Choose your eLearning Solutions: Desktop Vs Cloud-Based Tools

Although desktop software used to be the only viable solution for eLearning authoring tools, recent technological advancements have allowed robust, cloud-based solutions to be created. Here’s how to choose between desktop and cloud-based tools based on the needs of your organization.

eLearning Solutions for Your Organization

Not so long ago, only emerged eLearning authoring tools, which meant training managers were quite restricted in their choices when creating new content for their business. Since then the industry has come a long way though. One major breakthrough is the implementation of cloud-based content authoring tools. But in some organizations, traditional desktop devices also swear. So when it’s time to select your eLearning authoring solution, you’re faced with two choices: either go with a desktop software platform installed directly on your local computers or go with a cloud-based service that allows all the tools— and your content — accessible from anywhere using internet browsers. By deciding which one is better for your organization, many factors come into play.

What’s The Difference Between Desktop And Cloud Authoring Tools?

eLearning authoring is not the only area to be hit by Cloud-based technology innovation. POS systems, accounting software, and even design software all had their own revolutionary moments in the cloud. But what experiential differences would you expect?


Desktop software usually requires a large upfront fee. Many companies require that you update your license every year, while others allow you to keep older versions of the program and pay only when you want or need an upgrade. Cloud-based solutions, on the other hand, usually allow the flexibility of monthly or annual subscriptions, although desktop tools have started moving in that direction. You don’t buy a product so much as you subscribe to a service, hence the term ” Software-as -a-Service ” (SaaS).


Desktop software is immediately available due to the nature of desktop installations, whether or not you have an internet connection. Those features can, of course, only be available online, and in this case, the only usability advantage of mobile software would fall flat. Why? For what? You no longer have access to the authoring tool, as soon as you are removed from your computer. If you need access on multiple machines, a desktop authoring solution would allow you to purchase multiple licenses on multiple machines, while cloud-based licenses operate wherever you have an online connection. Accessibility from anywhere and anytime is key in a period of growing remote teams.

Read: Corporate eLearning Solutions And Advantages

Data Safety And Backup

You will be required to perform your own backups from the moment you install an authoring solution locally on your desktop to protect your data. In some cases, some companies may offer backup solutions, but most of the time you are on your own. It means you are also responsible for managing and securing your own servers when it comes to sensitive data. If something happens to your hardware, it could damage, leak or completely destroy your data. Cloud-based authoring tools, as the name suggests, store your eLearning content in the cloud. It is a software company that is responsible for protecting the data from cyber-attacks or damage, not you. And since those software companies often have ways to protect your data. These cloud-based authoring solutions mostly back up your eLearning content 24/7.

Software Updates

Cloud-based authoring tools won’t require you to update as they aren’t installed directly on your machine. You will, however, be responsible for upgrading your desktop tools. This requires an IT professional in many cases because the process is not always simple. If your machine is no longer powerful enough to support the newest updates you can also run into issues.

Mac Users

If your company uses Macs instead of PC desktops, then the range of authoring tools will be reduced dramatically. There aren’t many decent options for eLearning authoring currently available for Mac. On the other hand, cloud-based resources can be accessed via a browser which means it can be supported by any type of machine.

The User Experience

To have great User Experience with a desktop authoring solution, you need to have a powerful machine. Otherwise, you will experience slow previewing and publishing that will bog down your entire workflow. In many cases, desktop eLearning tools require you to switch between your building mode and your demo mode, rather than giving you a single view at a glance — this further slows down the workflow compared to user-friendly cloud-based tools.

Also read: eLearning Professionals To Focus On 7 Key Points


One of the best features that emerge from cloud-based solutions is the ability to integrate tools with other apps from third parties. This means that the possibilities for customisation are virtually endless. As for online authoring tools, the same can not be said. The software that you get is everything that you want. Some tools will allow you to integrate third-party applications, but there will be far more restricted possibilities.


When you have a lot of users authoring eLearning content, in the case of desktop software, each user needs a license for every single machine. If you have a lot of users, it can get really fast complicated and costly.

Sharing And Publishing

Sharing and publishing the eLearning content on your desktop is definitely a tough and lengthy process. You will have to go through the export process all over again every time you want to update the content. There’s no easy way to share the material of eLearning with your organisation. This is where eLearning focused on the cloud really shines. In most cases, by clicking a button, you can update-and share-your content. Employees who need to take the training can access it from anywhere you want.

What To Think About Your Authoring Solution Before Choosing

Still not sure if you are plunging into cloud-based authoring tools or not? Here are 4 signs you could use to create your eLearning content in the cloud:

  1. You have a team of writers who create the content, and you need the features of team authoring.
  2. The authors in your organization are either completely or partially remote from multiple locations and devices and need to access the tool.
  3. You don’t have (or want) an IT department for you to manage the tool.
  4. Your authoring team often changes, which means they need to switch out licenses on a regular basis.

Overall, eLearning authoring solutions based on the cloud are more flexible than desktop software, and can easily scale up and down with your team.

1 thought on “Choose your eLearning Solutions: Desktop Vs Cloud-Based Tools

  1. Great blog about Desktop vs Cloud-based tools. I too preferred and used Cloud-based tools for eLearning solutions.

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