Joe Ganci is an eLearning consultant with a long track record. Since 1983, Joe's design approaches and his expert use of development tools, has helped many to improve their eLearning design and development. Joe's personal and hands-on style has his services constantly in demand and he is privileged to have visited with many clients all over the world. He has taught classes for many years at client sites and publishes a free eLearning tools newsletter: http://tinyurl.com/eLearningJoe. Joe is on a mission to improve the quality of eLearning with practical approaches that work.
Joe has expertise in Adobe Connect, Authorware, Captivate, and several other relevant software packages. He has a strong programming and development background, which often has assisted him in finding innovative programming solutions to difficult e-Learning challenges.
Over the last five years, as he has written his authoring tool reviews, Joe has watched some patterns emerge. In this anniversary column, he takes a look at what has happened, what is happening now, and what the future may bring to the tools we rely on.
Toolkit: Elucidat June 23, 2015
Elucidat is an authoring tool that promises it will be easy to make amazing eLearning. Does it deliver? Joe’s review shows you what Elucidat can do, and what it lacks.
PowerPoint add-in tools are an important category of eLearning authoring software, and a developer or manager can spend a lot of time comparing their features when it comes time to select one. This month’s review will save you much of that effort! Joe reports on six of the most prominent tools, in easy-to-use tabular format.
Toolkit: BranchTrack—Simple and Very Effective April 28, 2015
Scenario-based learning allows learners to make mistakes and to learn from those mistakes, keeping learning from being linear, passive, and boring. But building it can be complicated. BranchTrack, a cloud-based tool, makes not just the flowcharting part easy but actually outputs a full-fledged simulation for you. Read all about it here!
Toolkit: It's March Madness Catch-up Time! March 24, 2015
With the arrival of a new year, the authoring tool update cycle is in full swing. Here’s the current update from a half-dozen tool publishers!
Toolkit: An Overview of Two Tools—eXe and NimbleAuthor February 24, 2015
This month, Joe’s review covers one free tool and one that is definitely not free. They have different purposes, both have their interesting features, both have their limitations. This review will help you sort them out.
Toolkit: LearningStone January 27, 2015
Among the ways to improve the effectiveness of the learning and performance ecosystem in an organization is to make good use of social media to support collaboration, and after instruction is complete, add support for learners until such time as they become proficient. More software is coming to support these approaches. Here is a review of one that works well.
Toolkit: NexLearn SimWriter December 23, 2014
In many cases, eLearning consists more of passive reading and watching than it does activity. And research suggests that passive approaches are not effective. What is effective? Well, scenarios and simulations are, and they need not be difficult to create. This month’s review looks at SimWriter, one of the few tools that can help in this regard.
Toolkit: Articulate Storyline 2 Was Worth the Wait! October 28, 2014
Articulate launched Storyline 2 on September 16, and there are some very nifty features in this new version of a tool that has many fans. Here’s a rundown on the big changes!
Toolkit: Train by Cell September 23, 2014
There’s a new crop of eLearning tools specifically designed for delivering learning through a cell phone. Smartphones are not practical vehicles for desktop-style eLearning, but they are great support for many learners-on-the-go. Here is the first of several reviews of new tools that are optimized for development of learning fit for cell phone screens without requiring programming skills.
Toolkit: eLearning Tools—Passion, Frustration, Joy, and Sadness August 26, 2014
What does a veteran developer and reviewer of authoring tools learn over the years? Joe shares some of his lessons learned, about vendors and developers, about complacency, and about the right questions to ask when choosing authoring tools. Read this to benefit from Joe’s insights and experience!
Toolkit: Adobe Presenter 10 July 22, 2014
Adobe Presenter 10 is a video tool that offers many new and improved features, including the ability to publish to HTML5, and to deliver HD quality video to any device. Is it worth licensing? Find out here!
Toolkit: ApprenNet—the Missing Link June 24, 2014
The near-universal availability of mobile devices capable of recording and sharing video is creating some excellent opportunities to reach learners no matter where they are, to engage them with the instructor and each other, and to create libraries of crowd-sourced problem solutions. Here is a review of a social eLearning platform that is among the first to leverage these possibilities.
