The Best Elearning Authoring Tools & Software (2021 Update)

New technologies are changing the way we produce and deliver digital learning – with elearning authoring tools being a must have in your L&D toolkit. Choosing the right elearning authoring software for your business can be a challenge and will depend on a number of factors including your technical expertise, how sophisticated you would like your learning experience to be, the volume of elearning content you need to produce, the size of your team, your budget and whether you require translation.

The best elearning authoring tools and software

We have reviewed twelve of the best elearning tools against the following criteria: quality of elearning output, speed and efficiency of authoring, and scaling up of elearning production. Compare the most popular authoring platforms on the market in 2021 and find your perfect match!

Read on to discover: 

What is an authoring tool?

An authoring tools is a piece of software that enables the creation of digital content. This could be as simple as creating a Microsoft Word document, or as complex as a graphic design tool. Elearning authoring software allows the user to generate and manipulate multimedia objects for the content’s intended purpose.

In the realm of learning and development, authoring tools are used to create digital learning content, or ‘elearning’. Elearning authoring tools are most commonly used by instructional designers in L&D teams to create training materials for their employees. This training can include compliance, onboarding, hard and soft skills, etc. Elearning authoring software ranges from powerful and highly specialized, to very basic.

Types of course authoring tools

Course authoring tools come in many shapes and sizes. For example, several learning management systems (LMS – software used to distribute digital learning content) come with built-in authoring tools. These are often very basic, and restrict authors with learning design experience. On the other hand, ‘standalone’ course authoring software are solely developed for the production of digital learning – giving instructional designers more freedom to create high-quality, customized content.

Authoring tools for elearning can also be desktop-based, or cloud-based. For more info on this check out our advantages and disadvantages of cloud-based elearning authoring tools and desktop-based software guide

Each elearning creation software comes with their own range of supported elearning formats, including SCORM (1.2, 2004), xAPI/TinCan, HTML5, AICC, cmi5 and LTI. For more info on what SCORM is, SCORM versions, and how it compares with other standards don’t forget to check out our SCORM: A complete guide to the Shareable Content Object Reference Model guide.

Is elearning software different to an authoring tool?

Elearning software is a broad term that could be used to refer to many elements within a learning technology stack. Within the elearning software category you’ll find softwares that focus on different aspects of the elearning. For example, Elearning Authoring Tools are used to create effective, engaging elearning courses. Learning Management Systems (LMSs) then automate the administration, testing, tracking and reporting of these courses. Read more about the key differences in our guide to choosing the best elearning platform for 2021 and beyond.

Why do you need an authoring tool?

Unsure whether you need an authoring software to meet your elearning objectives. Here are our top five reasons to use an authoring tool:

  1. Allows you to personalize your content and adopt a people-centered approach to elearning
  2. Enables you to collaborate with your team effectively, allowing authors, SMEs and stakeholders to work together seamlessly
  3. Makes it easy to roll out elearning courses in different locations and update content to comply with new regulations quickly and with ease
  4. Allows you to continually improve your elearning by analyzing data and collating feedback on how your content performs
  5. Enables you to adapt to new demands and produce supporting elearning content quickly 

Criteria for evaluating the best elearning authoring tools

What makes a great authoring tool?  In this guide, the key criteria we have used to compare and contrast the best authoring tools on the market are:

Quality of elearning output:

  • Level of customization available
  • Variety of formats to choose from
  • In-built design guidance 
  • Branching options available

Speed and efficiency:

  • How quickly you can produce high quality elearning
  • Features that can speed up your production
  • Collaboration options for streamlining the feedback process
  • Ease of having multiple authors working on a project simultaneously
  • Level of experience required for the author to use the platform effectively 

Scalability:

  • How easy it is to reuse, edit and scale your elearning content
  • Cost-efficiency for producing elearning content at scale
  • Import and export features
  • Translation options 

12 elearning authoring tools & software to consider

In this review we’ll be taking a deeper dive into 12 online learning software you might want to consider. Specifically, we’ll be looking at: 

  1. Elucidat – Helps big employers drive down the cost business-critical training
  2. Adobe Captivate – Gives experienced authors the power to create high-quality content
  3. Articulate Storyline 360 – Ideal for individual users who prefer PowerPoint, with an added layer of customization
  4. Articulate Rise 360Users with access to Articulate 360 can produce simple elearning courses fairly quickly
  5. GomoBest for experienced learning designers that are not looking for advanced customization
  6. LectoraGives traditional, capable authors an effective tool for producing HTML5 content
  7. AdaptDesigned for technical authors who are looking to design bespoke HTML5 authoring through back-end design
  8. DominKnowPerfect for teams whose focus in on responsive screen capture and software simulation
  9. Easygenerator Authoring software designed for small teams who need to produce simple content, fast
  10. iSpring SuiteDesktop PowerPoint-based tool that’s a great option for novice learning designers who don’t have to worry about updating content regularly
  11. Evolve – Built for teams who need to collaborate together and don’t mind putting in the time to learn how to use it
  12. Camtasia – Video editing suite most commonly used for screen recordings, tutorials or product demos.

Save time comparing tools by downloading our authoring tool comparison template. We’ve completed the Elucidat column for you!

