Summary: Most people focus on what their all-in-one authoring tool can do—does it check all the boxes for the functionality you need? Don't stop there. You also need to ask how well it performs in each area and how well-integrated the pieces are with one another.
I've talked in the past about how the first step in choosing the right authoring tool is knowing your options. When you start shopping for an all-in-one authoring tool, you're often focused on finding the functionality you require: does it include traditional authoring? Responsive authoring? Collaborative capabilities? A media library? Review functionality?
You're probably not thinking about how these pieces work together or even why that matters. You should be; it can make a huge difference in ease of use and productivity.
Some products that are billed as all-in-one authoring solutions are, in fact, multiple pieces of software bundled together as a suite. The applications are often designed to talk to one another with minimal fuss, but you'll still feel the downsides of having separate tools. That includes:
For some users, these are minor inconveniences. For more demanding applications, however, a truly integrated tool with interconnected functionality can simplify your workflow to a degree you never expected.
Most authoring suites with an "integrated" review application work like this:
On the other hand, if you have a cloud-based authoring tool with native review functionality, the workflow could go more like this:
Do you see what a difference it can make when authoring and review functionality are native to a single piece of software? You get additional information and capabilities, a less complicated and more fluid workflow, and added convenience.
You can see similar gains when collaborative and admin systems are native.
There are also advantages to marrying the authoring interfaces. To start with, all your projects will be in a centralized location. If the UI and capabilities of joint authoring interfaces are consistent, it can lower the learning curve and make development more efficient.
Additionally, assets like images or documents can be pooled and organized in one place so that they can be reused regardless of format. Something changes? Just use the replace option and the asset will be updated in all locations it is used.
Certain types of authoring can also work together. Take, for example, software simulations that you've authored and inserted into a fixed-pixel or responsive project. If the authoring tools were separate, the software simulation might perform like a self-contained widget, but in a single integrated program, it can remain dynamic. You can set actions and triggers in the page that dynamically change the simulation or set different modes like "show me," "try me," "guide me." You can edit the simulation without switching software or importing an updated file; and if you've reused it in multiple projects, you can update them all with a single edit.
You can get all kinds of synergy when your all-in-one tool is truly all in one.
Another thing to consider when looking at all-in-one authoring software is how well it does each thing on your list. What are its restrictions and capabilities in each area? Can you meet your needs within those boundaries, or will you have to find awkward workarounds (or compromise on quality)?
We're used to the "master of none" mindset in multifunction software, but these days you don't have to settle for reduced functionality to get everything in one place.
Responsive authoring is a particularly big weakness for many all-in-one authoring tools. It's led to a misconception in the industry that responsive projects are inherently more limited in interactivity and innovation, when the real culprit is software with serious limitations.
Here are some questions to help you determine whether you'll be getting robust responsive authoring with an integrated all-in-one tool:
Your needs will vary, of course. If you only want to produce responsive eLearning with a single look and feel and limited interactivity, then all you need is a tool that will provide the basics. If your needs are broader or more demanding, however, you need to research the possibilities and determine what each all-in-one tool can do.
Most all-in-one authoring suites and tools have significant overlap in what they're capable of. What can make or break the mileage you get from the tool is how well the pieces work and how well they work together.
We've put a lot of thought and care into creating an all-in-one authoring tool that gives you robust authoring, ease of use, and streamlined workflows all at once. That includes:
Plus, we're always looking for places where we can improve and expand dominKnow | ONE's capabilities. You can learn more about our features and how they work by visiting our website, by contacting me directly, or by leaving a comment below.
This article was originally posted by eLearning Industry.