3E Top Rapid e-learning authoring tools

There is an increasing range of e-learning authoring software designed to help professional learning designers, learning technologists, e-learning developers and even amateur course developers create an e-learning experience. This article explores some of the most popular ones and the features they offer.


These authoring tools will allow organisations to develop media-rich, visually striking, quality, interactive e-learning content for an investable online course product. Criteria include:

  • They must enable the creation of interactions, media rich content, and quality design, in a relatively rapid manner i.e it should be easy to learn and to use, with the presence of quality templates to make development time even shorter.
  • They should allow the publishing to portable output formats including particularly SCORM,  Tin Can and or HTML5, allow the importing of external content and be LTI compliant
  • They should, of course, make cost sense including have a reasonable learning curve.

Presentation Technologies

Of all the authoring tools being used, presentation technologies remain the most used to create e-learning. They are not originally web-based so some of the rapid authoring tools are used to convert them to scorm or tin can/xapi compliant content that can be played in virtual learning environments or learning management systems.

Rapid e-learning authoring tools

The most popular rapid e-learning authoring tools include:

  • Adapt Learning  is an increasingly popular HTML5 e-learning authoring software. Although it is free, it might require infrastructure which can be set up on adequate hosting for little money or rented on already setup facilities. The software offers quite a lot of options for e-learning activities and content presentation.
  • Adobe Captivate is probably the most flexible, adaptable, programmable of all the e-learning authoring tools on offer, giving thereby the greatest amount of content types. The only downsides are the relatively steep learning curve, the costs and the limitations with the output formats.
  • Articulate 360: this suite of rapid e-learning authoring tools are offer a relatively easy to learn suite of options, familiar PowerPoint slide interface, most if not all of the variety of multimedia content and output formats listed above. The suite is not the horribly expensive but is not the most affordable.
  • Camtasia is one of the oldest offerings. It has been known from the beginning as the way to capture screens and create videos with captions and engagement. It is a rapid authoring tool but unless the whole course is a demonstration that should be capture in this way, it generally is one of the tools rather than the main one.
  • H5P is a free swiss knife offering the web-based course a wide number of media forms. Apart from its monetary costs or lack of it thereof, its ability to integrate with popular content management systems such as WordPress or Drupal make it a great option for developing engaging online courses. The drawbacks are the difficulties in customising the style, and the need to have a learning resource if ever the instructor wants to see or monitor the results of any activities created with H5P. Also since it is directly on the web, it does not export as anything else than HTML5, although that should not be a disadvantage.
  • iSpring Suite is among the most diverse, popular and affordable e-learning authoring tools. They are a plugin to PowePoint allowing the use of a familiar environment to develop more engaging teaching that include a great number of really easy to incorporate media. The tools are easy to learn, affordable and the support is very good.
  • Udutu e-learning authoring tool is a little clunky in terms of using it, but it is free, and allows a wide variety of customisations and interactive media. It can be complemented with the Udutu PowerPoint to web authoring tool which costs less than a tenner a month, to quicken the e-learning process.
  • Other such tools include elucidat, Gomo Learning, Lectora Inspire and Shift

References – comparisons from G2Crowd, e-learning rapid authoring tools include Captivate product documentation for HTML5 limits, SCORM/Tin Can, how-to and YouTube how tos and our own testing of free trials and actual use with clients’ projects.

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