In case you are strapped for time to review in detail all of the 12 best elearning authoring tools in this blog, here’s a handy comparison table.

Elearning Software Type of Solution Quality of Output Speed and Efficiency Scalability
1. Elucidat Elearning authoring platform High Fast High
2. Adobe Captivate Standalone authoring tool High Slow Low
3. Articulate Storyline Authoring suite Medium Slow Low
4. Articulate Rise Online authoring tool Low Fast Medium
5. Gomo Online authoring tool Medium Fast High
6. Lectora Standalone authoring tool Medium Slow Medium
7. Adapt Online authoring tool Low Fast Medium
8. DominKnow Online authoring tool High Average Medium
9. Easygenerator Online authoring tool Low Fast Low
10. iSpring Suite Authoring suite Medium Average Medium
11. Evolve Online authoring tool Medium Fast Medium
12. Camtasia Video authoring software Medium Medium Low

Best elearning authoring tools – detailed review & comparison

1. Elucidat

Elucidat makes it easier for ambitious teams to produce digital learning at scale. Being a fully-cloud based elearning authoring platform, businesses can respond to change faster – and smarter!

With Elucidat you can empower experts to share knowledge and give staff access to learning on any device. From product training to compliance – Elucidat helps reduce costs and increase business performance.

Quality of elearning output

Elucidat comes with an extensive library of pre-built templates that helps even novice authors create great-looking interactive experiences. For those wanting to innovate, the “layout designer” feature allows you to build your own page designs without needing to code.

There are some brilliant elearning examples on Elucidat’s showcase, many of which can be Gifted into your account (or free trial) to use as a template. You can check out our favorites in our Top elearning examples blog. 

Flexible rules and branching options enable authors to build personalized learning paths to deliver great learning experiences. Social polling, gamification and a whole host of interaction types give you plenty of opportunity to hook in learners.

Elucidat’s analytics dashboards provide authors with detailed data on how learners are interacting with their course, enabling you to continually optimize for engagement.

Speed and efficiency

Elucidat’s feature set makes creating high-quality learning faster and more efficient.

With Elucidat’s Learning Accelerator you can produce training 4x faster. The platform will recommend elearning templates based on your project goals. You just add content (with best practice tips along the way). Simple as that.

Other effective features that will speed up your production include:

  • A template library
  • A suite of interactions
  • Brand importer
  • A WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) interface  
  • The ability to apply existing styles to new projects

The more advanced features, as with any platform, can take a little longer to grasp. But, the efficiency pay-off comes when you save your pages to reuse for future projects.

As a cloud-based authoring tool, it’s easy for multiple authors to work on the same project – at the same time. Helping the whole team to meet a deadline. Stakeholders can also log comments within the authoring tool on specific parts of a page using the review feature. Making the headaches experienced with desktop-based tools a thing of the past. 

Once a course is complete, sharing and releasing has never been easier. Elucidat’s Learning Launchpad allows authors to manage mobile-friendly elearning portals with ease. You can skip the admin and get content to learners more efficiently.

Scalability

Elucidat was born to help teams with scaling up elearning production. With customizable user roles and permissions, you can invite all of your stakeholders to collaborate within the platform – from your learning designers to subject matter experts.

The central asset library lets colleagues share assets across departments. Want to replace an image, logo or video? Update across multiple courses with one click.

The variations manager centralizes courses with several versions into one simple ‘master course’. Child courses then sit underneath it. The parent-child relationship means all versions are editable at the master level – saving a tonne of time editing several variations of the same course!

Translations are easy too! Using a simple import/export feature, upload a new language and watch the course adjust its size. Then make separate edits to each individual translated course using variations manager.

Supported elearning formats

Elucidat’s authoring platform is totally cloud-based, which produces high-quality, SCORM compliant HTML5 elearning content. Supporting most elearning formats, as well as advanced xAPI data reporting and mobile responsive content, Elucidat is considered as one of the top SCORM elearning authoring tools for both Mac and Windows.

Elucidat supports the following elearning formats:

  • HTML5, Video, SCORM (1.2, 2004), xAPI (TinCan)
  • Windows, Mac OS

Elucidat Strengths

  • Ready-made templates that will make your production 4x faster
  • Wide range of interactions and features, including rules, branches and badges
  • Out-of-the-box pages, plus the flexibility to make your own
  • Easy to use WYSIWYG interface
  • Advanced brand management to meet guidelines
  • Flexible permissions and user roles
  • Variations management to simplify working at scale
  • Sophisticated translation process
  • Outstanding support team, included as part of your package

Elucidat Weaknesses

  • A time investment needed to utilize the full capabilities of the tool
  • Can seem expensive if you’re not producing much content, as the platform is designed for teams creating and managing elearning at scale. More on the ROI of Elucidat here.

Best for:

  • Authors of all abilities 
  • Big enterprise employers looking to get a quicker business impact 
  • Teams that need to produce high-quality elearning, fast
  • Teamwork on a global scale
  • Comprehensive tutorials and user support
  • People-centered learning 

Case studies and awards:

Elucidat was awarded a number of prestigious industry awards over recent years including  a Brandon Hall Gold Award for Best Advance in Course Authoring in 2020.

