Open or Commercial? Selecting eLearning Development Tools
Whether you are creating a storyboard, editing a photo, writing a training guide, or developing a presentation there are endless choices of applications available. How do you choose? If you are the one making the decisions about which tools to use to develop an elearning project – either you’ve been assigned this task in your organization or you’re freelance – you find that some tools are free to use, while others require the purchase of a license. A previous post listing tools freelancers might choose, included a mix of open and commercial recommendations.
I suspect that there are multiple ways to approach this. My time in organizations with limited budgets saw supervisors asking us to fully review and test open options first, before making a purchase. While private employers often insisted upon specific commercial products and sometimes proprietary ones developed in house.
A few considerations:
- Budget – What can you afford? This one question may be the deciding factor for you or your organization.
- Context – Does the choice change based on where the eLearning is to take place? (higher education, K-12, corporate, industry)
- Input / Output – What raw materials will you be working with in terms of file types, images, etc.? What do you need to end up with, again, in terms of file types?
- Utility – What functionality do you need? There are different considerations and implications for choosing something like an LMS (Moodle vs. Blackboard) versus a photo editor (Gimp vs. Photoshop).
- Support & Training – Where can you turn if you need help with a product? Is there an additional cost associated? There is also an investment in time required to learn how to use something new. What is available in terms of tutorials and user communities?
- Selecting Software on a Shoestring – idealware.org
- Seven Principles for Selecting Software Packages – ACM.org
- Find Open Source Software Alternatives – osalt
- Open Source Software in Education – EDUCAUSE
- The National Center for Open Source and Education – NCOSE
This post contains more questions than answers. Please consider sharing your experiences and preferences in the comments here.
Image credit: stock.xchng