Top 9 Free eLearning Authoring Tools

13 minutes
9967 views

Are you looking for a free authoring tool that will let you create eLearning courses? You’ve probably almost given up on finding a decent solution with no hidden costs or time limits. But here’s some good news! We’ve done some deep research and tested nine courseware that cost nothing. Read on to learn which free eLearning authoring tools are available, and their strengths and weaknesses. But first, let’s see what kind of software such a tool entails.

What Is an eLearning Authoring Tool?

An eLearning authoring tool is software that enables you to create digital educational content to share with learners via a learning management system, or on the Web. Digital learning content includes e-courses, video lectures, quizzes, and simulations, and more. 

Some tools are focused only on building one type of training content, such as video tutorials or assessments, while others comprise a set of tools under one roof that cover a lot of tasks instructional designers or educators might need to deal with. But when speaking about free solutions, it should be noted that their functionality is quite limited compared to paid ones, but let’s have a look at what they offer. 

Here’s a list of the best free eLearning authoring tools:

1. iSpring Free

iSpring Free authoring tool

iSpring Free is a userfriendly authoring tool for creating slide-based courses with quizzes. If you have ready-made presentations, you can turn them into interactive online courses in a few clicks as the tool builds right in PowerPoint. When converting, it maintains all PPT animations, triggers, and transitions intact. 

Since the interface is familiar and intuitive, it’s also easy to build courses from scratch: just populate slides with texts, images, YouTube videos, and web objects – a page from Wikipedia or your corporate website, for example. There are three types of quiz questions for assessing learners’ knowledge: multiple-choice, multiple-response, and short answer. To enhance your quizzes, you can set feedback, number of attempts, and time limits. 

The content created with iSpring Free automatically adapts to all devices and looks great on any screen, including those of PCs, Macs, tablets, and smartphones.

Pros

  • Easy to use, no coding skills or training required
  • SCORM compliant
  • Allows you to convert PPT slides to HTML5/SCORM
  • All PPT effects are kept intact
  • Publishes courses with no watermarks
  • Courses and quizzes look good and play well on any device

Cons

  • Doesn’t work without PowerPoint installed
  • Only three quiz question types are available
  • The number of course slides is limited to 15

2. Udutu

Udutu free authoring tool

Udutu is a free web-based tool for building courses. It comes with a variety of WYSIWYG apps that let you create different kinds of activities, including assessments, interactive modules, and branching scenarios. Like iSpring Free, it allows you to convert your PowerPoint slides to online courses, but this option requires a subscription of $10 per month. Courses can be downloaded to your computer as SCORM packages. The tool also enables you to upload previously authored SCORMs and reedit them.

Unlike many other authoring tools, Udutu offers a real-time collaboration option – it can be used by multiple people at different locations. However, the free membership allows you to distribute a link to a course only with watermarks placed on each slide. 

Pros

  • No programming skills required
  • SCORM compliant
  • Pre-designed templates 
  • Ability to create interactive learning objects and branching scenarios
  • Quite a large variety of assessment questions
  • Allows for uploading previously authored SCORM courses and re-editing them

Cons

  • Not very steep, but definitely has a learning curve
  • PPT to SCORM/HTML5 conversion is available only for paid subscribers
  • Previewing a course with no watermarks requires an advanced membership
  • Frequent saves after testing are required; it is reported that saves are not automatic

3. IsEazy 

isEazy free authoring tool

isEazy is another cloud-based authoring tool. It has a user-friendly interface, so authors don’t need to invest their time in training. The free pricing plan, as well as the paid plans, allows you to build slide-based courses by using ready-made templates that you can populate with texts, images, videos, and audio. The tool also enables you to add and customize interactive elements – you can create interactive quizzes, timelines, catalogs, process interactions, and more. 

But despite quite a rich feature set and ease of use, the isEazy free version has significant limitations. The tool restricts its use to 3 eLearning projects and puts a 0.3 GB limit on the space for courses. To remove these limitations and get access to more advanced authoring options, you need to upgrade to a paid plan. 

