Authoring Tool Selection Report

In this example, I was assigned to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Health to systematically analyze the purchase of authoring tool for the employee training department.

Interviews with Department of Health employees engaged dialogue of the potential uses for a side by side comparison of appropriate matches.   The following is a list of possible uses and related selection criteria based on the information discovered in these discussions.

Criteria for use cases were identified directly from interviews, questionnaires and internet research in addition to suggested guidelines for selecting learning technologies in the Brandon Hall How to Buy E-Learning Systems, Tools, and Services report and in the eLearning Guild’s Synchronous Learning Systems 2008 report.

Use Case Criteria(Consider Technology, Design, Development and Learner Needs)
Three instructional training designers will be creating content for the Department of Health. The technical ability of the developers vary from novice to a firm grasp of basic HTML and Java script.
  • Built-in performance data tracking capabilities
  • Ability to repurpose content quickly from other sources, such as PowerPoint, Word, and specialty authoring tools (i.e. simulation tools)
  • Robust testing engine (with features such as randomization, drawing from a test item pool, etc.)
  • Minimal time spent creating navigational control structures (i.e. navigation buttons, menus, etc.) Products that don’t require you to create simulations at the “stick” level
  • Novice friendly, yet still has underlying extensibility
  • Varying levels of feedback, controlled through a control panel interface.
  • HTML code authoring capacity
  • Javascript authoring capacity
  • Extensive library of very interactive question types (beyond multiple choice and true false)
  • A variety of different testing modes
  • Test answers and data must easily upload to ACCESS Database for evaluation
  • Excellent product support
  • Product should not be too difficult to learn

Product training available at low cost/no cost

Content requires learners to be engaged in skill-based scenarios that apply in a real-world setting (pc simulations only) such as showing an employee how to administer a shot.
  • Role play scenario  for realistic modeling of simulated environments
  • Simulation capacity with demonstration mode
  • Simulation technology with guided practice and feedback
  • Varying levels of feedback, controlled through a control panel interface
  • Instructionally sound output, efficient playback over the internet, without requiring high-speed internet access
  • software applications for realistic modeling of simulated environments
  • Ability to repurpose content quickly from other sources, such as PowerPoint, Word, and specialty authoring tools (i.e. simulation tools)
  • ability to easily embed other media (.mp3 audio, .swf and .mpg video) into the course
  • Minimal time spent creating navigational control structures (i.e. navigation buttons, menus, etc.) Products that don’t require you to create simulations at the “stick” level
  • Novice friendly, yet still has underlying extensibility for complex interaction types.

Full compatibility with the Commonwealth’s IBM Lotus LMS Web page sharing / tour in application

Create a soft skill simulation for new supervisors showing the long-term impact on a work unit of a manager’s action/inaction when faced with particular behaviors among employees.
  • Software applications for realistic modeling of simulated environments
  • Built-in performance data tracking capabilities
  • Minimal time spent creating navigational control structures (i.e. navigation buttons, menus, etc.) Products that don’t require you to create simulations at the “stick” level
  • Novice friendly, yet still has underlying extensibility for complex interaction types
  • Instructionally sound output, efficient playback over the internet, without requiring high-speed internet access
  • Varying levels of feedback, controlled through a control panel interface
  • HTML code authoring capacity
  • Java script authoring capacity
  • Realistic, work-related stories using multimedia, flash, and text
  • Role play scenario for realistic modeling of simulated environments
  • Simulation capacity with demonstration mode
  • Simulation technology with guided practice and feedback
  • Extensive library of very interactive question types
  • ability to easily embed other media (.mp3 audio, .swf and .mpg video) into the course.
Create tests that involve graphic hot-spots, clicking and dragging components on a screen or other more kinesthetic options.
  • Evaluate authoring tools that involve graphic hot spots
  • Click and drag components on a screen
  • Consider other kinesthetic options
  • A variety of testing modes
  • An extensive library of interactive question types
  • Simulation capacity with demonstration mode
  • Test answers and data must easily upload to access database for evaluation
  • Authoring tool with evaluation options is a want but not a must
  • Built-in performance data tracking capabilities
  • Section 508 compliant testing modes
  • Ability to repurpose content quickly from other sources, such as PowerPoint, Word, and specialty simulation tools
  • Robust testing engine (with features such as randomization, drawing from a test item pool, etc.)
  • Novice friendly, yet still has underlying extensibility
  • Instructionally sound output, efficient playback over the internet, without requiring high-speed internet access

State would like to see what testing formats leading tools provide.

