Explore the ultimate guide to e-learning software, including tips to select the right one for your organization, and more.
An e-learning authoring tool is a software that allows you and other members of your organization to create — author — online learning content. You can create all kinds of content, whether it’s in the form of an e-learning course, a performance support resource, or a microlearning nugget.
The variety of content you can create also allows you to keep up with evolving learning trends. For example, to support employees’ performance on the job, you may choose to create a how-to guide to walk them through certain procedures. To keep up with the shortening attention spans of online audiences, you may want to create microlearning.
Check our top 4 e-learning authoring tools.
Regardless, an e-learning authoring tool enables you to create learning content based on your goals and on your learners’ needs.
Authoring tools come in many forms, particularly in the way they’re hosted and the special features they offer. Here are the most common types of e-learning authoring tool software:
A cloud-based authoring tool is one that’s hosted online — also known as Software as a Service (SaaS) tools. That means you won’t need to download any additional software and install it on your desktop. Instead, a cloud-based tool gives you the advantage of being able to access it anywhere, anytime, across internet-connected devices. It also makes it easy for you to collaborate with your teams remotely — an increasingly need given the Covid-19 pandemic and resulting work-from-home trends.
Moreover, cloud-based authoring tools like Easygenerator automatically and regularly provide software updates. This ensures you’re always using the latest version.
Unlike a cloud-based tool, desktop authoring tools require you to install software into your computer. This makes it a locally hosted authoring tool internet connection isn’t required. For the same reason, desktop authoring tools may be particularly useful for employees who frequently work without internet access.
At the same time, however, desktop authoring tools often offer a much wider range of features. While this expands your authoring capabilities, these tools tend to come with a complex user interface, making them difficult to use. Most of all, because they’re tied to the desktop they’ve been installed in, locally hosted authoring tools prevent you from working collaboratively across locations.
Apart from how they’re hosted, authoring tools can also be categorized by their media specialty. For example, there are authoring tools that specialize in video courses, animations, or gamification. Though they’re narrowly focused on one type of content creation, it also means they’re likely to offer advanced features to ensure high-quality results. For this reason, these. Types of tools may be better suited for organizations that prefer a specific format for learning.
At the same time, specialized media tools usually don’t offer hosting capabilities. That means you’ll likely need a separate tool to publish and distribute your content with your learners.
Though a Learning Management System (LMS) stores, manages and tracks e-learning content, many also offer built-in authoring tools. This allows you to easily create and host content on one platform. However, that’s usually where the benefits end.
To create effective, engaging e-learning courses, it’s best to use a separate authoring tool entered around learners’ needs — not one built into an LMS for convenience. And if you’re still looking to include an LMS in your e-learning strategy, authoring tools like Easygenerator enable you to publish your courses within a compatible LMS of your choice, simply by exporting your content as a SCORM package. Discover how to launch a Learning Management System from scratch.
Perhaps the least-known type of authoring tool on this list is the LMS-lite. These types of tools offer core LMS features like publishing, hosting, and results tracking, in addition to core authoring functionalities. The benefit of using an LMS-lite is similar to an LMS that offers built-in authoring functions — to provide the hassle-free experience of meeting all your e-learning needs on one platform. But apart from serving as an all-in-one solution, an LMS-lite authoring tool can offer LMS capabilities in greater detail.
Easygenerator is an example of an LMS-lite authoring tool. While we specialize in helping you create engaging learning content, you’ll also benefit from being able to choose a wide range of publishing options. Not only can you export your course as a SCORM or xAPI package, but you can also choose to generate a private link or embed your content onto an existing website. Moreover, you can track your course results and your learners’ activity by leveraging our extensive data-driven insights.
Our experts created the ultimate guide to help you select an authoring tool that fits your organization’s needs.
Many companies are already familiar with Learning Management Systems (LMS), but the case for a separate e-learning authoring tool may still seem vague. The truth is that the traditional model of creating e-learning costs too much time and money, paving the way for many other challenges in the Learning & Development (L&D) space. With that, we’ve identified several ways a good authoring tool can make a difference.
