Innovations in web development and mobile learning have put pressure on learning developers to build content that is mobile responsive, intuitive for users, and easy on the eye. In this article we lay out a few free tools that our Instructional Designers use to develop awesome courses that our customers love.
Adapt is a completely free, open-source eLearning authoring tool that can be used to develop fully responsive HTML5 courses that work great on any device.
One of our favorite aspects of Adapt is that it has a very modern look and feel and how well it works on mobile devices. Adapt accomplishes this modern website feel in a few ways. First, it ditches the old left-hand-side table of contents for a modern menu page. Next, instead of asking users to click through countless single-page slides like Storyline or Captivate, Adapt courses are built inside of scrolling panels. These scrolling panels are a major diversion from the traditional style of corporate eLearning course that we are all accustomed to seeing. These modern features do more than improve aesthetics, because an Adapt course essentially lives on 1 page, the course is able to load much quicker than other courses with multiple pages (multiple HTTP requests).
Adapt also comes with several pre-built custom interactions that allow eLearning developers to quickly build content while they learn about all that Adapt has to offer.
Because Adapt is a free open source authoring tool, the setup is more complicated than other eLearning authoring tools. This can be a problem for many potential users and may in fact be one of Adapts biggest downfalls. If you plan on giving this tool a try be sure to read through the instructions on AdaptLearning.org and plan on spending the necessary time installing and configuring this to your system.
Canva is a super easy, free tool geared specifically towards creating content for social media, advertisements and marketing campaigns, billboards, video thumbnails, wedding invitations, and really anything you can think of! Canva can even be used to through together videos with unique animations built in.
Canva offers a Basic Account which is free and a Pro Account that costs $12.99. The Pro account offers added collaboration for teams as well as access to Canva’s entire library of assets and custom effects. The great news is that the free version of Canva offers plenty of functionality to build awesome content.
So why is Canva such a great tool for eLearning development?
On its own, Canva is not an eLearning development tool. However, when it is paired with other eLearning authoring tools it can streamline your process of developing custom images, job aids, and short instructional videos. Many of the things that Canva does are also possible in standalone software like Articulate Storyline or Adobe Captivate but can be done in a fraction of the time using Canva. If you opt to build your courses with an authoring tool like Articulate Rise, Elucidat, or Adapt then Canva would bean essential tool for add custom graphics and components to your course.
Figma is a cloud-based design and prototyping tool used to build mockups and prototypes for websites, apps and anything else you could think of. Primarily used by UX/UI designers and web developers Figma allows users to create highly customizable prototypes and designs that can then be used as a blueprint for developers who eventually build the design using custom code.
Where Figma becomes useful for eLearning development is in the design phase of a project. Instead of building out the visual prototype of your course directly inside of Storyline or Captivate, Figma allows you to do the same thing but much more rapidly. This way you can iterate your design with the client or with your design team before taking the time to build everything out in Storyline.
Since Figma is first and foremost a tool for UX/UI designers, it also allows you to create user journeys and map out the various pathways that users will follow as they visit a website. This functionality can be very useful when mapping out branching scenarios in an eLearning course.
Figma has various paid versions that cost anywhere from $12to $45 a month and offer many useful features like real time collaboration. The free version is what we would recommend for eLearning development. It comes with everything an eLearning developer needs to build out prototypes and gather stakeholder feedback.
Twine is an open-source storytelling tool that helps eLearning developers write step by step stories, processes, and branching scenarios. The tool is most useful for Instructional designers who want a tool for visualizing stories and scenarios. Interestingly, those with HTML and CSS experience could potentially use Twine as a standalone authoring tool.
Twine is extremely easy to use and can help to simplify branching scenarios, visualize complicated instructional content, or even work backwards from learning objectives. The tool is 100% free! Give it a try and let us know what you think!