The world is awash in “free” these days.
“Free” consultations, “free” samples, “free” eBooks; they’re everywhere. Some of them are genuinely free, but many are just “free” and you don’t realize until it’s too late that they’re “free with the purchase of…” or “free for two weeks if you input a credit card first.”
I’m a simple guy. I like my “free” things to be free, period.
In the spirit of free, and not “free” I’ve put together a list of the best free tools you can use specifically for eLearning functions (for instance, I’m not a fan of saying Skype counts as a dedicated eLearning tool just because you can do face-to-face classes with it). I’ve organized them below into sections for course authoring, learning management systems, and mobile apps.
A free version of a commercial authoring tool, authorPOINT Lite creates eLearning content by converting PowerPoint presentations. The free version does not include live video/audio functionality or the ability to save as a SCORM compliant flash presentation. This is installed, not web-based, software, and is used by a plethora of institutions of higher education.
A freeware version of the commercial product, CourseLab 2.4 allows eLearning content creation in a “what you see is what you get” (WYSIWYG) programming-free environment. It’s installed software for Windows computers, and is available for download at the CourseLab website. Customers seem to be concentrated in academic, rather than corporate, eLearning organizations.
A web-based course authoring tool, EasyGenerator offers a limited free version of their software. The free version is limited to one author and ten courses, and only allows publication to the internet, not to an LMS. Aimed primarily at the corporate eLearning market.
This is an open source content authoring application that allows you to design eLearning courses without HTML or XML knowledge. It is SCORM compliant and can run on Windows, Mac, or Linux. eXe is meant primarily for use by teachers and academics.
An open source tool, GLO Maker is a free download that helps you build “GLOs,” or “Generative Learning Objects” which are “rich, interactive learning experiences.” It allows deployment to mobile devices. The software is generally aimed at academic eLearning course designers.
iSpring Free is the free version of the iSpring’s online eLearning suite course creation tool. The free version is limited in some ways (it doesn’t support videos or custom branding) but allows for SCORM compliant course creation through PowerPoint. Primarily aimed at corporate eLearning course authors.
The Learning Activity Management System is a free open source tool to create and deliver online learning activities. LAMS allows for SCORM compliant course creation, and includes integrations with many LMSs like Moodle, Sakai, and others. It caters to both academic eLearning and corporate training.
Multimedia Learning Object Authoring Tool
This open source tool creates SCORM compliant “learning objects” that can include video, audio, images and text. It includes an online demo which allows you to create test learning objects of videos and images.
An older open source project RELOAD (Reusable eLearning Object Authoring and Delivery) is managed by the University of Bolton and provides an editor to create SCORM compliant courses.
You can sign up for the free version of this hosted authoring software at their website. It provides an object-based authoring environment to make course creation intuitive and straightforward. Clients for SmartBuilder lean towards the corporate side of eLearning and training.
An online course authoring tool that supports video, audio, graphic, and text functionality within courses, Udutu also follows a “WYSIWYG” format to simplify eLearning content creation. It’s meant for use by either corporate or academic eLearning professionals.
An open source suite of browser-based tools, Xerte lets you to author content with no programming knowledge required. It allows for the creation of mobile compatible content that does not rely on Flash. It is currently in use by a variety of corporate and higher education organizations.
This list is an in-depth breakdown of each of eight free, freemium, and open-source LMSs.
An open source LMS available for free download. This free tool has an active community of developers and continues to be updated. It is aimed primarily at the academic market and includes custom themes and web-based content delivery.
Not a traditional LMS, Morzino seems like a closed eLearning ecosystem where educators can create and publish eLearning content, and run a “virtual school” where they track student progress, assign work, and share custom-created apps. It is focused on academic, rather than corporate, eLearning.
A free LMS integrated and run through Google Apps, OpenClass is optimized for Higher Ed and K12 organizations. Mobile learning is a big focus, and it comes with course authoring and social learning functionality.
Aviary Design Suite for Education
A design tool to create, modify, and share digital assets like presentation slides and images. Aimed at educators in an academic setting.
A “personal LMS” for small businesses and educators with authoring, testing, and repoting. Free for 25 users.
A tool to create an online learning environment utilizing Google Apps. Free for five users.
A free, Google Apps gradebook and LMS. Aimed at the academic market.
A free Google Apps tool to create and track exams and tests.
An individual course management app for teachers.
Did I miss any cool, free (not “free”) tools?