Top 5 tools for eLearning Development

July 29, 2021

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We based this list on 5 key criteria

Modern

The software needs to be up to date with industry standards and allow designers to build modern, beautiful content.

Functionality

Each tool on this list serves a specific niche of the eLearning development process.

Usability

These tools need to be reasonably easy to learn and use in a fast pace environment.

Cost

We are recommending this list as a complete eLearning development toolbox. Therefore, it is crucial that these tools are affordable.

Collaboration

We mean this in two ways.

1. Ideally each tool in a developers toolbox should compliment one another.

2. These tools should offer functionality for teams to collaborate and work together on projects.

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Check out what our lead instructional designer has to say about how the pandemic has affected eLearning.


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Top 5 tools for eLearning development

1. Articulate 360

Articulate 360 has been one of the leading eLearning authoring tools since its inception in 2002. Storyline 360, Articulate’s flagship tool, is the primary authoring tool for many experienced eLearning developers.  

Articulate 360 is a complete cloud based authoring suite, offering access to Storyline 360, Rise, Review Studio, Replay, and Peek. For this review, let’s focus on the core components that are most beneficial to rapid eLearning development; Storyline 360, Rise, and Review.

Articulate Storyline 360

Storyline is considered by many to be the industry standard for eLearning development. Storyline serves as a standalone eLearning authoring tool that must be downloaded to your computer’s hard drive. A great feature of Storyline is that once the software is downloaded and installed, no internet connection is needed to develop courses.

We should note that while Articulate Storyline is the most comprehensive tool on this list, it is also the most difficult to learn. However, there are plenty of resources out there to help new learners and most developers who are familiar with Microsoft PowerPoint will find the interface familiar and straight forward.  

If you were going to choose only one tool from this list, Storyline would be your best bet. Developers will find a comprehensive tool that contains everything needed to create modern, interactive eLearning.  

Here are our favorite features of Storyline:

-         High level of flexibility

-         Screen recording

-         Accessibility features

-         Slide-based

-         LMS Compatible

-         Basic video, audio, and photo editing

-         Published courses are responsive to various browser sizes

-         Media library allows for real time collaboration with adobe products & other creator tools

-         Add complexity to any course using triggers, layers, variables, and object states

-         Easily publish courses to Review 360 to gather stakeholder feedback

-         60day free trial for new users

Articulate Rise 360

This is a cloud based authoring tool that’s included in an Articulate 360 subscription. This rapid development tool offers the perfect contrast to Storyline, providing a website style course that looks and feels very different from Storyline’s slide based functionality.

Another great contrast that Rise offers when compared with Storyline is how easy it is to learn.  The development interface is very simple, containing prebuilt content that can be plugged in to your project and then modified to fit the course you are building.

The biggest reason why we love Rise is that it comes bundled together with Storyline.  This means that if you buy one, you get both.  

Here are a few reasons why we love Articulate Rise:

-         Very short learning curve compared to Storyline360

-         Great for rapid development

-         Web-based courses look and feel modern

-         Highly responsive to mobile phones and tablets

-         LMS compatible

-         Offers just enough flexibility

-         Publish to Review 360

-         Duplicate courses for even faster development

 

Review 360

Need a quick way to share your course with the client?  Review 360 is here to save the day!  No need to publish and host your course in order to show off your work.  With the Articulate suite, creators can publish projects to Review and then simply share a link with clients to gather feedback. Reviewers can make comments directly in Review, allowing them to give targeted feedback, shortening review cycles.

This is a huge benefit of the Articulate Suite and helps to gather feedback quickly.  Again, the fact that this comes along with an Articulate 360 subscription makes it all that much better.  

Cost: Articulate 360 annual subscriptions start at:

$499 for academic plans  

$999 for freelancer plans

$1299 (per user) for team plans

Free Trail: 60 days

2. Camtasia

Camtasia is Techsmith’s video editing software designed specifically for developing learning content. This is your all-in-one tool for screen casting and video editing. The dynamic publishing feature makes it possible to publish videos using a wide variety of settings that fit any need. Best of all, Camtasia is much easier to use than other video editing software such as Adobe Premier and while some advanced features are missing, Camtasia offers everything needed for making quality videos for your eLearning course.

Trainicity developers use Camtasia regularly when creating video content for Storyline or Rise.  

Cost: One time fee (future software updates may not be included)

$170 for education plans

$250 for individual/business plan

Free Trial: 30 days

3. Snaggit

Snaggit offers a huge productivity boost as it can quickly take screenshots and screencasts that can then be edited right inside of the snaggit editor. The tool can be opened using a customizable keyboard shortcut and is able to capture images or video within a customizable frame. Once an image or video is captured, it is automatically sent to Snaggit Editor where they can be editing and finally exported to Camtasia or Articulate Storyline. Snaggit offers a lot of value and can be especially useful in developing software simulations, tutorials, and job aids.

 

Cost: One time fee (future software updates may not be included)

$30 for education

$50 for individual/business plan

Free Trial: 15 days

4. Canva

While Canva is growing in popularity, it may not be a tool that is thought of as an eLearning development tool. However, Canva is a great web-based tool that can help Instructional designers quickly develop beautiful graphics, banners, GIFs, and simple videos. The best part about Canva is that a basic account is completely free!

Canva is easy to use and is a great tool for building graphics that help make learning experiences look and feel more modern.

Cost: Monthly subscription

Basic Account is free!

Pro account is $13 monthly or $120 a year

5. Microsoft PowerPoint

PowerPoint is one of the original tools for Instructional Designers. Many of us have been using this tool for years to prepare presentations, organize lectures, or even develop employee training. To this day, PowerPoint continues to be an essential tool for eLearning developers.

Here’s how Trainicity's developers leverage PowerPoint:

Rapid prototyping: Often, we try out designs in PowerPoint before even opening Articulate Storyline. This allows us to quickly iterate design concepts before taking the time to add interactivity in Storyline.

Creating Graphics: We create graphics in PowerPoint, then save the graphic as a PNG or JPEG and import it into a storyline or Camtasia project.

Manipulating Graphics: We import graphics to PowerPoint to make easy adjustments that would be more difficult in Storyline or Camtasia.

Blended Learning:  PowerPoint is still a go-to tool for visualizing content in the classroom setting.

Cost: Subscription to Microsoft 365

$70a year - Subscription to Microsoft 365 (Includes Microsoft Office Suite)

Free Trial: 30 days

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Why does our team use Articulate Storyline over Adobe Captivate and Elucidat? 

Check out our Essential Guide to eLearning Authoring Tools.

Max Henderson

Max is an Instructional Designer with more than 5 years of experience designing & developing learning experiences both in the physical and digital space.

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