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The iSpring Suite, our #1 rated online course software, is a unique specimen in the online course authoring industry. It takes the familiar Microsoft PowerPoint software and expands it with powerful learning features such as quizzes, dialogue trees, surveys, interactives, and more. In doing so, it opens up a new realm of possibilities within the Microsoft PowerPoint ecosystem.
But, you might be wondering – is PowerPoint really the proper tool to facilitate corporate training?
This question is what I’ll be attempting to answer in this review of iSpring Suite. In this iSpring review, I’ll put the iSpring Suite Max toolkit through our rigorous review process and find out whether it’s worth the spend and whether a PowerPoint add-in really is enough to cover the training needs of a modern business.
Before we get to those conclusions, though, let’s first go over the basics.
What is iSpring Suite?
iSpring Suite is a PowerPoint-based online course authoring toolkit. It’s designed to be intuitive to use and it’s one of the most user-friendly ways to create online courses, quizzes, interactive role-plays (dialogue simulations), and video lessons.
What makes iSpring special is that it takes a mundane PowerPoint-based presentation and transforms it into a dynamic, interactive course.
That is why if you utilize the software to its fullest potential, your assessment and training effectiveness can increase immensely. Creating courses is as easy as a few clicks, and the user-friendly interface makes it easy-to-use for all course authors, regardless of their experience level.
Now, let’s examine what tools are included within an iSpring Suite subscription.
What does iSpring Suite include?
Purchasing an iSpring Suite subscription gives you instant access to:
- iSpring QuizMaker
- iSpring TalkMaster
- iSpring Visuals
- iSpring Flip
- iSpring Audio-Video Editor
- iSpring Cam Pro
And, if you purchase the premium iSpring Suite Max subscription (which was used for this review), you’ll also get access to:
Within the main iSpring Suite software, you can access all other tools included in the subscription through a simple interface. This is what it looks like when you first open it up:
On the left side, you can see all the various course authoring options available to you: courses, quizzes, simulations, and more. When you click on any of these options, a purpose-built app will be launched where you can get to work on your e-learning materials. If you’re subscribed to iSpring Suite Max, you’ll also have additional options related to iSpring Space available to you within the same interface.
When you first create a new course in iSpring Suite, Microsoft PowerPoint will be launched as that is the primary tool you’ll be working in while creating your courses in iSpring Suite.
By launching PowerPoint from the iSpring Suite, you’ll see the types of features iSpring adds to the PowerPoint repertoire:
And, to give you a better view of what’s new, here you can see the additional presentation options related to iSpring Suite zoomed in:
Some of you might also be thrown off by the darker-than-usual interface – that’s simply the “dark mode” option of Microsoft PowerPoint at work.
As you can see, though, iSpring Suite adds many useful features into the PowerPoint toolset, such as slide templates, presentation resources, customizable student players, and more.
Now, to get a better sense of what iSpring Suite as a package is capable of, let’s look at each tool included in the subscription, one-by-one.
iSpring QuizMaker allows you to add unlimited quizzes to your course and it makes quiz creation an easy and effortless process. The quiz authoring process is simplified by question templates, of which there are 14 to choose from. These include multiple-choice, multiple-response, true/false, short answer, numeric, sequence, matching, fill-in-the-blanks, select-from-lists, drag-the-words, hotspot, drag-and-drop, Likert scale, and essay questions.
If you don’t recognize the names of some of the question types at first, don’t worry. You’ll quickly learn the strengths and weaknesses of each question type through hands-on use of the iSpring QuizMaker. The learning process is further simplified by each question template having usage examples and a written explanation like so:
Once you’ve mastered the basics of the QuizMaker, you also have more advanced features available to you. Features such as branching quiz scenarios, randomized questions, and feedback slides. These advanced features will allow you to create even more engaging quizzes for your students.
Finally, another useful feature of QuizMaker is its detailed reporting. After finishing their quiz, the quiz takers see exactly where they succeeded or failed, and whether they received a passing score. Here’s one example of such a report:
To make creating dialogue simulations as effortless as possible, iSpring Suite also includes TalkMaster – a powerful conversation simulation tool. Dialogue simulations are a great way to help your employees understand how to talk to clients by giving them real-life scenarios to practice on.
