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.||
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.||
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.||
|Create tests that involve graphic hot-spots, clicking and dragging components on a screen or other more kinesthetic options.||
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.||
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.
- Compatibility with the Commonwealth’s Learning Management System
- Security/ facilitator firewall access requirements
- Web based training capacity
- Novice friendly with extensibility for more complex interactions
- HTML code authoring capacity
- Realistically simulation capabilities using multimedia, flash, and text
- Computer simulations engaged in real-world skill-based scenarios
- Realistic simulations with role play capabilities
- Demonstration mode
- Guided practice and feedback
- Extensive library of interactive question types
- 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.
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
Contact: John Woods
2. Adobe Captivate
345 Park Avenue
San Jose, CA 95110-2704
Open source authoring tools:
Course Lab- http://www.courselab.com/
The steps for further review and selection of an authoring tool include:
- 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.
- 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.
- Administrator should audit the initial analysis and note each team member’s progress, every step forward.
- Determine whether open source authoring tools would be a consideration.
- Review the list of evaluation criteria and determine any changes.
- Potential vendors should be provided with evaluation criteria and requests for demonstrations, bids, trial account, and client references.
- Contact Lectora Representative to determine how he can help the Department of Health find funds (such as through the Center for Disease Control).
- Contact an Adobe representative to determine eligibility through government discount programs.