Five Things: eLearning Authoring Tools for Graphics

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This presentation is taken from my blog posts and discusses the value of graphics to eLearning courses, the skill needed to create them, options for authoring tools, functionality needed in the tools, …

This presentation is taken from my blog posts and discusses the value of graphics to eLearning courses, the skill needed to create them, options for authoring tools, functionality needed in the tools, and how they work within an LMS. This is # 1 in a series of 9. Others in the series discuss these same Five Things for Moving Media, Assessments, News & Events, File Sharing, Collaborative Works, Student Records, HTML Content, and Distribution (LMS). Read the full story at

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  • 1. Five Things to Consider When Choosing eLearning Authoring Tools Graphics 1 st in a series of 9
  • 2. About This Presentation This PowerPoint Show is taken from my blog Penny For Your Thoughts: Simplifying e-Learning for Business , where the posts can be read in their entirety.
  • 3. What is an Authoring Tool?
    • A pencil and a piece of paper. 
    • A knife and a tree large enough to carve something in the trunk. 
    • An eLearning authoring tool is software that allows us to create and publish our material in electronic format. 
    • Wikipedia says: “ An authoring tool is a software package which developers use to create and package content deliverable to end users.”  
  • 4. Five Things
    • Will it add value? Based on the training design for my audience, what features and functionality do I need?  Which are nice to have?  Which are not relevant?
    • Do we have the skill to do it or the time to learn it?  What can I (or my employees) do and what should we contract out to others?  Is this how we should be spending our time? 
    • What are my options?  What applications are out there and what are the trade-offs regarding price, ease of use, and capability? Which is better:  Open Source or proprietary software?
    • What functionality do I need? What do I need the application for?  To create, to edit, to view, all of that?  What will my students want it for and what is best for them ?  What applications are highly specific and which are “multi-taskers” that I can get more value from?
    • Will it work in my LMS? How will these applications work together in my eLearning environment?
  • 5. Features of GREAT eLearning
    • Graphics (pictures, illustrations, tables, etc.)
    • Moving Media (audio, video, flash animation, screen casts
    • Assessments (quizzes, tests, surveys)
    • News (forums, RSS, streaming)
    • File sharing (students and teachers; uploading and downloading)
    • Collaborative efforts (web meetings, chats, wikis)
    • Student “records” (grades, participation, profiles)
    • HTML (text, links, etc.) content
    • LMS to package it all up together and deliver it to the students.
  • 6. Will it Add Value?
        • Sketches for an event planner teaching room layouts
    • Photos to show just about anything, from food display...
    • how to recognize water damage in a wall
        • Screenshots for teaching how to use an application
    • Clip art to tell a story or soften a difficult topic
        • Tables and charts to show how to collect and display data
    Yes, if it reinforces the lesson and isn’t just a showcase of technology.
  • 7. Do I Have the Skill?
    • Can you draw, by hand or with a software application?
    • Do you have an “eye” for color?
    • Can you imagine graphical ways to show something you want to say?
    • Are you skilled at moving objects around, clipping, copying, uploading...?
  • 8. What Are (some of) My Options?
    • Crop, size, save as other formats, organize in an album:
      • Picasa (free)
      • Easy Thumbnails (free)
    • Basic shapes, simple recolor:
      • PowerPoint or Freelance (also has clip art, usually part of suite)
      • Paint or Paintbrush (usually free with your computer)
      • Photoshop Elements (also crops, sizes, and organizes for $70)
    • Really awesome images with layers and effects:
      • Photoshop ($700)
    • Don’t have the skills? Buy images, starting at $1 each:
      • iStockPhoto
      • Dreamstime
      • Veer
  • 9. What Functionality Do I Need?
    • Must have:
      • Right format (.gif, .jpeg, .png)
      • Right size (inches or pixels)
    • Should have:
      • Ability to crop out the white space and junk
      • Basic clip art, simple shapes, and recoloring
    • Nice to have:
      • Layering
      • Special effects
      • Ability to edit and reuse
    • Don’t need:
      • Anything that does not fit the audience or situation
      • Anything that does not reinforce the lesson
    In an authoring tool, you need whatever functionality you have the skill for, plus what you need to suit your audience and topic.
  • 10. Will this Tool Work in My LMS?
    • Almost certainly yes!
    • Check to see what format it accepts
    • Check to see what file sizes (bytes) and image sizes (pixels) are acceptable
  • 11. Next Time...
    • Moving Media
      • Audio
      • Video
      • Screencasts, Screen Recordings
    • Outputs of Moving Media
      • MP3
      • MP4
      • HTML
      • SWF
  • 12. Follow me...Contact me
    • Read the rest of this post and more at
    • Follow me on Twitter/PennyMondani
    • Join me on LinkedIn (/in/PennyMondani)
    • View Moodle Demo Courses at
    • Learn more at
    • pmondani @