Set Up Your Workspace in Captivate 8 … and Keep It! June 11, 2014
Adobe changed the user interface for Captivate as part of the new version 8. This is great for new users, but experienced users who just want to get to work may find the additional clicking required an inconvenience. Here’s how to set the interface up your way and lock it in.
Toolkit: Adobe Captivate 8—a Huge Leap Forward May 27, 2014
Captivate 8, just released, brings with it new responsive design features that separate it from all other tools in a huge way. Surprisingly, it offers more power while making entry to the tool easier for novices. Here is Joe’s review. Caution: Fasten your seat belt and make sure you’ve securely tied your sneakers.
Review of Raptivity Linker BETA May 1, 2014
In March 2014, Raptivity launched a beta tool called Raptivity Linker. The tool allows developers to link standalone Raptivity interactions into short interactive learning modules. Here’s a first look at the tool and what it does!
Toolkit: Five More Lesser-known eLearning Tools April 22, 2014
This is the second of two mini-review articles Joe has done this spring, responding to your requests for information about tools you may never have seen reviewed. But being unknown doesn’t mean these tools don’t have strengths and unique characters! Enjoy the grand tour!
Toolkit: Five Lesser-known eLearning Tools March 25, 2014
Last month, Joe invited readers to tell him which lesser-known tools they wanted him to review. He’s chosen the most-requested, and here are his mini-reviews and ratings of those five. Bonus: some late- breaking news!
Toolkit: So Many Tools, So Much Time February 25, 2014
Joe has reviewed many of the better-known authoring and eLearning development tools. There are many other tools that don’t get much market recognition, yet they have enthusiastic users. Here’s your chance to tell Joe which ones you would like to know more about—he’ll provide summary reviews later this year for the most-requested and those he considers the best.
Toolkit: What Will 2014 Bring Us? Please… Please… Please… January 28, 2014
Instructional designers today must know one or more development tools, but for most people it isn’t possible to be both a great instructional designer and an excellent developer, resulting in more poor examples of eLearning. Joe looks at what we need today.
Toolkit: eLearning Tools Year in Review (Oh, Goodness!) December 30, 2013
Another year is ending, and there has been a lot of change in the eLearning landscape, including the entry of mobile learning into the mainstream and much experimentation in methods and modes of delivery. Tools have added more features to support new ideas, and Joe’s review of the year’s tools should be helpful to you as you consider changes to your own authoring choices.
Toolkit: Articulate Studio '13 Pro November 26, 2013
PowerPoint add-in tools have been around for quite some time, and none of them has captured the market or the imagination of eLearning designers as much as Articulate Studio. Here’s an in-depth look at the features of Articulate Studio ’13, the first update of Studio since 2008.
Toolkit: Adobe Presenter 9 October 22, 2013
Adobe Presenter is an eLearning development tool that plugs into Microsoft PowerPoint. Adobe recently released version 9 of the tool, adding 15 new features. Joe reviews them here and comments on the new Adobe pricing model.
Toolkit: Tools for Delivering eLearning with HTML5 (Part 2) September 24, 2013
In August, Joe discussed browser compatibility with HTML5 and identified the most commonly used development tools you can use to publish eLearning lessons to HTML5. This month completes the review with a list of more tools that publish to HTML5, and others that are very useful in the eLearning development process.
Toolkit: Tools for Delivering eLearning with HTML5 (Part 1) August 27, 2013
Since Flash stopped being the default tool of choice for cross-platform development, eLearning producers have been looking for an alternative, and HTML5 is the usual suspect. This month, Joe talks about browser compatibility with HTML5, and he identifies development tools that support delivery to HTML5.
Putting Out Fires, Part 4: Setting eLearning Standards August 14, 2013
When working on a large project with multiple team members, it is common to have a set of organizational or project standards for eLearning courses. These standards make it easier for the team members to pick up each other’s work, based on availability. Here’s a quick primer on standards.
