Do You Need an Authoring Tool to Create eLearning?

One of the most common questions about creating eLearning courses is whether or not you need an authoring tool. Take a closer look at what authoring tools are, and discover if you need one to create your course. 

What Is an Authoring Tool?

Simply put, an authoring tool is a tool that lets you create an eLearning course. The best way to understand an authoring tool is by using examples. Start by thinking of how you would create a video. You would first record your content and then use appropriate software to edit it. That editing software would be your video authoring tool, whether it is Windows Movie Maker, Adobe Premier, iMovie, or something else.

If you were to create a document with text, your authoring tool would be Microsoft Word, Google Docs, or Apple Pages. If you want to create an image or graphic, your authoring tool may be Adobe Photoshop or Canva. 

Think of an eLearning authoring tool as similar to these examples. It is simply the tool or program you use to create your course. 

Types of Authoring Tools: Standalone Versus Native

There are two main types of authoring tools: standalone and native. 


Standalone authoring tools are not part of a Learning Management System (LMS). You create your course using them, but you need someplace else to host it because the authoring tool is not connected to another technology that you’ll use for eLearning. For example, in the case of video-based courses, you’ll likely host them on YouTube or Vimeo. 

Adobe Captivate is easily one of the most popular authoring tools for eLearning. It is excellent at turning PowerPoint slides into eLearning. Rise is another great choice. While it is newer, Rice has become very popular. Most people use either Captivate or Rise as authoring tools. 

Another example of a standalone authoring tool is Storyline. Storyline comes from Articulate, the same company that features Rise. Both are part of the product suite of Articulate authoring tools, but you can use them separately. 


Native authoring tools are part of an LMS. As a refresher, an LMS hosts and sequences your course, as well as collects data. The great thing about a native authoring tool is that it automatically and easily integrates with your LMS, making the process easy and seamless. 

For external eLearning courses, we typically suggest Kajabi as a native authoring tool. Technically, Kajabi is a business management system (BMS) because it does so much. Talent Cards, TalentLMS, and Thinkific are other examples of native authoring tools, and we commonly recommend the first two for internal courses. 

Do You Need an Authoring Tool? 

When creating an online course, you don’t need an authoring tool, as there are plenty of ways to get by without using one. You can easily build your course out of videos and host them somewhere. But even so, it can be incredibly helpful to use an authoring tool, which is why we typically suggest doing so. By using an authoring tool, especially a native one, you can save time and money. You will find yourself completing the course much faster. 


Authoring tools can be native or standalone. While you don’t need an authoring tool to create an eLearning course, they are incredibly useful and can save you time and money when creating a course. 

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