The COVID-19 pandemic has presented a logistical nightmare for many organizations. It's tough changing the way you do business overnight.
If you rely on desktop software to develop eLearning, you've probably had the toughest time of all. Desktop authoring tools that were workable (but not optimal) in an office environment cause a dozen headaches when everyone is remote. Now is the perfect time to become a cloud-based authoring convert.
Cloud-based authoring tools have clear advantages in this world of remote work, uncertainty, and frequent change.
This pandemic has been the ultimate test of your organization's flexibility.
L&D teams that were stuck on old technology have been scrambling to make the transition to 100% remote work. Teams who've kept ahead of the curve with cloud-based authoring tools have had a much smoother experience. They didn't have to decide what projects to bring home and which ones to leave behind. They didn't need to deal with VPNs or remote access to work servers. No one had to think about software licenses, updates, or (worst of all) how to install Windows on a Mac to use Windows-only desktop products!
No one has had to recreate old content because a file is stuck in a locked building. Their authors don't need to wait on a document transfer before they can start their part or double the time wasted by sending it back to another system for backup. For teams using cloud-based authoring tools, nothing changed except geography. When stay-at-home orders came, they got to work in the same way they always did. They logged in through a browser, where the latest version of their authoring tool is always ready. They accessed files stored in a centralized, secure, and eternally backed-up cloud server.
If their kid spilled juice on their laptop, they didn't lose any work—the file was saved automatically just before the machine died a gruesome death. Organizations using cloud-based authoring software also don't need to worry about what comes "after" the pandemic (whenever that is and however we define it).
It seems clear that post-pandemic business won't just be a simple return to the old routine. We still don't know what it will be, but cloud-based authoring tools have the flexibility to smooth the way.
Speaking of flexibility, the promise of centralized access and storage doesn't mean much if the software can't serve the needs of all contributors. As soon as you take one piece outside the system, things get complicated.
Luckily, these days you can find cloud-based authoring tools with broad utility—sophisticated enough for advanced developers, easy to use for novices, elastic enough for graphic designers, and feedback-friendly for Subject Matter Experts (SMEs). The days of a desktop tool having more power than its cloud counterpart is rapidly becoming a part of the past, and for some solutions, the future is already here.
There are a few ways in which cloud-based authoring tools accomplish this level of versatility:
Not all cloud-based authoring tools have the same degree of adaptability, so take a close look at these features when you're shopping around.
When everyone is able to leverage the same software and access the latest version of any project, it blows the possibilities for collaboration wide open.
Teammates can work on different sections of the same project at the same time, regardless of geography. Cloud-based authoring tools often have check-in/check-out systems so co-authors don't step on one another's toes. Many also show you in real time who is logged in and active for synchronous collaboration. If that wasn’t enough, you often have version control and rollback for page changes. Collaboration with all the pluses and none of the pains!
Cloud-based authoring also supports asynchronous collaboration. Got a colleague who can't work from home until their kids are in bed? No problem. In-context note and comment features mean you can share thoughts on a project as clearly across staggered hours as you can on a Zoom call. (Easier, maybe, given fewer distractions).
Keeping all conversations attached to the learning project itself also makes it easy for managers to chime in with helpful information, even if no one thinks to put them in the loop.
The same goes for SMEs and other stakeholders. Some cloud-based authoring tools provide native review mechanisms that make the process of collecting and addressing all feedback simple. Comments can link directly to specific parts of a page so it's easy to see what exactly the reviewer means. Authors and other reviewers can reply to each comment as a separate thread, further reducing confusion. And, all of this is directly in the context of the development workflow! No need to look back and forth between the authoring tool and the “integrated” review to match up the changes.
The result is tremendous savings in time and effort.
All of these collaborative mechanisms add as much value in an office setting as they do when everyone's home. As states and provinces open up (and shut back down), you won't have to switch gears on how your team works. Project collaboration and communication will remain the same, tucked consistently inside your cloud-based authoring tool.
Finally, one of the biggest challenges of the abrupt shift to working from home has been finding ways to hold employees accountable for productivity. Most employee monitoring tools aren't very smart, that's why you can find a thousand blog articles on how to trick them.
It's much harder to game a tool that shows you what everyone's work product on a daily basis. With cloud-based authoring tools, you won't just see logins, you'll see activity reporting at a glance. You don't have to take someone's word about progress. You can see it for yourself. Activity tracking also lets you distinguish individuals' contributions from one another. That makes you better equipped to know who needs correction and who deserves to get some praise.
The right cloud-based authoring tool can solve many of your (eLearning development) pandemic problems. However, only you know what your team needs. Give it some thought, then do your homework. Features vary heavily by software, so be sure you know what each tool offers and what it doesn't. Ask questions. Check their track record. Better yet, use a trial to see the difference for yourself. You won't look back.
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This post was originally published on www.elearningIndustry.com.