Review: Course Review and Comment Systems
Lectora version X.6 releases today with a handful of new features. The biggest is the launch of ReviewLink Beta, an online review tool that comes free for Lectora users who are current on their maintenance plan. I thought it would be a good time to review its capabilities along with that of two similar products: Adobe Captivate Reviewer and REVIEW by Rapid Intake.
All three systems function in basically the same way. You upload your course and send invitations to reviewers. Reviewers can view the published course online and make comments on a screen-by-screen basis. A back-end system lets you view and manage the comments. It can be a very convenient concept for both the course author and the reviewer.
Now let’s look at what’s notable for each one.
ReviewLink is free for all Lectora users who are current on their maintenance plans. They can have unlimited reviewers on up to five courses at a time. (A future release will let you purchase additional capacity). ReviewLink has some strong advantages on the back end. You can sort and filter the comments such as by page by reviewer, and by status (active, fixed, etc.). In addition, ReviewLink comments include a link that takes you right to the page in question, so that you can see the issue for yourself easily.
Adobe Captivate Reviewer is also free. If you have an Acrobat.com account, you can upload and manage your reviews from that account. It also lets you post and track comments from your own servers if you prefer. It also has a nice feature that lets reviewers make comments offline and then export the comments to you. You are able to view and manage comments either online, or right within your Adobe Captivate project, which is extremely convenient. It, too, lets you sort and filter the comments and even reply to them. The biggest downside for me is that reviewers need to install Adobe Air and the Reviewer application. They are both free downloads, but for many of our clients, it can be difficult to get anything extra installed on their computers. And I must admit I find the system a little bit confusing. It seems like there are a lot of steps for both the reviewer and the author.
REVIEW by Rapid Intake has the advantage of letting you upload Captivate, Lectora, Articulate, Flash, and ProForm content, whereas Lectora’s reviewer only works with Lectora content and Captivate only works with Captivate content. However, REVIEW is not free like the others. It costs $19 per month for one active project, $49 for five projects, or $99 for unlimited projects. REVIEW lets you assign a priority, a person, and a category to each comment, which can make it easier to manage the revision work. The biggest downside for me with REVIEW is that comments appear chronologically based on when they were entered. While you can do a search, you cannot sort, which can be very frustrating. We’ve also had challenges identifying which slide a comment was for, especially after changes have been made to the course.
Overall, I like the where this segment of the industry is headed. I’ve been hesitant to give up my old spreadsheet system. On a large project, we are likely to spend hours on the back-end management of the comments, so that’s the most important part of whatever system we choose. And until now, I liked Excel best for that. But the spreadsheet format of Lectora’s ReviewLink makes me want to give it a try. I’ll let you know how it goes!
Update: We fixed a typo above that said that ReviewLink, rather than REVIEW, is not free. ReviewLink is free with Lectora X.6. Thanks to those who pointed it out!