Free and Open Source Authoring Tools for e-Learning

As an e-Learning consultant I was always a fan of open source software. Why? The answer is simple. Because I could use them as I wish, for whatever I wish, without long-term commitments and with the extra bonus of a community of professionals that use, extend and support them.

In this post I am not going to talk about open source learning management systems such as eFront[1] but rather dedicated open source “authoring tools”. The list that it follows is not in particular order. I highly encourage you to leave a comment if you know any other open source authoring tool.

=> If you know a free or open source authoring tool that is not included in the list I will highly appreciate if you write a comment with a link!

Free & Open Source Authoring Tools for e-Learning http://static.slidesharecdn.com/swf/ssplayer2.swf?doc=freeandopensourceauthoringtoolsfore-learning-110210125315-phpapp01&rel=0&stripped_title=free-open-source-authoring-tools-for-elearning&userName=CPappasOnline

View more presentations from Christopher Pappas.

W2L

What2Learn makes it easy for e-Learning developers to create interactive games and quizzes and track learners’ attainment. W2L is an award winning interactive learning solution which provides effective educational resources and revision games. A great tool for learners with learning difficulties such as ADHD. (Update 01/06/2011: Free not Open Source)

xical.org
With Xical you can produce web-based slide shows, tutorials, tests and whatever else you can think of that can make use of integrated rich media, such as audio (speech and music), video, animations or interactive visual diagrams and the likes.

ClassTools.net
Create free educational games, quizzes, activities and diagrams in seconds! Host them on your own blog, website or intranet! No signup, no passwords, no charge!

eXe
The eXe project developed a freely available Open Source authoring application to assist teachers and academics in the publishing of web content without the need to become proficient in HTML or XML markup. Resources authored in eXe can be exported in IMS Content Package, SCORM 1.2, or IMS Common Cartridge formats or as simple self-contained web pages.

Wink
Wink is a Tutorial and Presentation creation software, primarily aimed at creating tutorials on how to use software (like a tutor for MS-Word/Excel etc). Using Wink you can capture screenshots, add explanations boxes, buttons, titles etc and generate a highly effective tutorial for your users.

Multimedia Learning Object Authoring Tool
Multimedia Learning Object Authoring Tool enables content experts to easily combine video, audio, images and texts into one synchronized learning object. All assets are configured to be played back in a pre-configured order. Users do not need to perform any programming tasks, but rather going through a graphical user interface to generate the learning object.

CourseLab
CourseLab is a powerful, yet easy-to-use, e-learning authoring tool that offers programming-free WYSIWYG environment for creating high-quality interactive e-learning content which can be published on the Internet, Learning Management Systems (LMS), CD-ROMS and other devices. (Update 10/23/2010: Free not Open Source)

Xerte
The Xerte Project provides a full suite of open source tools for e-Learning developers and content authors producing interactive learning materials.

LAMS
LAMS is a revolutionary new tool for designing, managing and delivering online collaborative learning activities. It provides teachers with a highly intuitive visual authoring environment for creating sequences of learning activities. These activities can include a range of individual tasks, small group work and whole class activities based on both content and collaboration.

JelSim
The JeLSIM Builder toolkit is a FREE toolkit for producing educational simulations. The tools are written in Java and allow the user to create Java applets which can be delivered through a standard web browser. Creating simulations requires experience of the Java programming language to create a numerical model of the system/concept being simulated. Once the model has been written, simulation interfaces can be developed by teachers and content developers who have no knowledge of Java. Using the tools is little more difficult than using a drawing package.

Quandary
An application for creating Web-based Action Mazes. An Action Maze is a kind of interactive case-study; the user is presented with a situation, and a number of choices as to a course of action to deal with it. On choosing one of the options, the resulting situation is then presented, again with a set of options. Working through this branching tree is like negotiating a maze, hence the name “Action Maze”. (Update 10/23/2010: Free not Open Source)

RELOAD
RELOAD is a project funded under the JISC Exchange for Learning Programme (X4L). The project focuses on the development of tools that are based on emerging learning technology interoperability specifications. It is managed by the University of Bolton with staff located at the University of Bolton and the University of Strathclyde. The primary aims of this project are to:

  • facilitate the creation, sharing and reuse of learning objects and services
  • enhance the range of pedagogical approaches realisable through the use of lesson plans

(Update 10/26/2010: suggested by Neil Prior)

CAMSTUDIO
CamStudio is able to record all screen and audio activity on your computer and create industry-standard AVI video files and using its built-in SWF Producer can turn those AVIs into lean, mean, bandwidth-friendly Streaming Flash videos (SWFs)  
(Update 10/26/2010: suggested by Neil Prior)

Hot Potatoes
The Hot Potatoes suite includes six applications, enabling you to create interactive multiple-choice, short-answer, jumbled-sentence, crossword, matching/ordering and gap-fill exercises for the World Wide Web. Hot Potatoes is freeware, and you may use it for any purpose or project you like. It is not open-source.
(Update 10/26/2010: suggested by Neil Prior)

Guys, do not forget to leave a comment if you know any other open source authoring tool.

by Christopher Pappas M.B.A., M.Ed.