Develop a hard skill simulation walking participants through the steps of creating a chart in Excel for testing.
  • Built-in performance data tracking capabilities
  • Ability to repurpose content quickly from other sources, such as PowerPoint, Word, and specialty authoring tools (i.e. simulation tools)
  • Minimal time spent creating navigational control structures (i.e. navigation buttons, menus, etc.) Products that don’t require you to create simulations at the “stick” level
  • Novice friendly, yet still has underlying extensibility for complex interaction types
  • Instructionally sound output, efficient playback over the internet, without requiring high-speed internet access
  • Varying levels of feedback, controlled through a control panel interface
  • Full compatibility with the Commonwealth’s LMS
  • HTML and Java script authoring capacity
  • Simulation capacity with demonstration mode
  • Simulation technology with guided practice and feedback
  • A variety of different testing modes
  • Test answers and data must easily upload to ACCESS Database for evaluation
  • ability to easily embed other media (.mp3 audio, .swf and .mpg video) into the course

Evaluation:

Six leading authoring tools were evaluated for consideration for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Health, Division of Workforce Development & Training.  The following tools identified were evaluated directly from interviews, questionnaires and internet research and industry reports using a combination of:

  • Product web sites
  • User discussion forums
  • Direct contact with product reps
  • Internet Research
  • Classroom Instruction

Performance ratings were determined by a combination of criteria provided through the sources listed above.

Authoring Tools were evaluated based on thirteen mandatory criteria that were essential product features for purchase consideration.

  1. Compatibility with the Commonwealth’s Learning Management System
  2. Security/ facilitator firewall access requirements
  3. Web based training capacity
  4. Novice friendly with extensibility for more complex interactions
  5. HTML code authoring capacity
  6. JavaScript authoring capacity
  7. Realistically simulation capabilities using multimedia, flash, and text
  8. Computer simulations engaged in real-world skill-based  scenarios
  9. Realistic simulations with role play capabilities
  10. Demonstration mode
  11. Guided practice and feedback
  12. Extensive library of interactive question types
  13. Data uploaded to ACCESS database for evaluation

Of the six products, one was removed because it was a LMS.  Three of the remaining five were eliminated based on the MUST criteria for product purchase.  Criteria elimination breakdown is as follows:

  • Tools were significantly over budget – (SumTotal, and SimWriter)
  • No additional testing modes besides multiple choice (Apixel Metamorphosis)
  • Zero coding capacity (Apixel Metamorphosis)
  • Inexperienced with government systems and commonwealth LMS (SimWriter)

Only two remaining products were evaluated, even though they also were over budget.  Lectora, although significantly over priced, is willing to work with the Department of Health and steer them to possible additional funding opportunities.

Adobe Captivate has three different government discount programs and may qualify for additional discounts.

Recommendations:

It is recommended that Lectora would be worth further investigation since the features were better overall.  The rep seemed confident that he would be able to help the state find funding and stated that Lectora is currently working with many government contracts including 22 State Department of Health’s.

If the state prefers not to go that direction, they may be able to purchase two licenses through Adobe Captivate and rearrange the duties of the three trainers.  Adobe offers three different discount programs for the government.

The third option would be to consider open source authoring tools.  Tools should be evaluated and researched in a separate report.

1.  Lectora, Trivantis Corporation

311 Elm Street

Cincinnati, OH 45202

(513) 852-7902

Contact: John Woods

john.woods@trivantis.com

http://www.trivantis.com/products/lectora/government.html

2.  Adobe Captivate

345 Park Avenue

San Jose, CA 95110-2704

1-800-585-0774

1 408-536-6000

http://www.adobe.com/products/captivate/

Open source authoring tools:

Course Lab- http://www.courselab.com/

Dokeos- http://www.dokeos.com/en/deployment/free

eXe- http://sourceforge.net/apps/trac/exe/wiki

openelms- http://www.openelms.org/

udutu- http://www.udutu.com/index.html

Xerte- http://www.nottingham.ac.uk/xerte/

The steps for further review and selection of an authoring tool include:

  1. Identify an internal review team that includes the staff of three instructional designers, a technologist, and an administrator.  The administrator should select an appropriate subordinate to chair the review group.
  2. The chair may delegate trial accounts for demonstrations evenly to each of the members. The chair should author step by step report examples for uniformity and distribute them to team members in a time consistent manner.
  3. Administrator should audit the initial analysis and note each team member’s progress, every step forward.
  4. Determine whether open source authoring tools would be a consideration.
  5. Review the list of evaluation criteria and determine any changes.
  6. Potential vendors should be provided with evaluation criteria and requests for demonstrations, bids, trial account, and client references.
  7. Contact Lectora Representative to determine how he can help the Department of Health find funds (such as through the Center for Disease Control).
  8. Contact an Adobe representative to determine eligibility through government discount programs.
Advertisements

About Angela Rupert

Angela Rupert is a freelance instructional designer and development consultant. Contact Angela Rupert for a free consultation at arupert88@gmail.com or (717) 480-1747.
This entry was posted in authoring tools, Instructional Design, Learning Technologies and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Authoring Tool Selection Report

  1. Mr WordPress says:

    Feel free to make comments. I appreciate positive feedback!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s