Holiday Wish List for Corporate Training Professionals: Part 4 - Software for Content Creation
Introduction to Scaling Up Knowledge
The creation of media content is how we scale up the sharing of knowledge. When 1:1 training becomes impossible we capture the wisdom of subject matter experts in media. Sometimes we write it out in text, and support the ideas with images and pictures as well. We can use audio and video to record the wisdom of an expert. Digital media is easy to create, publish, edit, update, and consume around the world. Media has become the currency of knowledge. It contains the information that is most valuable to the learner providing value to the business.
We still organize media into courses, but in many cases the media also stands on it's own as a useful part of the learning process. One piece of media content can now be converted into other media as well. For example, a video of a SME explaining an important process can easily be converted into an audio-only file, and a text transcript with very little effort or cost. What training professionals do with the media they have is largely what instructional design/development has become. But before any course can be made, the media must first be created.
Applications for Creating Training Content
This list is all about software. It will cover both desktop applications and mobile applications. But I won't be including authoring tools or other systems. The work we do is moving towards media content creation more and more. We used to create course packages that included multimedia elements. Today, much of the value we offer the business is our ability to create digital media content quickly, inexpensively, and deliver it conveniently to any device. Very few course packages can do that effectively, however the internet uses individual media formats that work perfectly across all devices. This is a list of the applications that I find useful in creating training content.
TechSmith: Snagit and Camtasia
Techsmith apps are made for content creation. And they are the best. These 2 applications alone are the most common tools in the average trainer toolbox. These apps are even common amongst technical writers, and other document/media creation professionals. They don't suffer the wrath of the L&D community like other "authoring" tools made specifically for the training industry. They support the training development community heavily but they are not at the mercy of the pundits. You'll notice that nowhere on their site do they brag about being SCORM compliant. Because they don't need too. Techsmith helps you create the media. It's up to you to get that media into an LMS that can handle it.
Stock Photo Subscriptions
This is not the sort of thing you buy a friend for Christmas. And this isn't really a software application, but it is an important part of being a better training developer. And, as a training consultant, maybe it's something you buy for yourself this year. Up your image game significantly by applying stock photos to all of your work. Even if you are simply needing images as placeholders in story boards or other designs, the quality is important. There are a few places to find free stock images but I recommend shutterstock.
Image Creation and Editing for Training Content
Photoshop is the standard on the high end. But over the years other software companies have created image editing tools that rival the master of the photography software world. I'm a mac user and prefer Pixelmator. There are many many others. I also have mobile apps that are not robust, but they handle simple image create very quickly and easily.
Also consider browser based apps like Canva.com and Spark by Adobe. The functions they offer are limited compared to Photoshop and other desktop applications. But what they are good at, they are VERY good. Once you work them into a particular part of your workflow you will wonder how you lived without them.
iMovie and IntroMate
I've been recording video with my iPhone ever since the phone had video capabilities. And I've tried just about every video app created for the iPhone. There are a lot of good ones out there to choose from. But my personal preference and workflow is currently heavily involved with iMovie and IntroMateimo. Every time I try to learn a new iPhone editing app, I inevitably go back to iMovie. After switching back and forth a few times I finally realized that the Apple engineers are the only ones who have figured it out. The downside to iMovie was the limitations in graphics and text variations. This lead me to the discovery of Intromate. Despite it's name you can also use the fantastic text manipulation feature for graphic video elements that may appear in the middle or end of your production as well.
@urbie Recommended LumaFX for iOS. I've not used it yet but it looks like something I might use quite a bit. I'll try it out.
Desktop Video for Training Content Creation
If you are on a Mac then you either use Final Cut Pro or iMovie. Use iMovie if you are on a budget, or don't want to mess with learning advanced video editing skills. However, if you enjoy video production and want to step up your productions then I would highly recommend making the leap into Final Cut Pro. Adobe Premier is another popular editing app with fantastic reviews from training colleagues.
Writing Training Content in Text Formats
There are many ways to write simple text these days. Everyone has their own personal preference. Many will default to MS Word, or Apple's Pages, while others prefer a cleaner text file and simply write in Textedit or notepad. Then there are all the applications and mobile apps that fall in the middle or fill a specific niche. Scrivener falls into that middle ground. A powerful tool with a unique interface and a strong following of professional writers.
Since the Microsoft product suite dominates corporate offices, the tendency to lean towards Word is understandable. Most employees know how to use it and reviewing/saving edits has become quite common within the app. Needing to convert the .doc file format will often remove the revision features.
No matter what software you are currently using, it's important to stay current with the tools of your trade. Locking into one software application or system can be problematic over the long term. My recommendation is that you have your goto apps that you have mastered. Always be working on perfecting your skills with those tools. But also keep a healthy understanding of the apps you use less often. Because when you do need them, there will be little time to get your skills up to speed. It's a constant learning process that you must build into your work/life balance.
So... maybe this isn't really a list of apps you can buy for your friend, colleague, or team. But software isn't really good to give as a gift anyways. Parts 1,2, and 3 are much more useful if you are seriously looking to buy something as a holiday gift:
- Holiday Wish List for Corporate Training Professionals: Part 1 - Books
- Holiday Wish List for Corporate Training Professionals: Part 2 - Trainer's Emergency Kit
- Holiday Wish List for Corporate Training Professionals: Part 3 - Video Gear
To learn more about the Litmos LMS you can download a free trial and get up to speed quickly.