What are the most important features of an eLearning authoring tool?

The 5 most important features of an eLearning authoring tool

Gaining and maintaining the attention of learners has never been more important than it is today. The right multi-device eLearning authoring tool creates a solid foundation for a wide variety of users to create flexible and engaging learning environments that learners enjoy spending time in. Here are five features to consider when selecting an authoring tool.

1) Continuous scroll

Social and behavioral trends in digital media have had a direct effect on the way that eLearning is designed and developed. One of the most mainstream user features is continuous scroll. It’s particularly popular for mobile and tablet browsing and is a fast and familiar way to move through content with a flick of a finger-clicking and waiting for pages to load has become outdated. Using continuous scrolling in your eLearning creates an immersive environment and enables game-oriented elements like scroll-activated animations. Features like scrolling parallax screens (where background graphics move more slowly than foreground graphics, creating an illusion of depth) develop a narrative effect that guides the learner through content in a meaningful way. The best eLearning authoring tools help you create screens that navigate intuitively for the next generation of learners. They get the freedom to roam in a fun, familiar environment and learning designers achieve the best results when it comes to developing engaging content.

2) Multiple language support

The demand for localized learning has never been greater, and many eLearning designers are very familiar with the quirks of developing multiple versions of a course in different languages. The challenges of content overruns and graphics that include text that reads from right to left, sit side-by-side with the kind of cultural re-positioning of content that only professional translators can tackle. These complications can drastically affect the look and feel of a course as well as the time and money it takes to roll it out across linguistic boundaries.

There is now a way out of this tangled content web that supports multiple languages within a single course. Learning designers can select the default and secondary languages to be used so that the structure can be set up within the course to support every version. XLIFF files containing the original written content, graphics descriptions, and asset identifiers, are then exported to the translation experts. Files can be re-imported when the translation experts have worked their magic, producing a single course with multiple, selectable languages embedded into content blocks that adjust themselves automatically. It’s a dream come true for learning designers everywhere!

3) Cloud-based authoring

Most of us now know that being cloud-based has nothing to do with the weather. It’s about storing content remotely on the web rather than keeping it on a hard drive under your desk. Many of the online services we use daily – Facebook and PayPal amongst them – are cloud-based. The best authoring tools have harnessed the potential of the cloud, offering a truly agile solution for eLearning design. Real-time collaborative editing and sharing of files makes sense for organizations that are geographically dispersed, and working in this way saves enormous amounts of time too. Delivering content straight from the cloud makes SCORM publishing and updating instant and easy across multiple delivery platforms such as LMSs, websites, social media platforms, and more.

Cloud-based authoring and hosting systems also enable analytics and tracking features that measure the impact of training, even down to device type, location and even individual question and answer level. This is an essential feature for meeting the challenges and training needs of multinational organizations.

4) Responsive and adaptive

It’s not just social and behavioral trends that have influenced the way that eLearning is designed; it’s also the range of devices that content is consumed on. One ongoing challenge for developers in the eLearning world is to keep apace with changing screen types and sizes. Imagine getting your personalized learning delivered straight to your smartwatch. Learning across multiple devices requires the content to be responsive (which means that it detects the size of the browser and sizes the content to fit), or adaptive (where the site detects the screen width and uses a pre-defined layout for that device). There are now authoring tools on the market which are able to do both simultaneously. There’s no need to worry about building different versions of courses with content that is specifically formatted for mobile or desktop devices – you can now build a course once, and that’s it!

5) HTML5

Responsive and adaptive content wouldn’t be possible without the HTML5 coding that is now the standard for creating web pages. Leading authoring tools use HTML5 for fast connectivity, which is particularly important in multi-device, media-rich courses that use streaming audio and video files to create engaging content. This is perfect for learning-on-the-go with mobile-friendly and tablet-friendly courses. There’s now no need to download a separate player or plug-in in order to access courses across all platforms.

A final word on eLearning authoring tools

There are many benefits when choosing an authoring tool to create and distribute your eLearning content to your pool of learners. To ensure that you get the most out of your authoring tool, make sure that it is HTML5-compliant for a smooth and speedy learning interface; that it sits in the cloud to allow remote authoring, collaboration, and delivery; that it has multiple language support for learners of different cultures and backgrounds, and that it includes continuous scrolling, as well as responsive and adaptive design techniques, for the best user experience.

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