Composica Enterprise is an eLearning development tool that may never have caused a blip on your radar screen. This is a tool that offers true group authoring, including built-in task management, social and workflow tools, and many other features that may make it a very good fit for some organizations. Read here about how Composica differs from tools you are already familiar with.
Up to this point in the series on picking up someone else’s project, Joe and Jennifer have covered the things you should find out before accepting the job, and what to look for in the project files. Now they detail what to document as you do your revisions—and why!
Toolkit: Adobe Captivate 7 June 27, 2013
Adobe released version 7 of its market-leading eLearning development tool, Captivate, one of the most feature-rich eLearning development tools around and one of the very few that work equally well on both Windows and Macintosh platforms. Here’s a thorough review of the latest version of this long-time favorite.
Putting Out Fires, Part 2: What's In the Source Files? June 20, 2013
In the first part of this series on picking up someone else’s project, Joe and Jennifer provided a checklist to use before accepting the job. Now they alert you to the things you should look for in the project files, especially when the tool that created them was either Adobe Captivate or Articulate Storyline. This article could save you a lot of work!
Toolkit: Qarbon ViewletBuilder 7 Enterprise May 28, 2013
Qarbon ViewletBuilder 7 Enterprise is a full-featured authoring tool with versions for Windows, MacOS, and Linux. Joe found an unexpected level of sophistication in the Windows Enterprise edition. For a thorough look at what Qarbon ViewletBuilder offers, please take the time to read this review!
Has a client ever asked you to revise a course that someone else wrote? This can be either a great opportunity or a train wreck. This, the first of four sets of tips for revising (or fixing) a project, is a checklist to use before you begin such an assignment. These questions will identify “hot spots” and client expectations, helping to ensure a successful engagement!
Toolkit: Lectora Inspire April 23, 2013
Lectora from Trivantis is not a newcomer to the eLearning development tool market. However, the latest version is an overhaul from the ground up, and in this review, Joe reports that it feels like a brand-new tool.
Go and Animate with GoAnimate March 26, 2013
GoAnimate is cloud-based software that creates animated videos. These can be very effective for eLearning applications and much less expensive than live action shoots. Here’s a thorough review of everything that GoAnimate offers.
Choosing the Right Tool for the Job: 2013 Update March 11, 2013
Of all the tools available, how can you find the ones that will help you meet the needs of your staff’s talent, your eLearning topics, and the techniques and best practices you have adopted? In this update, Joe will help you discern the differences between the top tools that are available now, and he will give you an idea of what’s coming next!
Toolkit: TechSmith Camtasia Studio 8 February 26, 2013
Techsmith’s Camtasia 8 is a complete reboot, rewritten from scratch, and it is attracting attention not only from eLearning developers but also from video production professionals and even from consumer periodicals. This is a beautiful tool to add to your kit, and you can read all about it here!
Toolkit: Ready? Go! The ReadyGo Authoring Tool January 22, 2013
The ReadyGo authoring tool is one of those that always seems to be unknown to most eLearning developers. This review should definitely get ReadyGo on your radar!
Toolkit: The Tumultuous Year in Review December 26, 2012
What happened this year? Historians will see 2012 as the tipping point for eLearning tools. Joe reviews the past 366 days (goodbye, leap year) and the highlights in the world of design and development software.
Toolkit: ZebraZapps Goes Pro with New Release! November 27, 2012
Allen Interactions has released ZebraZapps Pro. While it contains all of the many features of the earlier version, now called ZebraZapps Creator, it adds several important elements that any serious eLearning developer will want. This review covers all of the new features available in the Pro version.
Toolkit: Do You Know … dominKnow Claro? October 25, 2012
Claro by dominKnow is one of those products that you see in the exhibit hall at every major eLearning conference (including DevLearn 2012) and yet, when you ask someone if they know about Claro, they scratch their head a bit and say, “Well, I’ve heard of it…” Claro is like a well-kept open secret. But no more! It’s time to keep this a secret no longer.