Elucidat’s customers include world leading brands across many industries such as finance, for example Metro Bank and nCino, and retail, with global names such as  Tesco, Benefit and Kingfisher. You can see a full list of Elucidat customer case studies here.

Book a demo of Elucidat to get started with a free trial.

Test Drive Elucidat Today!

2. Adobe Captivate

Captivate is a desktop application available for both Windows and Mac. It’s one of the most powerful elearning authoring tools in this list, but comes with a steeper learning curve and its own set of challenges.
Adobe captivate elearning authoring tool review

Quality of elearning output

Experienced authors can create learning content using customization options from the (relatively limited) themes available. The themes are similar to PowerPoint, with color palettes and slide masters defining the look and feel.

Captivate’s built-in screen recording allows you to create good quality systems demos and build sandpit-style screens for users to practice in. Complex interactions, mobile gestures and geo-location features are all possible and can contribute to a high-quality experience, but the options for personalized learning are limited.

The 2019 release improved the ability to create responsive designs for multiple devices using “Fluid Boxes.”

While elearning content can be viewed on multiple device types, design decisions can’t be made on a per device basis, so content isn’t truly mobile responsive.

Speed and efficiency of authoring

Captivate’s steep learning curve means significant training and ramp-up time is needed for new authors. Simple content is relatively quick to produce, but if you’re using more advanced interactions, be prepared to put in some hours.

Being desktop-based, the sharing, reviewing and updating process can be painful and time-consuming, with the risk of version control issues across multiple stakeholders. Any changes after launch require new files to be uploaded to the LMS, which takes time and effort.

Scalability

Because Captivate is a desktop authoring application, it’s not set up for working collaboratively and consistently at scale. Themes and master slides can be shared to installations on other computers, but the process is manual and can be tricky. The same applies to asset management; each desktop user is “on their own” when it comes to creating content and assets.

Supported elearning formats

Captivate is a powerful SCORM elearning software. Previously a desktop-based tool for windows, a 2019 update saw two major updates: some tool aspects were brought online and Mac users could finally access the software.

Captivate learning software supports a wide range of formats:

  • HTML5, SCORM, AICC, xAPI (TinCan)
  • Windows, Mac OS

Captivate Strengths

  • Able to produce complex interactions (if you know how)
  • Output can be location aware (i.e., you can hook into a device’s geo-location capability)
  • Interactivity in the output can recognize common mobile-device gestures (e.g., pinch and zoom, swipe)
  • Accelerometer-based interaction types
  • Good for screen recording and simulations
  • Ability to create virtual reality (VR) learning experiences

Captivate Weaknesses

  • Steep learning curve with limited support
  • Limitations of a desktop tool – challenging collaboration, review and version control
  • Traditional linear style design compared to more modern elearning authoring tools
  • Painful process to update and maintain existing content

Best for:

  • Experienced authors
  • Production of localized elearning
  • Interactive learning experiences
  • Mobile-ready elearning content 
  • Easy publishing options

Case studies & awards

Adobe Captivate has customer success stories from brands including American Airlines and Indiana University.

Check out our in-depth comparison and review of Adobe Captivate and Elucidat authoring tool. 

Or… Check out the authoring software on the Captive website.

3. Articulate Storyline 360

Articulate Storyline is a Windows desktop authoring application that leverages a PowerPoint look and feel. It has a modest learning curve considering the flexibility that it offers—especially if you already know your way around PowerPoint.
Articulate storyline authoring software review

Quality of elearning output

If you’ve got the skills and competencies, Storyline allows you to author highly customized and engaging content. Like Powerpoint, you can control theme pages via project colors and slide masters. This makes it very flexible, but a bit tricky to control consistent branding over multiple courses and Storyline installations.

Most end-user interactivity is achieved through the use of triggers, which fire when a screen object is tapped, clicked, rolled-over, etc. When one of these user-actions is detected, other screen objects can be shown or hidden, auto page navigations can be invoked, variables can be adjusted, or media can be started/paused. This setup opens up a lot of possibilities when no coding is required; authoring actions are entered via a selection interface.

Speed and efficiency of authoring

Articulate Storyline is a complex tool, so where organizations don’t invest the time in training, authoring efficiency can be limited. As one of the most widely used elearning authoring tools, however, many designers will have experience with Storyline already.

As a desktop-based tool, collaboration and review can hamper efficiency in the production process compared to cloud-based authoring tools. And once projects are launched, it can be time-consuming to update elearning content or fix bugs.

Scalability

As a desktop-based tool, collaboration, and therefore scalability, is limited. It’s tricky to share courses with others for reuse, and assets aren’t housed centrally.

There’s an export feature that pulls out all of the text from a course to aid translation, but manual adjustments need to ensure the new language(s) still fit on the page, etc.

