Are you an aspiring edupreneur who’s trying to break into the e-learning business? Or really scale your current business?
Perhaps you have a great idea for an online course, and you’re looking for a fully-comprehensive yet simple solution that gives you limitless options. On the other hand, you might be a well-versed edupreneur, instructional designer, or developer who’s using an authoring tool or platform that doesn’t seem to offer much freedom and functionality.
Fortunately for you, I’m going to introduce you to a hidden gem within the e-learning realm called iSpring Suite – a fully-decked e-learning authoring toolkit that allows you to create the interactive online courses with limitless capabilities. In order to run this software, you’ll need Microsoft PowerPoint and a Windows PC, but it also works if you have an Intel-based Mac that can boot into Microsoft Windows.
Regardless of whether you’re an instructional designer or edupreneur, it’s a fair bet that, at some point in your education or career, you’ve gained adequate familiarity with PowerPoint. But even if that’s not the case, it’s extremely easy! iSpring Suite effectively eliminates the technological learning curve from navigating new interfaces.
Let’s have a closer look at the features and benefits of iSpring Suite 9.7 – their latest release.
Features and benefits
- PowerPoint conversion
- Video lessons
- Interactive quizzes and assessments
- Screencasting (now with video editing capabilities!)
- Dialog simulations
- E-learning interactions
- Wide LMS compatibility
- Mobile responsivity
- iSpring Play mobile app
Once you’ve downloaded and installed the software or the 14-day free trial, you’ll be able to visualize exactly how iSpring seamlessly integrates with your PowerPoint software before converting your PowerPoint presentations into full-fledged courses!
At the top of PowerPoint, where you’ll find the Home, Insert, Design tabs, etc., you’ll see a new “iSpring Suite” tab! Simply click on it to have access to all the features.
You can create interactive video lessons with iSpring’s “record video narration” function, but if you have a pre-recorded video file, then it’s simply a matter of importing it from your computer! When recording a video from scratch, you’ll have access to many helpful tools including a field for your slide notes so that your narration will be smooth and fluent.
iSpring additionally offers interactive video editing tools to keep your lessons interactive and engaging. You’ll be able to trim or delete slides, make the speech sound clearer with the slicing and silencing functions, as well as create fade in and fade out effects to enable smooth transitions. But to keep your learners hooked, you can also incorporate animated slides, dialogue simulations, quizzes, flash movies, and more all in one video! These features are an instructional designer’s dream! They help separate professional e-learning courses from half-baked, amateur courses.
Interactive quizzes and assessments
The success of your course ultimately depends on how much you support the students in meeting the learning objectives. This means you’re going to have to keep them engaged to best instill the lessons, as well as assess their knowledge so that you can diagnose problem areas, provide additional support, and tweak future courses based on the knowledge you’ve gathered. Many authoring tools merely offer the basics such as multiple choice and fill-in-the-blank questions. But iSpring offers a comprehensive set of surveys and graded questions, as shown below:
One of the really nice features of iSpring is that it allows you to complete every aspect of your course all in one place. With its screencasting capabilities, you can record your screen to create standalone video tutorials or demos, or even incorporate snippets of your screencasts into your other video lessons. There’s no need to incur added expenses from third-party and often pricey tools like Camtasia. Especially because in this latest release, iSpring’s screencasting feature now comes with high-quality video editing capabilities!
The ability to create dialogue simulations is only found in the upper echelons of e-learning authoring tools such as iSpring, Adobe Captivate, and Articulate Storyline. Your learners can engage with the lessons in the most literal way possible – through simulated, scenario-based conversations. With this feature, the possibilities are endless, as you can create multiple branches at each scenario node. For example, you might set up the initial scenario and allow the reader to choose from one out of three responses. This can expand into an infinite web of engagement and interactivity because each of the three responses can yield their own, and so forth.
