Lectora: Tool Review

It has been a while since we started using it, but we have finally finally written up our review of the Lectora e-learning authoring tool.The delay gave us a chance to look at the 2008 version and we were impressed. Lectora from Trivantis offers a powerful desktop based e-learning authoring tool.

Overview

We have been using Lectora with a number of our clients recently and decided it was about time we got around to giving it the Kineo road test.

Lectora is a desktop based e-learning authoring tool, which enables you to publish content to dynamic HTML for the web, CD, and to SCORM, AICC and LRN learning management systems. Lectora is not a PowerPoint plugin like Articulate or a Word plugin like RapideL. Lectora is a fully functional self-contained authoring tool. It is slightly more complex than other desktop tools as you have to get to grips with the tool including its conventions and interface. However, it is worth the effort as you can create rich learning interactions.

It is richer and more functional than other desktop tools we have used particularly the professional version, which comes with additional editing tools such as an image editor, audio and video editor. Most authoring tools require you to create and size images, for example, in a separate tool such as Photoshop. Thus the addition of these tools can be very useful if you do not already have such tools and can save you buying them separately. Though there are also good free tools such as Audacity for audio editing and GIMP for picture editing, which will save you money, they are separate applications.

Some of our clients have found Lectora harder to use than other tools so we thought we would put it to the test. We gave Kineo Partner and Lectora newbie, Steve Rayson, the challenge of downloading the trial version of Lectora and producing some content in a couple of hours. You can see the short Lectora demo Steve produced in his allotted time.

Steve's thoughts on Lectora and his assessment against our rapid e-learning scorecard are set out below.

"I found downloading, installing and creating content much easier than expected. I also thought the pre-defined templates made it very straightforward to create a structured e-learning program with a menu, sections, and pages within each section. "

"I liked the use of context sensitive help especially as I am a dive in and get started person; I have never been good at reading manuals. You can access this by right clicking on objects on the screen (e.g. text or a graphic)."

"Like many authoring tools there didn't appear to be a wide library of pre-set learning interactions, but there is the ability to create complex interactions and branching scenarios. I didn't have time to really explore these features and I do think it would take a little time to really get up to speed with this aspect of Lectora. Other reviewers have suggested that an average instructional developer can be reasonably proficient in three to four days. I think this is probably right and may be why some companies buy tools which have a shorter learning curve where the tool is to be used by subject matter experts."

"You can drop in Flash files easily to Lectora and so rather than get to grips with action functionality in the limited time I cheated and dropped in some Flash learning interactions we have previously created at Kineo. You could also use a tool like Raptivity to create such interactions and drop these into Lectora."

"Trivantis recommends that developers attend their classroom-based training, and certainly some form of training makes sense to shorten the learning curve. This is a fully featured product and more experienced developers will find they can develop rich e-learning using the functionality provided. I suspect that more experienced developers and designers will find investment in using Lectora rewarding and not have some of the frustrations that can occur using other, easier to use but more limited tools."

"Lectora allows you to publish dynamic HTML whereas some of the other tools only generate Flash output. The published content had light page weights and was fast to load."

"The tool is at the high end for desktop based e-learning authoring tools with the professional suite at over $2,700 and the standard Lectora publisher at $1,790. If you add the PowerPoint integrator tool you are looking at $2,185 for the standard version and over $3,000 for the professional version."

The Rapid E-learning Scorecard

In summary, Steve rated Lectora as follows:

Criteria Ratings Comments

Ease of use

3.5

It is very easy to produce basic content. It will take a few days to get to grips with actions but it is worth the investment. It is the trade off between being easy to use and providing a more powerful tool.

Instructional design flexibility

4

Lectora is very flexible and powerful. However, I would still like to see more learning interactions that a designer can re-use. Tools like the built-in spell checker are very useful practical tools.

Ability to incorporate existing content

5

You can incorporate a wide range of existing content from PowerPoint to audio, SWFs and images.

Ability to handle a variety of topics

4

Lectora provides the ability to handle most learning topics

Ability to incorporate graphics and media

5

Lectora handles these files well and the professional version provides tools to edit these assets directly.

Ability to publish SCORM/AICC compliant courses

5

A straightforward process. It also allows packaging for CDs. Lectora creates SCORM/AICC compliant courses.

Technical support available

4

Travantis offer technical support from around $195 a year for Lectora Publisher and $295 a year for Lectora Professional Publishing Suite.

Agree or disagree with this review? Or got an authoring tool, and need to get some help in making the most of it? Kineo‚Äôs Rapid E-learning Design Team can help. Let us know.

Kineo has accepted no payment or reward for this independent review.

This article has also been translated to Serbo-Croatian by Jovana Milutinovich from Webhostinggeeks.com.

 
 
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