How to use cloud authoring tools to overcome the pains of developing elearning

If you are an eLearning manager, you’ve likely experienced similar frustrations as I have in the process of building and deploying eLearning products. This post examines the pain points we sometimes experience and how they can be resolved.

bob vs lucy

A tale of two elearning authors

Easy-to-use authoring tools and a systemized process are key factors that help to create a high-performance eLearning development team.

But frustration seems to always hold back eLearning teams. According to Steve Penfold, director at Elucidat, it was out of conversations with such frustrated eLearning managers that Elucidat was developed.

“We wanted to make developing eLearning as straight forward for teams as possible, without compromising the end product,” he said.

To show you just how frustrating developing eLearning can be, I want to share a story – a story of two eLearning managers, Bob and Lucy. Both these people work in enterprise organizations and both manage teams of eLearning authors.

Let’s examine the differences between Bob and Lucy’s experiences.

Meet Bob: He uses a desktop authoring tool

desktop authoring tools

First up is Bob. Bob’s team uses desktop tools to develop, assemble and publish digital files. Desktop tools do what they say on the tin: they work off your desktop. This presents a challenge for Bob. His team of talented authors needs to be working on the same project simultaneously so they can build it quickly and get it deployed. Bob’s team has two common problems that hold back productivity:

  • Multiple versions of the same file. Everyone has their own copy of the files, which means there are multiple versions containing different updates.
  • Version control. No one is sure which version is the most current.

Sound familiar?

Bob is experiencing six common challenges associated with desktop authoring tools:

Only one person can work on a file at a time

Bob’s project management budget blows out because only one of his team is ever working on the file at a given time. He has to pay for resources that are hanging around – doing nothing – waiting to work on the file.

Project files need to be stored on local machines

Bob has to ensure that all project files are on local machines and not still on the network. A lot of desktop tools don’t work well across a network, so doing so means risking crashing the software, or worse, corrupting the file.

So unless Bob is super organized or has set up an SVN (sub-versioning software) to run a system of check ins/check outs with file merger capabilities, he still goes to sleep at night worrying about multiple versions of the same project and version control! Poor old Bob.

Authors working in different locations have to use VPN’s

What’s more, Bob has to manage eLearning authors working in different locations. VPNs (virtual private networks) help him manage that, but he still has the issues associated with working with desktop tools. Team members have to take files off the VPN, work on them on their local machine and then re-upload them over to the VPN again.

Authors need to install software on their local machines

Every member of Bob’s team needs to have the tools loaded onto their local machines. A check-out system is also needed to prevent multiple people from working on a file and then inadvertently creating multiple versions.

Additional software required to log and track changes

Bob also needs to use software to log and track changes. Whilst SVN software such as Tortoise shows changes and helps resolve conflicts, it’s an added step that slows down the eLearning development process.

Maintenance costs

If Bob needs to update a course, he needs to find the files, make the changes and then republish it. This is time consuming and expensive.

Meet Lucy: She uses a cloud-based authoring tool


Lucy runs a team of office-based and remote eLearning authors. She overcomes the challenges of desktop authoring tools by using a cloud-based tool.

Collaborate in the cloud

Lucy’s tool has a development environment for all the projects the team is working on and one shared file for each project. Her team can work on one project file with no requirement for proprietary software to be loaded on each member of her team’s machine.

One up-to-date file version

Lucy doesn’t have the headache of having to deal with multiple versions of files. Each project file automatically gets updated with changes and additions. Her team members can work on a project file simultaneously without having to upload and download each time they need to make a change. In Lucy’s authoring tool, a project file is always the most recent, incorporating everyone’s updates – all of the time.

Track and log updates

Lucy’s tool incorporates features that help her track updates. There’s a comment tool that lets team members, subject matter experts and clients add notes for the rest of the team. She can quickly see what changes or additions have been made or requested and by whom. Lucy can throw away her separate spreadsheet she uses for tracking bugs and changes.

No VPN, SVN or network needed

Lucy’s team doesn’t need a VPN, an SVN, proprietary software or even a network; they just need a computer with a browser like Chrome and an internet connection.

Lucy’s cloud-based authoring tool brings all the development together into one easy-to-use environment. This empowers her team to work more productively since they are not restricted by the challenges of a desktop tool. Lucy is able to deliver projects on a tighter time frame and at a lower budget.

Take the pain out of elearning development by using a cloud-based authoring tool

Cloud-based authoring tools – like Elucidat – provide an umbrella environment that brings all the tools an eLearning team needs together into one ecosystem. Whilst Bob is still using multiple tools throughout the eLearning development cycle, Lucy is streamlining development with one simple tool.

Elearning managers can realize three key benefits when they move to a cloud-based authoring tool:

  • Clear process: all the stages – design, build, test and iterate – are handled in one system
  • Holistic: no need to switch to other software for reviewing, commenting and tracking changes
  • Improved productivity: teams can work simultaneously on projects whilst the software merges workflows and keeps everything current

Sometimes, we assume improvements to budget, time and resource functions within the project lifecycle will come at the expense of quality, but this is not the case with the new generation of eLearning software.

Authoring tools like Elucidat do not compromise quality of the end product because they are designed with best practice and compliance in mind. These tools help learning managers develop best-practice eLearning while providing their team with the technology to be creative and work productively.

To help you visualize exactly what is possible with a cloud-based authoring tool, take a look at these eLearning examples that have been built with Elucidat:

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