Choosing Your First eLearning Authoring Tool in 2020 – Ultimate Guide For Beginners

If you’re looking for an eLearning authoring tool to getting started in developing eLearning courses, or you’re tired of spending more and more money on the yearly subscription plan of the eLearning software you’re currently using, check out my ultimate guide for beginners here!

how to choose elearning authoring tool

There are many eLearning authoring tools available on the market in 2020. How can you decide which one is right for you and your team? Choosing your first eLearning authoring tool can be frustrating and time consuming process. It seems to be very difficult to make your decision, especially when you have plenty of similar options to consider. If you already know what you need, the selection is extremely simple.

But what if you don’t know what you need? Don’t be alarmed, read on and you’ll figure out what you want – That sounds magical, doesn’t it? Don’t worry, there’s no mysterious magic here. If you don’t know what you need, just try answering the following questions:

5 Questions You Should Ask Yourself

1. What is your budget?

eLearning authoring tool is a complicated computer software. It requires many developers to work continuously for a very long time. The cost of software development is huge, so don’t expect it to be free. You definitely have to pay royalties to use it. It could be a monthly subscription, or a one-time subscription for a lifetime. It depends on your needs. If you’re willing to spend around $1500 per year, you will have everything you need such as a course builder, character library, template library, direct support from experts and so on. There are some famous names you can take a look at this budget level like Articulate 360 or iSpring Suite. But, if your budget is around $500 – $700, then I recommend choosing a one time payment package of ActivePresenter Professional Edition of Atomi Systems.

2. What are your publishing options?

The elearning authoring tool, also known as the HTML5 elearning authoring tool. This means you can publish your course as HMTL5 zip folders to be uploaded onto your website, or to an LMS system. There are two basic publishing options, SCORM and xAPI, that most tools support. So it’s nothing too sublime on this matter.

If you want to build video-based learning courses and want to publish it under both video and HTML5, there are two tools for you to consider: ActivePresenter Standard Edition ($199) and TechSmith Camtasia 2019 ($249). These programs are not only powerful, but also affordable compare to other eLearning authoring tools on the market.

3. Do you really need content library such as character library or template library?

Building an existing library-based course is a lot faster than scratching. Surely everyone wants a template library so they can build the course faster. However, the big problem is that any software that has a library is expensive. Not to mention that they are monthly, or yearly subscriptions, none of them sell a lifetime license. Therefore, you need to consider carefully, whether you really need the content library or not. It is a key factor to help you make the decision to choose this software or other software.

In my personal opinion, you should buy 1 lifetime software. Besides, register for some content library packages to use on a monthly basis. You can cancel this subscription later if you no longer need it or have completed your project. I choose that way, but you do it depends on your needs.

4. How is your ability to learn?

In general, getting used to the eLearning authoring tool in the early stages is relatively easy. You don’t need to be a software expert, or something, to start building a basic course with slides, multiple choice questions, and simple interactions like buttons, animations and so on. However, if you want to build a more complete, professional, salable course, then your ability to learn is very important. The truth is, each person is usually only good at one thing. You are good at making videos, does not mean that you will be able to create a video course to make money. Or you are a computer expert, not sure you have created a good computer review video like reviewers on YouTube. As far as I know, these reviewers actually did not learn anything about computers before. They just learn from others and then create a tutorial video again.

What I want to say here is, if your ability to learn is good, you can try as many tools as you can before making your purchasing decision. Each tool has its own workflow. You’ll easily learn about its pros and cons shortly. Conversely, if your ability to learn new things is not very good, then you should study with only one type of software. Any software is fine, choose it, then learn how to use it, not to ramble into other software to save your valuable time.

5. Do You Have A Team?

Creating an elearning course requires a lot of skills such as the ability to design layouts, edit photos, record videos, edit videos, presentation skills and so on. Normally people will have 1 team, divided the work for each person. Each one is in charge of doing the other and finally putting them together into a complete course. In this way, developing a course is much easier to do than an individual doing everything. If you have a team like that, choosing an authoring tool that can share and evaluate online like articulate 360 ​​is a good choice. This software integrates a number of features that allow online review and sharing with your team during project implementation.
However, not everyone has the conditions to set up such a professional team. Usually you work alone, you have to design the layout, edit photos, record videos, edit videos and do everything else without anyone’s help. In this case, you should choose a tool that includes all of the above features like ActivePresenter, or Adobe Captivate. When you need to share a project, you can use other sharing platforms like google drive or Dropbox. These authoring tools are often cheaper than cloud-based authoring tools.

5 Authoring Tools For eLearning You Should Use in 2020

As a software reviewer, I’ve compiled a list of 5 best eLearning Authoring tools for beginners of 2020 at this article, read it to have more information. You can also watch my video below too.

Since I have no idea about you, your budget and your need, I can’t give you a precise advice. Lets take it easy with my below short advice:

  • If you are looking for an offline tool, which includes almost everything you need to create the cheapest course, try ActivePresenter. This is a professional software, and it has a free version for you to experience, without any feature or time limit.
  • If you need an authoring tool plus character library, template library, you can take at look at Storyline 3 or Adobe Captivate as an alternative to ActivePresenter. These programs have more content in their library. But the cost is also higher.
  • If you have a team, prefer a subscription plan, live training service, take a look at Articulate 360. This all-in-one application is one of the best options on the market now.
  • If you’re producing video-based training courses, use TechSmith Camtasia. It’s much cheaper and more powerful than all the above mentioned programs when it comes to creating online training videos.

Final Words

eLearning authoring tools are complicated programs, developed by different companies, serve different eLearning needs. Choosing your first eLearning authoring tool is an important decision. You should consult from many different sources, do not stop at this article. Keep reading until you are 100% sure then decide. If you need my advice, please send me an email. I’d be very happy to help you.

Good luck!


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