For engaging and effective online learning - 5 top authoring tools

 | By 

Chris Hutchinson

What are the best tools for building an effective online learning exper­ience? How can I make online learning engaging, effective and enjoyable for my learners? How can I choose the right authoring tool for my online program? Our learning designer Chris Hutchinson shares 5 authoring tools for highly engaging and effective online learning.

Online learning and tech­nology have exper­i­enced massive growth. During this past year most edu­cators, trainers, and parents became familiar with at least a few of the seem­ingly countless learning tools, toys and software designed to make learning more fun, accessible, col­lab­or­ative and enjoyable. One of my favourite things about our online learning platform is that anyone can easily use and incor­porate a wide variety of 3rd party authoring tools offering more inter­active, diverse, engaging and effective online learning experiences. 

As a learning designer at Claned, I love to use, dis­cover and share insights on these tools with clients and their learners, because I know how much they can affect the learning experience. 

Some­times, with so many options and pos­sib­il­ities, authoring tools and learning games, it can feel over­whelming for someone building a course. That’s why we’ve put together a list of the top 5 embed­dable tools that will take your online course to new levels, spark interest, enjoyment and engagement in your learners. Give some of these a try!

Another great Finnish EdTech product, Thinglink pion­eered rich media tags - this means you can add inter­active hot points or “tags” to pic­tures and video. When a user clicks on the tag, a pop-up window appears with further inform­ation - this could be a detail of the image, video text web link or some com­bin­ation of all these. The tool works with pic­tures, video, 360 images and video as well for immersive experiences. 


Allows anyone to create, rich, inter­active HTML5 content within their web browser. One of the things I like about H5P is its access­ib­ility and extens­iveness. It’s also free, which means anyone can use it to the full extent of its cap­ab­il­ities. While it may take a bit longer to become a pro in using, the pay off is huge! 

Videos with pop-up quizzes, inter­active present­a­tions, flow charts, games, and exer­cises, are just a few examples of things you can do with H5P. There is an active and growing com­munity of users, so help and new ideas are always accessible. 


is a simple and straight forward tool for having asyn­chronous dis­cussion or brain­storming ses­sions. It has lots of layout and style options to choose from to keep you organized. Free to use and a great way to spark dis­cus­sions in an online learning platform. In the Padlet work­space, learners can add their thoughts or ideas to a card, comment, like and upvote other learners’ ideas. You can reor­ganize and move things around in realtime. A simple, effective tool, if you haven’t tried it yet do so. 


This one is a bit spe­cific but lovable none the less. Musescore lets anyone create and share music, notated as digital sheet music. It allows playback on various instru­ments; it takes MIDI inputs for external devices such as electric pianos and synths. Musecore is open source and free to use and develop as you see fit. 

Even better, it’s not limited to learning music alone, use it as an activity or exper­iment - why not develop a program that turns data into notes and then plot those notes as a score? Musescore allows you to do these types of fun and edu­ca­tional exer­cises and share the results! 

Contextual Commenting

Ok this one is not a third-party tool, it is part of Claned’s interface, but I mention it here because it a simple, powerful, and effective online learning tool. Doc­u­ments in Claned are, by nature inter­active. Any learner can high­light, comment or ask ques­tions. Other learners and instructors can see these com­ments and ques­tions and reply to them, cre­ating a natural organic dis­cussion chain. 

Con­textual com­menting in online learning goes a long way in estab­lishing the feeling of com­munity around a topic and learning. It strengthens the bonds between indi­viduals and sup­ports social learning prac­tices in an online learning environment.

Use it to create those classroom dis­cus­sions that can be a struggle to produce in digital learning. It boosts learner engagement, and engaged learners are effective learners!

Hope­fully, there is some­thing new in this list for you. I highly recommend trying out these tools. If you know of a great one that is missing, reach out and tell us about it, lets geek out on learning together.🤓

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