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Unit 3.1 Multimedia Basics

Software – authoring tools and their functions

The term authoring tool is misleading to some people. Given the word 'authoring,' you might think that an authoring tool refers to a specialized form of word processing software used by professional writers. In the eLearning world, authoring tools which are also referred to as eLearning authoring tools, eLearning authoring software, eLearning content development tools and eLearning course development software go far beyond writing and word processing.

eLearning authoring tools enable trainers to integrate an array of media to create professional, engaging and interactive training content. With an authoring tool, you can repurpose digitized elements or learning objects from an existing course for use in a new course. In this way, you can realize a return on investment for components that may have been developed using outside programmers or graphic design resources. In reality, 'eLearning course creation tool' is a better term for this category of software rather than the more popular 'authoring tool.' As you begin your search for an authoring tool, you'll quickly come to find that this term embraces a wide range of development functions. You may also discover, as others have, that a combination of tools—that perform complementary functions—rather than a single tool may best fit your needs.

Web authoring tools are used to create web content, and cover a wide range of software programs. The programs include word processors, desktop publishing programs, webpage builders, website management systems and HTML editors. Any software program that can be used to create content that can be uploaded and viewed on the Internet or intranet network systems is considered a web authoring tool.

Word Processors

Word processors such as Microsoft Word, WordPerfect or OpenOffice Writer are some of the most basic types of web authoring tools available. Word processors contain an option that allows users to create web pages from text documents. Users type in content using a keyboard and the processors convert the documents into standard HTML markup and save the document as a .txt file. The .txt file can be uploaded directly onto a server to create a quick and easy web page.

Desktop Publishing

Desktop publishing programs can be used to create hard copy content, such as magazines or newspapers, or used as a web authoring tool. The programs feature word processors to create instantly written web content combined with advanced web authoring options, such as page layout and style elements. Desktop publishing programs create virtual pages of web content that can be linked together. Users can add multimedia to the pages, such as video, graphics or audio files. The programs convert the pages to HTML and CSS sheets that can be uploaded to the Internet.

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