Authoring environment

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  • An authoring environment is toolkit to build software or digital contents.
  • An educational authoring environment allows to create artifacts like web sites, interactive hypermedia, microworlds, simulations,

Some authors make finer distinctions, e.g. in Locatis and Al-Nuaim historical review and analysis (1999), “the term authoring tool refers to a range of software products having utilities for composing, editing, assembling, and managing multimedia objects, while the term authoring system refers to a subset of these products allowing multimedia development without having to program.”

A short history

See also:


According to difficulty


According to data formats

(see various entries)

According to the interface metaphor

According to educational technologies

  • E-learning content editors
    • eXe (probably the best free tool for starters)
    • Adapt
    • LCDS. The Microsoft Learning Content Development System can produce SCORM 1.2 objects
    • CourseLab (SCORM 2004 compatible ?)
    • Docendo (a free server-based solution)
    • Scenari A suite of tools for creating e-learning contents.
    • Udutu course authoring tool
    • MOS Solo
    • GLO Maker (Dead tool,, Was a nice authoring tool for learning objects following a learning design perspective (made by CETL). Did compile to flash. See the Wikifoundry page (alive on nov 2018).
    • Smartbuilder
    • Chaucer. An e-learning content tool with multimedia capacities
    • Composica. An e-learning content tool with multimedia capacities

According to educational function

Authoring tools can be either used by:

Sociology of authoring and reuse

Authoring by teachers

"Lessons learned" of the East/West group (Spohrer, Summer & Shum, 1998).

  • The first lesson can be summarized as follows: 'No matter how easy to use one makes an authoring tool through clever applications of cognitive science and technology, only a small fraction of the people with good ideas about instructional software and capable of learning to use the tools will in fact build things. The majority of people will instead make suggestions and try to influence what the builders are building.
  • The second lesson can be summarized as follows: 'Often the people most capable of doing a job such as improving a piece of educational software are prevented from doing the job by social convention, intellectual property protection barriers, or business model restrictions.'
  • The third lesson is just common sense in hindsight, and can be summarized as follows: 'What is the first question an authoring tool user should ask before using a tool to create a piece of educational software? Answer: Does the software or something like it already exist, and, if so, who created it and will they allow it to be reused?'

Towards Authoring communities ?



  • Dalgarno, B. (1996). Constructivist computer-assisted learning: Theory, technique and tools. Unpublished Master of Science thesis, University of Canberra. (lost in cyberspace ?)
  • Dalgarno, Barney (1998), Tools For Authoring Constructivist Computer Assisted Learning Resources: A Review, AsiLite 1998. HTML/PDF. (Note: This article is useful also for other design models using interactive multimedia).
  • Dalgarno B (1996) Constructivist Computer Assisted Learning: Theory and Techniques, AsciLite 1996. HTML.
  • Dalgarno, B. (2004). A classification scheme for learner-computer interaction. In R.Atkonson, C.McBeath, D. Jones-Dwyer and R.Phillips (eds) Beyond the comfort zone, 21st annual conference of the Australasian Society for Computers in Learning in Tertiary Education, Perth, Australia. Available: PDF. (This paper describes environments, but is useful for deciding on which criteria you will select a tool)
  • Locatis,Craig, Al-Nuaim,Hana (1999), Interactive technology and authoring tools: A historical review and analysis, Educational Technology Research and Development, 47, 3, 9/18/1999, Pages 63-75, DOI 10.1007/BF02299634 (Access restricted)
  • Repenning, A., Ioannidou, A. and Ambach, J. (1998). Learn to Communicate and Communicate to Learn. Journal of Interactive Media in Education, 98 (7). HTML Hypertext - HTML
  • Spohrer Jim, Tamara Summer & Simon Buckingham Shum (1998). Educational Authoring Tools and the Educational Object Economy: Introduction to this Special Issue from the East/West Group. Journal of Interactive Media in Education, 98 (10). [ HTML Hypertext] - HTML - PDF
  • Vaughan, T. (1993). Multimedia, Making it Work. Berkeley: Osborne McGraw Hill.