Thursday, September 12, 2013

The Best eLearning Tool is... is... hmm?

Since I started down the road of eLearning development back when the "e" in eLearning meant "electricity", the time honored question has been, "Which is the 'best' authoring tool?"

Well, times have changed and tools have come and gone. Each year we can say that the best authoring tool is...


We're asking the wrong question! In fact, we're answering a question that can never really be answered to anyone's delight.  The authoring tool shoot-out can get as crazy as a religious or political debate. It often simply becomes a discussion about preferences, fanatical loyalists or arcane feature sets.

Can anyone really answer the question of what makes an authoring tool the best one? Or for that matter, what constitutes a 'good' authoring tool. I suspect we'll have as many opinions as there are users (except for loyalists to whatever tools which are often blinded by their own loyalty and need to belong to something/anything).

That being said, we have tons of blogs and awards given to the "best" authoring tools all the time.  But, does this have any value? More often than not these awards are based on popularity or hype versus any scientific method.

In fact, you cannot scientifically ever say which tool the best one is. Why? Well, there is one variable that can never be controlled or made constant: the author/developer.  You will never find two authors knowledgeable in two tools with exactly the same skill set, same problem resolution abilities or same  level of dedication to any specific tool. Therefore, any attempt at rating the "best" tool is an exercise in futility and being "partisan".

Now that we know that we can never truly identify the 'best' authoring tool, let's look at which tool is the best for you (here's where things get tricky and the ground starts shaking and the heavens part and, ok, you get the picture...)

The best authoring tool for you is the one you curse the least at (expletives deleted).

Now that was simple, wasn't it?

All authoring tools will do things you like and things you don't like. Some do it better than others.  Some do it worse than others. What is 'it'? It, is whatever feature you think is important to your development that you've got to have. 'It' could be animations, it could be text processing, it could be layout or it could be simply that it loads quickly or doesn't blow up on you.  It, is variable and your tastes and desires will change over time. So judge 'it' carefully for 'it' is evanescent and temporal... If 'it' is great today 'it' may suck tomorrow when a better 'it' filters into your consciousness...

So when someone asks you, "Which authoring tool do you think is the best one?" The correct response is, "It depends..."

I know this post won't stop the war for long,if at all. But stop for a moment and realize that it's a non-winnable  war with many casualties along the way.Enjoy the tool you work with and strive to make it better. And do keep your eyes open for 'better' tools that may solve your needs more appropriately in the future.

What's my favorite tool? LOL, it depends!!!

1 comment:

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