Monday, 25 August 2008

Starting Authoring Tool

I received a question:
I am an educator in Arizona about to graduate with my Masters in Instructional Design. I wish to apply my experience designing courses for online learning; however I've searched and don't know where to begin to actually learn how to use the LMS and course design software available. I came across your blog and thought you might be able to offer some suggestions.

I have great computer skills but am not experienced in creating web courses. I've seen all sorts of elearning software- Dreamweaver, Lectora, Captivate, Flash etc etc mentioned in job ads, but don't really know which ones to choose in order to get a well rounded working knowledge of how to build a course. Do you have any suggestions where to start? Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
First, a good place to start is to ask around like you are doing.

Second, I'm not 100% clear if the question is about creating good online learning experiences that include a blend of online learning techniques. For example, are you looking at becoming good at doing online sessions? If so, you might take a look at: Webinar Software - Adoption Advice and there's a lot more to designing good blended learning experiences.

However, I'm going to guess based on the list of tools that you are really talking about creating self-paced (asynchronous) eLearning experiences. So, given that, my strong recommendation (especially given the comment about having great computer skills) would be to:

1. Choose a specific course, content, audience, learning objectives, etc. Even if you never plan to deliver it, you will still learn a lot more if you aren't just playing. You need to be really trying to create something that is realistic.

2. Download a free trial of one of the more common authoring tools. My personal suggestion would be either the Articulate Free Trial or the Captivate Free Trial. A very close third would be the Lectora Free Trial. Only download one of these and really try to work through creating your course. Get a bit creative about different types of interactions. How to keep the user engaged, etc.

3. Then I would go and download a second tool out of these and try creating similar things with that tool. In this case, I might recommend choosing Lectora as it is a little different in how you work through things.

Once you've gone through this, you should be in great shape to move forward.

Oh, and did I mention that you should be blogging your experience. :)

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