The Best Elearning Authoring Tools & Software (2020 Update)

New technologies are changing the way we produce and deliver digital learning – with elearning authoring tools becoming an increasingly popular choice. Review and compare the 12 favorite authoring tools on the market in 2020. Plus, find out: What is an authoring tool? What can you achieve with one? Then assess your options!

The best elearning authoring tools and software

What is an authoring tool?

An authoring tool 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. A piece of authoring software allows the user to generate and manipulate multimedia objects for the content’s intended purpose.

In the remit 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, ect. Authoring software ranges from powerful and highly specialized, to very basic.

Types of authoring tools

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’ authoring software are tools solely developed for the production of digital learning – giving instructional designers much more freedom to create high-quality, customized content. This software could be solely desktop-based, or cloud-based – each with its advantages and disadvantages.

Authoring tools also come with their own range of supported elearning formats, including SCORM (1.2, 2004), xAPI/TinCan, HTML5, AICC, cmi5 and LTI. See our detailed article on SCORM vs. xAPI for more info.

Which is the best authoring tool for you?

I think you already know the answer to that…it depends! The best authoring tool for you will depend on a range of factors, including:

  • Your technical expertise
  • Whether you want simple or more sophisticated learning experiences
  • How much content you need to produce and manage
  • Your translation requirements
  • If you are a sole author or work with a wider team
  • Your budget
  • …the list goes on!

Let’s review ten elearning authoring tools and comment on each in respect to the:

  • Ease of use
  • Quality of elearning output
  • Speed and efficiency of authoring
  • Scaling up of production

List of authoring tools in this review

In this review we’ll be taking a deeper dive into 12 digital training authoring tools 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 – Ideal for individual users who prefer PowerPoint, with an added layer of customization
  4. Articulate Rise – Users with access to Articulate 360 can produce simple elearning courses fairly quickly
  5. Gomo – Best for experienced learning designers that are not looking for advanced customization
  6. Lectora – Gives traditional, capable authors an effective tool for producing HTML5 content
  7. Adapt – Designed for technical authors who are looking to design bespoke HTML5 authoring through back-end design
  8. DominKnow – Perfect 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 Suite – Desktop 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. Brainshark –  Easy to use authoring tool targeted at sales teams. Ideal for those looking to create coaching

Top elearning authoring tools comparison chart

Need more of a visual authoring software comparison? Here’s a quick chart of each elearning authoring tool covered.

Elearning Software Type of Solution Quality of Output Speed and Efficiency Scalability Best Suited For
1. Elucidat Authoring platform High Fast High Ambitious teams looking to create high quality elearning at scale, quickly and easily
2. Adobe Captivate Standalone authoring tool High Slow Low Experienced individual authors looking to push the boundaries of online learning
3. Articulate Storyline Authoring suite Medium Slow Low Users who prefer PP, but are interested in adding an extra layer of customization
4. Articulate Rise Online authoring tool Low Fast Medium Articulate 360 users who need to build basic elearning courses quickly and easily
5. Gomo Online authoring tool Medium Fast High Teams that need to deliver relatively simple content online and offline
6. Lectora Standalone authoring tool Medium Slow Medium Traditional, capable authors interested in dipping their toes in cloud-based authoring to create HTML5
7. Adapt Online authoring tool Low Fast Medium Technical authors who want to dig deeper into the workings of a tool, to create HTML5 content
8. DominKnow Online authoring tool High Average Medium Users whose focus is on responsive screen capture and simulation
9. Easygenerator Online authoring tool Low Fast Low Teams who need to create relatively simple elearning content quickly
10. iSpring Suite Authoring suite Medium Average Medium Experienced PP users looking to easily add interactive content
11. Evolve Online authoring tool Medium Fast Medium Great tool for collaboration with a somewhat steep learning curve
12. Brainshark Training authoring software Medium Medium High Anyone looking to create engaging content to power sales readiness and effectiveness

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

12 top elearning authoring tools to consider

1. Elucidat

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

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 pages 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 account) to use as a template.

Flexible rules and branching options enable authors to build complex, personalized learning paths to deliver great learning experiences. The ability to use social polling, gamification and a whole host of interaction types provide 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 check back to update content. Ensuring your digital learning continues to be a success.

Speed and efficiency

A combination of simple (yet effective) features makes creating high-quality learning faster, and smarter.

With Elucidat’s Learning Accelerator you can produce training 4x faster. The add-on makes it easy for anyone to create great elearning quickly. Blueprints are recommended based on your project goals. Just follow the best practice guidelines and create something awesome. Simple as that.

Other effective features that will speed up your production include:

  • A template library
  • A suite of interactions
  • Brand importer
  • A WYSIWYG 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 later when you save your pages to reuse for future projects.

As a cloud-based authoring tool, it’s easy for several authors to work on the same project – at the same time. Helping the whole team to meet a deadline. Stakeholders can also log comments 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. Skipping the admin and getting content to learners more efficiently.

Scalability

Elucidat has many features designed for scaling up elearning production. First off, a central asset library means colleagues can share assets across departments.  Want to replace an asset? Select the replacement and 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 authoring tools for both Mac and Windows.