Here are the key reasons to get an e-learning authoring tool software:
An authoring tool comes with a variety of creative features and elements, allowing you to add quizzes, fill-in-the-blank questions, true-or-false exercises, videos, interactive images, and much more. This enables you to create an inviting learning experience that encourages your learners to engage with the content.
Gone are the days of relying on generic, off-the-shelf content. With an e-learning authoring tool, you’ll be able to create custom content tailored to your learners’ needs. And with a user-friendly authoring tool, you can equip subject matter experts (SME) in your organization to create learning content themselves, directly for their peers — an approach known as Employee-generated Learning (EGL). This makes it even easier to identify the learning needs throughout the business and create personalized content accordingly.
Using an authoring tool built for SMEs can also speed up your content production cycle. Traditionally, the central learning department or third-party content creator would be responsible for producing e-learning. As part of the process, they would also have SMEs review it for accuracy. This would then turn into a back-and-forth exchange of multiple reviews before the content finally reaches the learner.
However, when SMEs create content themselves, it ensures accuracy and shortens the time taken for content to reach learners. Moreover, cloud-based authoring tools with features like co-authoring and reviewing make it easy for authors to collaborate remotely and in real-time, which also adds to a quicker turnaround time.
Outsourcing your e-learning content creation may seem like a quick and cheap solution. But in the long run, an authoring tool can lead to major savings for your organization. For one, as knowledge continues to evolve, you’ll have to find a way to keep your content fresh over time. With an authoring tool, this task becomes much easier.
Easygenerator, for example, allows you to store your content on the platform and make changes anytime. That means all you have to do is create your e-learning course once and make minor changes as you see fit – without having to re-share the link to your course every time. More importantly, this saves you time from having to create the entire course from scratch to accommodate every little update.
While an LMS offers features to track your learners’ progress and generate reports, they are often limited. At the same time, LMSs often come with a complex user interface intended for instructional designers. With the right authoring tool, you can expect a user-friendly approach to measuring progress. More importantly, you get access to extensive data on your course and your learners, beyond just knowing whether they passed or failed.
A tool like Easygenerator offers insights like how long your learners spent on each section and question, how many attempts they made at a question, or where they dropped off in the course. In return, you’ll learn what parts of your course might have been too easy or too challenging, allowing you to make strategic improvements to your content.
Now that we’ve covered the benefits of getting an e-learning authoring tool, it’s time to discover how to choose one. When it comes to making your decision, we’ve outlined a few important factors for you to consider.
Here are the questions to ask when choosing your e-learning authoring tool software:
Regardless of whether your SMEs have a background in instructional design, it’s essential to get an authoring tool that’s easy to use. A smooth user interface will make it easier for anyone in your organization to easily share their knowledge in the form of engaging content. This, in return, speeds up the content creation process and the circulation of knowledge throughout the organization.
Easygenerator, for example, offers a simple drag-and-drop experience, allowing you to add all kinds of elements just by dragging the content block of your choice. Want to add a quiz? Just drag it into your and customize it with your own text. Features like this contribute to a zero learning curve, allowing anyone to quickly come aboard the authoring tool.
As we covered earlier, e-learning authoring tool software can be either cloud-based on desktop-based, which makes a difference in your content creation experience. Cloud-based authoring tools allow you to easily access your tool – and, therefore, your content – from any internet-connected device, regardless of where you are. This is ideal for teams that want to collaborate remotely and in real-time — an increasing need as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
A desktop-hosted authoring tool will require you to install it into a computer, which can create a dependency on that device each time you want to work on your content. That said, a desktop-based device may be suitable if your employees work offline most of the time.
If your organization already has an LMS in place or you simply want to work with one, it’s important to get a compatible authoring tool. An incompatible authoring tool means your LMS won’t be able to display your content correctly, which ultimately impacts the types of data reports you can generate.
Look for an authoring tool that allows you to export your e-learning content in LMS-friendly standards like SCORM. But beyond that, make sure that it exports in the right version of SCORM based on the version your LMS supports. Other e-learning publishing standards include xAPI, cmi5, and AICC.
