By Sherman Morrison September 27, 2017
eLearning professionals in the digital era of the 21st century have their work cut out for them. With the ever-increasing power of digital technologies, the pressure is on for eLearning professionals to deliver effective, engaging eLearning content while at the same time proving their efforts have a positive impact on the company’s bottom line. While these pressures can leave eLearning professional feeling frustrated and overwhelmed, the good news is that they also have an amazing array of tools available that can make their job easier and increase their effectiveness. Below is a sampling of 13 apps eLearning professionals use for content creation, productivity, and research.
The core activity of many eLearning professionals is the creation of engaging, compelling content for learners. Here are the apps eLearning professionals use to get the job done:
Articulate Storyline. The appeal of this content authoring app is how similar it feels to PowerPoint, which can be reassuring for team members who are new to the eLearning environment and its tools. Importing content from PowerPoint is especially easy, and then the content can be enhanced with all kinds of great features to make it more engaging and compelling for learners, thereby increasing retention.
YouTube. Video content in eLearning is the dominant trend, in part because it’s such a great way to make eLearning more engaging and effective, particularly for complex topics where text and static images simply won’t get the job done. Well-crafted searches in YouTube will yield surprising amounts of relevant video content you can use to create “playlists” on nearly any topic.
Camtasia. Whether the need is to make training and learning videos quickly and easily for company eLearning programs, instruct eLearning peers and colleagues in using the various tools employed in the department, or to show off the company’s LMS features to prospective customers, Camtasia is quickly becoming the go-to app to make it happen. It’s a screen recording and editing package that captures whatever is happening on your screen. When editing videos, any element or area can be turned into a clickable “hotspot” to give easy access to related materials outside the app.
Elucidat. There are many content authoring apps out there, but if a primary focus needs to be responsive online content creation or content for the mobile eLearning environment, Elucidat is the app increasing numbers of eLearning professionals are utilizing. Part of its appeal is compatibility with HTML5, as well as being a cloud-based tool that brings together remote eLearning teams for collaboration. Flash has been in decline, eclipsed by the rising star of HTML5, and eLearning professionals would do well to stay ahead of the curve on this trend. Content created with Elucidat loads quickly and functions on a huge range of devices and browsers.
Tableau. eLearning professionals use the free public version of this app to create high-impact data visualizations. When an eLearning department has to produce reports about eLearning data, running them through Tableau results in visual presentations that are not only clear but also beautiful. Every eLearning professional has wished they could do something more interesting and engaging with data that must be included in eLearning content, and Tableau does exactly that with ease, creating visualizations that help make the content stick.
Storify. Sometimes you want to be able to quickly curate content that appears in various places such as social media platforms and RSS feeds. When you want to tie bits and pieces from a variety of sources into a compelling story, Storify makes it happen in a very visual way. And it can also help capture discussions generated at conferences and other events. The content is chosen and placed on a storyboard to which notes, commentary, and summaries in various styles can be added.
There are dozens of other apps that could be mentioned here, including obviously popular choices such as Adobe Captivate and newer tools such as iSpring Pro, but apps mention above provide a very solid starting point for eLearning professionals to up their content creation game.
Just about everyone feels like they need to be accomplishing more in less time. Here are the apps eLearning professionals use to give a turbo-boost to their productivity:
Trello. There are enough project management apps out there to make your head spin, but how many of them offer a stellar mix of effectiveness while being easy to use? Trello is one that an increasing number of eLearning professionals use. The fact that it’s grounded in the Kanban Technique has a lot to do with its effectiveness. Kanban is especially helpful in keeping the flow of process going without it getting backed up or bottlenecked. Given the often huge range of stakeholders that need to provide input into the development and distribution of eLearning programs, Trello’s cards, lists, and boards provide an easy way to track progress at multiple levels. Users added to specific cards will only get notifications for those cards rather than all project notifications.
Google Drive. When it comes to easy, secure cloud storage that allows people to access whatever files they need when they need them, Google Drive has become the app of choice for many eLearning professionals. The range of stakeholders involved in eLearning projects means having people all over the world, colleagues who travel a lot, co-workers who participate remotely, and so on. Keeping the files in Google Drive avoids the confusion of emailing files around, and helps make sure everyone is accessing the most up-to-date versions of all files.
Momentum. Most people maintain a daily to-do list to keep track of everything they need to get done in a day, and eLearning professionals are no exception. Momentum is an extremely effective to-do list that operates as an extension for people who use Google Chrome for their web browser. After installing the extension, every time a new tab is opened in Chrome, what appears there first is your to-do list for the day. It’s extremely easy to use, and eLearning professionals also appreciate the beautiful background images and inspiring quotes that are incorporated. When eLearning professionals need an effective online to-do list, many claim you can’t beat the combination of form and function obtained with Momentum.
Google Calendar. There are any number of online calendars you can use to keep tracking of what’s happening from day to day, but it’s hard to beat Google Calendar. Besides the usual functionality you expect from a calendar, it includes robust features including adding notes as well as sending automatic (and recurring) reminders and notifications. And frankly, so many people are now using it that there is no need to worry about access or compatibility.
Whether it’s staying on top of industry trends or determining the effectiveness of learning and training programs, eLearning professionals need to conduct research. Here are some of the research apps eLearning professionals use:
SurveyMonkey. When eLearning professionals need to collect online feedback from learners, creating a survey with this app can literally happen in minutes, and the results are tabulated and displayed in a way that makes them easy to understand. This feedback is critical in terms of evaluating the effectiveness of eLearning courses, as well as point out areas for improvement in a course.
Quora. When an eLearning professional has a burning question, where can they ask it? Quora is an online forum created for that purpose, used by more than 1.5 million people each month. Answers are voted up or down by users, meaning the best answers naturally bubble to the top. Users can also follow particular topics, such as Learning Management Systems or Training and receive notifications when new questions appear.
Reddit. All kinds of useful content breaks on Reddit, and gets voted up or down by users. The forums are called subreddits, and eLearning professionals will find several that relate to their work, such as r/elearning, r/InstructionalDesign, and r/Training. Creating an account and subscribing to these forums is a great way to stay updated on eLearning trends.
The world of eLearning is a constantly changing and evolving landscape of tools and trends. Although the pace of change often feels overwhelming, knowing the kinds of apps fellow eLearning professionals use for content creation, productivity, and research can help ease the pressure while at the same time increasing performance and effectiveness.