Elearning Tools Round-up: Five To Watch

Cammy Bean shares her views on three new tools from ASTD 2011.

I spent most of my time at ASTD ICE on the Expo floor. Our booth was in Elearning Alley – along with Allen Interactions, Articulate and the elearning Brothers.

There were a lot of new authoring tools on the show floor this year. Here’s a quick run down on the tools I checked out and some of the buzz:

Articulate Storyline

Tom Kuhlmann and Dave Anderson of Articulate were showing off their new tool, Storyline, which goes into beta this summer. It’s a separate product from Articulate Studio, but seems to do some cool things with branching and trigger states. It’ll come with various character packs so you can create stories right out of the box. Kineo’s going to help you get to know this product a lot better later in the year – keep an eye open for announcements soon.

Zebra Zapps

This is Michael Allen’s new product, they’ve formed a separate company to launch Zebra.

Zebra’s interesting. Not for the entry level user in our view - but this product will certainly allow developers to quickly create some cool interactive experiences. There’s some very nice visual mapping and connecting of elements, almost like its own visual programming language. Zebra is a cloud-based authoring tool. The Zapps part is because it creates little interactive apps, which you can buy or sell in the cloud. Get it? Took me awhile…

I think their market will extend beyond the elearning space into marketing and website development. While it’s not yet creating SCORM objects, this will come.

Lectora Snap!

At a different place in the market, this is essentially an entry point product -- $99 for PowerPoint conversions to SCORM objects. At that price, why not just try it out? (Although you can try it out free for 30 days).

Lectora has gotten the rap as being the complicated tool on the market now. Feels like Trivantis is moving back to basics and trying to meet the market where it’s at. Maybe this is their gateway drug to Lectora? Hook ‘em with Snap and then get ‘em interested in more sophisticated elearning development.


This isn’t a new tool, but the first time I’d checked it out. Shift is a collaborative, server-based authoring environment (this means your stuff lives in the cloud, allowing a geographically diverse team to work on the same project at the same time).  It’s got built in templates – over 200 of them – along with agents/avatars that you can do lip synching on etc.

It’s not cheap, but server-based collaborative tools do run more expensive than desk-tops tools. $8,500 for a one year subscriptions – which includes two developers and one administrator. Additional licenses for $3,500.


This isn’t an authoring tool, but it is worthy of note. Jambok is social learning in a simple user interface. Let your people upload videos, screen casts, etc. We could see lots of potential for integrating it with the LMS to get everything going on in the same place. Jambok was just acquired by SuccessFactors…so it’s got that going for it.

That’s a wrap

I know I missed a lot of other tools and cool products.The ICE expo is massive. Did you see something interesting that I didn’t?

Join our Elearning Professionals Group and tell us which tools get you excited.


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