Responsive Authoring Tools for elearning

responsive screens

Responsive Authoring Tools for elearning

If you are developing elearning for smartphones you really need to use a responsive development tool like Articulate Rise or Intellum Evolve. But what do we mean by responsive? Most of my clients don’t really get it apart from the fact that responsive modules involve a lot more scrolling compared to conventional ‘click-next’ ones.

Responsive learning modules adapt seamlessly to different screen sizes and devices. They are based on a system of flexible grids, images, and media queries, adjusting the layout and content dynamically to fit the screen’s dimensions. Basically, they re-format content to work best on whatever screen size you are using. Generally, you scroll through responsive learning content rather than clicking a next button to advance through various screens.

Responsive content is designed to work across all screen sizes from a 6 cm wide smartphone screen to a 60 cm wide display monitor. However, they tend to be optimised for smaller screens. On large displays there can be a lot of unused white space (this is often one client criticism of Rise modules on larger screens).

Storyboarding for responsive learning modules

I normally storyboard in PowerPoint which suits the screen-by-screen approach used by tools like Articulate Storyline. Responsive modules can be a bit trickier to storyboard but generally, I’ve adapted my PowerPoint templates to work when storyboarding for Rise or Evolve. More recently I’ve designed straight into the tool – Rise is particularly suitable for this approach as it’s easy to flesh out content and ideas in the tool. It helps that Rise has a limited set of templated interactions. With most microlearning projects I now build an early first version in Rise and get the client to review that skipping the storyboard step altogether. I still create a content outline which details the structure, sequence and some high-level ideas about the interactions I plan to use.

What are the best responsive learning authoring tools?

There is an increasing array of responsive authoring tools but Articualte Rise and Intellum Evolve are probably the most commonly used in the UK. They both provide a similar user experience but Evolve is a much more powerful tool than Rise (with a much steeper learning curve too).

Articulate Rise

The easiest to use tool of them all but you have to stick with the standard built-in interactions and a somewhat minimalist non-brandable look and feel. Rise is a great place to develop your first elearning course.

Intellum Evolve

Produces content similar to Rise but with much more power to change how things look and work. Really only for pro-developers.

Elucidat

This is similar to Evolve but with a friendlier interface. It’s an expensive option for smaller organisations. Their market seems to be larger corporates. No pricing information is given on their web site which is always a worrying sign. If this tool were cheaper I would definitely use it.

GoMo

I have only ever played with a demo of this but I instantly didn’t get on with its hybrid screen-based and responsive approach. For me, it combines the worst of both worlds rather than the best.

Kwantic

This is the new kid on the block from one of the original developers of Evolve. It’s similar to Evolve but uses the latest web tech to make things fly as long as you have the appropriate knowledge and skills. It also has powerful integrations with LLMs and supports accessibility at AA level. Probably a tool that is primarily aimed at pro-developers but I’m planning a usability review from an ID perspective.

Easygenerator

As its name suggests this is a responsive tool similar to Rise aimed at those just getting started with developing their own content. It’s targetted at enterprise users with the idea being that this tool is so easy to use any employee can create short courses in it. The founder of Easygenerator even wrote about called ‘Employee Generated Learning’. Easygenerator also has integration with AI (specifically LLMs) with tools to help create and structure your content.

Flowsparks

Flowsparks has a neat ID centric approach to building modules using focus areas based on a sound ID with AI model. However, it’s really aimed at larger corporates with a starting price of £20k per annum for up to 5 authors.

isEazy

This is a relatively new tool to the UK market. It takes a hybrid screen-based approach to responsive authoring but its UI is good for those new to developing learning content. It has strong layout capabilities so will be popular with visual designers and the brand police. Pricing is also competitive with options for freelancers and small and large organisations.

Chameleon Creator

This is an attractive easy-to-use tool from New Zealand. Not much penetration in the UK so far but I think it deserves a look. Pricing is competitive too.

Adobe Captivate (2023)

Captivate has always been a screen-by-screen authoring tool and a direct competitor to Articulate Storyline but the latest version uses a sort of hybrid screen based responsive approach. I haven’t used it but like GoMo it possibly provides the worst of both worlds. Again a tool that is probably best for pro-developers and especially ones who are long time users of Captivate.

Authoring in native HTML5

For complete control there is nothing like authoring natively in HTML5 code. However, this approach is time consuming and needs developers who really know their stuff. Only pro elearning companies tend to take this approach and only for high profile high value projects. Even then they tend to use some sort of standard framework or set of templates to speed development. The Adapt framework was developed to support efficient authoring in HTML5 and is still used today by some elearning developers. Others have created proprietary frameworks of their own.

AI in learning authoring

Some tools (Easygenerator and Kwantic are good examples) now embed AI (LLM) functionality into the tool itself. This can help speed content development but really only helps when you are working with generic content and you aren’t being driven by an external subject matter expert (SME). For me AI tools are best used at storyboarding stage where they can be used more flexibly. However, I can see the attraction of ‘semi-automated’ course generation….even if the end result is as bland and uninteresting as a corporate PowerPoint.

Which tool to choose?

All of these tools take some time to learn – even Rise and Easygenerator though their learning curve is flatter than most. This learning curve combined with the pricing scheme and the need for a consistent look and feel across courses means that most organisations will stick to using a single tool for most of their elearning authoring needs. If you are already a Storyline user then it’s natural that your first foray into responsive authoring will be Rise (as it’s bundled with the Articulate 360 annual subscription). If you don’t use Articulate 360 then Elucidate. Easygenerator or Chameleon Creator are good options to consider if you are just getting started. If you have more experience, and happy to fiddle with a more complex UI then Evolve and Kwantic are the best options.

 

Share on Social Media
No Comments

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.