Toolkit: Adobe Presenter 8 Leaps Ahead August 30, 2012
Adobe has released Presenter 8, which attempts to surpass competing PowerPoint-based authoring tools in power and ease of use. Here is a review of the new features; it turns out that they are not just “more of the same,” but are additions that can help instructional designers create better designs.
Toolkit: Adobe Connect 9 Adds New Features July 31, 2012
Adobe released Version 9 of its Connect Web-conferencing tool last month. Here’s a rundown of the new features and the limitations of the latest iteration of this widely used software.
Toolkit: Adobe Captivate 6 Strong Out of the Gate June 26, 2012
From HTML5 output to high definition screencasts to new pre-test and branching capabilities, plus numerous other important improvements, Captivate 6 is a huge step forward from the prior version, with new additions and features that make it easier to create engaging eLearning and let you do it even faster. Here’s an early look at the release.
The first guide to ZebraZapps is available! Here’s a review and information on where to download the book.
Articulate’s Storyline has been one of the most-anticipated product launches in months. Now that it’s out, was it worth the wait? Here’s an in-depth review.
Toolkit: iSpring Suite – Lots of Features at a Great Price April 24, 2012
Developers and managers of eLearning have many choices when it comes to rapid development tools. One of the least well-known, yet feature-rich, choices is the iSpring Suite. Here is an in-depth look at what this set of tools can do.
Toolkit: Online Courses With a Twist – Rapid Course March 27, 2012
If you have been in the eLearning field for a while, you are used to online course libraries that offer only the SCORM files for the courses. Yukon Learning has launched a promising product that provides some unique twists on a familiar idea, by including all the source files used to create and publish the course.
Toolkit: News from the Tools Front February 21, 2012
The first seven weeks of 2012 have already brought many changes in the world of eLearning vendors and tools. Joe tries to keep you caught up on the trends, and the tools to keep an eye on as the year progresses.
Toolkit: ZebraZapps is Ready! January 24, 2012
After two years of anticipation, ZebraZapps is available to developers. Was it worth the wait? Read Joe’s review!
Toolkit: Reflections on the DevLearn 2011 Expo December 27, 2011
Did you go to DevLearn this year? If so, did you visit every Expo exhibit to see the latest and greatest tools and services? If not, then you’ll want to read Joe Ganci’s column this month. He checked out the expo hall thoroughly and asked the exhibitors a lot of questions, some of which made the exhibitors uncomfortable. Read Joe’s take on what he saw and heard. Be ready to be surprised!
Toolkit: Easygenerator Impresses November 22, 2011
A number of new tools launched at DevLearn this year, and one that received a great deal of attention and buzz was easygenerator. In its North American debut, this SaaS offering from the Netherlands brings many extremely interesting features, as you will see in this review.
Toolkit: Mobile Challenges, and Notes on Seven New Tools October 25, 2011
In some ways, the move to mobile involves two steps forward and one step back. How will authoring tools meet the demands of smaller screens, slower processors, slower connections, and easily distracted learners? In addition to his comments about these challenges, Joe looks at coming changes in a number of popular tools.
Seven Top Authoring Tools October 12, 2011
The eLearning Guild has just published a new research report, Rapid eLearning Authoring. The report provides an analysis of the top seven tools used by thousands of Guild members. Joe Ganci, the report author, offers you a handy table that summarizes the key features of the current versions of those top-seven tools, including best uses and cost.
Toolkit: Tools, Tools, and More Tools September 27, 2011
In a time of change, it can be difficult to keep up with authoring tools as they evolve. Here’s a look at the Flash vs. HTML5 controversy, notes on three new tools, updates to two more, and status checks on Allen Interactions’ ZebraZapps and Articulate’s Storyline.
Toolkit: Reviewing Hand Multimedia's Roleplay August 23, 2011
One of the things readers ask for most is reviews of authoring and graphics tools, especially of lesser-known tools. Toolkit is our newest monthly column, designed to deliver those reviews. Joe begins by introducing you to Roleplay, a Web-based tool designed to create sophisticated, decision- driven, online scenarios.
