So many tools, so little time

Mar 08, 2015

Hello fellow e-learning heroes! This is my first post so please be kind. I am a university instructor and have begun incorporating Storyline learning modules in both my seated and online courses. I feel confident using Storyline. However, I would like to increase my skill set. In your experience, what technical skills do you consider essential for today's course designers? For example, Adobe Suite, HTML, etc. 

If this issue has been discussed please let me know.


10 Replies
James Morris

Before delving into additional tools, I would focus more time on learning theories in educational psychology or learning frameworks / models. There is always more to learn about as new research is coming out frequently.

The world of ed psych is vast and there is so much that designers can learn and apply to their instruction. Having a firm understanding on breaking down objectives, create meaningful assessments, and evaluating design is something that is often over looked.  Many are tempted (including our clients) to make their courses "pretty", before creating sound instructional design.

Tools, the fun part...

Image editing is always beneficial. Being able to manipulate images to fit your use is a very important piece. Photoshop basics are not too difficult, so if you don't have it yet, that would be my recommendation.

HTML is also good to know. CSS is just as important. We may not use it often, but understanding how one will embed their product in html allows you to see the bigger picture. One can have a farily decent understanding of html within a month of practice, so I always recommend that. It's an easier skill to pick up compared to others.

Understanding how an LMS works is also a great skill to have. Having the ability to evaluate the strong and weak points of an LMS is also valuable.

I have heard that Adobe Edge is pretty cool and not too difficult to grasp.  It's on my list to take a look at.



David Anderson

Hi Bradley! Welcome to E-Learning Heroes.

Here are a few really good threads on what skills elearning/instructional designers should have. You'll find a range of opinions, but the discussions should give you a solid overview of the core areas.

Bradley Sheppard

You are correct. Learning theories are extremely important. I recently graduated from a master's program in learning technology. The program was excellent in that we explored educational psychology, assessment methods, and instructional design. However, only a small percentage of the program was devoted to technical skills. Fortunately, as an instructor, I have the opportunity to use Blackboard on a daily basis. It looks like my next step will be expanding my Photoshop and HTML skills.

Thanks for your input!

Bruce Graham

I think the answer depends on what context you work in.

As a freelancer, I have only ever had the need to understand LMSs once in 7 years. The client has all the technical relationships they need - so I do not need to be an expert. I've never needed CSS or HTML, and if I need illustrations, I hire an illustrator - building her cost into the project. Same with videos.

I would rank business skills, and understanding your client's business context above all others, (I still have to master reading a P&L sheet...), but that may not be at all important in your case. IDs working in a commercial situation may not have to learn, for example, negotiation skills, as they may just be "told to produce courses...".

I make a very good living from knowing Storyline, PowToon and Videoscribe. If I need anything else I ask/contract to my network - so I would say "learn what you need...and if you NEED more, learn it". You can waste an awful lot of time learning the tricks of the trade and forgetting to get on with the actual trade itself.

Natasha Gurm

Hi Bradley,

Welcome from a fellow first-timer, and thank you for raising that question; it's one I've been wondering about as well.

@David, @Bruce and to all others who regularly chime in with suggestions and advice - thank you! The support that the Articulate community provides one another is a big reason I pitched Storyline to my company. I've spent several weeks reading, watching and absorbing as much as possible.

Finally installed today... off to have a play... I'm sure I'll be asking questions of my own soon ;)

Angela Kaufman

Hi Bradley!

I work as a freelancer as well and my answer for what tools I use/need the most would be Articulate Storyline, Adobe Photoshop, GoAnimate, and Audacity. I would also say that having a knowledge of SharePoint has been a huge advantage as well. By focusing on those tools, I have always had work.

I used to be an Adobe Captivate fan and used it exclusively UNTIL I started working with Storyline and now I rarely use Captivate anymore. I still prefer Captivate if I am doing a demonstration or a simulation tutorial, but that's pretty much it.


Sue Meismer

Bradley, this is also my first reply. I am so grateful to you for asking this question! I'm just delving into eLearning development and have learned Storyline 2. It is overwhelming to see the number of skills, software, and related products discussed and demonstrated in this community! Thanks for stepping out there to ask a question many of us in your situation also wanted to ask.

Ala Showers

Bradley, I am in a similar higher education world, and my suggestion would be HTML so that you could make your course good-looking in Blackboard or another LMS. CSS is not as critical because Blackboard, for instance, will only allow you to add in-line styles (it would not take an external CSS). And then any graphic design program - Photoshop would be my first choice. Then I would explore other tools, like VideoScribe and GoAnimate. GoAnimate has a great discount for schools/colleges. Download "pixie" - free color picker tool to help you match up your graphics with the key color of the LMS template you choose. This would be a good start, I think.

John Nixdorf

You don't need to be a certified auto mechanic to drive a car, but it helps to be able to change a tire and check the fluids.

Similarly you don't have to have expert level proficiency with anything other than your e-learning authoring tool, but it really helps to be able to do basic image and video editing and creation.

Photoshop and Snag-it are indispensable

It can be very useful to have some basic familiarity with a vector graphic editing program. Adobe Illustrator for example.

Adobe Audition (for sound editing, although you can make Audacity work if you're on a budget)

Camtasia is handy for very basic video editing (cutting and splicing).

Sorry, but IMHO the image and audio editing tools in Storyline are almost worse than useless. You're better off creating the content in a fit-for-purpose tool and importing it to Storyline.


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