Supported elearning formats

Articulate is one of the oldest, and most widely used windows-based elearning authoring tools. Articulate’s primary SCORM compliant authoring tool, Articulate Storyline, is a powerful windows-based application that supports most elearning formats:

  • AICC, SCORM, xAPI (TinCan)
  • Windows

Storyline Strengths

  • Good flexibility and control in terms of content output
  • A commonly used tool, so designers tend to have experience
  • Very active online community
  • Reasonably powerful show me/try me/test me software simulation elearning capability

Storyline Weaknesses

  • Not truly mobile responsive – it just shrinks the screen
  • More traditional linear design compared to modern elearning authoring tools
  • Collaboration and content updates can be time consuming
  • Don’t get new features and bug fixes instantly
  • Can be very expensive if you have a lot of authors and want to scale content
  • Poor screen reader functionality

Best for:

  • Authors with experience
  • Producing highly-customized content
  • Extensive design capabilities
  • Flexible templates and design features

Case studies & awards

Articulate Storyline 360 has case studies from companies including Insperity and Lexis Nexis. 

Unfortunately, we couldn’t find any specific awards for Articulate Storyline 360 on the Articulate website.

Find out more about how Elucidat compares to Storyline in our in-depth Elucidat elearning authoring software versus Articulate Storyline 360 review blog.

Or… Check out how Storyline fits in as part of the 360 suite on the articulate website

4. Articulate Rise 360

Articulate Rise is a web-based authoring tool included as part of an Articulate 360 update released around the end of 2016. There are a range of prebuilt lesson types, custom learning called “blocks,” interactions, and screencasts to create a range of courses.
Articulate 360 rise authoring software review

Quality of elearning output

Rise is really easy to use with an intuitive interface and provides a range of pre-built, standard interactions, including timelines, processes, labeled graphics, etc. This makes it easy to create interactive content that looks good.

Rise has prioritized ease of content creation over customization. It lets anyone create basic elearning courses with a degree of polish. But, highly skilled learning designers may feel frustrated by the level of flexibility to create unique designs, compared to tools like Storyline or Elucidat.

In terms of customization and branding, Rise lets you pick an accent color and the fonts, but doesn’t go much further.

If you’re looking to create something more innovative or sophisticated, Rise may not be the best online learning software for you.

Speed and Efficiency of Authoring

If you’re looking to create relatively basic, good-looking elearning content, then you can do so quickly in Rise. You don’t need to be an experienced author and can get up and running to create courses by following a sequence of logical steps – starting from scratch of by picking a template.

As a cloud-based authoring tool, it is possible to have authors collaborating and always working on the latest version of the content. Stakeholders can log in and add review comments, which speeds up processes that are slow with tools like Articulate and Storyline.

Scalability

Elearning courses can be cloned and reused to save time when working at scale. You’re also able to create a “block template”, which can then be inserted anywhere in any course.

There is no multi-SCO option available, which makes managing variations and translations more time-consuming. Brand control could also be an issue for teams trying to work at scale with Rise as you’re unable to save and lockdown branding across the account.

Supported elearning formats

Rise, an online-based authoring software, is part of Ariculate’s 360 authoring platform. Giving Mac users to option to use Articulate to create simple SCORM compliant courses. 

Supports:

  • AICC, SCORM, xAPI (TinCan)
  • Windows, Mac OS 

Rise Strengths

  • Easy to use with a simple and intuitive interface
  • Quick to create good-looking (relatively simple) elearning content quickly
  • Screencasting available
  • Cloud-based – easy to update, collaborate and review

Rise Weaknesses

  • Content can look very generic
  • Limited customization and flexibility
  • No translation management
  • Lacking in accessibility options
  • Storage limitations in place

Best for:

  • Authors with little or no prior experience with elearning software
  • Basic ‘no frills’ templates
  • Quick content production 
  • Collaboration between multiple authors and/or stakeholders

Case studies and awards

We couldn’t find any awards or case studies specifically relating to the Rise 360 tool on the Articulate website. 

For a more in-depth look at the Articulate Storyline 360 and Rise authoring tool compared to Elucidat, check out this software review blog.

Or… Explore Rise’s features in more depth on the Articulate website.

Test Drive Elucidat Today!

5. Gomo

Gomo is a cloud-based authoring tool that allows you to create web-style content. Your courses can be hosted online via the web, or offline using the Gomo app. It avoids a lot of the headaches that come with desktop-based tools, but has some limitations in the amount of customization you can do.
Gomo learning online authoring tool review

Quality of elearning output

Gomo comes with a range of themes you can tweak to quickly create elearning that looks modern and on-brand. It’s worth noting that fully customized themes require specialist development, which can be costly if you have grand plans for your visuals.

There are a range of interactive templates available to bring your elearning content to life. The interactions all sit in a two-column structure, which limits your designs a little.

Speed and efficiency of authoring

Pre-built templates and a quick-start wizards soften the learning curve with Gomo, so you can get up and running quickly. The interface is separate from the finished course, though, which means you can’t see what your course will look like as you go.

Scalability

Being cloud-based, Gomo allows authors to collaborate on creating courses. There’s also a multi-sco option that allows translated versions to sit in one package, with learners choosing the language they want to take the course in at the start. This is a handy feature if you’re delivering content globally.

Supported elearning formats

Gomo is a cloud-based authoring tool designed for both windows and mac. It produces HTML5, mobile-first content that can be released to its own LMS.

