Top 5 Best eLearning Authoring Tools For Beginners of 2020

Today, more and more large educational institutions and companies are shifting from the traditional education model to the form of online learning, commonly known as eLearning. This new way of learning makes it easier for learners to access the lesson, and saves teachers’ travel expenses. Not only that, eLearning lectures are often more effective due to the flexibility in class time and the optimal for each specific learner.

The question is, how can you design an eLearning lecture, pack your lecture into a publishable format, and deliver them to your students? That’s when eLearning authoring tools come in. According to our research, there are many different authoring tools available for designing eLearning courses nowadays. Many of them have unique features such as template libraries, character libraries, the ability to integrate different tools, or the ability to share with teammates, etc. But, don’t let the feature list fool you, as they often come with a subscription plan for a limited time. Moreover, you usually can not use all of them.

In this post, we’ll share with you top 5 best eLearning authoring tools you can try in 2020. These are the best options for those of you who are new to eLearning industry.

Top 5 Best eLearning Authoring Tools For Beginners of 2020

1. ActivePresenter – Best All-in-one eLearning Authoring Tool for Beginners

ActivePresenter is an all-in-one eLearning authoring tool, meaning that you’ll be able to create online training videos, software simulations, software guides, build quizzes, eLearning games with it. It’s everything you need to create an eLearning course from scratch. ActivePresenter is a stand-alone eLearning authoring tool, offline program, which is not dependent on any third party tools. It has unique features that lets you create different types of courses.

ActivePresenter is the first e learning tool I recommend to try when starting to develop an eLearning course for some reasons:

  • It’s free to download and use without any restriction. You can evaluate the program as long as you want.
  • Its interface is as easy to use as PowerPoint, the software I was used to when I was a student.
  • The program includes plenty of built-in annotation, equations, themes, and interactions for creating highly interactive eLearning courses.
  • ActivePresenter includes a powerful screen recorder and video editor, which you can use to make online training video courses at ease.
  • ActivePresenter supports different common eLearning standards: SCORM 1.2, SCORM 2004, and xAPI (Tin Can) for publishing the courses.
  • ActivePresenter is one of the most affordable eLearning authoring tools on the market now. Its professional edition, which includes all premium features cost $399/ lifetime only.

There are few disadvantages to using ActivePresenter, including the lack of a character library, not many templates available and no stocked image library etc. Well, as I mentioned above, if you need all these things, the price of the software will not just stop at number $399. It can be $1000 per year, or something like that. Watch below video to learn more about ActivePresenter before jumping to the download page.

Download ActivePresenter Free Version 

2. Adobe Captivate

Adobe Captivate is another great eLearning authoring tool you can try as a stand-alone desktop application for creating complete eLearning courses. Adobe Captivate 2019 is the latest version of this powerful authoring tool which includes Virtual Reality and Live Device Preview, which are the most impressive features in this version from my point of view. Adobe Captivate includes everything you need to create, and publish your eLearning courses. From what I’ve tested, there are couple of interesting things about Adobe Captivate you may want to know compare to the above mentioned software, ActivePresenter, or other eLearning authoring tools on the market now:

  • Adobe Captivate is the first company who offers Virtual Reality feature meaning that you can play video action for Hotspot in virtual reality project.
  • The all-new Asset Panel empowers you to create aesthetically-designed, responsive eLearning courses, in just a few minutes. Leverage ready-to-go slides from these projects to effectively design complex branching logic and interactions like drag and drop, click and reveal, without programming.
  • You can automatically author fully responsive eLearning content that works across devices and browsers.
  • It has a built-in screen recorder and video editor for creating video-based training program. Create studio-quality HD videos as you simultaneously record your webcam and on-screen content with just a few clicks. Adjust the talking-head video position and add persona to your training content. Easily edit the videos in Adobe Captivate and add interactivity to multi-screen video-based learning
  • There are many professional features that you’ll not have in other authoring tools such as text-to-speech, automatic chroma key feature, automatic simulation recording.
  • You’ll need an account to start using Adobe Captivate 30 days free trial. The download package is approximate 3GB. 10GB of available hard-disk space for installation; additional free space required during installation (cannot install on removable flash-based storage devices)
  • It does not support 32bit OS. You’ll need 64 bit operating system to use Adobe Captivate. That’s not to mention about high system requirement is needed to run the program smoothly.

There are few disadvantages of using Adobe Captivate from my point of view such as its steep learning curve, pricey license price ($1299 for lifetime), and it can be painful when it comes to updating and maintaining old content. Added to that, your first time installation is also frustrating too. Luckily, Adobe’s support agents are very helpful whenever you have an issue with the software.

