Six months ago I posted “Tools for Freelance Instructional Designers”, with a compilation of various tools recommended by freelance instructional designers in LinkedIn. With this update, the suggestions are categorized as “open” (free to use) and “commercial” (pay for use).
Some limitations of making this kind of list - many applications have a free version, in addition to a paid, premium version, with additional features, capabilities, etc. For the purposes of this post, if a free version is available (more than just a free trial), the application is listed in the “open” column. All of this is of course subject to change as these products evolve and change hands.
The Tools - Open and Commercial
|Software Suites and Packages||Open Office, Google Apps||Adobe Creative Suite, Adobe eLearning Suite, Articulate Studio, Microsoft Office|
|Rapid Development||Screenr||Captivate, Lectora, Cam Studio, Camtasia, Articulate, Snap|
|Screencapture/Screencast||Jing, Screenhunter, Screenr||Snagit|
|Image/Photo Editing||GIMP||PaintNet, PaintShop Pro|
|Video||Celtx Script Writing||Sony Vegas Pro, Sorenson Squeeze, After Effects|
|Audio||Audacity, Levelator||Adobe Audition CC|
|Delivery||WordPress, Moodle, Drupal||Blackboard|
|Synchronous Communication||Skype, Oovoo, Google Talk/Voice||WebEx, Lync|
|Project Management||OpenWorkbench, Evernote||Tom's Planner, MSProject|
|Business Operations||Dropbox, PrimoPDF, FreshBooks, MyHours.com, BullZip, Zoho||Harvest, Adobe Acrobat, QuickBooks, FastTrack, PDFPen|
|And more...||Notepad++, iSpringFree, Prezi, Xtranormal, ReadtheWords.com, Tokbox, Adobe Color CC, Wampserver, Color Schemer, Fireshot||Firestarter, SwishMax, MindManager, Balsamiq, Questionmark, Madcap Flare|
Programming Skills – PHP, HTML5, CSS3, SCORM
Professional Development Advice – Entrepreneurship.org, Forbes.com, Twitter, #lrnchat
Networking and Mentorship professional associations recommended: Association for Talent Development, International Society for Performance Improvement
A few absolutes to close: Internet access, a powerful computer with multiple monitors and a good microphone and webcam, coffee, aspirin, a sense of humor, and a support system!
Benefits and Challenges of Open and Commercial Tools
- Budget – What can you afford? This one question may be the deciding factor for you or your organization.
- Context – Does the choice change based on where the eLearning is to take place? (higher education, K-12, corporate, industry)
- Input / Output – What raw materials will you be working with in terms of file types, images, etc.? What do you need to end up with, again, in terms of file types?
- Utility – What functionality do you need? There are different considerations and implications for choosing something like an LMS (Moodle vs. Blackboard) versus a photo editor (Gimp vs. Photoshop).
- Support & Training – Where can you turn if you need help with a product? Is there an additional cost associated? There is also an investment in time required to learn how to use something new. What is available in terms of tutorials and user communities?
Add Your Tools to the List
Do you have comments, corrections or suggestions for this list? This post is available in Google Docs for anyone to consult, edit or update. We appreciate your suggestions!
Melissa Venable is an instructional designer and project manager with experience in industry and higher education (public, private, and for-profit). Her background includes working in student services as a career counselor, academic advisor, and instructor for first-year students. She holds a doctorate in instructional technology, focusing on the online delivery of career services. Read Melissa's blogs at DesignDoc and Inside Online Learning or follow her on Twitter: @Melissa_Venable.
Thank you for compiling this list. At some corporations we are restricted to the tools chosen by others. Your list allows one to think "outside the box". I believe open software is becoming the path of our future, and your list demonstrates that trend.