Supports:

  • HTML5, SCORM, xAPI (TinCan)
  • Windows, Mac OS

Gomo Strengths

  • It’s a cloud-based authoring tool, offering greater flexibility than desktop tools
  • You can produce responsive elearning output
  • They have an offline mobile app and Gomo Central, which is a cloud-based learning portal
  • Ability to provide multi-language courses

Gomo Weaknesses

  • Layout restrictions limit your creativity and give courses a templated look and feel
  • The interface is not intuitive and is tricky to use without a WYSIWYG interface
  • Customization options may not be enough for creative visuals

Best for:

  • Authors of any level
  • Multi-language elearning
  • Basic themes that are easy to tweak
  • Collaboration between multiple authors

Case studies and awards

Gomo’s case studies include GDK, Royal Mail, Santander and Godiva Chocolatier. 

For more info check out the in-depth review of Elucidat authoring tool as an alternative to Gomo Learning. 

6. Lectora Inspire and Lectora Online

In the arena of course authoring tools, Lectora is an elder statesman. The Windows desktop authoring software has been around a long time and is geared towards more experienced authors.

Recently, they have released a cloud-based HTML5 version of the authoring tool called Lectora Online, which gives great flexibility. It can be powerful when you know how to use it, but like others of this ilk, it comes with a steeper learning curve than many of the other tools in the list.
Lectora elearning software review and comparison

Quality of elearning output

There are a ton of pre-built interaction templates available that can be used as they come or tweaked. Some aspects can be changed via the development interface, but for others you may need to use a graphics package to replace existing images. You can create great-looking elearning content with Lectora; however, you need to be a relatively experienced instructional designer and confident with the tool to do so.

Lectora’s new “Responsive Course Design,” or RCD, feature allows you to design courses in the desktop view. The tool then automatically rescales objects to fit on mobile devices. You can then make customizations for each view to fit your desires!

Speed and efficiency of authoring

The steep learning curve means you can’t expect amazing output quickly, but if you invest time, you can create web-style content that looks good.

While Lectora outputs in responsive HTML5, it doesn’t automatically do the work for you when it comes to different layouts. You need to create a new view for each device, which adds a fair amount of time to the build process.

The cloud-based version of the tool enables a review and comment feature, which can speed up your iterations and keep comments from multiple stakeholders in one place.

Scalability

Lector has a translation feature to help you scale one course into multiple languages, but there’s no parent-child relationship between the files. This means that any changes need to be made to each version individually, which is a headache if you’re dealing with multiple versions and languages.

Supported elearning formats

Lectora is an online, cloud-based authoring tool that can be accessed from any operating system. The tool is highly customizable with optional programming elements (if you have the knowledge to do so!)

Supports:

  • HTML5, xAPI (TinCan), SCORM, AICC
  • Windows, MAC OS

Lectora Strengths

  • Free access to Elearning Brothers graphics libraries
  • Good for screen capture and simulations
  • Has an online reviewer collaboration tool using ReviewLink
  • Can import Powerpoint (although it’s worth considering if that’s a good idea!)
  • Error check feature that flags issues before you release

Lectora Weaknesses

  • Steep learning curve with limited support
  • The interface is not user friendly, intuitive or easy to use
  • According to online reviews, Lectora’s customer support is a bit slow and not very helpful
  • Many of the advanced features are not Section 508 compliant

Best for:

  • Experienced authors with design expertise
  • Collating feedback from multiple stakeholders
  • Mobile-friendly elearning content
  • Professional-looking web content 

Case studies and awards 

Lectora’s most recent awards include a 2020 Silver Brandon Hall Group HCM Excellence in Learning Award and EdTech Breakthrough’s Course Authoring Tool of the Year (2019 and 2020). 

Lectora has multiple case studies on their website, including one on their work with the NHS. 

For a more in-depth comparison check out this Elucidat vs Lectora online review.

Or… To understand more about Lectora, check out the Trivantis website.

7. Adapt

Adapt is an open-source authoring tool that creates responsive HTML5 content. Developers anywhere can add new interactions to the community. The authoring tool only makes the tried and tested components from the community available to users.
Adapt elearning authoring tool comparison

Quality of elearning output

You can produce modern, slick-looking content with themes in Adapt, or by making your own themes. However, Adapt works on a grid-like system with blocks of content, so the finished products do all look “blocky” and similar.

There’s a decent range of interactions and assessment features, but they’re all quite “standard” – nothing really creative or different from other tools.

Speed and efficiency of authoring

The authoring tool interface is quite nice and is relatively simple to use. It’s not WSYWIG, though, so the extra “preview” step needs to be used a lot more when creating.

There’s an asset library that’s similar to Elucidat’s, which is good for controlling assets and updating content quickly.

Publishing SCORM releases is a quick download; however, there aren’t any other publishing options.

Scalability

It’s possible to duplicate courses; however, there don’t appear to be any sophisticated translation or variation features, which can limit how efficiently you scale up.

Supported elearning formats

Adapt is a complex learning software requiring in-depth technical development to develop compliant elearning courses. It also includes customizable HTML5 content.

