Beginning to create training can be scary, especially if you haven’t done it before and don’t know where to begin. Luckily, we’ve been following the terms, trends and tools used in the e-Learning industry for almost two decades, and here we’ll help get you up to speed!
First, we’ll define the terms commonly used, what they stand for, and then a bit of background for them.
SCORM- Shareable Content Object Reference ModelExample XML text from the top of an actual SCORM 1.2 manifest file
AICC- Aviation Industry Computer-Based Training Committee
LMS- Learning Management System
CMS- Content Management System
LCMS- Learning Content Management System
EPM- Enterprise Performance Management
HRIS- Human Resource Information System (or Human Resources Management System, “HRMS”)
Now here are some of our favorite tools used when we’re writing, creating, and publishing training courses and other learning content:
PowerPoint- Microsoft Powerpoint is the go-to basic program for the creation of most courses, but while we recommend using it, we don’t recommend just having images and text on slides–when executed well, using features such as custom templates, voiceovers, videos, proper (non-distracting) animation, and some of the following plugins such as iSpring or Articulate, most people won’t even realize they’re watching a powerpoint. Interesting and modern courses can very well be created start-to-finish with Microsoft PowerPoint.
While other tools exist for creating presentations, such as Google Slides, Prezi, Articulate Storyline, and Adobe Captivate, Microsoft PowerPoint is by far the most widely supported for serious e-learning course creation and tutorials, and should be one of the first purchases for anyone looking to start creating training courses.
SCORM/AICC COURSE PUBLISHING
Articulate Studio- Articulate is one of the big providers for tools used in creating e-Learning courses that work with standards-compliant LMS’s. Articulate Presenter, in particular, acts as a PowerPoint plugin used to “publish” the developed courses into a package, and LMS’s will accept this package as a functioning (e.g., SCORM-compliant) course. Articulate Quizmaker is used to create the quizzes that are inserted into the courses; the LMS will read the computed scores and show the grades the students make. However, Articulate Studio isn’t geared towards those who aren’t very serious about course creation–its price starts at around $1400. Also, as a word of caution, we have lots of experience publishing hundreds of courses with Articulate–it can be a very finicky program, and can crash when publishing certain types of content, or longer courses, or when using a newer computer and operating system.
iSpring Suite- iSpring Presenter is our often-preferred tool for course publishing, and, like Articulate Presenter, it acts as a PowerPoint plugin used to publish courses. iSpring Suite is priced at a much more reasonable ~$700 per seat, which, although not cheap, is definitely worth paying if you’re serious about creating in-house custom courses. iSpring also has some features that are nicer than the equivalents in Articulate, such as an easier-to-use voiceover-syncing interface, and it has been more reliable than Articulate.
Dedicated e-Learning course creators, such as Articulate Storyline (>$1400) and Adobe Captivate ($400), also allow publishing SCORM packages. However, such programs are for highly-advanced interactive course creation and are beyond the scope of this article.
ShareX- We recently discovered ShareX, and it’s quickly become one of our favorite overall collaboration and sharing tools. ShareX is a free and open-source program (for Windows) that is used to quickly and easily capture, save, edit and share screenshots, screen recordings (with microphone or computer audio), text, and files. Right after finishing capture or dragging the file to its window, it’ll upload the file to your favorite service and put a link to the shared content in your clipboard. It integrates with DropBox, Google Drive, Imgur, Pastebin, FTP, and dozens of other services. ShareX can be used for recording your computer desktop and microphone audio for the creation of how-to videos and tutorials–once recorded, you can (optionally) edit the saved file and upload it to our LMS as a training video.
GoToMeeting- When a live event (such as a Question and Answer seminar) is what’s called for to ensure that everyone understands and pays attention to their training, creating a calendar event on the LMS and inviting students to the web conference is one of the best ways to spread the word and increase participation. GoToMeeting is one of the better, and certainly easier, options when it comes to live training events, especially training seminars with GoToWebinar. Other popular options include Adobe Connect, Cisco WebEx, Google Hangouts, and Microsoft Lync.
OBS- Open Broadcaster Software
Useful LMS features, such as calendars, course authoring, document sharing
Any LMS worth using will have features which support not only learning but collaboration of co-workers with features such as a company-wide calendar, the ability to add custom company-specific courses (hopefully supporting browser-only authoring tools), and static document storage for the most important documents.
Existing sources of training content, such as pre-existing course providers, stock photo providers, voiceover professionals, etc
While it’s possible to create all of your company training content and courses in-house, it’s sometimes cheaper, and usually more convenient, to purchase pre-packaged content from vendors who specialize in its creation. Such content can include stock photos and videos, professional voice-overs, and even entire SCORM-packaged training courses.