What is course authoring software?
Course authoring software platforms empower learning professionals, often alongside content development experts, to author, design, and assemble eLearning courses for learners. These platforms are what elevate a static PDF or slide show presentation to greater heights, creating courses that are engaging, interactive, and full of multimedia elements.
Because course authoring software solutions tend to be robust in functionality, they’re most often used to create content for associations, corporations, and even nonprofit organizations. Essentially, these platforms are used by those with the need for and resources to invest in comprehensive training programs to train a large audience of learners.
Should you invest in an authoring tool?
When it comes to authoring original eLearning courses for your association’s members, there are generally two paths forward:
- Purchase course authoring software and tackle the project internally.
- Work with an eLearning consultant or content development partner to create your courses.
The choice between these two options depends on a few different factors.
For example, as the level of complexity of your courses increases– whether due to the intricacy of the course topic, the various multimedia and engagement methods you want to include, or the elaborate nature of the authoring software you’ve chosen– the harder it will be for members of your team to complete the project. For more robust courses, it’s likely that the scale of the project outpaces the expertise of your team. In that scenario, you’d want to bring in an eLearning expert to help with the project.
Another consideration is the platforms already in your association’s tech stack. For example, your learning management system (LMS) may have course authoring functionality already available native to the system. In that instance, it is worthwhile to employ the tools you already have on hand, rather than attempting to author a course elsewhere and transfer it to your LMS. On the other hand, if you’re looking to author a fairly straightforward course and seeking a simpler course authoring tool to help in the effort, that scenario may warrant investing in a new solution.
Regardless of whether you choose to invest in dedicated course authoring software, it’s valuable to be familiar with the various platforms on the market– either to help you choose one to invest in or to give you additional insight into the tools that your consulting partner currently uses.
Key Features of eLearning Authoring Tools
While course authoring tools vary greatly in functionality, there are a few features that are fairly common across the board. These include:
- A built-in library of eLearning assets. These digital assets can include stock photos, templates for various eLearning elements (ranging from page layouts to learning games), ready-to-use animations, vectors, and more. These elements make it easy to add interest for your learners.
- Multimedia tools. Whether video, animation, photos, or audio, most course authoring software allows you to add a wide range of elements to your courses to convey information clearly and interestingly.
- Interactive elements. This ranges from the ability to create hotspots, such as click to reveal and drag-and-drop elements, to the ability to build more complex interactive elements such as learning games.
- Format conversion tools. At the end of 2020, internet browsers phased out Adobe Flash and many organizations needed to adjust their courses accordingly. Some course authoring software platforms have built-in format conversion tools to help with this effort.
Of course, there are many other factors involved in the value of a course authoring platform beyond built-in functionality. You’ll want to keep the following tips in mind as well.
Tips to Choose Course Authoring Software for Your Association
If you do choose to invest in dedicated course authoring software, pay careful consideration while researching solutions to ensure you choose a tool that will benefit your association for your current and future projects. To help you do so, consider:
- The level of expertise needed to develop courses within the solution. Many robust authoring software solutions require the expertise of an eLearning content development expert to navigate.
- The level of support that the software provider offers. Some providers maintain comprehensive online resources to help you make the most of their solutions alongside dedicated technical support.
- The functionality necessary to achieve your learning objectives. While the learning objectives between your various courses will differ, choose a solution with functionality that applies to the majority of your courses– for example, if you generally require immersive interactive elements, you’ll want a solution that aligns with that.
- How courses will be delivered from the solution to your LMS. Will the course authoring software integrate directly with your LMS or will you need to figure out a different solution?
- The type of authoring environment that will benefit your team’s process. This could mean a fully open-source environment, a desktop environment where only one person can edit the course at a time, or a cloud-based environment for collaborative authoring.
- How expensive the platform will be compared to the revenue from your learning program. The cost of your authoring platform will need to be factored into how you price your courses. You’ll want to choose a solution that’s not too expensive to earn revenue from your programming.
You can partner with an eLearning consultant to ensure you choose the right solution for your association. Beyond choosing a solution, this partner can help you use the solution to author courses, ensure they end up in your LMS solution correctly, and report on the efficacy of those courses after the fact.
What are the best eLearning authoring software? 10+ Top Tools
Now that we’ve covered a basic overview of course authoring software and tips to help you choose the right solution, let’s discuss 10 popular tools for associations.
The following solutions range greatly in price, functionality, and specialty– so, if you’re seeking a course authoring solution for your association, there’s a good chance you’ll find a strong contender on this list.
