SmartBuilder (which begins at $1,490 for an annual license) is a succesful however advanced eLearning authoring tool. Though it is higher suited to individuals with earlier content material authoring expertise, SmartBuilder can be utilized by just about anybody after a couple of weeks of follow with its a number of widgets and components. Nonetheless, even when you’re proficient, it is not the best software to make use of. That is primarily on account of its characteristic complexity, which provides depth to the software nevertheless it’s additionally what makes SmartBuilder tough to make use of. Our Editors’ Alternative winners Articulate Storyline 2 and Lectora Inspire in addition to among the different, extra user-friendly instruments on our listing, supply an identical stage of granular management however with way more user-friendly course creation. Nonetheless, should you’ve acquired somewhat little bit of creativity, technical know-how, and a great deal of time, then SmartBuilder is usually a useful eLearning authoring software.
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Pricing and Plans
As talked about, SmartBuilder may be bought for $1,490 per yr or $149 monthly. Each editions are downloaded after which put in in your workstation or server. This license charge contains stay help, coaching, and software program updates. The present version of SmartBuilder (the one we examined will not be out till January 2017) is obtainable as a hosted resolution for $1,970 or as a pared-down free model. SmartBuilder will supply a restricted free trial of the soon-to-be-released software, however an organization spokesperson mentioned SmartBuilder hasn’t but determined whether or not to supply an always-on free model of the brand new version.
SmartBuilder is on the upper finish of what you’d sometimes pay for an eLearning authoring software. For instance, pricing for Elucidat begins at $2,500 per person, per yr, with a minimal of three customers per plan; this brings your upfront funding to $7,500. That is simply the most costly plan we reviewed on this class. Articulate Storyline 2 is not low cost both. The essential model prices $1,398 and, as a result of it is a native file that may’t be up to date through the cloud, you may want to purchase new software program when the next-generation software turns into out there. For a further $559, $979, or $1,328, you may get entry to extra help choices and new variations of the software program after they turn out to be out there.
On the center of the spectrum, you may discover instruments resembling Raptivity, which presents one of many extra customer-friendly pricing plans on this class. For $300, you may obtain a lifetime license and the power to pay for added options at a later date. This contains 119 templates (89 of that are Flash-based solely) and a Microsoft PowerPoint plug-in that allows you to incorporate your Raptivity “interactions” into your slide decks. For $600, you may achieve entry to 72 extra templates and Raptivity Linker, which allows you to tie interactions right into a single multifaceted course. Gomo Learning begins at $890 per yr for the Private plan, which options one person log-in, an infinite variety of initiatives, and 1 GB of storage. As a result of the system is cloud-based, any variety of individuals can entry the software with this person log-in, which is nice for small companies which have two or three people who find themselves creating programs. Nonetheless, should you want a number of individuals within the system directly for collaborative enhancing, or if it’s worthwhile to retailer greater than a paltry 1 GB of content material, then the worth jumps to $2,490 per yr for the Small Staff plan. The software additionally has its personal proprietary learning management system (LMS) out there, too.
On the decrease finish, you may discover TechSmith Camtasia Studio 8, which begins at solely $299 for an nearly fully video-based software that does not characteristic lots of the wealthy templating and out-of-the-box course creation choices you may discover on dearer instruments. Shift eLearning presents probably the most customer-friendly pricing, starting with the $1,200 per-year plan for one person for as much as three programs of 120 screens every (and extra tiers that scale up as your wants enhance).
H5P is a free, open-source software, which is nice for one-off content material creation. Nonetheless, it lacks the wealthy multimedia performance you may expertise with most different eLearning authoring instruments. It is nice in its personal proper nevertheless it performs in a wholly completely different class than all the different instruments in our roundup.
A Good However Difficult eLearning Authoring Instrument
Your first step in fact creation with SmartBuilder will seemingly start with one among its three templates, every of which is designed to simplify course structure and building. These three templates embody a primary ahead and backward clean display, an ordinary a number of selection quiz template, and a template for displaying quiz outcomes. Sadly, SmartBuilder would not supply extra templates, which I am going to talk about in a later part.