Supports:

  • HTML5, SCORM
  • Windows, Mac OS

Adapt Strengths

  • It’s free!
  • If you’re a developer, or have access to a developer, you can also use the (free) framework rather than the tool and create custom interactions/layouts, etc.
  • The authoring interface is relatively easy to get your head around
  • Responsive HTML5

Adapt Weaknesses

  • Limited set of interactions compared to what the Adapt framework is capable of
  • “Blocky” layout that leads to a lot of content looking generic
  • It’s not cloud-based and can take a while to install

Best for:

  • A cost-effective solution
  • Easy onboarding 
  • Simple, user-intuitive interface
  • Customizable HTML5 content

Case studies and awards:

There are no relevant case studies on the Adapt website. 

Adapt’s awards include Gold for the LearnX – Best Elearning Design Technology Award 2015, Platinum for the LearnX – Best Elearning Design Technology Award  2014 and Platinum for the LearnX – Best Elearning Design Technology Award 2013. However, there was no mention of any more recent ones. 

To learn more about this authoring tool’s features and benefits, check the Adapt website.

8. DominKnow ONE

DominKnow ONE brings together their traditional authoring tool Claro with DominKnow Flow for responsive authoring and screen capture and simulation capabilities. It’s got a traditional Microsoft look and feel and strong capabilities. Like Lectora, it’s not the most intuitive authoring tool out there and reviews highlight the limited support and help offered.
Dominknow authoring tool review

Quality of elearning output

DominKnow creation software allows you to start out with a range of themes and templates, which can be customized. You can also import your Powerpoint content to then edit within the tool.

The responsive design capabilities are strong, and there’s a great range of actions to create varied page types and interactions.

Speed and efficiency of authoring

Once you’ve got your head around the relatively complicated interface, the tool is pretty easy to use. There are lots of templates to get you up and running quickly. Being able to reuse parts of a page, copying into another page is a handy time-saver. The ability to collaborate and review online speeds up the production process compared to desktop tools.

Scalability

Authors can copy a course, the structure, learning objects or pages to create a unique copy of a course, which speeds things up and helps with consistency. DominKnow course authoring tool also has a translation export and import feature.

Supported elearning formats

DominKnow is an online, SCORM compliant elearning authoring tool that creates great HTML5 content – primary best for systems simulating training.

Supports:

  • SCORM, xAPI, AICC, Web  
  • Windows, Mac OS

DominKnow Strengths

  • Enables collaborative authoring and review; they also have user roles (but not as extensive as Elucidat, for example)
  • Strong responsive design capabilities
  • They have a wide range of “Actions” that give you flexibility in creating page types
  • Powerpoint import
  • One of the few tools to offer a product tour to help new users navigate the tool

DominKnow Weaknesses

  • The interface isn’t particularly intuitive, so getting up to speed can be quite slow
  • The Help documentation is sometimes misleading or incomplete
  • Not great at Gamification
  • The customizable theme settings are a bit restrictive

Best for:

  • Basic customizable themes
  • Powerpoint imports
  • Translating content 
  • User support and product tutorials 

Case studies and awards:

Case studies for DominKnow include HMRC, Society of Actuaries and Larmer Brown.

Dominknow’s awards include ‘2020’s Leading Elearning Authoring Software Provider’ by Corporate Vision Magazine and ‘Best Value of an Authoring Tool’ by Capterra. 

Want to learn more? Check out Dominknow’s full feature spec here. 

9. Easygenerator

Easygenerator is a cloud-based elearning platform that has been around since 2013. The clue is in the name…this authoring tool is focused on creating relatively simple elearning content quickly.
Easygenerator authoring software

Quality of elearning output

You can build your own course from scratch and produce responsive designs easily with simple interactions and question types. Alternatively, you can start using a template, which like off the shelf courses come complete with content.

However, the design functionality and interactions available are limited compared to other authoring tools. If you’re looking to create something that looks and feel really bespoke, with advanced interaction types, then this may not be the tool for you.

Speed and efficiency of authoring

As you’d expect, Easygenerator creation software is quick to grasp, and they have pre-built templates to help you get started. The workflow guides you through a series of steps to creating a piece of elearning, making it easy to focus on the task at hand and avoid missing anything crucial.

When editing questions, there is a disconnect between what you’re looking at as an author and what the learner would see. The tool also lacks the ability to reorder answers and switch between multiple-choice and single choice answers. These things slowed our tester down!

You can assign roles to allow different team members to review and collaborate on one course using their “co-authoring” feature.

Scalability

It’s possible to reuse and duplicate elearning content to use again, but this can be a bit of a clunky process.

You can create courses in a number of different languages; however, there doesn’t appear to be a translation tool or way to manage variations of the same course. This is no problem if you’re producing simple content for specific groups, but it would be a challenge if you envision needing to scale up.

Supported elearning formats

Easygenerator is a very simple SCORM compliant authoring tool that creates basic HTML5 content. Expect quick and easy content, with limited output!

Supports:

  • SCORM, xAPI (TinCan), LTI 
  • Windows, Mac OS

Easygenerator Strengths

  • Good for authors who are just starting out building elearning content – no coding necessary!
  • Mobile-friendly responsive design features
  • Ability to import Powerpoint (but we’d suggest you do so with caution!)

