The no-code movement introduces thousands of new tools that we can use to design and develop eLearning. These tools make it possible to develop fully-functioning software without writing a line of code, and they provide easy-to-use graphic interfaces so that we can “code” visually.
So, what does this mean for eLearning? Most eLearning developers stick to the basic authoring tools: Articulate Storyline and Adobe Captivate. However, by learning the five no-code tools in this article, you’ll expand your repertoire of possible learning solutions and vastly speed up some of your workflows.
Let’s take a look!
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Webflow is a no-code tool that lets you build and host web experiences. It’s an amazing middle ground between What You See Is What You Get (WYSIWYG) website builders, like Wix and SquareSpace, and coding a custom website from scratch.
This is because you don’t have to write code, but you can change most hard-coded settings via an easy-to-use visual designer.
Since the easy-to-use toggles and input boxes are tied to coded CSS settings, using this tool will help you learn more about “real” code while also producing a high-performing website.
Webflow also has a Content Management System (CMS). With the CMS, you can design a “template” page once, then you can add content on the back-end. Every time you add a new entry to the back-end, it will dynamically populate the template and create a new page on your website. This makes it very easy to create new pages and update existing content.
The CMS does have some limitations...for example, you cannot add custom code blocks or link to different headings on your page. However, having the CMS at all is a big step up from WYSIWYG editors.
Perhaps best of all, Webflow lets you publish your site to their Amazon Web Services servers with one click. The hosting is FAST (it's the same hosting used by companies like Netflix, AirBnB, and more).
I built the website that you’re on right now with Webflow, and due to the increased speed, my SEO rankings soared after bringing it live. You can read more about the evolution of my portfolio website here.
In addition to using Webflow for your portfolio site, you can also use it to develop eLearning web experiences for your company or clients. For example, check out this sweet Anatomy of a Skateboard Example to see the parallax learning experiences that are possible in Webflow without code.
When it comes to tracking, you can always use xAPI or SCORM to collect learning data from a web experience built with Webflow.
Finally, having a basic understanding of HTML and CSS will help when you’re building your Webflow site from scratch. If you don’t have any web development background, then there’s no need to worry. The Webflow University provides a ton of high-quality (and surprisingly entertaining) tutorials.
(If you’re looking for a similar tool that’s even simpler to use, but with less features, then you should check out Carrd. If you’re looking for a more complex tool with additional features, on the other hand, then you should check out Bubble.)
Glide Apps lets you create a fully-functioning web app from a Google Sheet. Seriously — it has never been easier to create an app.
Glide is like a breath of fresh air for our industry. Rather than rely on SCORM-based eLearning packages, you can quickly and easily create interactive web apps.
For example, hosting a conference or event? You can create an app for it in minutes. (The upcoming premier online conference, The Learning Conference, features a production-level app that was built with Glide.)
Is your client or company hosting a face-to-face learning session that requires audience input or participation? You can create one app for the learners and one for the facilitators — both based on the same Google Sheet.
The apps can include direct messaging, commenting, favoriting, question and answers, directories, photos, videos, links to external resources, and so much more.
My debut Glide App is the xAPI Challenges App, which is currently undergoing pilot testing. You can access it as soon as it launches by signing up for my mailing list at the bottom of this page.
Furthermore, when it comes to working with data, Glide is great because all of the user-submitted content gets sent straight to a Google Sheet. You can also send xAPI statements based off of user actions and pull xAPI data back into the app, which I’m covering in my talk at The Learning Conference.
And that’s a wrap for Glide! I highly encourage you to play around with it just to see how easy it is to create useful apps, and that will likely give you ideas of how you can use it on the job.
(If you’d like to quickly create and publish native apps, then you should check out Adalo.)
Landbot is a highly customizable no-code chatbot tool that you can use to build web-based, automated chat experiences. You can present the user with text, images, GIFs, links, open text entries, and button options throughout the experience.
Also, like the other tools, Landbot has an intuitive visual interface that you can use to create the chat flow.
Chatbots are also unique compared to traditional eLearning courses, and they have the potential to be much more engaging if written well.
You can create chatbots to answer common questions about an on-the-job workflow, direct users to specific resources based on their past learning and performance data, and even collect feedback about other learning experiences.
The applications for chatbots in L&D are only limited by your creativity, so I highly recommend starting the trial and seeing what you can do with the tool.
Voiceflow lets you create voice applications for Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. Similar to many other no-code tools, they have an easy-to-use visual interface that lets you build your experience by dragging and dropping.
Rather than building web experiences that require the user to look at the screen and interact with it by clicking or pressing, Voiceflow lets you build learning experiences that people can listen to and control with their voices.
This opens up an entirely new category of experiences for learning interventions. Imagine having voice-enabled devices positioned around the work environment. When someone needs just-in-time support, they only have to ask Alexa or Google Assistant a question.
For me, this is the most exciting tool on the list. As some of you may know, I am an advocate of using the Experience API (xAPI) to collect learning data, create adaptive learning experiences, and improve learning design based on data-driven insights. When you deal with xAPI data from many different sources, you wind up with a LOT of data.
Obviously.ai’s tagline is “Data Science without Code.” This tool lets you import a large data set and run advanced algorithms on it without writing a line of code. It automatically gives you insights and predictions about how to improve key metrics.
This tool is most powerful when you have both learning data and on-the-job performance data. You can import all of the learning data, signify which performance metrics are important, and then Obviously.ai will tell you which efforts are most effective (and which you should focus on moving forward).
In short, this tool makes it much easier to work with big data. You no longer need a data scientist to get massive value from your xAPI data.
There are thousands of no-code tools on the market, but they wouldn’t be much good if you couldn’t share the data from one tool to another tool. Zapier, which is the glue that holds these apps together, solves this problem.
Zapier lets you create “zaps” that automatically send data from one tool to another. This is what lets you get data from your Glide App to a Learning Record Store or from Salesforce to a chatbot.
And, in the nature of no-code, you can funnel all of this data wherever you want it to go without writing any code. Instead, you use a simple graphic interface with straightforward drop-down menus.
With all of the no-code tools that we can use to build production-ready software, there has never been a better time to move beyond traditional eLearning authoring tools. We can now create innovative digital learning experiences that are more in line with the modern web, all without writing a line of code.
If you’d like to learn more about the no-code movement, you can check out Makerpad. They have great tutorials and a healthy community of no-code experts from all industries.
As always, if you have any questions for me, feel free to reach out.