[1] Although eFront integrates a number of content and test development features.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/04663434763684159814 PlanetExcel

    Wich one of them is at your opinion the most user friendly? Or lets say the best?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/04758535855116832227 Neil Prior

    Here is a few content authoring tools that I've used in the past:

    Reload editor http://www.reload.ac.uk/
    Camstudio http://camstudio.org/
    Hotpotatoes http://web.uvic.ca/hrd/hotpot/

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06125427095847978950 Vicki Kunkel

    Can these be incorpoated into other rapid development tools? For example, I use Articulate, but would love to create action mazes with Quandry and incorporate those into an existing Articulate program.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10722113738655052001 Χριστόφορος Online

    Hi Vicki,

    I have not incorporate action mazes in Articulate. However, the good part with open source software is that there are flexible so I will not be surprised if an eLearning developer incorporate action mazes in Articulate.

    I did a research in several forums but I did not find an answer to your question.

    Have a wonderful day,
    Christopher Pappas

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10722113738655052001 Christoforos Online

    Hi PlanetExcel,

    For me best is the open source software that helps you "get the job done". As a result, I cannot say that the best is that or the other. It depends what you want to accomplish.

    Have a wonderful day,
    Christopher Pappas

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10722113738655052001 Christoforos Online

    Neil thank you very much for the info. Do you have any examples or thoughts to share with us concerning the these authoring tools?

    Have a wonderful day,
    Christopher Pappas

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/04758535855116832227 Neil Prior

    Hi Christopher

    RELOAD – This tool allows you to edit and create SCORM content packages for use in learning platforms. I used the Reload editor a few years ago and found it to be a little bit clunky, although after a brief test the newer version looks OK.

    Camstudio is a very good screen capture tool, complete with audio input and annotations, which allows you to export to flash.

    Hotpotatoes is not open source but is freeware. You can create a wide range of different learning and knowledge checking activities, which can also feed into the Moodle gradebook for assessment tracking purposes.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10722113738655052001 Christoforos Online

    Hi Neil,

    I very much appreciate your input! Can I add your info to the original blog post and put a link to your profile?

    Have a wonderful day,
    Christopher Pappas

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/04758535855116832227 Neil Prior

    Hi Christopher

    Of course you can!

    Cheers

    N

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10722113738655052001 Christoforos Online

    Hi Neil,

    Your suggestions were added! Thank you for the info Neil.

    Have a wonderful day,
    Christopher Pappas

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10658789659720172661 weemooseus

    Have you looked at the ATutor Tools?

    AContent http://atutor.ca/acontent/

    Carl

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10722113738655052001 Christoforos Online

    Hi weemooseus,

    thank you for your comment. I will take a look! Could you please share a demo or a link to a demo?

    Have a wonderful day,
    @cpappas

  • http://chrissinerantzi.wordpress.com/ Chrissi

    Hi Christoforos,

    Great collection of authoring tools. Please see below a link to my authoring tools collection within delicious. Very recently, I created an activity using the udutu tool at http://www.udutu.com Has anybody else used this platform?

    http://www.delicious.com/chrissinerantzi/authoring
    (not sure for how long delicious will be around…)

    I hope any of the above is useful for you and others ;o)

    Chrissi

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10722113738655052001 Christoforos Online

    Hi Chrissi,

    thank you for your comment! I will check the link asap.

    Have a wonderful day,
    Christopher Pappas aka @cpappas

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15317947307740749702 johners74

    Hi Christoforos

    Came across your site through Twitter – nice work.

    As for authoring tools, please take a look at http://www.what2learn.com. Shameless self-promotion I am afraid but it offers a good range of interactive learning games – users just need to enter questions and answers. Completed games can be instantly played online, added to Moodle, other websites and PowerPoint presentations. Teachers can also see the scores their students get.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10722113738655052001 Christoforos Online

    Hi Johners,

    thank you for your comment! Is the authoring tool open source or free? The site says that it is free. Have you use it?