Easygenerator Weaknesses

  • Not every question type and interaction available is fully optimized for multiple devices
  • Limited features – although the team is also open to hear suggestions and release updates based on client needs
  • Restrictions on question types/quizzes to certain pricing plans
  • A word limit on many of the long-form questions
  • Only compatible with SCORM 1.2

Best for:

  • Authors with little or no experience using elearning software
  • Producing courses in multiple languages
  • Building elearning courses quickly 
  • Mobile-friendly design 

Case studies and awards 

Easygenerator’s customer success stories includes this from T-Mobile: 

“What made Easygenerator stand out was its very small learning curve, even for people who do not have an e-learning or didactical background.” 

Easygenerator has been recognized by G2, Capterra and Training Industry. You can find a full list of awards on the Easy Generator website.

See Easy Generator’s full feature list here. 

10. iSpring Suite

iSpring Suite is a PowerPoint-based authoring toolkit that allows users to create slide-based courses, quizzes, dialog simulations, screencasts, video lectures, and other interactive learning materials. The output courses are published in HTML5. With a reasonably low learning curve (if you know your way around PowerPoint!) users can hit the ground running, but may be limited the more they progress.

iSpring authoring suite review

Quality of elearning output

Chances are you’ve created a Powerpoint presentation before, so the quality output of iSpring courses won’t come as a surprise. Slide-based courses can be adapted and repurposed into more engaging, customized courses. The end result looks clean and professional, but it still has that PP feel! 

iSpring Suite offers a range of 14 question types, with the ability to create interactive dialog simulations with branching scenarios. There’s even a  library of eLearning assets to pick from, which includes course templates, characters, and more. With that in mind, the level of interactivity and customization is hindered due to PowerPoint integration.

Speed and Efficiency of Authoring

For established PP authors, iSpring Suite should have a pretty small learning curve. Allowing the creation of basic, responsive elearning courses quickly and easily. Being connected directly to the cloud, courses can be uploaded directly online, or saved locally. Although, as you progress further within the tool issues may arise that can hinder production time.

Lack of collaboration makes it difficult for teams to be efficient, and with PowerPoint being a prominently Microsoft based software, Mac users can be left out in the cold. Storing and sending files locally can back the production process complex, making the online upload option the most viable choice. 

Scalability

Learning paths can be created, saved and reused in iSpring for quick access. Completed courses can then be uploaded directly into the cloud for learners to access online, or offline! Courses can be launched through a Learning Management System, or iSpring’s own LMS.

Courses can be copied and reused, but have no direct links, which can make updating courses at scale an issue. Branding also can’t be saved locally, so if you have strict brand standards make sure each of your team members have the right settings!

Supported elearning formats

iSpring is a desktop-based authoring tool, with some online functionality. It is primarily a windows-based elearning software – you can import your PowerPoint and create SCORM compliant, HTML5 content. 

Supports:

  • HTML5, Video, SCORM, xAPI (TinCan), cmi5
  • Windows

iSpring Suite Strengths

  • PowerPoint integration
  • Low learning curve (if experienced in PP)
  • Simple interface
  • Video editing
  • Great for Windows users

iSpring Suite Weaknesses

  • Not available for Mac users (without other software)
  • Can’t create slide-based courses without PowerPoint
  • Not fully cloud-based
  • Requires installation
  • Basic output

Best for:

  • Quick and easy onboarding
  • Simple, responsive elearning output
  • Producing video elearning 
  • Easy content delivery options

Case studies and awards:

Check out the iSpring website for case studies from multiple universities, including Glasgow Caledonian University and The University of Costa Rica.

In 2021, iSpring was named ‘Leader Product at G2 (Europe)’, in addition to ‘Best Value’ by Software Suggest. 

Dive in deeper and check out our head to head review and comparison of the iSpring Suite and Elucidat authoring platform. 

Or… Head to the iSpring site to learn even more about the full suite.

11. Evolve

Evolve is an online elearning authoring tool that builds intuitive, HTML5-based elearning content. Courses built in this tool will work on any platform, device or system. The authoring software is designed for novice authors, meaning it’s quick and easy to create simple content.

Evolve elearning authoring tool review

Quality of elearning output

Evolve allows users to create simple content quickly. It has a good range of components which are all easy to use.

The flexible builder and extensive visual possibilities give a sufficient range of variation, and lets authors adapt each course to the specific needs of their learners.

Although Evolve is effective for creating content quickly, this can hinder its output – with courses often lacking the extra customization needed for high-quality training.

Speed and Efficiency of Authoring

With a range of pre-built templates ready to go, you don’t need to spend much time designing a course. Simply select a ‘block’ that suits your needs and start adding content.

The elearning tool also gives the ability to build branching scenarios with hundreds of variations which work well on mobile.

Only slight drawback is the software’s complex range of settings. With a tonne of settings and extensions to choose from, authors may get tied up in selecting which of the options they require. Once these settings are mastered, Evolve does allow users to create ‘templates’ – so authoring may become simpler with time.

Scalability

Authors can happily apply branding across an entire course and make sweeping changes within minutes. Whether you’re building one or one thousand courses, Evolve course creation software will make branding straightforward.

This said, authors may start running into issues when trying to create variations between courses. Edits cannot be made to course content locally, or across the whole portfolio – meaning keeping courses updated can be a time-consuming job!

Supported elearning formats

Evolve is an online authoring tool that releases courses via web or offline. The platform gives users the ability to create HTML5 content that works on any device. 

