Our Favorite eLearning Development Tools
When it comes to eLearning development software tools, the eLearning Network(TM) is totally neutral and only swayed by the latest and greatest product innovations. Rather than just park on one technology and say, “that’s it – we’ve found the only tool we will ever want to use”, we constantly ask, “which tool is best suited for this particular project?” To find that answer, we invest time and money into evaluating new products as well as new versions of authoring tools we already know. With that in mind, following is a high-level overview of products we use most frequently when developing interactive eLearning courses:
- Screen capture tool – Snagit (from TechSmith): This software tool is used to capture a visual from the computer screen for insertion into an eLearning course. We especially like the Print Screen function, which allows the user to drag and drop across the region desired and save this image as a JPEG, PNG, BMP, or other file type. It’s quick and easy.
- Voice Recording
- True Voice – Audacity: This is an freeware software tool for recording your voice to MP3 (or other audio file type). While I always use professional voice talents in a sound studio when producing training for my clients, I will occasionally “rough-in” the media with my voice and then swap out my audio for the finished version.
- Synthesized Voice (text-to-voice) – VoiceMX Studio: If you want to rough-in audio but don’t want to actually have to physically read and record the scripts, this tool is excellent and inexpensive. You can choose from either female or male voice, and you can set the words per minute speaking rate. The downside is that it does sound like synthesized voice and the developers and the client will grow tired of the voice quickly.
- Content Movie Production:
- Highly Interactive – Adobe Flash: For really rich looking and highly customized eLearning, I love Adobe Flash. In the hands of a skilled multimedia artist, amazing visuals and complex instructional design can be developed. From 3D animations to compression and delivery of video, Flash does it all exceptionally well. What’s more, Flash experts are plentiful and generally affordable as freelance talent or full-time employees.
- Rapid eLearning Development – Rapid Intake FlashForm: Also known as “ProForm”, this tool from RapidIntake.com allows novice eLearning developers to quickly assemble audio, pictures, video, on-screen text, quiz questions, and other learning objects/digital assets into eLearning. The result is somewhat static looking when using their built-in templates. However; the best thing about this tool is that you can purchase the professional version, which comes with all of the Flash source files, so you can really trick this product out if you know what you are doing (which fortunately for my company, we do).
- Mid-grade eLearning – Adobe Captivate: This eLearning authoring tool is great for producing eLearning comparatively quickly and with some level of custom look and feel. For those who do not know Flash design and/or programming, this tool makes producing interactive Flash eLearning fairly intutive and easy. Generally my team can produce better looking content faster in Flash than can be produced by even the most savvy Captivate professional, but if you find the prospect of developing in Flash somewhat daunting, then Captivate is a great second choice.
- Video editing for eLearning – Adobe Premiere: I really like Adobe Premiere because it is extremely easy to use. It offers powerful features for those who are savvy video producers, but it also is very accessible to the average novice computer user. What’s more, once you learn the basics of how the timeline works, translating this knowledge over to Captivate is very easy as they share similar concepts and layout.