As soon as you have chosen your template, you may seemingly head over to the Objects widget; that is the place you can drag and drop 20 completely different content material building components into your presentation. These components embody a video participant, a timer, a textual content field, a drop-down menu, and a Hotspot creator. By dragging and dropping these components onto your presentation, you are capable of create a layered content material expertise onto one slide to ship a number of interactions on one display. For instance, your slide can comprise a Hotspot console in addition to a video participant, which is uncommon for eLearning authoring instruments, most of which solely permit one wealthy media aspect per course web page.
On the right-hand aspect of the presentation you may discover your Actions widget, which helps you to overlay any time components on one slide. You’ll use this as you’ll a video and audio enhancing software. By dragging and overlaying components, you establish which seem when customers first land on the slide, which pop up after a button click on and which seem concurrently. Due to the multidimensional side of the SmartBuilder structure, it’s totally simple to create Actions. Should you left-click on a picture within the Actions window, you possibly can create a cause-and-response motion. For instance, if a learner clicks on a personality’s face, then the character’s dialogue bubble will seem. The Properties widget helps you to decide how shortly actions occur between clicks. So, you can also make a component seem three seconds after the clicking or one minute later. You may make components pulsate or fade out and in after they seem on the display.
Beneath the presentation, you may discover your slide sequence. This provides you an summary of your course building from the primary web page to the conclusion. You may alter the sequence of your course by dragging and dropping slides alongside the sequence. Additionally, by reconstructing how your course branches from slide to slip, you possibly can change how particular actions have an effect on the navigation movement (for instance, somebody clicks on a particular button and is skipped three slides forward).
Any of those widgets may be popped out or minimized to maximise display house. So, should you’re spending a variety of time within the Actions widget, you possibly can pop it out and put it into full-screen view. Your presentation, Object, and slide sequence views will nonetheless be actionable however they will be hidden beneath the Actions widget in your display.
One neat SmartBuilder characteristic is the power to open a number of programs on the similar time. This allows you to drag-and-drop or cut-and-paste from one presentation to a different, a characteristic that is particularly helpful for companies that create related types in fact content material with components that have to be repeated from course to course.
A Few Necessary Points
As talked about earlier, SmartBuilder would not supply many templates and it presents no inventory photographs both. Neither of those points is a deal-breaker as you do not want templates or inventory photographs to create programs. Nonetheless, having these components positively permits for faster and easier course creation. In easier-to-use instruments, you are capable of pop in a template, add some textual content, drag a picture from the picture library, and increase, your course is finished in 15-20 minutes. SmartBuilder needs you to be extra inventive along with your course design. It is constructed to allow picture overlays, it is constructed for wealthy media interactions, and its most important goal is to offer granular management over each aspect you add to your course. That is nice for individuals who have the time to grasp a posh course creation software after which extra time to micro-manage the course creation course of. Nonetheless, for executives who simply wish to construct easy compliance programs for inner gross sales groups, the software is usually a bit unwieldy.
One other difficulty right here is the dearth of cloud-based course creation. As a result of SmartBuilder is an area utility, your programs will stay in your desktop till you add them to a business training and learning platform. So, you will not be capable to share programs freely with on-line customers with out including them to a number portal (or sharing giant information through e-mail or Dropbox). The host portal or cloud service will value further dough so, should you’re required to create course content material that may produce metrics, you then’ll have to pay this added expense.
SmartBuilder additionally would not let customers import Microsoft PowerPoint paperwork to show outdated human assets (HR) decks into new, interactive programs. The software would not allow webcam or display recording, so you will not be capable to create movies throughout the software after which apply these movies to programs. That is an essential characteristic, particularly for software program firms that require display seize to teach customers on how you can navigate their instruments.
The Backside Line
SmartBuilder is worthy of your consideration, however its advanced, layered course creation structure, coupled with a couple of essential lacking options, do restrict the software. You’ll do most issues you are able to do on different instruments however you will not be capable to do it simpler or quicker. You’ll, nonetheless, have extra management over how your content material shows and what number of components seem on one slide.
Should you’re aiming for the highest shelf of eLearning authoring instruments, you then’ll in all probability wish to look elsewhere. However, if you’d like a software that gives probably the most management over what your programs show to learners, then SmartBuilder presents extra granularity than every other software we reviewed.