The Rapid Elearning Blog

 The Rapid E-Learning Blog - 3 free tools for elearning courses

Who doesn’t like a free application that’s going to make work easier?  Today, I’ll share three free applications that might come in handy as you work on your elearning courses.

Two of the applications come courtesy of a couple of screencast tutorials I saw the other day.  And one comes from a need I recently had publishing a SCORM course.  These three applications are a great complement to this post I previously shared on nine free tools to build better elearning.


Artweaver is designed as a “painting program,” but for basic graphics editing it’s more than capable and works great.  It lets you control layers, create transparent backgrounds, add text, and apply filter effects.  After making edits, you can save the images in all standard image formats.

The Rapid E-Learning Blog - Artweaver

So if you’re on a budget and looking for a free graphics editor, give Artweaver a try.  Brian Batt has a couple of Artweaver tutorials: creating a transparent background and applying a blur effect.

Karen’s Directory Printer

The other day I had to add a bunch of data files to a course that was already published to SCORM.  Adding the files was easy because all I had to do was open up the data folder and drop them in.  The challenge was adding the folder contents to the resource manifest which is a list of all of the files in the SCORM package.

The Rapid E-Learning Blog - ims manifest

Each file in the data folder has a line like the ones in the image above.  Adding one line is no problem.  But in my case I was adding almost ten multimedia elements which equated to about one hundred separate files.  That would have been a lot of tedious work.

My challenge was to create a list of the all of the files I had in the separate data folders and then modify that list with the <file href=”__________”/> code.

The Rapid E-Learning Blog - Karen's Directory Printer

That’s where Karen’s Directory Printer really came in handy.  It let me create a list of the folder contents.  I saved it as a .txt file and then did a quick Find & Replace to add the required <file href…> code.  It made a cumbersome task very easy and fast.

So if you ever have to create a list of the files in a folder, Karen’s Directory Printer is a great way to go.  Here’s a quick screencast to show you how it worked for me.


Use the free Poladroid application to create a Polaroid™ image that you can use in your elearning courses.  The application’s really easy to use.  Basically, it opens a camera on your desktop.  All you have to do is drag and drop pictures on the camera and then wait a few minutes as it develops.  Click on this demo to see it in action.

The Rapid E-Learning Blog - Poladroid

Once you have the image you can easily use it in your elearning courses.  It would work well with that folder template I shared a while back.  If you do use the Poladroid application, be sure to look at these two tutorials to get ideas on dressing up the images:

The Rapid E-Learning Blog - folder demo

So those are three free applications for which you can probably find real-world practical uses when building your elearning courses.

What other free applications would you recommend to those who build rapid elearning courses on a budget?  Feel free to share them in the comments section.  Include a practical tip on how you’re using it.


Free E-Learning Resources

Want to learn more? Check out these articles and free resources in the community.

Here’s a great job board for e-learning, instructional design, and training jobs

Participate in the weekly e-learning challenges to sharpen your skills

Get your free PowerPoint templates and free graphics & stock images.

Lots of cool e-learning examples to check out and find inspiration.

Getting Started? This e-learning 101 series and the free e-books will help.

37 responses to “3 More Free Tools to Help Build Better E-Learning Courses”

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This post was mentioned on Twitter by justinawilcox: RT @tomkuhlmann: 3 More Free Tools to Help Build Better E-Learning Courses

There’s a web-based tool for Graphic design and audio editing called Aviary. Not explored it completely but seems interesting! It is currently free.

Just wanted to say thanks for yet another useful set of information. I truly appreciate these pearls, and have used quite a few of the tools and techniques you’ve mentioned in the past to good use in our own elearning work.

Thanks so much.

Comics are a great tool for learning in the classroom. We invite you to try Pixton, a click-n-drag easy comic creator with movable characters! Your students will love it.

Clive a.k.a. The Jokester
Creator of Pixton

How does Artwaver compare to Used on another machine and have limited space on this one. Why would you pick one over another?

@John: I think gives you more flexibility, but I have more experience with it so I am probably biased. If you’re using then you probably are fine to stick with it.

Poladroid is off the chain! Those polaroidies work great as buttons.

Thanks Tom for another great post.
I only discovered your blog this year and have found it very useful. Keep up the great work.
I was just wonder what tool did you use to create the image of the man in the Poladroid example?

@Craig: those are image captures from my Club Cooee avatar.

I haven’t used Xtranormal yet, but it looks like an interesting site. You can create movies online, with your own audio very quickly and easily.

Has anyone used it with Articulate yet.

