Are you looking for an authoring tool that will let you produce high-quality eLearning content? Then you’ve come to the right place. In this article, we’ll break down 8 popular eLearning software solutions. We’ll analyze the main selling points of content authoring tools and compare pricing to help you make an informed purchase decision. But first, let’s find out what an eLearning authoring tool entails, how it can help, and what to consider when choosing authoring software.
What Is an eLearning Authoring Tool?
Authoring tools are used to build eLearning content from little bits and pieces of information: text, images, audio, and video. In addition to helping you “glue” together various media into entire eLearning courses, they have some unique features that can only be used for training. For example, some eLearning authoring tools allow you to create software simulations so you could teach your staff how to use certain software that they need for their everyday work. Or, some of them let you build quizzes that can be included in a course or become a standalone training unit.
All this content needs to be packed in a format that can be easily distributed via the Internet and that learners can open with minimum software installed, preferably just a web browser. Back in the 2000s, Macromedia ruled the online content world with their Flash plug-in that allowed browsers to run games, video, and, among everything else, eLearning courses. But, as time went by, Flash was slowly pushed off the stage by a new more powerful standard called HTML5, and this is how HTML5 eLearning software appeared. Let’s take a look at the advantages of building courses in this format:
- Such content is responsive and supported on a wide range of platforms and browsers. Moreover, it’s mobile-friendly, so learners can take their courses with them and view them whenever and wherever they like, instead of having to be tied to a computer.
- eLearning tools provide a lot of opportunities for interactivity, which allows course developers to produce more engaging learning experiences.
- The standard supports rich media elements – it has a built-in capacity to play video and audio.
- It’s easy (and cheap) to keep content up to date. Course development tools can edit existing content.
What Issues Can Authoring Tools Solve?
“eLearning authoring” is not just some flashy term that’s more about buzz than meaning. There are actual reasons why getting authoring software is a must for a business these days. Here are some things that an eLearning authoring tool is struggling against:
- Unappealing content – curb good old Word, PowerPoint, and PDF documents to introduce learners to quizzes, interactive video, and gamified training.
- Generic training materials – author unique content in-house, without having to involve third-party instructional designers who have no real grasp on the specifics of your business.
- Unhelpful data – choose what training data to report to your learning management system (LMS) to have learners’ stats in the palm of your hand.
- High training costs – move your training meetings from the classroom to a digital space and free up time for your most experienced workers.
Who Can Use eLearning Authoring Software Effectively?
Continuing from the previous point, it is quite clear who might find a course authoring tool useful in their work:
L&D managers are responsible for employee training and development. They aim to make the most out of people’s abilities and help them develop to their full potential. Training each staff member face to face can be a challenging and very pricey task, and that’s why many L&D managers opt for online learning. An eLearning authoring software is a kind of learning and development tool that is necessary for repurposing classroom training and creating new learning content from scratch.
Small companies typically don’t have a dedicated L&D team, and it’s often a business owner who reveals the need for talent development and decides to buy eLearning content creation software. They might hire a professional course creator or assign the content authoring task to some of their existing employees who are SMEs and have a deep knowledge of the topic.
Freelance instructional designers
These are individuals or a small team of people who create digital learning content. They usually look for a full-featured but cost-effective instructional design authoring tool that allows them to build versatile content: interactive courses, quizzes, software simulations, role-plays, etc.
Since face-to-face employee training is still alive and, in some cases, indispensable, many instructors go online. Content authoring tools let them pack their knowledge into online training experiences and deliver them to their trainees on the Web. It’s a great way to save time and money on job-related travel.
Training centers and individual course sellers
Certification centers and other training companies, as well as individual entrepreneurs, use eLearning content authoring tools to create courses and sell them online. But they typically also need a course selling platform to distribute their products, so that’s why they sometimes avoid buying a separate authoring software and opt for a platform that already has a basic authoring tool.
What to Consider When Choosing the Best eLearning Authoring Tool
There’s a vast selection of authoring software on the market, with most of these tools being built with a particular type of client in mind. Before you decide on one of these eLearning development software, you should clear up some things:
- What types of training content can be useful in your case? Interactive video lessons, software simulations, quizzes, or all of these? Imagine what sort of eLearning you’d like to provide to learners, depending on their professional duties.
