When it comes to designing and delivering e-Learning, having the right tools is important. Here is a list of the tools I work with on a regular basis. Some of them are free; others will require you to make a monetary investment.
Note: This post is in response to Articulate Challenge (#35) that was originally posted by David Anderson on Friday, May 16, 2014. Since this post was created on July 2014, I’ve added additional tools mentioned by other Instructional Designers to my own toolbox. You can also see another listing of the current tools and software I use ( (updated 1/1/2017) by going here.
When designing e-Learning, I use the following:
- Articulate Storyline (of course, this is my new favorite tool of all time!)
- Articulate Studio 09/13
- Adobe Captivate 7
- Camtasia Studio 08
COLOR PICKERS/COLOR SCHEMES
When designing e-learning, it’s important to understand how color associations vary from culture to culture and within different target audiences. If you have a moment, read the article titled, Color and culture design considerations. I think it will provide you with a few interesting insights into how color is perceived.
When I see a color in an advertisement, website, blog, or e-learning module that I like, I use Pixie from Nattyware to identify its HEX/RGB colors. Once I’ve selected the color, I use either Adobe Kuler or Color Schemer Online to find a color scheme that works with my initial color.
Over the years, I’ve used several image editors. Starting with Adobe Fireworks, then Adobe Photoshop Elements and then eventually Adobe Photoshop. On the other hand, I find myself using Microsoft PowerPoint quite frequently over the last few years… especially when it comes to creating quick graphics for e-Learning courses. It’s ability to remove backgrounds, crop and re-color is highly underestimated in my opinion.
FREE STORYBOARDING TOOLS
In the past, I’ve used Articulate Studio’s built in publish to Word as a Storyboard option to generate both scripts and basic flow/graphics for my clients to review. I’ve also built my own storyboard templates directly in Microsoft Word. Connie Malamed also provides an excellent collection to choose from at Storyboard Depot (Storyboards for eLearning).
If I had to choose a favorite tool, it would be Articulate’s publish to Word as a Storyboard option. This allows me to not only rapidly design a module but also produce a quick storyboard (images, narration) for my client to review and approve.
For editing and converting sound files, I like to use both Audacity and Camtasia Studio from Techsmith. I’ve used Camtasia Studio for years, so it’s ease of use and familiarity make it my favorite tool in this category.
For grabbing snapshots, Techsmith’s Snagit product is my favorite! It should be in every Instructional Designer’s toolkit! I use the open-source FTP client FileZilla for uploading/downloading client files, NovaMind for mind mapping software, and Tiny URL to shorten URLs when posting on my blog or sharing portfolio links with clients.
TOOLS MENTIONED BY OTHER INSTRUCTIONAL DESIGNERS AS PART OF THE CHALLENGE
The following represent tools and utilities that others have mentioned on the e-Learning Heroes blog. I’m adding them here as a reference for future use!
Character Name Generator: This tool was discussed by Rebecca Fleisch Cordeiro. Thanks Rebecca! I will be using this one very soon. Note: If you connect from a desktop, hit the space bar to navigate through the names. If you are accessing it from an iPad, just tap the screen.
SoundCloud: This is an online audio distribution platform based in Berlin, Germany, that enables its users to upload, record, promote and share their originally-created sounds. This tool was mentioned by Tim Slade.
Pinterest: Jackie Van Nice, in her response to this challenge discussed how she used Pinterest for graphic inspiration and project organization. After reading her article, I’ve incorporated these ideas into my own toolbox. Thanks Jackie!
More comments are being added to this e-Learning Heroes blog post. Stop by and check it out. You never know when you may discover something that can take your design to the next level.