Rapid eLearning Authoring Tools – 3 Behaviours to Avoid

During the past several years, we’ve seen rapid eLearning authoring tools become massively popular among instructional designers and learning professionals. Generally, rapid eLearning tools comprise of different slide-based authoring tools. Compared to the “old”, programming-heavy eLearning development, these tools provide huge advantages. Learning professionals’ work becomes faster and easier, thanks to the built-in capabilities and massive content libraries. Due to the efficiency, these tools have become a standard of sorts for eLearning development. This has led to a worrying development – professionals believing these tools solve all eLearning needs. Don’t get me wrong, we love the tools and use them on a daily basis ourselves. However, there are a few things that we like to remind learning professionals of when working with these.

Slide-based learning is not the answer for everything

A vast majority of the most popular rapid eLearning authoring tools are slide-based (e.g. Articulate, iSpring, Captivate). As wonderful as these tools are, the slide structure empowering them is also their biggest problem. Sometimes e.g. videos or animations will provide a much better result than slide-based elements. Instead of automatically resorting to a storyboard or slide-based course, learning professionals should consider what could be the most effective modalities out there. The rise of mobile learning has brought about another problem for these rapid eLearning tools. The slide-based output is not really mobile friendly. Sure, all the major providers support HTML5 and have even worked on built their own mobile players. Yet, the user experience leaves a lot to be desired, e.g. readability, font sizes, image scaling etc.

You should never sacrifice interactivity for faster development

The wonderful quality of rapid eLearning authoring tools is in their name. “Rapid”. The unique value proposition of these slide-based tools is that you are able to build much more interactive material with them. You can prompt learners with questions, build adaptive branching scenarios, gamification, assessment and much more. The unfortunate fact is that many learning professionals don’t take advantage of these capabilities. The result of eLearning authoring may be a slide deck with very little interactivity, except an integrated test in the end. In terms of learning value, the result is very close to a powerpoint presentation (read: very little value). Digital learning needs to be interactive, and unfortunately it takes a bit of time. But if you’re not using the rapid eLearning authoring tools to build interactive learning, you might as well not use them at all.

Too many templates result in too little variety

Another factor considerably speeding up the content development process with rapid eLearning authoring tools is templates. Just like in powerpoint and other slide deck builders, you can build pre-defined templates to use across the spectrum. With a good template master, you could potentially save yourself almost all the visual design work. However, the problem with using too many templates is the variety of end products. If you’re using rapid eLearning authoring tools, I suspect you’re not only building one course. Instead, you’re building many. And when you build many, the courses start to repeat themselves very fast, even though the actual content is different. This is a killer for learning engagement. Learners grow easily frustrated with the lack of variety and learning becomes just a click-through exercise rather than immersing in engaging and fresh content.

Overall, many companies do use these tools to their full potential. However, as they are so easy and quick to use, it’s easy to space away and forget what really makes a great learning experience. Be vary of that, and try to avoid the behaviours above!

Are you using rapid eLearning tools or would you like to give them a try? We can recommend you some of our favourites that we frequently use. Just drop us a note

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