- How well does the content authoring software work with mobile devices? You need to be clear about your learners’ habits. Mature audiences would probably be fine taking their training on a desktop, but how about zoomers and even younger generations? Most 20ish-year-olds can’t imagine their lives without peeking into their smartphones at least once an hour, so their eLearning should work the same way – 100% mobile compatible. And though most authoring tools allow you to create responsive eLearning content, some of them require building different versions for desktop, tablet, and smartphone that definitely consumes a lot of time.
- What is your annual eLearning budget? Don’t choose eLearning tools and technologies based on price. More expensive doesn’t translate to handier in the eLearning world. Similarly, grabbing the cheapest option just because it’s cheap is a bad idea. A really low price for an authoring software is often a sign that there might be hidden fees for functionality you need the most.
- Do you have an LMS where all training stats can be recorded? If you’re an advocate of continuous learning and regularly provide your employees with new courses, you’re likely to see the results of your training. There should be an LMS where your content sends all stats from all training sessions. Plus, the course creation software of your choice should have impeccable compatibility with your LMS.
What Are the Key Authoring Tool Features You Might Need?
We’ve already outlined the main factors that can influence the choice of instructional design software programs. Now, let’s focus on the technical aspects. Here are some features you need to consider to get the most value for your money.
Ease of use
Intuitive UI is what can save you a vast amount of time, especially if this is your first course authoring software and you don’t have ID experience. Opt for a user-friendly tool that won’t make you spend months or even weeks on training.
Quizzes and assessments are must-haves in online training. Besides, the more diverse quizzes you use, the more engaging the learning experience will be for your trainees. So, choose software that has pre-built templates for creating a variety of question types.
Another way to boost engagement is to let your learners be decision makers. By implementing branching scenarios, you can create content that depends on the actions taken by a learner. A good example of branching scenarios is a dialogue simulation, in which a conversation will develop, depending on the learner’s responses.
A tool that comes with ready-made course templates, characters, locations, and other eLearning assets can help you speed up the authoring process several times over. Just imagine: you don’t need to look for relevant pictures and even create slides from scratch. Instead, you can customize already existing templates and insert ready-to-go images that fit your training scenario.
If you work on courses in a team, this might be a priority feature for you. With collaboration options, you can dispense with creating multiple versions of a course and emailing them back and forth once and for all. Quickly share the content with other content creators, stakeholders, and SMEs, receive feedback, and review the content on your own.
Desktop vs. Cloud-Based vs. Open-Source Authoring Tools
Deployment is another point to consider when selecting eLearning authoring software. Below is a quick overview of the various deployment types of course creation tools, as well as their peculiarities you should know about before making your purchase decision.
Desktop authoring tools
eLearning tools installed on your computer usually have more advanced authoring features and more customization options. Another reason that makes this type of eLearning software preferable for many organizations is security – the company itself is in charge of the services and data protection protocols. Besides, it doesn’t require a steady internet connection to work with such a tool.
Cloud-based authoring tools
The main advantage of web-based authoring tools is that they’re accessible anytime, anywhere. This is especially important for those who need to create eLearning content from different locations. Designers, content creators, and SMEs can all collaborate remotely. You also don’t need to worry about lost content, because everything is backed up in the cloud.
Open-source authoring tools
This type of eLearning design software is typically available for users at no cost and allows them to modify every aspect of the program based on L&D needs. But they’re usually not very user friendly. Furthermore, you need some tech expertise and even coding skills to make needed changes in such learning and development software.
8 eLearning Authoring Tools to Consider
Now, let’s take a detailed look at 8 top-performing eLearning content creation tools on the market in 2021. If you’re limited on time but need to choose a software right away, proceed directly to the comparison sheet to view all the options of the 8 best tools for creating eLearning courses in one place.
- iSpring Suite Max – a PowerPoint-based authoring toolkit for those who need to create versatile eLearning content fast, with no previous experience in course development and special training.
- Adobe Captivate – a professional-level tool for seasoned instructional designers who want to create complex software simulations and VR learning experiences.
- Articulate Storyline – a robust tool that has numerous content creating capabilities, but requires a lot of time to master all of them. It is best suited for experienced course developers who need advanced features like triggers and layers.
- Articulate Rise – an intuitive authoring tool that allows instructional designers to create responsive online courses in the “longread” format using their browsers.
- Camtasia – an authoring software that has everything you need for creating video tutorials that can act as training materials.
- Lectora Online – a powerful, yet complicated tool that allows extensive customization via programming code, external libraries, and scripts; more suitable for well-trained developers.