Supports:

  • HTML5, SCORM 1.2/2004, Web, Offline
  • Windows

Evolve Strengths

  • Novel interaction with types not seen in some other tools
  • Pay for the time you’re using rather than for a full year
  • Easy and simple collaborative authoring

Evolve Weaknesses

  • Complex range of settings to be configured for each element
  • No way to manage variations of courses
  • Limited to a linear structure

Best for:

  • Novice authors
  • Flexible pricing options
  • Creating content with consistent branding
  • Quick and easy basic content production 

Case studies and awards

Evolve has customer success stories from Pearson Higher Education and Cotton On Group. 

12. Camtasia

Camtasia is an all-in-one software suite for screen recording and video editing. Although foremost a video capture tool, content can be exported as SCORM packages. The software is most commonly used for producing video tutorials, lessons, or product demos – turning them into more compelling video through animation and effects.

Due to its primary focus on video, Camtasia is often integrated, or used alongside, other elearning authoring platforms.

Camtasia video authoring tool

Quality of elearning output

If you’re choosing video as your method of training, and need a snazzy editor to help take your screen recording a step further, then Camtasia is a great choice. The software suite allows the user to add additional layers of interactivity and quizzing to encourage and measure learning within videos.

For mobile learning, Camtasia connects directly to an iOS device for screen recording, with the option to add gesture effects to simulate taps, swipes, and pinches in your video. Callouts, arrows, shapes, lower thirds, and sketch motion can also be added to highlight important points in your video.

The output of these videos will be good – but don’t expect much more than that!

Speed and Efficiency of Authoring

Camtasia is designed for quick and easy authoring. A simple drag and drop interface makes adding, removing or cutting video pretty simple for those who have used a video editor before.

Since 2020, the Camtasia software allows users to use pre-built templates, share files and save custom favorites and presets. Efficiency will develop over time as users make the most of these new features – but you’ll need to invest the time first!

If you’re using PowerPoint, an integration with Camtasia let’s you turn your presentation into a video pretty easily. Simply record with the ‘Add-In’ feature or import slides directly into Camtasia.

There’s also a library of customizable assets, saving you time on sourcing content yourself. Just watch your content doesn’t become too generic!

Scalability

As with any video software, scalability can be tricky.

On plus side, you can instantly upload video content to YouTube, Vimeo, Screencast, or your online video course. Although once a video has been released, you won’t be able to keep it updated.

Project assets can be shared with other users, video files must be exported and saved as a .ZIP file. There’s no central ‘cloud’ to store or access your projects, so make sure your file library is ordered and namely thoroughly

Supported elearning formats

Camtasia is a video editing suite that can be exported to most video formats. The software will not export to flash or HTML-5, but does have a SCORM option.. 

Supports:

  • SCORM 1.2/2004, Web, Offline
  • Windows
  • IOS app

Camtasia Strengths

  • Great for screen capture and video editing
  • Ability to save and re-use presets and templates
  • PowerPoint integration
  • iOS capture

Camtasia Weaknesses

  • Not available for Mac users (without other software)
  • Can’t create slide-based courses without PowerPoint
  • Not fully cloud-based
  • Requires installation
  • Basic output

Business Use Cases for Elearning Software

Elearning software can be utilized in a number of ways, across multiple business verticals to provide impact. Some we’ve highlighted include: 

Compliance training

For finance companies, providing engaging, digestible compliance training is critical. Elearning software enables organizations to produce powerful elearning material at scale, and quickly, to keep pace with the ever-changing regulatory landscape. 

Retail training

Keeping pace in a rapidly shifting industry such as retail can be impossible without the right elearning software. With the right tool, retail companies can produce exceptional learning that addresses the big challenges and ever-changing needs of retail customers. Learn more about how to manage elearning at retail speed. 

Sales Training 

Educating employees on effective sales methods and tactics is important for organizations looking to boost sales and attract the right type of customer. Authoring tools can help company managers to produce and manage highly customizable, branded elearning at scale.

Employee Upskilling 

Organizations looking to provide employees with goal-oriented training designed around specific skills should take advantage of authoring tools in order to track employee engagement, success rates and the impact of their elearning.

Top things to consider when choosing the best authoring software for your team

  • Functionality – How simple or complex do you need the functionality to be?
  • Scalability – How much elearning content do you need to produce and how quickly?
  • Quality – How sophisticated do you need your output to be?
  • Customer support – Are training materials and tutorials available to assist you?
  • Analytics – How straightforward is it to measure how your learners interact with your content and optimize accordingly?
  • User interface – How easy is it to get to grips with the authoring tool and begin using it effectively?

In conclusion

There’s a lot of overlap in the functionality of the best elearning authoring tools shown here, but your requirements – such as the quality and scale at which you want to produce digital learning – will narrow down your shortlist. Ultimately, which is the best elearning software for you and your team will depend on your needs.

If you need to produce high-quality elearning at scale, then an authoring tool like Elucidat would be a great fit for you. Book a demo to learn more, and get set up with a free trial account.

Test Drive Elucidat Today!

Further Information

To help you make the right choice and also to get you thinking about your wider elearning tech stack and strategy, check out some of our other top content: