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Open or Commercial? Selecting eLearning Development Tools

February 4, 2011

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?

Resources:

Your thoughts?

This post contains more questions than answers. Please consider sharing your experiences and preferences in the comments here.

Image credit: stock.xchng

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