Adobe has upgraded Captivate to Version 5.5 by providing a new interface for faster development, a number of new features, and several improvements. Is it worth the cost to upgrade? Joe takes you through the important changes to help you decide.
Selecting the right tool for the job is a critical decision, and one that needs to be guided by a strategy, not driven by marketing copy in ads or on Web sites. Two experts give you a step-by- step method in this article to create that strategy.
Cameo by Yukon Learning September 20, 2010
Would you like to shorten the time it takes for a learner to demonstrate expertise, especially if it isn’t expensive to do so? But how? Yukon Learning's product called Cameo provides one innovative approach.
The New Adobe e-Learning Suite v2 July 12, 2010
Adobe has just released the latest version of its e-Learning Suite and with it comes a number of improvements and updates, for both Windows and OS X. Our review of Adobe Captivate 5 appeared here previously. Now read an application-by-application review of the rest of the Suite.
First Look: Adobe Captivate 5 June 28, 2010
Many think of Captivate as a software simulation tool, and it does do this very well, with new features and improvements added over the years. However, Captivate is also a very effective tool for creating soft-skill simulations, quizzes, and other types of e-Learning applications. But wait, there’s more! Read this review to see what they’ve added to make your life easier.
Mobile Learning: Obstacles and Solutions June 7, 2010
Seven industry experts who will speak at mLearnCon in San Diego next week, answer three simple questions about mobile learning (mLearning): What are the obstacles to practical delivery of learning via mobile devices? What will it take to solve these problems? When do you think this will happen? If you create or manage online learning in your organization, you must read their replies.
Case-based scenarios provide the e-Learning designer and developer with far more instructional power than the boring linear lessons that are all too common in e-Learning. But you can’t create these with PowerPoint, and many designers don’t have the skills to create them in ActionScript or Flash. Here’s a review of SmartBuilder, a tool more powerful than PowerPoint and easier to use than Flash.
Harbinger Raptivity: Packaged Interactivity April 14, 2010
Raptivity (Harbinger Knowledge Products Inc.) allows designers to create and customize over 225 types of interactions. Interactions are Flash SWF files and can play independently or within any authoring environment that accepts SWF files. You don’t use Raptivity to build whole courses, rather, you build rich interactivity with it, one interaction at a time.
Tool Overview: Questionmark Perception February 22, 2010
Questionmark Perception is a popular assessment tool in the e-Learning community. Its three parts offer functionality for e-Learning designers and developers, and convenience for subject matter experts (SMEs) who assist with course development work. This article gives an overview of the Perception tool and a case study of user experience at the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).
Assigning a User Variable in Adobe Captivate 4 November 15, 2009
The latest version of Adobe Captivate includes a new feature, the use of advanced actions and variables. This feature, among other things, can make maintenance of e-Learning applications much simpler. Here is a tip, including a Captivate movie, that shows you how to set up a new user variable and assign it.
Authoring Tools, Ghosts, and Scared Programmers June 29, 2009
Technology and practice in e-Learning have been advancing quickly, and delivery modalities have become more diverse in the last three years. Design and development practices now offer a wide spectrum of choices, and everyone is not “in the same place.” An expert looks at what has been happening, and where we may be heading.
Combining Authoring Tools for Best Results June 27, 2005
Developing e-Learning requires the use of many tools for many different specialized tasks. However, knowing which tools work well together, and how to get the best use of the combined tools, requires study and experience. Read this article by a recognized expert developer to learn how to get five of the most-frequently used tools to work together to provide the optimal solution for your project.
Authorware Secrets, Part 2: How to work faster in Authorware February 14, 2005
Little-known Authorware secrets, by one of the masters of development: Keyboard shortcuts, and how to set up your own icon palette.
What To Do When There's No Time To Do the Job Right October 6, 2003
We all have projects where the turkeys come to roost. A product has been developed and will be launched next week, and we are asked to come up with online training for the sales team by Monday.