I’ve had many clients come to me requesting a Storyline course, but after hearing more about their time or budget constraints and doing a needs analysis, I often recommend Articulate Rise instead. Why would I suggest using a rapid course authoring tool like Articulate Rise to develop eLearning deliverables and not the more robust, customizable Storyline? The answer is simple: Agility.
Take this lunch metaphor…
I liken the Rise vs Storyline debate to a business lunch: Sometimes you just need a healthy, but uncomplicated quick lunch at Freshii (where the ingredients are prepared in advance, and you have a menu with set options that are made in front of you while you wait).
Other occasions might call for a different venue: An artisanal, farm-to-table restaurant where you’re having the chef’s daily tasting menu. You’ll wait longer for your meal, and you’ll pay a lot more, but the seasonal ingredients are more likely to be ethically sourced and prepared with care, elevating your meal from a fueling necessity to a shared experience.
Here are some of my favourite features of Articulate 360, and Rise in particular:
What Canadian organizations need to know about Rise 360
If you’re a public authority, provincially-funded charity, or regulatory body in Canada, a cloud-based eLearning tool like Articulate 360 may NOT be a good fit if:
In short, Articulate Rise is the right course authoring tool some of the time: When limited resources or project constraints dictate quick content turnaround, Rise can be more agile than Storyline. If your organization’s requirements pose a barrier to cloud-based tools, then Articulate Rise won’t be a good fit for you. Work with a consultant to leverage other custom course authoring tools instead, and be sure to clearly outline your data management protocols with any external consultant.
Pro-tip: It helps that Storyline 360 is easy to transfer from internal to external teams (and vice-versa), so it’s a convenient way for us consultants to collaborate with internal learning development teams.
Be sure to discuss your requirements and barriers with your eLearning consultant who can help you navigate the many course authoring options out there!
Are you assembling a new learning or training team in your organization? Or onboarding a new employee who has never used eLearning authoring tools before? Here’s why you’ll want to stop and ask yourself a few key questions before you buy that expensive eLearning subscription or software.
Third party course authoring tools like Articulate Storyline™, 360™ or Adobe Captivate™ can be expensive. If $1,600 USD for a subscription to a cloud-based suite of tools seems reasonable to you, think about the extended learning hours, trial and error, and upskilling necessary for your team to get up to speed.
If you’ve read my other article on the benefit of Rise over Storyline, you know you might not need an annual subscription or new tool at all. In fact, many organizations overlook the course authoring tools directly available in their Learning Management System (LMS), and purchase a costly authoring tool to essentially replicate what they could have done via their LMS.
In my experience, organizations just getting started with eLearning are often too quick to purchase a subscription to an eLearning course authoring tool, slow to invest in training on those tools, and in denial about how long it takes to develop decent courses with those same tools.
The result: new employees spend hours developing a hodgepodge of courses without a consistent strategy, template or instructional design principles. Sure, they’ve explored the tool, but how does it align with the business goals?
Questions to determine your organizational readiness for software subscription
Here are the questions I recommend asking before purchasing any annual software subscription; because it’s not just the cost of the software—it’s all the hours your team will spend trying to learn it.
Only invest in learning tools if you can invest in training as well
Yes, it’s definitely a good idea to invest in tools for your learning or training team, but only if you can also invest in training or upskilling your team on those tools. You’ll also want to provide leadership for them to use the tools consistently, align with your organizational goals and create a style guide and guidelines of use (or be prepared for the wild west!)
I’m not saying you shouldn’t support your team with the tools they ask for, and I’m not saying they shouldn’t experiment with new tools. But instead of agreeing right away, ask instead:
Do we have to use Storyline or Articulate 360?
If so, is our internal team resourced for this?
Do we have a plan for using this tool effectively that aligns with our business goals?
For any new system or tool, be prepared to build in discovery time if your team is inexperienced with eLearning software, and be sure to ask for rationales behind their prototypes and samples of work to ensure they’re on the right track.
Pro tip: Hire a consultant to use that eLearning subscription wisely!
A consultant can provide time and cost-saving advice on how best to upskill a team with eLearning software, and work with you to devise effective workflows, a training plan and templates for your team.
A consultant who specializes in learning ecosystems/stacks and learning technology can assess which tools your team needs and how to get them up to speed (or identify if there are any gaps in your current systems that might be holding your team back).
What does eLearning mean in your organization? I’ve learned that whenever we’re talking about online learning assets, it’s better not to assume! Is it a standalone "module" that looks like a self-directed PowerPoint deck? Or is it any combination of interactive files, media and learning activities— basically any learning that isn't delivered in person in a classroom?
With any gig I take on, I always check with my client to clarify what we both mean by eLearning. It's surprising sometimes to see how close or far our definitions can be! Having worked with a variety of customer and employee-facing online learning materials, my own definition of eLearning has broadened over the last few years. I’ve embraced a more inclusive understanding of eLearning than its traditional definition, in line with many of the organizations I serve.
Terms often used for eLearning
Don’t forget about the course authoring tools in your LMS
How eLearning is built (or authored, to use industry jargon) has a wider array of options now too. Formerly, eLearning mostly referred to custom developed content using a third-party authoring tool like Articulate Storyline or Adobe Captivate. Period. And that’s still completely acceptable and highly impactful. But many organizations forget that they can author courses directly in their LMS (arguably a better strategy than third-party applications, depending on your LMS, of course!) If you haven’t explored using your LMS itself to develop an eLearning course, this might be the time.
What are some effective course objects (or rich media assets) used in eLearning?
Depending on what your organization needs and how it makes sense to deliver them, any combination of these learning assets or course objects could form an engaging eLearning experience:
There is a valuable movement happening in the eLearning industry right now; we’re finally shifting away from thinking of learning as a course and more as an experience. Learning doesn’t begin and end within the confines of an eLearning course—it happens on the job, during a commute, in discussion on social media, and a million other digital ways. Thinking of eLearning in the broader context of the experience will help you build more impactful online learning too.
Pro tip: Spend a few minutes defining what you mean by eLearning within your organization, and ensure you have the same discussion too with any external contractors. This way, you'll all be on the same page and can get started collaborating!
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Leah Chang is a learning consultant with 16+ years of experience designing online and classroom learning. In her spare time she goes on self-propelled travel adventures and tries to grow vegetables.