Pros

  • Easy to use, no tech skills required 
  • SCORM compliant
  • A variety of good-looking templates
  • 6 quiz question types are available
  • Allows you to add interactive elements
  • Provides a stock image bank, although it is limited to 500 image uses

Cons

  • In the free version, courses are published with an isEazy logo and watermark
  • A free plan is available for 1 author and 3 projects
  • Puts a 0.3 GB limit on space
  • Sequential navigation is available only in paid plans
  • Cannot choose fonts

4. Adapt

Adapt free authoring tool

Adapt is an open-source tool that is designed for rapid course authoring. It stands distinctly apart from other content developing tools that have evolved from a ‘PowerPoint’ format design. Courses built with Adapt provide a webpage-like experience – they scroll vertically, not flipped like slides. The authoring tool doesn’t support branching scenarios and offers a very limited animation scope, so it is suited only to those who want to create long read courses with ‘linear navigation.’ 

Overall, the core functionality is sufficient to make simple online courses, but you can enhance the learner experience by installing additional Adapt plug-ins that will allow you to custom design your content. However, you need to have a techie mind to make some plug-ins work. Besides, it’s quite challenging for a non-technical person to install Adapt, as it requires the user to manually install and set up tools including Git, Node.js, and MongoDB, and take steps that are usually hidden within a packaged installer.

Pros

  • No coding skills required
  • SCORM compliant
  • Builds courses that are responsive across devices
  • Hierarchy of development: Section>Page>Article>Block>Component
  • Adapt plug-ins allow for a significant amount of custom design
  • Supports languages that flow from right to left

Cons

  • Sophisticated software installation and configuration
  • Doesn’t run without Git, Node.js, Grunt, and MongoDB 
  • Customization aspects require technical know-how
  • Limited variety of animations are supported
  • Doesn’t support branching scenarios

5. CourseLab

CourseLab free authoring tool

CourseLab version 2.4 is another free authoring software for building interactive eLearning courses that can be published to the web or an LMS. Like many other tools, it allows you to create the content in the WYSIWYG model, which means ‘what you see is what you get.’ However, the interface looks a bit outdated and is not very intuitive, so CourseLab can seem quite complicated to use for non-technical users and developers. 

For tech geeks, this tool can be a good solution, since it provides quite an extensive feature set. You can make slide-based courses with images, videos, complex multi-object interactions, and quizzes. CourseLab comes with a large set of ready-to-use eLearning module templates, though learning how to use and customize them may require quite a lot of time. 

Pros

  • HTML or other programming skills are not necessary
  • SCORM and AICC compliant
  • 6 quiz question types are available
  • Built-in screen capture feature
  • Embedded mechanisms for animating objects
  • Tree-like course structure
  • Access to additional functionality of the Course Player for advanced users via JavaScript

Cons

  • Clunky, nonintuitive user interface requires some training
  • Outdated design
  • Java script, Shockwave, and Real Player are required for some media files
  • Reported that the content doesn’t run properly in all browsers
  • Claims it allows importing slides from PowerPoint but doesn’t
  • Courses don’t play well on mobile devices
  • User reviews indicate courses are not compatible with many LMSs

6. GLOMaker

GLOMaker free authoring tool

GLOMaker 3.0 is a free open-source tool that enables you to create structured interactive learning materials. It divides the process of authoring into two parts: planning and designing. Planner is the part where storyline learning design is created – GloMaker has two inbuilt design patterns that are rooted in pedagogic principles, but you can also use ‘freestyle’ mode to create your own design. The tool offers instructional design guidance for using and setting up each block. The designer part is where slides are developed. There are a variety of templates that can be customized according to your training needs. 

GLOMaker provides a great number of options, including quizzes (multiple-choice / word assembly) with feedback, slide-show viewer, photo display with zoom facility, video and audio players, and more. However, many novice course builders will find the tool unintuitive and complicated to use. 

Pros

  • No programming skills required
  • SCORM and AICC compliant
  • Pedagogical guides and examples available
  • Built-in patterns and templates
  • Creates sequences of online learning activities

Cons

  • Doesn’t work without Adobe Air installed
  • Outdated design
  • Very limited interactivity
  • Only two quiz question types are available
  • You need a separate app to create courses for mobile devices

7. H5P

H5P free authoring tool

H5P is an open-source cloud-based tool that allows you to create HTML5 eLearning content and publish it on popular platforms like WordPress, Moodle, or Drupal. The content can also be added to any LMS that supports LTI integration.

H5P is modular, there are a lot of content types and applications available for use with no technical skills needed. These include interactive videos, HTML5 presentations, branching scenarios, quizzes, flashcards, and more. However, the tool is quite limited as far as creating complex and customized eLearning projects. But if you’re an experienced course developer with coding skills, you’ll have good potential for building customized content. 