Simulations can be a very effective form of employee training because they give employees first-hand customer relationship experience without having to train them with real, paying customers.
TalkMaster is a powerful tool that can be used to create dialogue simulations quickly and easily, and you can set up dialogue trees in such a way that depending on the participants’ answers, the dialogue tree will divert, respond, and adapt accordingly.
To create your dialogue simulations, the iSpring Content Library offers a large selection of templates. This includes background images and unique characters who you can add into your dialogue simulations depending on the specifics of your business.
Keep in mind, though, that to access the full content library, you’ll need to pay for an iSpring Suite Max subscription. A standard iSpring Suite subscription does not include the full template library and will only give you access to 20 characters and 66 background images. If you have your own photos, though, you can always use those instead. You won’t need an iSpring Suite Max subscription for that.
Here’s an example of a dialogue simulation with a distraught bank customer, built with the iSpring TalkMaster software. And, to see what a dialogue tree looks like on the back-end, take a look at this training video from the iSpring Solutions YouTube channel. Note how different dialogue decisions send the learner into completely different learning pathways.
Price: iSpring TalkMaster cannot be purchased separately and the only way to gain access to it is by purchasing an iSpring Suite subscription.
To create interactive visual content for your e-learning course, your best friend will be the iSpring Visuals software. This program allows you to choose from and customize 14 different types of interactions.
The available selection of visuals includes simple designs such as these interactive image cards:
Or, if you’d like a more advanced form of visual content, you might want to use something like an interactive hotspot to illustrate your e-learning course:
Effective visuals such as these are an important element of an online course because they help to capture and maintain the learner’s attention. Visually unappealing learning materials are known to cause learners to quickly lose interest in the content and stop participating actively.
By learning how to incorporate effective visuals into your courses, you’ll boost retention rates and increase the overall efficacy of your training. The inclusion of iSpring Visuals in the software package makes it easy to achieve this with an iSpring Suite subscription.
Price: iSpring Visuals cannot be purchased separately and the only way to gain access to it is by purchasing an iSpring Suite subscription.
iSpring Flip allows you to convert your old-fashioned electronic documents into interactive HTML5 e-books. Not only are the interactive e-books created by iSpring Flip faster than the average PDF, but they also come with numerous benefits when compared to the standard MS Word, PowerPoint, and PDF document formats.
Here’s what you can do with HTML5 e-books created with iSpring Flip:
- Keep track of which students have finished reading the e-book.
- See exactly how much time each student spent on reading the e-book.
- Generate detailed reports on reader activity.
- Preview how your e-book looks on different devices: desktop, mobile, or tablet.
With iSpring Flip, you can quickly turn your documents into e-books, upload them to an LMS, and keep track of what learners are reading and how far they have progressed. Refer to this demo on the iSpring solutions website to see one of these HTML5 e-books with your own eyes.
Price: Purchased separately, iSpring Flip costs $227 USD per user/year.
iSpring Audio-Video Editor
The iSpring Suite also includes a simple editor for videos and audio, called the iSpring Audio-Video Editor. While you shouldn’t expect this audio-video editor to blow you away with its massive set of features, it’s still more than enough to cover your basic audio editing needs.
With the iSpring Audio-Video Editor, you can:
- Silence parts of your audio recording.
- Remove background noise from your sound recording.
- Trim and delete unneeded sections of your recordings.
- Adjust the sound volumes of your recordings.
- Create fade-in and fade-out sound effects.
The iSpring Audio-Video Editor is one of the most beginner-friendly audio-video editors I’ve ever used and it’s ideal for course authors who don’t want to spend weeks or months learning complex audio-video editing software.
Here’s what the iSpring Audio-Video Editor interface looks like:
Personally, I have found the Audio-Video Editor to be more useful at editing sound files rather than video files. That is because for video editing, you have a more robust and purpose-built program available to you within the iSpring Suite: iSpring Cam Pro.
Price: The iSpring Audio-Video Editor cannot be purchased individually and the only way to gain access to it is by purchasing an iSpring Suite subscription.
iSpring Cam Pro
iSpring Cam Pro is a robust video lesson toolkit that lets you build engaging video materials for any subject. It contains two very useful groups of features:
- Built-in recording software that lets you record your screen, camera, and microphone to create multimedia learning materials.