As we mentioned in the previous section, analytics is one of the advantages of using an authoring tool. That said, you’ll want to look for a tool that offers extensive tracking and tracing. Data regarding your courses, your learners, and the results generated all play a major part in keeping L&D informed. They also enable authors to understand their learners’ experience in detail, which ultimately helps with making strategic improvements to course content. The more detailed the data you can track, the more insights you’ll gain into your learners’ needs and how your content can help.
Perhaps one of the most obvious questions to ask is what kind of content you’ll be able to create. Authoring tools are, after all, designed for content creation. For one, can the tool only generate e-learning courses? Or can you also create other types of learning content, like one-pager resources for performance support?
Apart from that, you’ll also want to know what kinds of elements you can add to each course or resource. For example, interactive quizzes and exercises create an engaging learning experience and serve as a way for you to measure your learners’ progress. The ability to include videos and images also prevents your content from becoming text-heavy, making it easier for online learners to process knowledge. Knowing your organization’s goals can also help inform what types of content creation features you should be looking out for.
The content creation process doesn’t stop once a course or resource has been published. As we mentioned earlier, knowledge is constantly evolving, and it’s important to check in on your content to make sure it’s continually relevant. This requires a tool that allows you to create scalable content. Fortunately, the right authoring tool will make this job easier for you — one where you can easily update your existing content without having to re-share or re-create it from scratch every time.
Still not sure what the best e-learning authoring software is? Even given all the tips above, we understand that choosing an authoring tool can still feel daunting. For that reason, we’re offering you a closer look into the pros and cons of some of the top authoring tools in the market. Whether you’re looking for e-learning software for Mac users, e-learning software that supports SCORM, or just want a general e-learning software comparison, we’ve got you covered.
Here’s an overview of the top 10 e-learning software:
Let’s begin with our solution, Easygenerator. Our e-learning authoring tool is built with the user in mind. That includes subject matter experts and anyone who would like to share their knowledge in the form of engaging courses. But our ease of use may not appeal to all audiences, as we’ll discover below:
Articulate 360 comes as a suite with both Articulate Storyline 360 and Articulate Rise 360. Each has unique offerings. Let’s start with the former:
Next, we’ll move on to Articulate Rise 360. As part of the Articulate 360 suite, Rise carries certain similarities to Storyline 360, but it’s also a unique product. Let’s take a look:
Adobe Captivate shares many similarities with other Adobe software. From an e-learning authoring perspective, here are some of the pros and cons:
Elucidat is a cloud-based authoring tool that also supports LMS formats. Let’s dive deeper into its pros and cons:
Learning curve for advanced features: To truly customize your content, you’ll want to take advantage of Elucidat’s more advanced features. This comes with a learning curve.
Expensive: Compared to alternative authoring tools, Elucidat leans on the more expensive side of the spectrum.
Gomo is another cloud-based authoring tool offering a range of content creation options. Here’s a look at what sets them apart:
ISpring Suite stands out, not only for being a desktop-based authoring tool but also one that specializes in PowerPoint-based learning. Let’s look at its specific pros and cons:
Lectora is a cloud-based authoring tool offering the opportunity to create custom e-learning content. Let’s take a closer look:
Synapse is another prominent e-learning software focused on managing training requests and increasing productivity for L&D teams. It offers training request management, project planning, and content authoring features. Here’s how they stand out:
Best suited for
Headquartered in Spain, isEazy is an e-learning authoring tool that promotes a user-friendly experience for content creators. Here’s a closer look at its pros and cons:
As we’ve covered, there are different types of e-learning software out there for you to choose from. However, at the end of the day, choosing the right authoring tool largely depends on your organization’s unique goals and needs. Once you’ve identified what problem you’re trying to solve, you’ll have a much easier time identifying the authoring features you need, and therefore, the right type of e-learning software.
If you’re still not sure where to start, we recommend signing up for a free 14-day trial of Easygenerator, during which you get unlimited access to our authoring features. Our user-friendly interface makes it easy for anyone to start creating engaging courses and resources. And if you ever find yourself stuck, our personalized support services are always at your fingertips. Just leverage our live, in-app support chat, or reach out to our customer support team for a personalized onboarding session.