What?! Do you at Funkis have your own tool for developing digital learning productions? I’ve never even heard of that before. Is that something you can have?
That was the words of a manager for the training department for a known Swedish organisation. They were planning on investing in a large digital training program and we were there to pitch for the assignment.
I was completely stunned by his questioning, I felt as if I had missed an important piece of the puzzle and didn’t fully know how to answer the question. Clearly our experiences differed, but I also have to admit that I had no idea how dominant the authoring tools for learning had become in the market.
The usage of authoring tools such as Articulate, iSpring, EasyGenerator etc. has massively increased for organisations that internally want to create training programs. For those of you who have not yet worked with these tools, to simplify; they work a bit like PowerPoint but with more interactive functions. The final product is a web application, compatible with both computers and mobile. The big advantage is that you don’t need to know how to code to be able to make an interactive e-learning, instead you can focus on the content itself.
Not only the organisations but also the digital learning agencies (such as us) are using standardised tools more and more. In many cases they have completely replaced in-house developed frameworks and tools.
There are several reasons for this development. The actual need to create learning content for digital platforms has increased the past years. That has lead to more people producing learning which in turn has lead to the demand of simpler, standardised authoring tools.
The standard authoring tools are designed to solve the most common and most requested needs for digital e-learning producers. This has resulted in most tools having similar functions. Sadly these tools have also formed a common picture for what an e-learning is. E-learnings has become a sort of standard format where clients, producers and users share expectations on what sort of problem should be solved and how learning should be experienced.
Many organisations today require their suppliers to use standard authoring tools. The argument usually sounds like this: ”If we already have a collective view on what an e-learning is, how it should look and what problems to solve – why make it more complicated with a special tool when standardised tools already exist?”
The development is both logical and rational but for us it’s problematic. For us at Funkis the standard tools limits our opportunities to create the best solutions and explore new ideas. This is why we choose to use our own authoring tool over any other authoring tool on the market. Thanks to this strategy we are able to produce fast and efficient without limiting our freedom to use our own methods or trying something completely new together with a client.
Another explanation to why the standardised tools have become increasingly popular is connected to the platforms where organisations distribute their e-learnings. You have maybe heard of LMS – Learning Management System or LXP – Learning experience platform? This is where a user starts an e-learning and for it to work properly the platform and e-learning has to be compatible and ”speak the same language”. The current standard where e-learning and learning platforms meet and communicate today are from 2004! Developed back in the days where social media didn’t exist and ”sharing” was something you did with a taxi.
Sure, a standard is not always a bad thing but when a standard doesn’t evolve together with the rest of the digital world it closes the door for innovation and entrepreneurship. The day when someone is able to offer digital learning for groups, data sharing and complete learning journeys in an easy and efficient way will be the day when the ”old way” will be forgotten for good.
I didn’t give this long explanation of Funkis perspective on tools and learning platforms to the manager for the training department mentioned in the beginning of this article. I was neither prepared or had the time so instead I simply confirmed the facts: Yes, at Funkis we have our own authoring tool and it is something you can have.
How did it go with the pitch you may wonder? Well, the manager left the meeting in the middle of our presentation, the project went to a different supplier whom produced in a standardised authoring tool. Some time later I found out that the same manager was fired. I got a strange feeling that we both were losers in this new, simplified e-learning world but in two completely different ways.