All in all, it’s one of the most powerful eLearning authoring tools I’ve tried. Like other Adobe’s products, Adobe Captivate is a worth-trying software for beginners.

Download Captivate 2019 Free Trial 

3. Articulate Storyline 3

Articulate Storyline 3 is another powerful and affordable eLearning authoring tool for beginners to try when it comes creating fully responsive eLearning courses. The program includes everything you need for making online training content. Compare to Articulate 360, a combination among most famous Articulate’s products in one subscription plan, Articulate Storyline 3 is more suitable for those of you just want one time payment, rather than an yearly subscription. Being noticed that Storyline 3 is a one-time payment offer. You will not get new features update and you can’t access to Articulate’s content library, or online training from experts.

Here are the things you need to know about Articulate Storyline 3 before download and install the program on your computer. The information about Articulate Storyline 3 presented below is my personal opinion after one week trial the software.

  • The download package is small, and the installation is straight forward. You can get the program ready-to-go in few minutes.
  • Storyline 3 includes templates, themes and character library for designing eLearning courses. However, it’s limited to some simple templates and characters right inside the program only.
  • There are plenty of interactions, annotations, buttons and other interactions for you to create eLearning courses faster.
  • Enough animations and transitions for developing eLearning content.
  • Storyline 3 screencasting is limited to basic functions only. It does not includes mouse cursor effect in the recording. Sometimes the selected area is not precise.
  • You can edit your recording, insert new videos into the slide for further editing. But, the work is limited to trim and crop video only.
  • Publishing options are limited to web, Articulate Online, LMS or Word, meaning that you can’t publish your courses into video formats for uploading to YouTube, or other sharing platforms.
  • The program is not as simple to use as both ActivePresenter and Adobe Captivate I mentioned earlier. However, once you spent your time on it, you’ll be able to control things easily.

Learn More Articulate Storyline 3 here 

4. Articulate 360

Articulate 360 includes everything you need to develop and share your eLearning courses. It includes both Storyline 360 and Rise 360, plus a slew of other authoring apps. You can use Storyline 360 to develop custom, interactive courses. And use Rise 360 to build fully responsive courses. Compare to Articulate Storyline 3 I mentioned above, Articulate 360 is way more powerful, has more features, but the price is also way higher than the one time payment Storyline 3. Articulate 360 comes in at $1299 per user, annually. If you’re freelancers, the price goes down to $999 per user annually. There are academic pricing plans too.

If you want something more than just an offline authoring tool, such as ActivePresenter, Storyline 3, or Adobe Captivate, you may try Articulate 360. It offers 60 days free trial for new users. You can also invite your team members to try it with you too.

Here are few things you may need to know before activating Articulate 360 60 days free trial period:

  • Articulate 360 is an all-in-one application which includes different offline and online programs. Some of them require more installation effort to getting started.
  • Storyline 360 is very similar to Storyline 3 when it comes to authoring tools and features. Storyline 360 export option includes video format feature which is not available in Storyline 3.
  • You’ll need your internet connection to work with other online applications in Articulate 360 such as Rise 360, Content Library and so on.
  • The workflow is a little bit complicated if you’re new to it as you have to work on different platforms, or applications to finish your project.
  • Screen recording (Peak 360) and video editing tools (Replay 360) are very basic tools compare to other video-based program like ActivePresenter, or TechSmith Camtasia. I am a little bit disappointed about these features in this application.

There are some other information I have not mentioned here i.e Articulate 360 training and Review 360 as these are the technical support services which need to be evaluated on your own to know if it’s good for you or not.

Learn More Articulate 360 here 

5. TechSmith Camtasia

Actually, Camtasia is not yet called an eLearning authoring tool. However, from my perspective, it’s a great program you should try if you’re going to produce video-based training courses. With Camtasia, you can record your computer screen, add annotations, interactive quizzes and publish your project into HTML5 package which you can share on your website, or an LMS. It has been the industry standard for years when it comes to making online training videos.

Compare to above mentioned programs, Camtasia is more powerful than any of the them when it comes to screencasting and video editing. Most importantly, the program cost $249 per lifetime only. There are educational and government discount too. Watch my below tutorial to learn more about Camtasia.

Few things you may need to consider before installing Camtasia on your computer.

  • Camtasia is available for both Windows and Mac.
  • Its free trial period is 30 days with limitation on video length when you export your project.

Download Camtasia 30 days free trial here 

Final Words

Choosing which software to create for an eLearning course depends a lot on your budget and your skills. If you’re new to eLearning industry, take some time to experience all the options you have then consider which option is right for you. I hope that this article will help you with your selection of most suitable eLearning authoring tool for your budget. If you like it please share my post. If there is any software I have not mentioned, please comment below to let me know.


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