In addition, you won’t need to source character images and backgrounds outside of iSpring, because they’re all provided to you with full rights once you purchase the software! The content library gives you access to over 50,000 assets, including over 30 characters and 230 backgrounds.
So far, most of what we’ve covered has unveiled the interactive power of iSpring. Nevertheless, it still has a section that’s solely dedicated to e-learning interactions. As an e-learning specialist, I find their suite of interactions to be quite comprehensive. They include:
- Cyclic processes
- Circle diagrams
- Labeled graphics
- Guided images
- Media catalogue
- Flip books
These interactions allow you to cater to visual learning styles, which is inherently more engaging than text-heavy courses. The tab and accordion interactions are visual tools requiring your audience to actively click on a label to view more information. Labeled graphics allow you to click buttons located at strategic points on an image to view more information relevant to the image point. And iSpring Flip allows you to make your documents simulate real books via a page-turning effect. You can enhance these e-books with beautiful images and templates to make them look professional and compelling, hassle-free!
Play around, commitment-free, with the myriads of interactive features at your disposal using iSpring’s free 14-day trial (no credit card required!).
Wide LMS compatibility
If you’re new to e-learning, you might be wondering what an LMS or “Learning Management System” is. See What is an LMS for a more detailed overview, but the short version is that LMSes help you to administer, document, track, report, and deliver your finalized iSpring courses. There are hundreds upon hundreds of LMSes to choose from – like the ones covered here and here – and most traditional LMSes conform to well-established technical specifications that support communication between e-learning content and the LMS. The most common of these are SCORM, AICC, and Tin Can. While these might sound confusing, you won’t need to worry about the particulars of each technical standard. iSpring supports all traditional and new e-learning standards for the widest LMS compatibility. They are:
- SCORM 1.2
- SCORM 2004
- Tin Can (xAPI)
If you don’t yet have an LMS in mind, be sure to check out the range of standards-compliant options covered on Learning Revolution.
One common issue when authoring e-learning courses, especially those that are heavy with interactive effects, is how it shows up on different devices. In today’s society, so many people are using mobile devices such as smartphones, iPads, and tablets. In order for your course content to play back perfectly on any device, without visual deformations, you’ll need an adaptive player that fully-functions across all devices. Because everything created on iSpring supports HTML5, iSpring allows every device to “respond well” to your content.
iSpring Play mobile app
If your course targets people who are regularly on the move, like doctors, pilots, or entrepreneurs, then your courses will benefit from iSpring Play, a mobile app that allows your users to access your content from their smartphones anywhere and anytime, even while offline. Because people lead busy lives, and not everyone has the luxury of extensive data plans, this feature is a life-saver that not only ensures that your learners can easily access your course, but also makes you and/or your brand look more professional, instilling trust in current and prospective buyers!
iSpring offers two pricing options:
- iSpring Suite – a lifetime license valued at $770.
- iSpring Suite Full Service – an annual $970 license that includes the lifetime iSpring Suite and gives you access to other tools such as their content library, iSpring Cloud, Rapid Response Support, and regular upgrades.
Given the total value of iSpring Suite Full Service, it seems like the no-brainer choice. I find the most attractive features of the Full Service plans are the content library and rapid response support in case I need immediate phone or chat support! If you’re not sure yet, then take advantage of the full-access, credit card and commitment-free 14-day trial before making any final decisions!
iSpring review: the bottom line
iSpring Suite 9 is an excellent and extensive e-learning authoring tool that delivers more than enough value for its price. Even beginners can create courses like a pro using iSpring’s relatively affordable, simple, and comprehensive software. iSpring enables you to save a whole heap of money by giving you access to every e-learning tool all in one software suite. The only downside is that if you don’t have Microsoft PowerPoint, a Windows PC, or can’t boot Windows on your Mac, then you can’t use the software. But if you can work around this minor constraint, then it’s worth a gander!
Try the free 14-day-trial to see if iSpring Suite is right for you!
By Sydney Mansaray for Learning Revolution