If you are just starting out in instructional design or you have been christened the instructional designer for your organization because you made a nice slide deck, you will eventually discover there are a myriad of tools and applications for building training. At some point, you will be forced to do “a thing” that you don’t know how to do. You know there is a tool that helps you build the thing, but you aren’t sure what the tool is or even the best way to do the thing, so you turn to everyone’s favorite brain – Google.
Everyone, at some point will go to Google and plug in “best thing maker” and look at the results. You will be tempted to wave the newbie flag in communities and chats by posting for the nth time (although the first for you) “What is the best tool for making a thing?” You will get some snarky responses, some well-meaning answers, but ultimately, your question is not answered.
Since the dawn of man, when Ug and Klirk both started making wheels, people have wanted to know the difference or which is better: Ug’s wheel made of chert and oak or Klirk’s wheel made of flint and ash. And thus capitalism and inherent confusion and fear was born.
I have been working on computers for decades. Literally, I have been in the world of “what’s best” since Wang Labs was battling IBM for supremacy. I remember the bloody war fought over the question of Betamax or VHS – it was a costly battle, many fine young people lost their minds. Chevy v. Ford. Metallica v. Led Zepplin. Doberman v. Rottweiler. Coke v. Pepsi (another war of countless battles).
The list goes on forever. And will continue to do so.
For instance, I worked at a law enforcement supply store where people would come in and ask a gun salesman “which is better, 9mm or .40 calibre?” My friend, an older salty deputy sheriff working part-time for range time and ammo, had the perfect answer “Which is going to hurt more – poking you in the eye with my finger or my thumb?”
So, I am going to give you the final, solid, and emphatic answer that will forever solve your yearning for knowledge of what tools to purchase and living in the bestness of all bestnessess. Here goes:
You’re welcome. You now have the key information you need to discern the best tool. “It depends” is the only reasonable and logical answer. “Why?” you may ask yourself (after you ask yourself “Is this guy for real?” and possibly exclaim a few expletives…)?
Yes, it depends. The truth of it is, you will always find evangelists for every tool that comes out. Someone, somewhere, will swear on the lives of all of their current and future born children that the only answer is the tool they use and anyone that disagrees hates puppies and eats kittens.
Googling the “best thing” is, unfortunately, not going to answer your needs. The only way to answer that question is experiencing it for yourself. For software, you can download trial versions. For computers, you can find opportunities to work on them and experience them. We have choice because we are all different. If there were only one possible answer for the best, all the others would cease to exist. The key is to be able to use ANYTHING, and then have your go-to preferences. Afterall, the key is it is ALL preference.
I can work on PCs and Macs and have even worked on both side by side at times. I prefer Macs. I have friends that prefer PCs. Listing the pros and cons are not going to be convincing for me, Apples are the best for me and how my mind works. I prefer Captivate over Storyline, but I can build amazing eLearning in either. I prefer Nikon over Canon, but I can get the same stunning image using either, or even an iPhone. I prefer Sig Sauer handguns to Glocks, but I can compete with either and do well. I prefer Eastwing framing hammers to Craftsman, but I can build a home either way.
Ultimately, the tool doesn’t really matter any more than how you work and what makes you more productive. The tool you need to hone is your mind. If I can’t build a home, the kind of hammer I use really doesn’t matter. I will learn to build a house using the hammer I have on hand. Once I have learned how to build a home, I will then experiment with the type of hammer I want to build homes with.
We spend an awful lot of time researching the “best” rather than just picking one and becoming the best at building the thing. Once you can build anything, then worry about which one is best – for you. If you have the knowledge and skill, the tool doesn’t matter.
Essentially, focus on you becoming your best tool in the tool box. Once you are, you can build anything, anywhere, with any other tool.
Special thanks to Sherry Micheals for looking this over before I posted!