- Video editing software that lets you add effects, transitions, text, images, shapes, and more into those recordings through a timeline panel.
Here’s what the iSpring Cam Pro interface looks like:
Many studies suggest that using videos in your training materials is a great way to make them more engaging. However, videos are notoriously time-consuming to develop if you have no prior experience with the process.
This is where iSpring Cam Pro can help you out. It has little to no learning curve and it allows you to get your videos up and running quicker than ever.
To make your videos more professional-looking, you also have some extra features available within iSpring Cam Pro:
- Add annotations to your screen recordings. These annotations can capture your keystrokes and mouse clicks.
- Turn text into speech through a built-in text-to-speech program. While doing your own voice-overs usually yields a more effective result, the text-to-speech program can still be a great time-saver in some situations.
- Use picture-in-picture screencasts to showcase your camera and screen recordings at the same time.
Once you’re happy and satisfied with how your videos look, you can easily upload them to your LMS or YouTube channel by hitting “Publish”.
Price: Purchased separately, iSpring Cam Pro costs $227 USD per user/year.
iSpring Space allows you to save your e-learning courses on the cloud, and access them from any device through an easy-to-use interface. It’s only included within the premium iSpring Suite Max subscription package.
Moving your learning material into the cloud instead of hosting them on a local server is a beneficial path to take for a wide range of reasons. For one, hosting your materials on cloud servers is more safe and reliable than a local server, and you won’t have to worry about it crashing or getting hacked. Furthermore, a cloud-based system allows you to access your courses from any device with an internet connection.
Here are some more reasons why you might want to consider using iSpring Space:
- Create new courses, quizzes, and pages within your web browser without having to install any software on your computer.
- Create a collaborative environment where team members have their own personal accounts and are able to make changes within a single document (similar to how a collaborative Google Docs document works)
- Access all your learning materials, pages, and quizzes inside your web browser.
- Leave comments inside the cloud-based environment to facilitate efficient communication between course authors and stakeholders.
Price: iSpring Space cannot be purchased separately and the only way to gain access to it is through an iSpring Suite Max subscription.
iSpring Content Library
The iSpring Content Library provides everything you need to launch a new professional-looking course quickly. With eye-catching templates, striking color themes, beautiful backgrounds, and intriguing characters, the possibilities are virtually unlimited.
With this large of a collection of premade assets, you can save you lots of time in the long term because high-quality visuals are always just a few clicks away.
Here’s what the iSpring Content Library contains:
30,000+ character photos
In my opinion, the character selection is the most impressive and useful part of the iSpring Content Library. Anyone familiar with course design knows the struggle of browsing through hundreds of stock photos to find that one model who looks even remotely like who you’re looking for.
Then, even if you do manage to find a high-quality stock photo database that you like, you’ll still likely have to spend time cutting out the backgrounds from the photos so that you’re left with a simple character model. But, even then, all you have is one photo of one model. If luck is not on your side and the model has an angry expression in that one photo you have, then well… back to digging through the databases.
Inside the iSpring content library, however, you can quickly find a suitable model for your project as the system allows you to quickly filter by gender, clothing, ethnicity, action, direction, and emotion.
The amount of filters in this character library is more than enough to cover the needs of most businesses and once you get the hang of using these character models in your courses, you’ll be able to develop a very efficient course authoring workflow.
Here’s what the character photo database looks like:
230+ background location photos
Once you’ve found your perfect character model, it’s time to place that character in a relevant location. With over 230 backgrounds to choose from, you can create a sense of realism in the course by picking a spot that fits the context of the training. This will make it easier to keep the course participants engaged with the material.
Here’s what the background location database looks like:
135+ object photos
The iSpring Content Library also includes more than 135 photos of objects, such as electronic devices, protective equipment, office equipment, notepads, and much more.
If, for example, you’re conducting employee training on protective mask-wearing, you’ll want to go into the library and add masks to the character models you’re working with. Or, maybe you’re conducting training on the hazardous practice of having metallic objects near a medical MRI machine. In that case, you could add pictures of various metal objects to your presentation to illustrate your points.
