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Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Recommended End of Year eLearning Tools Spending?

I received a question today that I really wasn't sure how to answer and thought that lots of folks might have thoughts around this.  Here's the question:

I have some extra budget money and I need to invest in software and hardware that will help me create cutting edge, top shelf eLearning programs.

I already have these software programs:

  • Articulate Suite '09
  • Adobe Master Suite CS3 (Not sure that I really need to upgrade to CS4)
  • Camtasia & Snag It

Are there any other must have software programs? It has to work with Articulate of course!  Free software is always nice but I don't mind paying for high quality products.  I have still and video cameras, a mic and a computer ... do you think I need any other hardware items?  I'm happy with my LMS, so I don't need help there.

I can't claim that many of us will face the problem of having a budget that we need to use before the end of the year.  But I thought it might be fun to help someone else spend their money.

I realize that with this little bit of information, it's almost impossible to have the right answer, but I'm sure there are lots of interesting possibilities.

What purchases would you suggest?

20 comments:

Scooter said...

I would recommend looking into Suddenly Smart's Smartbuilder - http://www.suddenlysmart.com/index.htm and Raptivity - http://www.raptivity.com/

If you have any questions, please let me know.

Scooter Vineburgh

Carla Steenbeeke said...

I recommend Ariculate Engage. A perfect tool to add interactive items in your e-learning module.

Carla Steenbeeke said...

I recommend Ariculate Engage. A perfect tool to add interactive items in your e-learning module.

Parm said...

I recommend CrazyTalk 6, its a low cost way to add talking avatars to your courses by simply using an image.

http://www.reallusion.com/crazytalk

Brian said...

Between all of the software listed that this person already owns, they have all of the essentials and the "nice to haves" except one that I can see, and that is software to add virtual characters into learning programs.

I would recommend something like Codebaby, if there is enough budget...

Another thought would be investing in some hardware such as audio or video recording equipment if this type of equipment is used.

Mr. Rogers said...

Not sure that it is your purview but since you already have all of that other stuff you could spend some of the money to upgrade the districts LAN, i.e. gig switches, fiber optic runs, managed N wireless, servers.

mike said...

In addition to Articulat Suite '09 my elearning toolbox would include the following hardware:

1. a flip video camera or similar (iPhone?)
2. good quality microphone (Blue Snowball or similar)

Software-wise there is so much good free stuff but I'd pay for SnagIt and Camtasia Studio.

Jane Hart said...

Here's ten tools for 2010. Most of which are free or not too expensive - http://c4lpt.co.uk/articles/10tools.html

nventer said...

I have found Adobe Visual Communicator very effective in pulling in a talking head component into my Articulate created products.

http://www.adobe.com/products/visualcommunicator/

Scott Hewitt said...

Take a look at xtranormal to produce great character animations. Also animoto is a fab app for creating really great short movies in just a click.

Clark said...

Being the design person I am, I'd suggest that it's not the tool, it's the design skills that lead to: "cutting edge, top shelf eLearning". As I like to say, "if you get the design right, there are lots of ways to implement it; if you don't get the design right, it doesn't matter how you implement it". So give some thought to developing the design skills as well as acquiring tools. Which is, of course, self-serving, since I offer those services, but at least I have a good reason to suggest it ;).

anonymous said...

nice tools

Christiaan said...

I would advice a webbased authoring tool to combine all the elements that you create in the tools that you currently have. That makes them available for all the authors and allows Subject Matter Experts to apply their wisdom to it.

Tools like Sana Easygenerator, Mohive and Atlantic Link would do I think.

Lisa said...

Mike - You said that you recommend a Blue Snowball mic. Are those really better than the SHURE mics?

mike said...

Lisa, not sure how they compare. We've had good luck with the Snowball but have never use a Shure. I'm not sure if there is a significant price difference between them or not ?

Tony Karrer said...

There's been quite a bit of discussion about different microphones by other bloggers. See:

Audio and Microphone Information

Lisa said...

What about the Audio-Technica USB AT2020? That one seems to be a good choice for recording e-learning voice overs - what do you think?

Scooter said...

I use the Sennheiser PC151 Over The Head Headset with Noise Cancelling Mic and In-line Volume Control. This is a very nice and well-priced item.

eQuixotic said...

Regarding the mic questions, I originally used the Blue Snowball, but there are now better-sounding mics available for reasonable prices. See my review of some MXL mics via Tony's link above. I like the MXL USB.009 (which is what I currently use) and the Samson C03U. I'm also hoping to try a few XLR mics with the Apogee ONE in the near future.

Can I cast a vote *against* the comments recommending virtual avatars? Talking robot heads in eLearning never seems like a very good idea to me (as a learner).

You may want to sink a little money into some self-development resources as well. A year subscription to Lynda.com is a no-brainer in my book. Their stuff is now iPhone accessible too:

http://www.equixotic.com/2009/11/05/lynda-com-on-iphone-huzzah/

(I'm not employed by nor affiliated with Lynda.com - just a happy long-time user)

Bryan Jones said...

For anyone who develops training, I recommend investing in reusable assets (e.g. images, templates, custom players, etc).

My company can really help if you're interested in images of people for character based learning. Check out our character packs:
elearning Character Pack