eLearning Development: Articulate Versus Code

In the eLearning world, it’s no secret that there’s a divide between people who build courses from scratch using HTML and JavaScript and people who use an authoring tool for the whole course creation. I’ve often heard web developers say that eLearning authoring tools are cookie-cutter solutions. Hmmmm. I’ve been involved in course creation using both approaches and I’ve seen some really effective courses created in Articulate that gives web coded courses a run for their money – in design, development time and $$$!

Comparison of the 2 Development Methods

  Code Development Articulate Development
Team structure Specialists who work within strictly defined roles and boundaries; the instructional designer works on the content, the graphic designer works on the design elements, the developer only working on the technical elements and so forth. Each person has their designated role, however in many cases, roles cross over and skill sets are transferable allowing team members to become involved and lend their expertise during different phases of the project.
Development process Linear process, following a sequential flow. Iterative process, where modifications can be made during each stage.
User acceptance testing Users are involved in the beginning during the requirements stage and at the end. User acceptance testing is performed at the end of the coding phase. Testing is usually performed at every iteration. End user feedback guides modifications along the way, ensuring a product is built that meets the needs and requirements.
Time and cost Due to the linear approach, there is low productivity and flexibility. Building courses from scratch using web based tools can take months. Build duration impacts on cost. This iterative process is highly productive and flexible. Due to faster turnaround times, projects often have a shorter duration.
Maintenance costs If you don’t know how to work with HTML, then chances are you will need to rely on a technical expert to make any adjustments. Minimal due to the ease of making updates without the need for technical experts.


Now going back to the comment that eLearning authoring tools are cookie-cutter solutions – I have to disagree. After recently starting to use Articulate 360, I’ve discovered some really cool features, to help customise the courses we create.

What Articulate Storyline 360 Can Do

  • Allows you to customise interactivity with minimal effort
    • Add interactivity with motion path animations, layers or triggers
    • Use out of the box: buttons, hovers, markers, hotspots, dials, sliders, data entry, lightboxes, scrolling panels
    • Custom build animations and interactions
  • Tin Can API , SCORM, and AICC compliant content can be published for your LMS with a click of a button to track your courses
  • Provides an excellent library of resources and templates that can be used as is or modified
  • Easily include media and simulations
    • Add audio, video, web objects
    • Create screencasts and software simulations
  • Is responsive to every mobile device
  • Compresses to smaller files for all bandwidth support
  • Supports right-to-left language such as Hebrew so you can translate your courses

For the full list of features, visit the website here. Be aware there are regular updates to the software that adds new features and keeps up with the changing landscape of online learning.

If you work in L&D, how often have you heard that a course needed to be developed yesterday? The reality is that you don’t have months to wait before the course is built. However regardless of which tool or method you use, you can’t skimp on the instructional design aspect of course building. It’s how you use the tool that determines how effective your courses are.

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