Our Top Recommendation: Web Courseworks’ CourseStage LMS
For associations looking to invest in a course authoring tool and level up their learning management system at the same time, look no further than CourseStage LMS by Web Courseworks.
Our full-featured LMS contains course authoring tools that empower organizations like yours to create engaging, interactive courses without investing in additional solutions. With CourseStage LMS, you can create the following in your courses:
- Interactive video experiences
- Learning games
- Hotspots and drag-and-drop features
And more! For example, alongside course authoring, you can create a variety of assessments including high-stakes, proctored exams and adaptive quizzes. Further, you can categorize and tag elements to reuse them across courses.
The combination of an LMS and eLearning authoring tool isn’t the only reason that CourseStage LMS stands out on this list, however. Web Courseworks’ consulting services elevate this solution even further, as your team can access instructional design services, SME management, course pricing assistance, and more.
So, even if your association isn’t made up of course authoring professionals, you can purchase a solution and partner with a team that can create the experiences your members are looking for. To learn more and request a demo of this solution, contact the Web Courseworks team today.
Adobe Captivate is a robust course authoring solution created by the same well-known company behind Photoshop, Premiere Pro, Creative Cloud, and more. Though Adobe Flash compatibility was phased out at the tail end of 2020, Captivate is still available and able to publish courses as HTML-5 files.
Some of the stand-out features of Adobe Captivate include the ability to:
- Use ready-to-go slides for common compliance and soft skill topics.
- Convert existing PowerPoint files into interactive video elements.
- Create virtual reality-based courses, including walk-throughs, virtual tours, and immersive scenarios.
- Record a screencast that simultaneously records the on-screen content and a speaker via webcam.
Captivate is known for the expansive functionality that it equips experienced course authors with, who can then create high-quality, cutting-edge eLearning courses.
An individual subscription for Adobe Captivate costs $33.99 per month. A perpetual license costs $1299 and student teachers can access the solution for $399.
iSpring Suite is a PowerPoint-based solution for authoring eLearning courses that prioritizes quick content creation. Both due to the variety of ready-made templates and general software layout that would be familiar to any slideshow creator, this is a good solution for organizations looking to get up-and-going with eLearning authoring quickly.
Some stand-out features of iSpring Suite include the ability to:
- Create interactive, video, and branching elements.
- Quickly author content by enhancing existing content, such as PowerPoints.
- Deliver courses on most modern LMSs.
This solution stands out for its PowerPoint-based nature, which can empower even the least tech-savvy of association professionals to create content.
As far as pricing is concerned, iSpring Suite Max costs $970 per author (user) per year.
Absorb Create, formerly known as Koantic until it was acquired by Absorb Software, is a template-based eLearning authoring tool created to help content creators author courses with ease. With team-authoring abilities, this solution is ideal for larger associations that are looking to unite multiple authors on one project to make simultaneous, real-time adjustments.
Some stand-out features of Absorb Create include:
- Collaboration tools including team workspaces and the ability to differentiate permissions across team roles.
- A content library of ready-to-use templates.
- Customizable themes to align templates with your association’s branding.
Absorb Create is available in three different pricing tiers: Authoring Personal ($79 per month), Authoring Team ($269 per month), and Authoring & Delivery ($149 per month). For mid-sized to large associations running successful learning businesses, you’ll likely require the Authoring Team solution.
While not a full-scale LMS, Easygenerator is an eLearning authoring tool that offers course hosting services for organizations. With ready-made templates and the ability to publish courses online, this is a good solution for organizations that aren’t yet ready to invest in an LMS.
With Easygenerator, you can access features such as:
- Web-based eLearning authoring tools available without installing any software
- 10+ ready-to-use content modules and question types
- Online course hosting with the ability to generate private links for sharing
Easygenerator is available in three different pricing tiers: Pro ($99 per month), Team ($495 per month), and Enterprise (contact for more information). For associations, the Team or Enterprise solutions would be the best fit.
Elucidat is an eLearning authoring platform trusted by large organizations for employee training. From TESCO to Benefit, this authoring tool has the robust functionality to create content for worldwide learners.