Here’s what the object photo database looks like:
Finally, the iSpring Content Library also includes more than 1500 professional icons and control buttons in three different styles (flat, outline, and gradient), and seven different element types. High-quality icons are one of the easiest ways to quickly add a touch of professionalism into your slides.
Here’s what the icon database looks like:
How much does iSpring Suite cost?
The pricing of iSpring depends on the chosen subscription plan and the number of authors. The more authors you add, the cheaper the price per user becomes. But, even if your business only needs a single author, the baseline price is still very competitive.
In the United States, a standard iSpring Suite subscription costs $770 USD per author/year. And, the premium iSpring Suite Max which also includes iSpring Space and a massive content library costs $970 USD per author/year.
In the European Union, the same standard iSpring Suite package costs 690€ per author/year, while iSpring Suite Max costs 870€ per author/year.
You may also be eligible for a discount if you’re an academic, non-profit, or government employee. And, don’t forget to take advantage of iSpring’s free 14-day trial offer before committing to a full purchase.
And, it’s also worth noting that iSpring offers an up to 40% discount for academics. Make sure to take advantage of this offer if you are a professor or school teacher.
Learning Management System (LMS) compatibility
A learning management system (LMS) is the software that delivers and manages your learning materials. This means that the instructional design software that iSpring Suite comes included with is technically not considered an LMS.
However, iSpring Solutions does offer an LMS as a separate service and it’s called iSpring Learn.
iSpring Learn is a cloud-based LMS that integrates seamlessly with iSpring Suite. It also has a mobile app available for both Android and Apple iOS devices that boasts a number of mobile learning features and capabilities.
Perhaps the most valuable feature of iSpring Learn, though, is its’ seamless integration with all the tools in iSpring Suite. Every time you hit “publish” inside one of the course authoring tools inside iSpring Suite, you’ll see that sending the training materials you’ve just created into iSpring Learn is one click away.
And, reading the user reviews of iSpring Learn online suggests that it’s has met and even surpassed people’s expectations. Here’s a selection of ratings of iSpring Learn from three leading review aggregator websites:
Third-party LMS compatibility
While the combination of iSpring Learn and iSpring Suite is a well-integrated package of course software + an LMS, it’s by no means necessary to always buy them together.
That is because e-learning course materials created with iSpring Suite are compatible with most of the major learning management systems (LMS) in the world, including Moodle, Blackboard, and Canvas. Thus, don’t be discouraged if you already have an LMS and you’re not interested in moving over to iSpring Learn.
To export your newly created learning materials into a third-party LMS, you have the following publishing formats available:
- SCORM 1.2
- SCORM 2004
- Experience API
Within the LMS publishing tool, you can also add course information into the exported file. Information such as the course name, description, and a unique identifier. For SCORM files, you can also add your own keywords. And, for SCORM 1.2, you can also report the status of completion to your LMS.
Review conclusion: is iSpring Suite worth it?
Yes, our review showed that iSpring Suite is worth the spend. The standard $770 USD package already covers all the essentials of online course authoring. And, the $970 package extends the cost-effectiveness by including cloud storage and a massive template database to enable you to produce effective courses even quicker.
The various features and tools of iSpring might make your head spin at first. But, if you look past that and take a look at the interface, you’ll quickly realize that iSpring is intuitive enough to be used by any e-learning course author. Both by those who are already creating their hundredth course and those entering the e-learning industry for the first time.
For one, the familiarity of the Microsoft PowerPoint interface helps make the learning curve much more gentle. If you’ve ever used PowerPoint to create presentations, you’ll learn the ropes very quickly.
Furthermore, the large catalog of templates in the content library helps you:
- Create professional-looking courses quickly.
- Save time from design and photography.
- Invest that time into gathering and structuring the knowledge for your learners.
iSpring’s dependency on Microsoft PowerPoint is also where its only noteworthy drawbacks come from. Namely, iSpring requires you to have a license for the desktop version of PowerPoint and a Microsoft Windows 7/8/10 operating system. Thus, as a Mac user, your only option will be to rely on dual-booting or using a virtual machine.
All in all, though, iSpring Suite offers a very cost-effective software package. We recommend it to any business or individual wanting to develop interactive e-learning courses quickly and efficiently. With a free 14-day trial available, it’s definitely worth giving this toolkit a shot by yourself.