Make Sure Your eLearning Authoring Tool Has These Five Video Features

By Features PCmag

If you're in the process of choosing an eLearning authoring tool, then you'll want to pay extra attention to how each platform handles video creation. Although video may not be top-of-mind for you today, the more content you create, the more likely you are going to want to dabble in video use as well. You may want to use external YouTube content, prerecorded company videos, and even brand-new video that you've created right at your desk.

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Editors' Choice tools Articulate Storyline 2 and Trivantis Lectora Inspire offer excellent and versatile video capture, editing, and interactive functionality. That's part of the reason why they both rated so well in our eLearning authoring tool roundup. Other tools, such as Elucidat, are fantastic for text-based courses but they lack important video functionality.

In this article, I'll examine five of the video features your eLearning authoring tool should offer. Most authoring tools offer video as a secondary feature that's built into your content creation system. Conversely, if you only want to create video-based content and you don't care about rich, text-based course creation, then you should choose TechSmith Camtasia Studio 8, which is a video editing tool that offers course creation as an added benefit.

1. Webcam Capture
Only four of the 10 eLearning authoring tools I reviewed offer webcam recording functionality. This may seem like a minor feature; you may ask, "Why would I ever need to record coursework from my webcam?" Well, if you're ever in a pinch and you need to create a course immediately, then using your webcam is the easiest and quickest way to do so.

Additionally, companies that need to provide screen recording demos will appreciate the ability to align demo actions with webcam video. You can combine your screen capture video with your webcam recording to help explain the process, the reasoning, or the next steps for the on-screen demonstration. Software companies greatly benefit from this feature. Think about it: If you had to teach someone how to use Netflix, then wouldn't it be easier to use your voice in combination with your cursor movements to navigate through the website?

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2. Screen Recording
Unfortunately, screen recording is another feature that isn't universal among eLearning authoring platforms. The best eLearning authoring tools don't only capture your cursor movements, they also allow you to edit or remove those movements in order to quiz learners. For example, if you are teaching people to add movies to their Netflix queues, then you could record your screen as you add films to your own queue. Then, you could turn the video into a quiz by removing your cursor movements and asking learners to repeat the process. The best video tools can then capture the learner's cursor movements to determine whether or not the learner navigated the website in the proper sequence.

If you have no intention of using your webcam to record your face, then screen recording—in conjunction with voice-over audio—can also be an effective method for guiding your learners through web-based demos.

3. Video Editing
If you've found the perfect instructional video on YouTube but it contains spoilers or improper sequencing for quizzing, then you'll be able to use some eLearning authoring tools as a video editor. None of these tools—save for Camtasia and Trivantis Lectora Inspire (which includes a Camtasia license)—will let you do any heavy-duty video editing. However, some don't contain a video editor at all.

Make sure you purchase a system that can perform at least basic video editing tasks. Can you remove sections of the video? Can you stitch together two videos? Does your platform let you cut the video off wherever you'd like it to stop playing? If a system won't let you do these things, then you should probably look elsewhere.

4. Responsive Design
I previously knocked Elucidat for its lack of video functionality. But it's important to note that Elucidat has a responsive slider tool, which is one of the coolest features we saw on any of the tools we tested. Elucidat's responsive slider tool lets you preview how specific pages will look and perform on any device or in any resolution. You select a device, resolution, or form factor from a drop-down menu, and the page on which you're working appears on your desktop as it would on the selected device.

This is important for video creation as video appears differently on every different device. Videos embedded in webpages, videos downloaded as local files, videos that open on Android phones and iPhones—each of these experiences is different. If your eLearning authoring tool doesn't provide you with a responsive slider or something similar, then you'll have to create a different course for every specific device. With tools such as Elucidat's, you'll be able to preview how your video will appear on every device, and edit your video page as necessary without having to start from scratch. If Elucidat were to combine this tool with video creation and editing, then it would likely become an eLearning authoring tool worthy of our Editors' Choice designation.

5. Stock Video
You might want to produce video but that doesn't mean you have the skills or equipment to film new scenes. Systems such as Trivantis Lectora Inspire offer a stock video library, which features things such as overlay videos of people speaking or responding. You can sync video actions and cue points to have the person speaking in the stock video gesture in sync with your intended audio.

With Trivantis Lectora Inspire specifically, you can use the video as HTML or MP4 files, or you can just pull one slide from the video to use as a high-resolution image. Each library asset, template, and interaction, regardless of the media format, can be edited completely. This is good because it means you're not locked into any specific design elements when you use preloaded Trivantis Lectora Inspire files.

This article originally appeared on PCMag.com.