This platform empowers your team to:
- Establish brand guidelines to be applied across courses
- Customize user roles to work collaboratively on projects while managing access to assets
- Localize training for various regional audiences
Elucidat is known for creating training for large– at times global– employers, and that’s reflected in both its features and pricing. Regarding the exact pricing for your team, contact Elucidat to learn more and request a quote.
dominKnow is a cloud-based eLearning authoring tool that empowers authoring teams to collaborate on content, reuse content, and publish content with ease. This well-regarded solution is used by many big-name organizations with matching training budgets such as Nielson, CocaCola, Discover, and more.
With dominKnow, your team will be able to:
- Create responsive eLearning for laptops, tablets, and mobile phones alike
- Publish content on an LMS, website, print, mobile app, and more
- Access a learning content management system (LCMS) to increase efficiency
With dominKnow, you can access a 14-day free trial to test the solution before investing. After that, pricing ranges from $997 per author, per year for single users to $2,497 per author, per year for teams of 5 – 25 authors. There are also enterprise licensing options for larger teams.
Articulate 360 is a suite of eLearning authoring apps to align with your various authoring tasks. With the platform’s 7 million+ authoring tools, you can create both eLearning, live training, and on-demand training.
With the Articulate 360 suite, you access:
- Storyline 360 to create custom interactive courses
- Rise 360 to create fully responsive courses
- Review 360 to empower stakeholders and subject matter experts to review content quickly
Before purchasing this solution, you can test it for 60 days through a free trial. From there, pricing is available for companies, freelancers, and academic users alike ranging from $499 to $1299 per user, per year.
Raptivity is an eLearning authoring tool that specializes in creating quick, interactive content. Rather than creating full, multi-module courses, Raptivity is best used to create quick microlearning games or supplements to existing eLearning courses.
With this eLearning authoring tool, you access:
- A library of interactive eLearning templates to create games, hotspots, and more
- Mobile-responsive design for all interactive elements
- Customization tools that don’t require extensive authoring or programming knowledge
Raptivity offers a 14-day free trial. After that, they offer monthly ($30 per month), quarterly ($60 per quarter), and yearly ($149 per year) subscriptions.
Gomo is an eLearning authoring tool that was created both to appeal to less tech-savvy businesses and have the features that appeal to experienced authoring professionals. And, as a cloud-based tool, it can be accessed from any web browser and empowers collaborative authoring.
With Gomo, you can access eLearning authoring tools such as:
- Pre-built templates for both modules and assessments to drag-and-drop content into the course
- Multi-language support to translate and localize content
- Customizable branding that can be applied to all eLearning assets
Gomo is available in three pricing tiers: Small ($1,035 per year), Medium ($2,940 per year), and Enterprise (call to discuss). You can also test the solution with a free trial prior to investing.
Evolve is a straightforward course authoring software created for efficient eLearning authoring. It’s available online with no software download needed and can be used to create responsive content quickly.
With Evolve, you access convenient authoring tools such as:
- Image optimization tools to ensure assets are delivered in the optimal size for the users’ devices
- Live collaboration and automatic saving to make the most of authoring sessions
- Course duplication to quickly create new courses based on past projects
As far as pricing, Evolve starts at $30 per month, per author. As your learning business grows, you can contact their team to scale up your plan alongside increasing needs.
Adeptly is an eLearning authoring platform that’s used exclusively to create learning games. It specializes in process-based learning games, allowing you to test members’ understanding of key processes by tracking their results as a player in the game.
Adeptly empowers your team with the following game-based features:
- Craft games from end-to-end with an intuitive drag-and-drop editor
- Customizable themes and leaderboards to customize the game to your organization
- Learner decision tracking in real-time to spot common areas of disconnect
Adeptly offers four pricing tiers that are billed on an annual basis, from a Free tier (one game, 50 learners) to an Enterprise tier that allows for unlimited games and learners.
There are a variety of course authoring solutions on the market for learning businesses large and small, with a wide range of technical functionality. At Web Courseworks, we recommend working with an LMS with built-in authoring tools to invest in two solutions in one.
To learn more about our CourseStage LMS with built-in course authoring features, contact our team to request a demo today.
In the meantime, explore the following additional resources to grow your learning business:
- eLearning Pricing Models: 5 Ways to Price Your Courses. Pricing your courses can be just as complicated as authoring them. Explore five popular models to price your business’s eLearning in this guide.
- What Does an eLearning Consultant Do? The Complete Guide. Whether you’re a course authoring expert or not, an eLearning consultant can bring your content to the next level. Explore the many services of learning consultants in this guide.
- Our Learning Management Systems. Web Courseworks offers multiple learning management systems that have built-in authoring tools. Explore the full lineup on this page.