjusts one layout for optimal viewing. It doesn’t require the prior creation of different layouts. It “responds” to information it’s presented with automatically, and optimizes the size of an eLearning course using only one layout.
Below is an example of responsive design in Gomo, showing how a single course would look on a desktop, tablet and mobile phone.
Authoring Tool Myth #3: HTML5 Courses Don’t Look as Good as Old Flash-Based Courses
Flash was once the long-standing favorite for eLearning developers thanks to a combination of interactivity and high graphical quality. But that’s long since changed.
Modern browsers, smartphones and tablets all consume HTML5 by default. And HTML has evolved in leaps and bounds. Authoring tools that output HTML5 can now produce highly interactive and visually stunning courses, with rich animations, gesture support and beautiful graphics.
The rapid growth of HTML5 sealed the fate of Flash in the field of eLearning and beyond. And Flash will be completely scrapped by the end of 2020.
Authoring Tool Myth #4: eLearning Can’t Be Tracked Without an LMS
One of the key aspects of the development of an eLearning course is tracking learners’ activity—what are they doing in terms of networking, collaboration, and work assignments? How long are they spending on some course sections and are they struggling with assessments?
In the past, this was only possible via an LMS but now, for many learning professionals, the answer is found in xAPI. Unlike SCORM, (the traditional LMS standard), xAPI was developed to support new devices and technologies used in the digital learning environment. By collecting and analyzing data, content creators are able to identify trends and ensure that their audience is getting the most out of the eLearning experience.
Gomo automatically performs in-depth tracking on every single user event—even when learners are offline—giving learning professionals access to rich and detailed data to analyze and improve their learning programs.
The Gomo analytics dashboard allows you to view a detailed reports page where several different reports allow you to focus on project launches, completions, passes and failures; locations of course use; device types used and all tracked activities for the project. And with Gomo’s LMS wrapper, you can embed Gomo courses directly into any SCORM LMS. Your LMS users will immediately see the new version, saving you hours of time and hassle.
Authoring Tool Myth #5: It Takes Authoring Tools Ages to Create Content
If that were true, who would use these tools? When creating learning content, speed is important. Like any other business communication, your content has an expiration date. Changes in the business require new knowledge or training—compliance, for instance, or new product introductions.
If the issues that must be addressed affect business needs, you can bet there’s an urgency in response time. Here are three ways you can speed up eLearning content development:
1. Use Cloud-Based Authoring Tools
More than 54 million employees are currently involved in some form of remote work. So it’s increasingly likely you’ll be working with remote workers in different offices, as well as freelancers and agencies. Cloud-based eLearning tools, such as Gomo, allow multiple authors to work on one project simultaneously.
2. Look for Features That Streamline Your Work
Cloud-based eLearning tools can also help support a full end-to-end process for developing learning content. Work straight out of your prototype. There’s no need to switch tools and technology. Look for these features:
- One-tool work process
- Pre-built templates and themes
- Multi-device compatibility
3. Allow for Collaboration
Choose a system with inbuilt file management. Having the assets in the cloud means the people you collaborate with can use them without needing to access your internal networks.
Mythbusted: A Final Word on Authoring Tool Myths
The myths that surround eLearning authoring tools often influence decision-making. Give careful consideration to the role of the authoring tool in your L&D department: Gomo can provide the capabilities you need to break through the myths, and view eLearning developments with a positive eye. Embrace the power of eLearning authoring tools!
(A version of this post was originally published in October 2017. It has been refreshed to ensure it reflects current best practice).