An eLearning authoring tool is essentially software that allows developers to build eLearning modules that can be uploaded to a Learning Management System (or similar type of platform). These tools are sometimes referred to as Rapid Authoring Tools.
An eLearning module is a learning experience that a learner engages with by working through a series of screens that can be presented a number of different ways using text, images, video and audio. eLearning modules are published as ZIP files and then uploaded to the Learning Management System.
The key reason we use an authoring tool and upload to an LMS is so we can track interactions and quiz data. This is done using SCORM.
The authoring tool (Captivate, Articulate) writes the SCORM instructions automatically for you so you don’t need to worry about that, apart from ticking the settings in the tool when you publish.
SCORM Explained 101: An introduction to SCORM
SCORM, which stands for Sharable Content Object Reference Model, is a set of technical standards for eLearning software products. SCORM tells programmers how to write their code so that it can “play well” with other eLearning software. It is the de facto industry standard for eLearning interoperability. Specifically, SCORM governs how online learning content and Learning Management Systems (LMSs) communicate with each other. SCORM does not speak to instructional design or any other pedagogical concern — it is purely a technical standard.
eLearning modules can also contain activities that the learner needs to interact with to consume the information. Interactions like “drag and drop”, “click to reveals” and quizzes help to “reinforce” key concepts. Well, that’s the idea anyway. You might recall from the Instructional design video from Tim Slade, that these types of interactions can be misused which can degrade the experience.
While we understand that the decision around which tools are used in your workplace may have already been decided by the time you join an organisation, we also appreciate that there may be times where you could be involved in the decision making process to bring these tools into the mix.
Before you take a deep dive into the specific tools, it’s worth exploring the different ways that this software can be delivered.
The following article looks at the difference between Cloud based tools and Desktop tools and how they work.