Elearning Market Update - August 2007

This month we are taking a look at news from the authoring tools market and the end of the road for Authorware.

'Hello Darkness my old friend'

Adobe finally announced that they would no longer be developing Authorware. Adobe stated "The eLearning market has transitioned to Adobe Flash® and Adobe Captivate® software over the years. Authorware is a mature product and demand has continually declined to where it is no longer economically viable for Adobe to continue development." Whilst Adobe will still sell and support Authorware there will be no further development. It will not be upgraded for Vista or IE7.

So version 7 marks the end for Authorware (who said they used to call it awfulware? I hope you feel terrible now), probably the first and most widely used industry-standard development tool. The Windows version was first released in 1992 and cost $8,000. For a history of Authorware see http://www.elearningguild.com/pdf/2/092203dev-h.pdf.

Never one to miss an opportunity Atlantic Link announced a new service which will take and convert your old Authorware programmes. If you ever needed a prompt to review those old e-learning programmes sat on your LMS now is the time. What do you mean your content doesn't need updating? If you read our article on the wikinomics of learning you will see that learning content should be like Wikipedia, it should be updated regularly and get better all the time.

Flash update

Adobe also announced last week that the next version of Flash Player will support MPEG4 Part 10 which is a video standard offering much greater compression than its predecessors, as well as working over a huge range of bandwidths and resolution.

The reduction in bandwidth is significant making it possible to increase the quality while reducing the bandwidth requirement by an order of magnitude. The MPEG4 Part 10 standard is likely to dominate internet streaming. YouTube are encoding all new uploads in it, and everyone from Sony to Nokia are embracing the standard.

Thus video streaming will become an even more viable proposition for your e-learning. We've been experimenting with it in moodle and it's a great addition.

Social networking and learning

Social networking is a hot issue at the moment. If you haven't yet got a Facebook page join in at www.facebook.com and become my friend (or Stephen Walsh's, we're in competition to see who can get to a million close friends by Christmas, so choose wisely). You can also join fledging groups on e-learning, mobile learning, etc.

Harbinger Knowledge Products, the company that developed Raptivity, are entering this busy space with their new tool Flockpod. Harbinger see value in gaining user insights into content and provides a space on any web page for users to contribute.

If you are interested in social networking also have a look at Elgg as a good open source social networking tool. Elgg also integrates with Moodle LMS. Find out more at www.elgg.org.

Top Ten Authoring Tools Requirements

Brandon Hall as part of its marketing push for its guide to authoring tools ($795) has published its survey of the top ten things that organisations want from an authoring tool. They are:

1. Novice friendly, yet still has underlying extensibility for complex interaction types.
2. No plug-in required (with the exception of Flash output)
3. Adherence to SCORM specification and AICC standard. (The real need is full interoperability with many LMS solutions.)
4. Short learning curve for new contentdevelopers
5. Extensive library of very interactivequestion types (beyond multiple choice and true false)
6. Robust testing engine (with features such as randomization, drawing from a test item pool, etc.)
7. Rich media support
8. Ability to repurpose content quickly from other sources, such as PowerPoint, Word, and specialty authoring tools (i.e. simulation tools)
9. Minimal time spent creating navigational control structures (i.e. navigation buttons, menus, etc.)
10. Low cost (for stand alone authoring tools)

Good list - but $795's a lot, even with today's dollar. You can read Kineo's Authoring tools reviews for free. Need help deciding which tool's right for you? Get in touch and we can help.