The Best Things in Life Are Free

Price and quality are not always directly proportional. Don’t worry, this is not going to be a basic economics lesson, but we are going to talk about finances. You don’t always have to spend a lot of money on software to put out great training. With all of the software options out there, it can be difficult to pick the right one without spending hours testing and reviewing. At Endurance Learning, we use a lot of software to create our training. Let’s talk about a few of the fantastic free or low-price tools we find useful throughout the life-cycle of our training.

Trello – All projects need management, which is a good place to start. Trello is a free tool where you can organize tasks on a board and assign tasks to others with due dates, pictures, and all kind of fun things. The system incorporates notifications, messaging, and stock images. I have used a lot of project management software over the years, this is by far the most fun and collaborative.

Trello

Slack – Communication on any team is vital to success. In an increasingly virtual age, we find ourselves communicating in myriad ways. Whether you’re talking to a colleague down the hall, a client in another office, or a teammate in another time zone, every team needs an electronic communication standard. I recently started using Slack to communicate when I joined my team. Slack is a super powerful application that integrates with dozens of other tools that nearly eliminates the need for intra-team emails. It uses channels to organize conversations, has direct messaging, VOIP, and video capabilities which replace the need for instant messengers, and immediately syncs with most cloud apps to share projects in real time.

Slack

Google Docs –I don’t think of Google Docs as an alternative to Microsoft Office, I think of it more as a document collaboration tool. The power in Google Docs is that you and your team can work together, simultaneously, on any document whether you are sitting down the hall or in another city. It doesn’t have all of the functionality of Office, but I can edit a document while a client in another state makes adjustments I see in real time.

GIMP – Gimp is an open source image editing tool that I started using in college when I couldn’t afford its prestigious cousin, Photoshop. As far as free tools go, the functionality is impressive. There are easy to use filters and retouch tools as well as more complex editing and manipulation tools. I still use GIMP on my home computer because I find many of the features are a bit simpler to use than Photoshop.

Canva and Piktochart – Admittedly, I haven’t created many infographics, but I really enjoy them as a way to convey information. I know others out there are rock stars as far as developing these handy job aids, and I’ll leave that to them. When I do dig in, I use super user-friendly apps like Canva and Piktochart. They both have easy to use functionality and stock images and templates that help you create a professional infographic quickly.

Audacity – When it comes to video authoring, I rarely capture voice and picture at the same time. Instead, I start my video process by recording audio, and later capture video that matches the audio. I capture all audio in Audacity and leverage the easy to use editing tools in the program to make any cuts or remove any background noises. The video process is much quicker when you start with a clean audio file. Speaking of video…

PowToon – When it comes to free and easy to use video animation software, nothing beats PowToon. If you are creating eLearning, you should be using it. Simple characters, backgrounds, and animations make for fast authoring and easy production that can be used to support content. Here is an example we used to quickly put together a short video.

This list only scratches the surface of free tools for designers and developers. What do you use? Let’s talk about it in the comments.

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