Friday, November 06, 2009

eLearning Guild Authoring & Development Tools Research Report (2008)

After my session at ISPI earlier this week, someone commented that what would have really been useful is a list of the top 10 authoring tools in the market. 

During my presentation, I flashed up on the screen a list of the 122+ tools listed in the Brandon Hall database.  It was meant to be a bit tongue and cheek (breaking all rules for text font sizes!), just to show how big and overwhelming the marketplace really is.

Then I went on to show about 12 tools in more detail – some of which would probably make it onto a top ten list (Flash, Captivate,  Articulate, and Lectora) – the remaining tools trying to hit at some of the other options out there (Smart Builder, eXe, Udutu, Thinking Worlds, Raptivity, Flypaper, Mohive, and Atlantic Link).

I’ve been digging around to see if I can find an actual top ten list.  I suppose there are many ways to slice and dice that question.  Which market?  Large corporates have different needs than small companies or academic institutions.  And of course, the tool needs to fit the purpose, so one tool won’t fit all.

I did dig up the eLearning Guild Authoring Tools Research Report (January 2008).  It’s a bit out of date (almost 2 years old) and I suspect the numbers have changed a bit.  My guess is that Articulate represents a larger market share than two years ago.

You can purchase the report or listen in on the January 2008 webinar (which is what I have done).  The first 12 minutes or so of  the webinar are speaker introductions. If your time is limited, I’d jump ahead.

Some highlights from the webinar follow:

The results in this report were gathered from surveys of eLearning Guild members and ongoing tool surveys on the Guild’s website.

# of tools used: 

39% use four or more tools! (that includes PPT and Word – whether or not you consider these as rapid elearning tools, Guild members do).

Most important features to Guild members:

  • 71% – tool allows for easy content updates
  • 46% – tool has low learning curve
  • 43% – tool outputs to Flash (this is even more important in smaller companies)

Most important industry support factors:

  • 66% – tool is in widespread use
  • 52% – tools has free online forums for support
  • 48% – tool has free tech support
  • 41% -- tool is updated frequently

Most important integration and collaboration factors:

  • 71% – tool needs to be SCORM compliant
  • 64% – tool needs to integrate with leading LMS
  • 53% – tool allows for easy sharing of content

What’s in your toolbox?  Probably Captivate.

  1. Captivate – 67%
  2. PPT – 57%
  3. Word – 47%
  4. Adobe Connect (Pro/Breeze) – 25%
  5. Articulate Presenter 23%
  6. Lectora 16%
  7. Articulate Engage 13%
  8. Articulate Rapid ELearning Studio Pro 13%
  9. Articulate Rapid E-Learning Studio 9.4%
  10. WebEx 7%

Also on this list

  • ToolBook Instructor
  • Rapid Intake – Flashform
  • Camtasia
  • ToolBook Assistant
  • Raptivity
  • Firefly
  • Skillsoft
  • Lectora (Open Office)
  • Keynote
  • Brainshark Presentations

Captivate’s at the top of the list of what’s IN someone’s toolbox, but it’s not the one that’s necessarily used the most.

Course output:

  • Flash as output = 66% of respondents want course output in Flash.  (The Flash player is on virtually every desktop, so people just have the confidence to know it’s there)
  • Web browser only = 49%

Different results and patterns are evident in different industries, company sizes, etc.

Around 41-42 minutes in, Betsy Bruce starts talking about “Killer Tool Combinations” – using multiple tool combinations.  66% of respondents use best of breed tools in combination.

Different author groups (the tool needs to fit the skill level of the author – too technical?  too light?:

  • SMES
  • IDs
  • Junior author/devs
  • Senior author/devs

Frank Nguyen (around 51 minutes in) – talks about the different kinds of carpenters who build eLearning: 

  • General Contractor (PM, onsite, in the field, may do a little bit of everything.
  • Furniture Maker (at the opposite end of the spectrum)

The generalist uses broad tools – hammer, saw, drill, but not very specialized.

The furniture maker uses very specific tools – saw, specialized saws.  Their toolbox looks really different from the general contractors – not as broad, but very deep.

e-Learning Developers are similar:  generalists and specialists.

Who are the designers and developers in your organization?  Do they need broad tools – or very specialized tools?


If anyone out there has insight or data on Authoring Tools market share, please include some info in the comments!

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