Mar 11, 2009

eLearn Authoring Round-Up

As my organization selects an LMS and gears up for web based training, I've been looking at a variety of authoring tools for online training. I was naive enough to think that tool existed that would have everything I want. I imagined something similar to Microsoft Word or PowerPoint that was designed for eLearning. Such a tool does not exist yet. I'm sure this is due to the complexity of web based learning content, the variety of requirements out there, and the market size of eLearning. However, there are several tools on the market that have a lot to offer. For this post I tool a look at the following products:
  1. SoftChalk
  2. Articulate
  3. Lectora
  4. Captivate
My Findings
SoftChalk and Articulate are the easiest to use and are good for basic courses. Both have a different focus (HTML vs. Flash; Word vs. PowerPoint). Check out Articulate if you are interested in leveraging PowerPoint or in doing voice presentations. Lectora and Captivate have a steeper learning curve but allow for more advanced interaction with the learner. With the release of Captivate 4, Lectora and Captivate have become very similar products. However, Lectora provides a bit more flexibility for customizing that Captivate.
Summaries of Each Product
  • Easy to use
  • Works like Microsoft Word
  • Provides an good organizational structure for courses
  • Content is easy to add and includes multimedia, flash, and questions
  • QuizPopper, TextPopper, and Activities are easy to add
  • Exports to HTML and is SCORM compliant
Articulate, www.articulate.com
  • Easy to use
  • Works like Microsoft PowerPoint
  • Provides an good organizational structure for courses
  • Content is easy to add and includes multimedia, flash, and questions
  • Uses PowerPoint so user authors in PowerPoint (very nice integration)
  • All of PowerPoint's slide features can be used in authoring
  • Excellent for doing voice overs with annotations
  • Includes Quizmaker and Engage for adding flash based interactions
  • Exports to Flash and is SCORM compliant
  • Works like Microsoft PowerPoint
  • Provides an open organizational structure that can be customized to users needs
  • Content is easy to add and includes multimedia, flash, and questions
  • Actions can be determined based on variable values
  • Variables allow sequencing and decision making based on previous responses by learner
  • Imports PowerPoint slides
  • Exports to HTML and is SCORM compliant
  • Excellent for software simulations
  • Works like Microsoft PowerPoint
  • Provides an open organizational structure that can be customized to users needs
  • Content is easy to add and includes multimedia, flash, and questions
  • Actions can be determined based on variable values
  • Variables allow sequencing and decision making based on previous responses by learner
  • Imports PowerPoint slides
  • Exports to Flash and is SCORM compliant

7 comments:

Melissa Walker said...

I am curious to know if you have embedded any Captivate simulations into a Lectora project yet. I am pretty familiar with Lectora and have been using it a couple years, but am considering purchasing Captivate for interactive simulations and want to be sure the files it produces integrate well with Lectora. Please let me know your thoughts.

J. Shoaf said...

I've been using Captivate in Lectora quite a bit. You just publish the captivate project as a swf. Then, in Lectora, add an animation and browse to the swf file. If you have any trouble, let me know and I can help you work out the kinks. I also did a blog posting about transferring the score of a Captivate project to Lectora. See http://learningdevelopments.blogspot.com/2009/01/budding-relationship-for-captivate-and.html

John From Don said...

I tend to do quite alot of captivate with lectora, and they work very well indeed. Plus you get around the transparancy issues with browser based (IE6) Lectora.

Anonymous said...

I am looking at SoftChalk and have been very pleased so far. Do you have any experience with Raptivity? And would you suggest any other software that would allow you to create interactive lessons to investigate? Thanks in advance.

J. Shoaf said...

Anonymous: I haven't used Raptivity but I've reviewed some of their games and they look pretty good. It depends on what subject you are dealing with when it comes to which products are best. For example, if I do a course on how to use a software package, I'll use Captivate to make an interactive simulation. Otherwise, I'd suggest looking for 3rd party content from companies like Raptivity. Flash is a great way to do interactivity but it can be too time consuming for many projects.

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Scorm E Learning

Go to Meeting said...

My first experience with a LMS, as a student, was a good one. My second experience with one was as a facilitator. I remember being all excited when it was being implemented.

Unfortunately, it didn't have all the tools I wanted it to have. I hope that as time goes by and people make requests for features, we will see tools that better meet our needs.