Supports:

  • HTML5, Video, SCORM (1.2, 2004), xAPI (TinCan)
  • Windows, Mac OS
Elucidat Strengths
  • Ready-made blueprints 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
  • Elearning portal to share courses with learners instantly
  • Advanced brand management to meet guidelines
  • Powerful learning analytics dashboard
  • 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 pricing is designed to deliver ROI to teams creating and managing elearning at scale

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

2. Adobe Captivate

Captivate is a desktop application available for both Windows and Mac. It’s one of the most powerful 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 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 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

A powerful piece of SCORM elearning software. Previously a desktop-based tool for windows, a 2019 update saw the tool bring some aspects online, as well as allowing Mac users to access the tool. Supports a wide range of formats. 

Supports:

  • 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 authoring tools
  • Painful process to update and maintain existing content

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

Learn more about Captivate.

3. Articulate Storyline

Articulate Storyline is a Windows desktop 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

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 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 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 authoring tools. Articulate’s primary SCORM compliant authoring tool, Articulate Storyline, is a powerful windows-based application that supports most elearning formats.

Supports:

  • 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 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

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

Learn more about Storyline.

4. Articulate Rise

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.

However, there isn’t much flexibility to differentiate one of your Rise courses from another – or from anyone else’s, for that matter. The flexibility and range of customization is much more limited than Storyline, so if you’re looking to create something more innovative or sophisticated, Rise may not be the best authoring tool for you.

Speed and Efficiency of Authoring

If you’re looking to create relatively basic, good-looking 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 content by following a sequence of logical steps.

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. There is no multi-SCO option available, which makes managing variations and translations more time-consuming.

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

Learn more about Rise.

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 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. Gomo 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

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

Lectora is an elder statesman in this arena. The Windows desktop authoring tool has been around a long time, they have now 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 some 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!)
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

Learn more about Lectora.

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

A complex online tool requiring in-depth technical development to develop compliant elearning courses. Include 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

Learn more about Adapt

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; however, reviews highlight the limited support and help offered.
Dominknow authoring tool review

Quality of elearning output

DominKnow 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, and 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 also has a translation export and import feature.

Supported elearning formats

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
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

Learn more about Dominknow

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 create your own templates and produce responsive designs easily with simple interactions and question types. However, the design functionality and interactions available are limited compared to other authoring tools. So, 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 is quick to grasp, and they have pre-built templates to help you get started. 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 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

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

Learn more about Easygenerator

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

A desktop-based authoring tool, with some online functionality. Primarily a windows-based elearning software – 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

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

Learn more about iSpring

11. Evolve

Evolve is an online authoring tool that builds intuitive, HTML5-based elearning content. Courses built in this tool will work on any platform, device or system. The 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 tool also gives the ability to build branching scenarios with hundreds of variations which work well on mobile.

Only slight drawback is the tool’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 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

An online authoring tool that releases courses via web or offline. With 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
  • Initial learning curve can be a bit daunting
  • Some components lack flexibility

12. Brainshark

Brainshark is a sales enablement software with a built-in content authoring tool, designed for creating training, coaching and content solutions. The tool is typically aimed at large organizations in heavy compliance-based industries. industries.

BrainShark online training tool review

Quality of elearning output

Brainshark comes with a built in LMS and authoring tool. Presentation-styled courses can be created inside the platform and then shared via their inbuilt LMS. Content created in the platform resembles that of Powerpoint, with the ability to create curriculums with a series of training steps.

The tool lacks complex interactions and capabilities, meaning the quality achieved is relatively low – but serves its intended purpose well.

Speed and Efficiency of Authoring

Authors familiar with Brainshark describe it as a versatile and very easy to use tool, which doesn’t require a background in instructional design. To save time on editing, Powerpoints can be uploaded straight into the tool and edited. Audio and video editing are also available. However, audio comes with it’s limitations, and cannot be paused while recording – making it a repetitive, time-consuming task.

As a combination LMS/Authoring tool, it comes with the advantage of a comprehensive reporting system which allows teams to use data to bring real time product training to learners, as well as track attendance and check test scores. This gives some good guidance on what learning is most effective for learners.

Brainshark might not be the best choice for those teams looking to collaborate. Lack of collaboration within the tool means teamwork, as well as sign off processes and edits, can be a difficult process.

Scalability

By having a built-in LMS, training can be released on a large scale, across several departments. Learners can then also complete courses at a time that suits them. Training can be accessed on any device, although the web version only supports flash, meaning newer computers may have difficulty connecting and the courses may run into issues with longevity.

When making updates, edits will automatically flow into the existing URL for each course, ensuring you won’t have to re-release a course once it’s live. Managing several versions of the same course might be a bit tricky, as each course on the LMS will need to be individually handled.

Supported elearning formats

An online training platform that supports both content authoring and LMS hosting. Has both HTML5 and Flash components – with a supported IOS app. 

Supports:

  • HTML5, SCORM 1.2/2004, Web, Offline
  • Windows
  • IOS app
Brainshark Strengths
  • All updates flow into existing URL
  • Comprehensive reporting system
  • Video editing available
Brainshark weaknesses
  • Mobile app only supports iOS
  • Web-based version of the software is flash-based
  • LMS tier pricing

In conclusion

There’s a lot of overlap in the functionality of the tools shown here, but your requirements – such as the quality and scale at which you want to produce elearning – will narrow down your shortlist.

Related content:

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.

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