- Elucidat – a cloud-based eLearning authoring platform that allows you to create online courses with pre-built templates; a good fit for organizations with dispersed L&D teams.
- Coassemble – an eLearning solution that combines an authoring tool and LMS functionality.
iSpring Suite Max is a full-featured eLearning solution focused on making rapid content development easy and intuitive. A major plus with iSpring is that the core authoring tool works as a PowerPoint add-in, which makes for a familiar interface that’s very easy to use. You can start with an existing PowerPoint presentation and enhance it with more sophisticated eLearning content.
iSpring Suite Max takes a modularized approach to the user interface, with special tabs for different types of training tasks. There’s a quiz maker for assessments, a video and audio editor for creating video lectures and screencasts, and a conversation simulation tool for building dialogue simulations with branching. Creating interactions is made simple with a whole set of ready-made templates for creating glossaries, catalogs, timelines, references, and FAQs.
The workflow puts the focus firmly on content development and dispenses with the manual configuration of complex interactive elements and coding variables. To make the process of building courses even faster, there’s a content library full of high-quality images of location backgrounds, icons, controls, and characters.
iSpring Suite Max also comes with iSpring Space, an online space for teamwork on eLearning projects. You can build your course, and other authors from your team will be able to review the content and leave comments or edit texts, add knowledge checks, and polish the course look and feel on their own.
There’s also a built-in authoring tool for making eLearning content right in a browser. You can create a course the same way you write a post on social media. Just type in (or copy) texts and add images and video. Then add quizzes to check how your learners understand the material. That’s it!
iSpring’s seamless integration with PowerPoint means that most people will be able to pick it up and immediately get authoring. The familiar interface and streamlined workflow make for a gentle learning curve that allows the user to explore other modules and features at their own pace.
Fortunately, ease of use doesn’t mean you can only create simple interactions and courses – there’s a lot of flexibility to add more complex scenarios and interactives.
iSpring Suite Max lets you build graded quizzes, surveys, and quick knowledge checks that can be included between course slides. There over a dozen question types, from the ubiquitous multiple-choice to the engaging drag-and-drop.
Separate from the quiz editor, iSpring Visuals is centered on building learning interactions. What’s best about this component of the tool is that you don’t need to start from scratch – just pick one of the interaction templates like Timeline or Accordion and fill it in with your data.
Video and audio editor
This features a fully functional video editor, enough to merge several videos with transitions and captions into one MP4 file and insert it into a course.
iSpring has a special tool that allows you to build realistic conversation simulations that will help your learners master their communication skills. This is a must have for sales and customer service training.
With all its components supporting HTML5, iSpring-published content is 100% mobile ready. Unlike with some other course creation tools, you don’t need to build separate content versions for desktop and mobile. The software automatically adapts your content to all display sizes, saving you time and your nerves.
- Ability to use an existing PPT presentation as a starting point for a course
- Simple familiar interface for building courses quickly
- Built-in dialogue simulator with branching conversation scenarios
- Professional video studio for recording and editing screencasts and webcam footage
- Robust tool for creating interactive quizzes and surveys
- Perfect playback on all devices
- Text-to-speech function
- Ability to turn PPT presentations into SCORM courses
- Ability to convert Word and PDF documents into interactive SCORM flipbooks
- Professional grade content library with 68,000 assets, including templates, characters, backgrounds, and icons
- Cloud service for fast content sharing and collaboration
- XLIFF Translation support for fast course localization
- PowerPoint needs to be installed for iSpring Suite to work
- Doesn’t support closed captioning (CC) for video and audio narration
- No software simulation support
- Only works in Windows
iSpring Suite Max is a rapid eLearning development tools great pick for PowerPoint lovers looking to take the leap into a full-fledged content authoring tool.
It’s also a perfect choice for those who are searching for the easiest and fastest way to move existing instructions, manuals, and textbooks online. If you already have PPT presentations, you can turn them into e-courses in just a couple of clicks.
You can also quickly publish your Word and PDF documents to eLearning formats. The result will be interactive e-books with a realistic page flip effect. When you want to get more creative and add quizzes, dialogue simulations, and interactives, there’s plenty of power under the hood.
$970 (Annual license)
Adobe Captivate is a powerful authoring tool that’s well suited for general eLearning development such as creating slide presentations or quizzes and developing complex interactive courses. Also, it’s traditionally a preferred choice for developing software simulations with the help of effects, triggers, and slide settings. This allows for a lot of versatility in creating realistic simulations and presenting them to users in different modes, ex.: see it, try it, do it.
A standout feature of the latest 2019 Captivate release is the ability to create Virtual Reality projects and make interactive videos and studio-quality HD videos by simultaneously recording webcam and on-screen content and adding interactive elements. The wide range of interactions is another strong point of this toolkit. You can make eLearning fun with drag-and-drop, puzzles, games, and other interactive activities.
Captivate is known to have a fairly steep learning curve for new users, and in past releases, a rather confusing workflow that relies on a lot of separate windows to select variables and triggers, and perform other functions.
To create really great eLearning in Captivate, you need to spend a lot of time getting to know its functions, so it may not be the best choice as a first-time software for eLearning design. It’s perfect for creating more technical simulation-based training.
Having fewer question templates than its competitors, Captivate offers a unique type of assessment in the form of software simulation. This feature might be indispensable if your training program is based on computer software.
It has 19 learning interaction templates including games like “Jigsaw Puzzle” and “Who wants to be a millionaire?” They might look a bit sloppy and prove to be hard to configure, but the diversity here is truly impressive.
Video and audio editor
Adobe Captivate has a built-in editor that can help you put together a video tutorial with transitions and various effects like zoom and pan. The best part is that when you record yourself from a webcam, you can use the “green screen” feature to replace the background of your video on the fly.
There’s no special tool for building conversation simulations or character-driven dialogues in Adobe Captivate, so if these are a big part of your training design, it may not be the best pick.
Captivate suggests an interesting workflow to those who consider mobile compatibility their top priority. The tool lets you break up your slide contents into the so-called “fluid boxes” that can change their size and positioning based on what device the course is being viewed on. This, in theory, gives you total control over the look and feel of your content on all possible devices – including smartphones.
- eLearning formats: SCORM, AICC, and xAPI.
- Flash (with an option for creating lessons in the EXE format)
- Extensive variables and branching that allow creative customization
- 360-degree (VR) capability to embed virtual reality into your eLearning
- True responsive screen display on all devices, viewable as you create the training
- Asset library including templates, people, headshots, and full-body shots
- Ability to generate text-to-speech (TTS) voiceovers automatically
- ‘Green screen’ feature where you can insert your own background
- Mobile-specific development tools such as geolocation tagging
- Complex software simulation recording options
- Has a version for Mac
- Unintuitive user interface
- Requires you to put in a lot of hours to learn how to use it
- Customers report that Captivate can get buggy and crash in Windows
- Designing responsive content is difficult, since you have to create separate versions for desktop, tablet, and smartphone
- Imported PowerPoint presentations don’t preserve all their animations after being converted with Captivate
- Technical support outsourced to a call center
Adobe Captivate is professional eLearning software, less easy and intuitive, but more powerful than its competitors. It’s best suited for experienced eLearning developers who are comfortable working with variables and some coding to make the magic happen.
In contrast to some vendors that offer an LMS or hosting solution as part of the package, if you want to host the courses that you author directly via Captivate, you’ll need to purchase the PRIME package, which is more expensive and probably not suitable for small organizations with less than 100 employees.
$33.99/month or $1,299.00 (Perpetual License)
Articulate Storyline is the flagship desktop authoring tool by Articulate. It comes bundled with a few other applications like Rise and Review when you purchase an Articulate 360 subscription.
Storyline is popular in the instructional design community since its advanced features like triggers and layers allow creators to go above and beyond in producing customized training content. However, for a newbie, it would pose a serious challenge to get to grips with Storyline – there aren’t many built-in interaction templates, so one would have to spend time learning how to create them from scratch.
With Storyline comes the Articulate Content Library – a collection of course templates, backgrounds, characters, buttons, and icons. It includes a rather small portion of visual assets created specifically for instructional design, at the same time providing access to a vast collection of stock images.
Storyline is right in the middle between iSpring and Adobe in terms of its learning curve: it’s not as easy to pick up and start as the former, although it’s not as complicated as the latter, and you can begin producing decent looking courses in a relatively short amount of time.
Articulate QuizMaker offers users the standard multiple response, fill-in-the-blank, hotspot, and a few more question types that can be inserted into a quiz as well as into a survey.
Articulate Studio, Storyline’s predecessor that comes bundled with it, has a selection of interaction templates that you can insert into your course. There you can find things like FAQ and Checklist. If you’d like to use one of them in Storyline, you need to import them from a Studio project. Otherwise, you’ll have to build your interaction from scratch or download one of the community-provided templates.
Video and audio editor
Storyline includes a simple video editor that lets you do transitions from one recorded take to another, add captions, and save the output to your course. However, it’s not half as advanced and useful as what Captivate and iSpring have to offer in terms of video editing.
The abovementioned Articulate Studio includes a “Conversation” interaction template that can be used to create dialogue simulations. However, it can only be used as an educational tool, not as a rated assessment.
Courses published with Storyline are fully mobile-compatible. Also, Articulate has its own mobile app that can download and play published content offline.
- eLearning formats: SCORM, AICC, xAPI, and cmi5
- Similar to the PowerPoint interface of Storyline 360, but with greater opportunities for customizing the content
- Allows you to build complex interactions by utilizing features like object states, triggers, and layers
- Screen recorder for making screencast captures and simple editing
- Content library with access to stock images
- Outputs responsive mobile-ready courses
- Free mobile app for playing courses offline
- Not the most user-friendly interface
- Has a rather steep learning curve
- Interaction templates sometimes don’t work properly
- Screen recording functionality is basic compared to other solutions
- Can be heavy on computer resources
- No Mac version
Articulate Storyline is best suited for experienced instructional designers who need more leverage over the content they produce. This can be achieved by utilizing the advanced features like triggers and layers that Storyline provides.
Since Storyline comes with several desktop and web authoring tools aimed at making it easier for teams to collaborate on eLearning projects, it would be a good fit for collectives. The drawback is that most individual developers and small organizations won’t need all of these tools, but will still have to purchase the entire set just to get Storyline.
$1,299/year (for teams) or $999 (for individuals)
Articulate Rise is a web-based authoring tool that allows instructional designers to create training modules or entire courses in the “longread” form using their browsers. Although originally limited to a fairly small selection of interactions, Rise gets updated regularly, so more and more assets become available for creators over time.
Built as a cloud-based application for eLearning authoring, Articulate Rise is a level of magnitude easier to learn than the desktop Storyline. It offers an intuitive interface that won’t be any hassle to master.
So far, there are only 4 question types available in Rise: multiple-choice, multiple response, fill-in-the-blank, and matching. Same question types can be inserted into a module, not just as rated quizzes, but also as quick knowledge checks.
There are 10 interaction types, including accordion, flashcards, and timeline. Plus, content creators who use Storyline on their PCs can import an interaction of any kind from the desktop authoring tool.
Video and audio editor
Being a web-based content authoring solution, Rise doesn’t have a video or audio editor, so one would have to resort to using a desktop program for that. But it at least allows users to upload and manage subtitles via its web interface.
There’s a built-in dialogue feature that allows you to create “scenarios” – interactive dialogues that serve as educational segments in training courses. These, unlike in iSpring Suite, are not rated and thus can’t be used as assessments.
Content created with Articulate Rise is well-suited for mobile devices with a built-in responsive player that can automatically adapt to any screen, be it tablets or smartphones.
- eLearning formats: SCORM, AICC, xAPI, and cmi5
- Ability to create responsive training content quickly with a simple web interface
- Access to content library with lots of visual assets like backgrounds and characters
- OS agnostic: works on Mac, Windows, and Linux
- Support for all major eLearning standards allows one to create training content quickly and upload it to any LMS
- Allows you to collaborate on courses with your team members
- Limited content customization capabilities – an understandable tradeoff of a streamlined web application
- Only a single format of a training module (longread) can be created with it
- Just 4 question types to use in quizzes
Articulate Rise will be an equally good fit for new instructional designers and experienced industry cats. When your projects don’t have strict requirements on what content should look like and how it should function, Rise will allow you to pump out training courses quickly.
$1,299/year (for teams) or $999 (for individuals)
TechSmith’s Camtasia is a desktop powerhouse for recording and editing instructional videos. It’s available for both Mac and PC, and is considered to be one of the most popular authoring tools for screencasts and other types of training videos. It doesn’t just allow you to record your screen and edit the captured video – there’s a quiz editing tool, a bunch of stock video/audio, and various visual effects, all at your fingertips.
For someone who has never worked with a video editor before, Camtasia might come across as a bit overwhelming. However, this authoring software is well known by the community and there’s a handful of video tutorials and help articles that will help you grasp the basics of working with the app quickly. After you’ve come to grips with Camtasia, it actually becomes pretty easy to operate and allows you to churn out high-quality training videos in short order.
Camtasia can be used to insert quizzes and surveys to videos. There are just 4 question types available: multiple-choice, fill-in-the-blank, true/false, and short answer.
This product is not the typical authoring tool that includes all sorts of interaction templates. Focused on video editing, it doesn’t provide any interactive elements other than quizzes and surveys.
Video and audio editor
Camtasia has been the top performer in the casual video editing market for a while now. It’s safe to say that this application is much more capable than the usual video editors included with other authoring tools.
Cannot be created in Camtasia.
The program doesn’t offer any special tools or perks for mobile learners. But since its only output is video, it doesn’t need to, because all modern smartphones and tablets can play these formats just fine.
- video formats, including MP4 and AVI
- eLearning formats: SCORM 1.2 and 2004
- Available for both Mac and PC
- The most advanced video editor compared to all other authoring tools on the market
- Gives access to a library of stock music, intros, transitions, and other assets that will help you get the job done in less time
- Built-in quiz maker that allows you to create quizzes inside your training videos
- Supports SCORM; can export training modules for use in an LMS
- Limited to producing video content
- No interactive elements can be used in output content aside from quizzes
- Built-in quiz tool only has 4 question types to select from
- Not half as capable as true video editors like Adobe Premiere Pro or Davinci Resolve
This authoring software will come in handy for anyone who makes training content about computer software. Recording the screen and the webcam, editing the output with a bunch of stock effects, exporting the finished lesson to SCORM – Camtasia has everything you need for a good video tutorial that can act as training material. However, if the project you’re working on requires something other than a screencast with visual hints and annotations, look for a different solution.
Lifetime license + one year of updates for $299
In this comparison, we’ll look at Lectora Online, the cloud-based version of Lectora, which offers content authoring plus similar eLearning development tools that are comparable to the other products in this article.
A big focus of the Lectora product range has always been compliance with web content accessibility guidelines (WCAG). This ensures that any course created with this online eLearning tool will be accessible to those with disabilities, such as hearing or vision impairment. If you work in or develop content for federal government organizations, this is a good choice.
Lectora’s popular Getting Started templates are a great shortcut for authoring. Each template includes built-in navigation, interactive samples, page layouts, and instructions for use. Plus, these built-in templates offer different learning styles and course types such as basic linear, non-linear, microlearning, scenario-based, adaptive, time-of-need/just-in-time training, multimedia, and more.
For more experienced developers, Lectora Online supports scripts, custom libraries, fonts, and CSS, so the sky’s the limit in terms of customization.
The interface will look familiar to Windows users, since it uses the Windows toolbar format and folder structure icons to represent the different sections, topics, interactions, quizzes, and assets in a course. Compared to other tools, the menu system looks a bit confusing and the layout will take some getting used to.
Getting a standard eLearning course up and running using some of the templates provided should be within most people’s reach, but there’s definitely more complexity involved in creating and editing courses compared to the other course development tools.
Lectora lets you build quizzes or surveys using a selection of 12 question types. They range from simple ones like true/false to more interactive varieties such as drag-and-drop or rank sequence.
There are form elements like list box and radio button that you can insert to your course and link to certain variables and actions, thereby setting up a custom interaction. If you’d like to start from a template, eLearning Brothers offer a library of readymade interactions like Puzzle and Drag & Drop that you can easily customize.
Video and audio editor
Lectora has a very capable video tool that lets you record from both your screen and/or webcam and edit the results: you can create transitions from one segment of video to another, add effects, record narration, etc.
This eLearning design software doesn’t have a dedicated instrument for building dialogue simulations. You can try to find a suitable template in the eLearning Brothers library or create your own from scratch using the advanced programming capabilities of the tool.
Lectora is perfectly capable of publishing responsive content, and so is suitable for mobile-oriented usage. However, it doesn’t have an app for downloading published content and viewing it offline like iSpring and Articulate do.
- eLearning formats: AICC, SCORM, and xAPI
- WCAG compliant
- Supports conditional branching and sequenced events
- Ability to add your own scripts, custom libraries, fonts, CSS
- Built-in versioning for collaboration
- Robust quizzing options
- Getting-started course templates that include navigation and sample interactions
- Global content management and update of assets
- Reviewing integration with review link
- Stock images and templates from eLearning Brothers
- More expensive than its competitors
- Clunky, outdated UI
- Not the most intuitive authoring tool on the market
- Advanced features don’t support Section 508
- In order to create a responsive course, you need to edit the same content in 5 (!) different views
Lectora has a legion of fans, but they mostly fall into the ‘power user’ category, meaning they’ve spent considerable time learning the tool and are truly experts with it.
It doesn’t offer a user experience as clean as iSpring Suite or Articulate Rise, but certainly offers a great degree of power and flexibility for experienced and more technically inclined eLearning developers.
Most suitable for larger and geographically dispersed organizations with a mature L&D model encompassing multiple authors and reviewers.
$500/year (Starter), $900/year (Pro), $1390 (Team)
Elucidat’s cloud-based eLearning authoring tool lets you produce responsive SCORM-compliant eLearning content that they claim will work with any modern LMS.
Being an online course authoring software, your whole team, from content designers to subject-matter experts, can contribute to, review and take part in the eLearning authoring process at any time.
Elucidat aims to be an all-in-one cloud-based solution for creating high-quality eLearning, managing content at scale, and analyzing performance. It has all the features you’d expect from an authoring platform: templates, resources, video and audio management, a mobile responsive editor, a layout designer, and the usual interactive elements you’d expect such as buttons, flip cards, and input boxes.
There’s also a focus on collaboration with multiple authors, and powerful features for role-based development and translation projects across multiple regions. These include separate modular views for team leaders, SMEs, designers, and reviewers, who all get access to feature sets relevant to their roles and position in the development process.
The user interface is clear and uncluttered so you can get started building projects immediately using templates and content blocks, and applying style elements with great looking results.
For more experienced developers, there’s a lot that can be done, but this will require an investment of time and training.
Elucidat boasts a wide range of question types for your rated quizzes. You can also download one of their templates to come up with some other type of assessment, like an interactive game with a branching scenario.
This content development software has just a couple of available interaction types that you can use in your courses: these are Hotspot and Flashcards.
Video and audio editor
Unfortunately, Elucidat lets you neither record nor edit audio or video.
The tool also doesn’t feature a dedicated conversation simulation feature.
Elucidat is mobile-ready with all content it publishes being fully responsive, but it doesn’t feature a dedicated mobile app that can download and run courses offline.
- eLearning formats – SCORM (1.2, 2004) and xAPI (TinCan)
- Management of eLearning content at scale
- Streamlined workflows for teams
- Page transition effects
- Ability to create single courses that are responsive on any device
- Personalized learner clips
- Flexible item animation; it’s possible to animate almost any course element
- Easily access data and insight into how users engage with learning content
- XLIFF Translation support for automatic course localization
- Cloud-based means you have to store all your contents on the vendor’s servers
- Lacks flexibility in comparison to other toolkits, so experienced content authors may find themselves limited in their abilities
- Doesn’t give too much control over custom interactions in your content
- Can get more expensive than any of its competitors according to user reviews
Elucidat is well suited to organizations with dispersed L&D teams and requirements to deliver course variations by locality.
The variations manager allows an author to create a central “master course”, which has full control over its “child courses.” Once an edit is made to a master course, the child course will then follow — edits can still be made locally in a child course. Elucidat authors can manage several course variations within one location, saving the hassle of creating numerous versions and editing each one individually.
No price listed; must contact the vendor.
Coassemble is a cloud-based authoring tool + LMS with capabilities of the former, similar to those of Articulate Rise. Pick one of 10 ready-made templates in the longread format and fill it with content bits like images, video, quizzes, and text. There’s a surprising variety of interactive elements that can be added onto the screens of your course: from simple slide sequences to timeline and label images. Finished content can then be assigned to students through the Coassemble LMS.
The user interface of Coassemble is not so well thought out as, say, iSpring’s or Articulate’s. However, it’s still pretty quick to get used to if you’ve ever tested a SaaS application. The usual dashboard and sidebar formula works well, only rarely leaving you to wonder where to click if you need to publish your course, for example.
This authoring tool has 8 question types, including drag-and-drop, label image, spot the mistake, and a few others. Also, there are some additional features like the possibility of adding written tips and audio to questions.
Coassemble offers 16 different interaction types or ‘interactive screens.’ as they call them. The selection includes ubiquitous accordion and tabs, as well as some new templates like the side-by-side slide template and word circle template. Overall, it supplies a solid collection of interactive content screens for a web-based authoring software.
Video and audio editor
There are no audio or video editing capabilities like those usually found in SaaS authoring services.
The software doesn’t have a built-in conversation simulator, but there’s a feature that allows you to upload SCORM packages to courses. Hence, you can create a dialogue simulation in a different tool, export it as SCORM, and then upload it to Coassemble.
The content that can be produced with Coassemble is 100% mobile-ready and can be used on both iOS and Android. The company doesn’t offer a mobile app for their LMS yet, so the only option you have to use such content on a smartphone is the web browser.
- eLearning formats: SCORM
- User-friendly interface
- 8 question and 16 interaction types available
- Hosted in the cloud – you can author content from any platform or location
- Can import SCORM modules to add them to your online courses
- The product is also an LMS, so finished modules can be assigned to learners right away
- No dedicated mobile app for taking courses on smartphones
- Interface looks clunky and poorly designed on certain screens
- Just a few templates available when you start a new course – would like to see more in the future
- SCORM can only be exported as a link to Coassemble’s server
Coassemble will be an interesting product to try for small teams that need to start training their staff as soon as possible. The combined authoring tool + LMS functionality ensures that, as soon as a new course is ready, it can be put to good use and shared with learners. Of course, there are some limitations that stem from the web nature of the app, but the extended selection of interactions and question types will make up for it, making the training process engaging.
Several plans, starting from $490/year
To help you compare each HTML5 authoring tool in more detail, we’ve compiled a comparison sheet. It’s based on the features that eLearning designers and developers expect from the best eLearning authoring tool:
|iSpring Suite Max||Adobe Captivate||Articulate Storyine||Articulate Rise||Camtasia||Coassemble||Lectora||Elucidat|
|Type of solution||Robust HTML5 authoring suite, including a quiz editor, |
a dialogue simulator, an interaction editor, and a video studio.
|Powerful authoring tool with advanced capabilities. Part of Adobe Creative Suite.||Desktop authoring software for Windows that offers complete control over training content’s logic.||Cloud-based longread authoring tool with everything needed to jumpstart an eLearning project.||Video/audio editing powerhouse for Mac and Windows with some eLearning capabilities like SCORM support.||Alternative to Articulate Rise – many interaction types available, but fewer export options and stability.||Online collaborative authoring suite with great WCAG compliance and translation tools.||Authoring tool with a focus on teamwork and extensive versioning and regional variation options.|
|Can insert images||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Can insert video||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Can embed video from YouTube/Vimeo||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Can insert audio||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Can insert equations||Yes||No||No||No||No||No||No||No|
|Built-in visual content library||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||Yes||Yes|
|Built-in audio/video clip library||No||No||Yes (stock library)||Yes (stock library)||Yes||No||Yes||No|
|No. of question templates||14||9||20||4||4||8||12||15|
|№ of interaction templates||14||19||20||10||0||16||100+ (Available via eLearning Brothers plug-in only)||8|
|Voice-overs for interactions||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Built-in Audio and Video Editor|
|Virtual reality projects||No||Yes||No||No||Yes||No||No||No|
|Publishing options||HTML5, Video, SCORM (1.2, 2004), xAPi/Tincan, AICC, cmi5, HTML5|
HTML5, SWF, SCORM (1.2, 2004), AICC, xAPI, Exe
HTML5, Video, SCORM (1.2, 2004), xAPi/Tincan, AICC, cmi5, MP4, Exe
HTML5. PDF, AICC, SCORM, xAPI, cmi5
|SCORM 1.2, 2004||SCORM, Online link, xAPI||ReviewLink, HTML5, Tin Can API, SCORM, AICC||SCORM, Online link, API integration|
|Tech support||Via phone, email, or online chat,||Via phone or chat||Helpdesk ticketing||Helpdesk ticketing||Helpdesk ticketing||Via phone and email||Via email or contact form||Via phone and email|
To Sum Up
We hope you found this information useful and are on your way to selecting an eLearning authoring tool that’s perfect for you.
Sign up for a trial of each authoring software you’re interested in, use it, and make sure you enjoy it. If your authoring experience is causing you problems and forces you to deal with technical issues instead of making great learning content, consider another tool.
If you want to produce content right out of the gate without spending hours training or reading support forums, start with an iSpring Suite 30-day trial and explore all its features right now.