Pros

  • Easy to use, no tech skills required
  • Can create a large variety of interactive eLearning activities 
  • H5P content is responsive and mobile-friendly
  • Content can be easily added to WordPress, Moodle, or Drupal site
  • Allows for group collaboration
  • By using the open API, tech-savvy developers can create new H5P content types

Cons

  • Cannot run standalone; it needs to be used as a plug-in
  • The content is compatible only with the LMSs that support LTI integration
  • Limited features for customized eLearning courses
  • It’s impossible to make content private in H5P.org; all your projects are visible to the public
  • No preview option

8. AdaptiveU

AdaptiveU free authoring tool

AdaptiveU is a cloud-based tool with a course creation capability. But, in fact, it is more than authoring software, as it includes an LMS functionality, allowing you to invite learners and track their training statistics. It is also not absolutely free, but does enable you to create two courses free of charge. 

With AdaptiveU, you can build responsive webpage-style courses. You simply need to type or paste the text, add images and videos, and attach other files if needed. You can also add knowledge checks to help learners retain the material better. There are four types of questions: single select, multiple select, true or false, and paragraph answer. You can also create a variety of lessons and steps in a course to let your learners digest information in smaller chunks.

Unfortunately, AdaptiveU doesn’t allow users to share courses with learners outside the platform, they need to be registered learners. The free pricing plan provides access only to five users. 

All of these tools can help you create simple eLearning courses at no cost. However, if the basic features are not enough for your authoring ambitions, test-drive a full-featured authoring toolkit that will allow you to build professional eLearning courses with quizzes, video tutorials, dialog simulations, and interactive modules. You can use it for free for 14 days.

Pros

  • Very handy, no tech skills required
  • Allows creation of interactive well-organized content
  • Can create quick knowledge checks
  • Builds courses that are responsive across devices
  • Has robust analytics system and learning management options
  • Allows you to attach additional files to courses

Cons

  • A free plan is available for 5 users and 2 courses, with 1 GB of storage
  • Doesn’t allow the creation of graded quizzes
  • Can’t share courses outside the platform
  • No flexible course settings
  • No capability for design customization

9. Moovly

Moovly free authoring tool

Moovly is a cloud-based video editor that is a good fit for creating training videos. It allows you to create tutorials by using your own photos, screenshots, footage, or voice recordings, or by leveraging the built-in media libraries. The tool comes with a huge library of images, sounds, and stock videos you can use to make new video content in any style: cartoon style, whiteboard videos, documentary style, and more. Of course, it’s great that it provides a lot of free ready-made assets, but keep in mind that if you want to record your webcam or screen for your training video, you need to get a paid account. 

With Moovly, you can also start creating your video by uploading an existing PowerPoint presentation. Once imported, you’ll be able to edit your video by changing timings, adding voice, and inserting other media. Or you can use ready-to-go templates made from premium images and/or footage from iStock by Getty Images. You can open and modify these templates for free, but when publishing or downloading your final video, you’ll be asked to purchase the stock media that was used.

Pros

  • Intuitive drag-and-drop interface
  • Publishing to YouTube, Vimeo, and Moovly Gallery
  • 1.3 million free images, sounds, and footage
  • Ready-to-go templates for fast authoring
  • A mobile app to view videos and upload media from a mobile device

Cons

  • Can create only video content
  • Publishing a video with no watermark requires a paid account
  • Maximum video length is 2 mins
  • Allows only 20 personal media uploads
  • Best video quality is SD 480p
  • Can’t record screen and webcam

Which Free eLearning Authoring Tool to Сhoose?

All of these free authoring tools are good if they serve your needs. For example, if you want to create beautiful slide-based courses with quizzes extremely fast, iSpring Free can be a perfect fit. If you need to build courses with customized interactions, you’re a tech-savvy person, and willing to invest time in training, CourseLab may be a good pick for you. Or if you aim to create versatile interactive content and publish it on WordPress, you might be better off choosing H5P.

However, if the basic features that free eLearning authoring tools provide are not enough for your ambitions, test-drive a full-featured authoring toolkit that will allow you to build professional online courses with quizzes, video tutorials, dialogue simulations, and interactive modules. You can use it for free for 14 days.

iSpring Suite

Fast course authoring toolkit

Create online courses and assessments in record time.

Fast course authoring toolkit
iSpring Free
Create interactive courses quickly for free!
Learn more