Elearning software, also called Electronic Learning Software, enables you to deliver courses and instruction electronically via the Internet, a company Intranet or other platforms such as CD-ROM or DVD.

There are as many types of elearning software available as there are elearning needs. Before you begin your search for elearning software, you must first decide what kind of elearning software will best meet your needs. The most common types of elearning software are listed below.

Authoring Tools

Authoring tools enable designers to create and publish multimedia elearning content. Most authoring tools, such as Lectora, are visually oriented so the designer doesn’t have to have any special programming or coding skills. In addition, some authoring tools enable non-programmers to quickly and easily create content and then publish to HTML or CD-ROM.

Because there are so many different authoring tool vendors and products in the marketplace, it’s important that you determine what your needs are prior to beginning your search.

Learning Management Systems (LMS)

Learning Management Systems are specifically designed to track the progress and performance of a wide range of learners. There are hundreds of academic and commercial systems from which to choose. While many LMS’s provide different features, almost all of them track and store user performance.

For example, most LMS’s can track the number of hits to a certain area of a course as well as the amount of time a learner has spent on a particular area of a course.

One drawback of implementing an LMS is the high cost. You can easily spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on a high-end LMS. If you’re thinking about purchasing your first LMS or are searching for an affordable LMS that offers basic elearning tracking and management, take a look at Trivantis’ CourseMill Learning Management System. It’s available in both software and hosted solutions.

Content Management Systems (CMS)

A CMS helps instructors catalog, track and manage corporate information. A CMS is effective when substantial amounts of information must be tracked and managed and is ideal for large organizations. Some learning experts do not feel that CMS’s are a viable elearning software solution because they lack the end-user delivery and tracking mechanisms found in most LMS’s. Content management systems take care of all the behind-the-scenes work and separate the content from the presentation.

Learning Content Management Systems (LCMS)

Learning content management systems are a combination of an LMS and CMS. Many systems can track users, author content, and store, retrieve and reuse content when needed. Although many LCMS’s offer basic course administration features, their functionality isn’t as robust as that found in most LMS’s

eLearning courses can also be created using a programming language such as HTML thus eliminating the need for elearning software. This solution, however, requires a programmer and can add considerable time and cost to your development.

Programming Languages

HTML or Hypertext Markup Language is a common programming language that is often used for elearning. HTML-based elearning can be accessed via a Web browser and does not require a plug-in or special download like JavaScript or Flash.

Basic learning courses can be created with HTML, but on its own, HTML does not provide interactivity. To make an HTML-based course engaging and interactive other elements such as Flash, JavaScript and Shockwave must be incorporated. The benefit of HTML-based courses is that it provides a lot of flexibility for the programmer. However, writing HTML code is a specialized skill that requires the services of an HTML programmer.

In addition, you will need other staff to create the interactive elements of your courses if you do not have those specialized skills. If your company doesn’t have these resources in-house or can’t outsource the work, an elearning software solution might be the better choice.