March 24th, 2010

Thank you, great post, as always.
When I need to do some photo or image editing, I use PhotoScape, a free editor packed with lots of features and very easy to use. It doesn’t do all the PhotoShop things, but there’s quite a lot you can do, using just simple preloaded menus. There’s even some sort of layering option, that can be used in a very creative way.
kind regards,

@Gabriel: I like Photoscape but I haven’t mentioned in the past because their user agreement doesn’t allow for commercial use.

Don’t know if you’ve mentioned it before, but I love Pixie. Pixie is a free color picker that lets you hover your mouse over any pixel on your screen, and it gives you the color info: HEX, HTML, RGB, CMYK, HSV. See

Thanks for all your great info!

Hello Tom. Thank you por all this information.


Tom – I REALLY like your suggestions in this post and in nine free tools to build better elearning. Unfortunately, my company doesn’t allow downloads of free software. Is there some way that there can be an actual cost so that the software can be purchased?

I know, I know, in these economic times, you would think that free would be wonderful. That is, unless you’re IT.

[…] Photo / laatste op diigoFilmpjes automatisch ondertiteld « Speciaal Onderwijs en ict3 More Free Tools to Help Build Better E-Learning Courses » The Rapid eLearning BlogDe 10 geboden van social media | FrankwatchingEen thuisnetwerkje opzetten en configureren – […]

[…] He points to three more free tools here. […]

I am curious about the benefits of the Poladroid thing. I have seen the posts making the page curl, shadow effects, etc., and am wondering why the hassle and wait of using this site to create the polaroid effect? Couldn’t you do the same thing quicker and easier in PPT, especially PPT07?

I was also going to ask about differences and preferences between and artweaver, but I see that was already asked/answered. Since I don’t have any experience with either, I think I will try first.

Thanks for the tips and info!

Re: Lloyd:

I am not sure about all of these tools, but artweaver (and probably many others as well) have a portable version that would probably work for you.

Take a look at this article, especially the 2nd to last paragraph:

@Mike: Good question. It’s more a personal choice. I can crank out the effects quickly in PowerPoint. But others can’t. So something like that application works great for them. One benefit of the Poladroid option is that you can do a batch of images. So if you wanted to make a bunch of icons for example, just drag the folder and let the software do it.

March 27th, 2010

Hey Tom

Fabulous examples and tips, as ever…

Will your presentation from Orlando be available for non-conference-goers anywhere? I face an ongoing challenge in moving my organization from ‘click next’ courses to fully interactive learning experiences.

Thanks for the tips and info!..E-Learning will be much more important in 5 years..

@Andy: I’ll be doing some posts on the conference topic for those who couldn’t attend.

Tom- Where did you get the artwork for the guy in the tie?

@Dan: that’s my avatar for Club Cooee

April 17th, 2010

Artweaver’s download page unfortunately says the free version’s not for commercial use. (

@Mike: Couldn’t find a portable version of Artweaver. The article you mentioned is about 18 months old now, so maybe the portable version has been withdrawn since then.

[…] Poladroid: quickly create images that look like they were taken with a Polaroid camera. [original post] […]

[…] must be made to Tom Kuhlmann from the Rapid eLearning Blog who introduced me to the application for your desktop (wow, an app that isn’t for an iPhone […]

Photoshop has a free version available too called Photoshop Express Edition ( Use your existing sign-in or create a new one (free) and you get access to all the Adobe resources that go with a profile, including 2GB online storage at It is a Flash-based website,so it isn’t super fast, but there are many popular Photoshop tools available there, great for when you can’t get back to your full-installation version.

Hi, loving the tips – keep them coming! Just a quick question about using the avatar from Club Cooee. Does this have any copyright implications? Can I use my own avatar for learning materials that I am developing? They look great!

@Russell: you’ll have to look over the Club Cooee EULA. Wouldn’t hurt to ask them.

August 5th, 2011

I absolutely love your blog, Tom. When I need to take a break from the course content I’ve been working on all day, I read your blog and inevitably find a helpful tip or an inspiring idea that motivates me to get back to work with a refreshed outlook. Keep up the good work!

@Suzanne: thanks for the encouraging words

Cheers Tom. Took your advice and they said it’s fine…..

Here’s what I wrote:
Hopefully this hasn’t already been answered, but I was wondering if it’s okay to see screenshots and video grabs of my avatar for an elearning package I am creating. This package is non-profit and is only to be used within my local organisation.
If you could let me know that would be great!
Many thanks,

and here’s what they said:

“thank you very much for your feedback!

Yes this in no problem.

The team wishes you further on a great time in Club Cooee!

(Club Cooee Support)”

@Russel: that’s good to know. I like their characters.

I love Artweaver myself. Been using it for quite a while now. It’s got a much smaller memory footprint than and does the basic stuff just as good.

Never heard of Poladroid, but it seems a nice little application. I just might give it a try.

Thanks for sharing.