    Have a wonderful day,
    Christopher Pappas

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10734707480831091003 Minnow

    There are 2 versions of NetQuiz at the moment, one summative and one formative. This application allows you to generate HTML quizzes that you can upload to a server. In 1 year, a web-only version of the application will be also be available.

    http://www.ccdmd.qc.ca/ressources/?id=1133

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10722113738655052001 Christopher Online

    Hi Minnow,

    thank you for the info! I will check it out.

    Have a wonderful day,
    Christopher Pappas MBA, MEd
    e-Learning Consultant http://ow.ly/3cH0y

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11691378250639424374 Sreerama Murthy

    I have a bunch of PowerPoint presentations. I want to beautify their templates, add some content including text, images, videos; convert everything to Flash; and run the presentations within our own ActionScript framework. Articulate is one possible solution, but is not 3rd party-framework friendly. Are there any open source tools that can help me?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/07846237668435583824 dr saurabh bhatia

    you may use my demo AContent site for experimenting
    just let me know and i will approve your membership

    http://learningsglobal.com/AContent/login.php

    Dr S Bhatia
    (s.bhatia(at)tsmls.org)
    http://www.learningsglobal.com

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/07846237668435583824 dr saurabh bhatia
  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/13702344095951371239 Brooks Maitland

    If your course has simple structure (lesson by lesson, module by module) and you need to publish your learning material in SCORM and PDF, the easiest tool I may recommend is Content Shaper (www.c-shaper.com).

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10722113738655052001 Christopher Online

    Hi Dr. Saurabh,

    Thank you for you comment. I will check it out!

    Have a wonderful day,
    Christopher Pappas http://ow.ly/3cH0y

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10722113738655052001 Christopher Online

    Hi Brooks,

    Thank you for your message. I will take an look and let you know. Is it free?

    Have a wonderful day,
    Christopher Pappas http://ow.ly/3cH0y

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  • sudheera

    CourseLab is not free now

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  • http://www.easygenerator.com Sjoerd Hoogerbrugge

    Easygenerators free authoring software has all the functionalities you need to create great adaptive eLearning courses, that you can publish on the web (HTML), in any LMS (SCORM 1.2) and on mobile devices (HTML or SCORM). Not only it is free authoring but there are no costs for publishing your eLearning courses. Your content is ready to go.
    Easygenerator is a Windows application that stores all content in the cloud, securely on our webservers. Part of the free edition includes hosting, updates, upgrades, and maintenance. There are no technical worries and no costs. With your free authoring eLearning software you can have as many as 10 eLearning courses in your online workspace, and up to 250 MB of data storage per user. You can import PowerPoint presentations (text and images) and build real eLearning courses from them.
    Find out how easygenerator will change your eLearning authoring development process. Our unique approach and use of learning objectives will change how you design eLearning courses. eLearning authoring with easygenerator starts with a design process that includes(1) determination of the learning objectives (2) planning how to assess learner comprehension, and (3) identifying content needed so the learner can meet objectives.

    More information can be found on http://www.easygenerator.com/free-authoring/

  • Olivia Jennifer

    Yeah its a
    good article. According to you what we project managers do is communicating.
    And a lot of this communication is done during project meetings. It can
    sometimes feel like you are running from one meeting to another and that your
    time is often wasted. Meetings don’t start on time, the issues aren’t dealt
    with, there is no agenda, there is no focus, nobody assigns any follow ups or
    tasks and of course then they also don’t end on time. An efficient project manager is required for the good management of a project. I think a project manager should
    PMP certified. Looking forwards to apply what I learned in PMP classes in
    my company.

  • Salma Okasha

    Hey all,

    I would like to introduce you to our latest and greatest authoring tool “Authorkit”

    AuthorKit is a Windows 8 application that allows teachers to easily create interactive e-learning resources in a short time. Using AuthorKit, teachers can present e-lessons in an intriguing and engaging way to capture students’ interest and attention. It provides students with an educational experience that matches their preferred learning style.

    AuthorKit features:

    Save preparation time with ready to use pre-designed e-lesson templates

    Enrich e-lessons with HTML5 interactive objects, YouTube videos, documents, presentations, images, videos, multimedia files, or audio narration

    Embed in-line questions for student self-assessment

    Link e-lesson content to curriculum standards and learning outcomes

    Insert scientific/mathematical equations

    Work offline; no internet connection required