Survey results and free tools
We spend a lot of our time talking with people like you about authoring tools: what you’re looking for from a tool, which ones will do what you want, and how to get the most from them. And how about some ideas for free ones? We look at all the answers in our survey results with Jane Hart as guest commentator.
We decided to find out more about your needs on tools this month. First, we ran a survey to find out how you ‘re using authoring tools – and thanks to the many of you who responded. So many of the responses provoked the question ‘So, which free tools out there can help with these challenges’?
Be a shame to let that question go unanswered, so we decided to ask the Queen of free e-learning tools, Jane Hart of the Centre for Learning and Performance Technologies, to be our guest commentator on the tool findings.
Here’s what you, Jane, and we had to say about authoring tools…
1. Captivate and Articulate = Dominate
Survey said: far and away the most popular tools in use for authoring e-learning are Captivate, with 45% of respondents using it, and Articulate (30.3% of respondents). Both are reasonably priced and highly versatile desktop tools, so it’s not too surprising they’re out in front. On the list, but further back were Lectora, and server-based tools including Mohive, Atlantic Link and Composica. One person is still using Authorware, which must be the e-learning equivalent of those guys running around in the jungle who think WW II is still raging.
Jane said: “Firstly, I would say that this aligns with our findings. Captivate and Articulate ranked quite highly on our Top 100 Tools for Learning. However, a couple of free tools to create formal courses that also made it onto the Top 100 Tools list are eXe (open source) and CourseLab - both available to download. But don’t overlook free hosted services, like Udutu for online course authoring.”
2. Media matters most
Survey said: Of the list of features that you consider most important in authoring tools, top of the list was ‘the ability to manage and manipulate graphics and other media’. Over 68% of you rated this the most important feature in a tool, ahead of price and vendor reputation. 45% of you rated the ability to have some flexibility in instructional design as a very important consideration. Also near the top were ‘ease of use’ (always good…) and ‘ability to publish SCORM/AICC compliant courses’ (shame on the tool that won’t, we say..).
Jane said: “Some image and photo editing tools that made the Top 100 list include the free tools Paint.NET and GIMP as well as the commercial tools Photoshop and Paint Shop Pro, and for recording and editing sound, the free, open source tool, Audacity. For formal course design then tools like eXe and Articulate’s Rapid E-Learning Studio (mentioned above) as well as Lectora support the formal course design process.”
3. IT training is still the it thing
Survey said: It’s still top of the list after all these years - IT training is the most common topic you’re using authoring tools for, out in front with 79% of respondents listing it as their top need – What would we do if they started making software intuitive? Not far behind were the usual suspects of compliance and product training. All lend themselves well to authoring tools.
Jane said: Systems training lends itself to the use of both annotated screen captures as well as software demonstration videos (or screencasts as they are often referred to). Whereas the commercial tools like SnagIt (for screen captures) and Camtasia Studio and Captivate (for screencasting) dominate the market because of their sophisticated functionality, Jing is a free tool (from the same stable as Camtasia) that provides a useful entry-level product for understanding the power and potential of screen captures and screencasts, as does another free tool, Wink.
4. It's nice to be flashed