[Video] Tools and Platforms for Online Courses

If you want to create an online course, your first investment should be hiring a psychiatrist.

All the decisions about what tools you’ll need to create your course and put it online can drive anyone nuts, especially if you’re not a techie.

What software to use?  What hardware to buy?  Where to publish?  How to upload?

Should you buy Articulate Storyline, Adobe Captivate or Lectora?  Or a hundred other tools to create your content?

Should you use Moodle, Blackboard or Docebo?  Or another one of the thousands platforms other there?

And I often get asked questions about tools and platforms that aren’t really intended for private course creators.

Surely, companies behind those software and platforms spend a lot of money on drool-worthy marketing copy.  But they don’t do a good job of explaining who their products are NOT for.

So today I’m putting my wings on and giving you a birds-eye view of the eLearning industry, and how to filter out information that is not relevant for your purpose, so that you stop wasting your time and money researching and investing into wrong stuff.

If you prefer reading, a summary is below the video.

 

 

eLearning industry is made up of three large segments:

  1. Academic: Colleges and Universities creating online courses for their students
  2. Business: Corporations creating online courses for their employees, trying to save money on human training facilitators and hiring venues
  3. SPOC: Small Private Online Courses – hey, that’s us!

BEWARE: Most advice related to online course creation and hosting is intended for academic and corporate use!

In fact, if you come across the term ‘eLearning’, it’s a good indicator that you’re reading the wrong article!  I’ve never heard the word eLearning used among private course creator communities (and I belong to them all, pretty much).

In short, content creation software like Articulate Storyline, Adobe Captivate, Lectora and similar are used almost exclusively in corporate and academic settings.  Why?  They take a team of nerdy gurus to create something useful, and another team of tech wizards to put it online in a way that internet doesn’t crash!

Platforms like Moodle, Blackboard, Docebo, and dozens more out there aren’t best suited for private online courses.  Some of them don’t even integrate with payment processors!  Which makes sense, if you’re a corporation distributing an online training module to your staff.  But is no good if you want to sell your course to students.

So what should you be focusing on instead?

Most private online courses are now video-based.  Sorry to say, text-based courses are a thing of the past.  Just write an e-book.

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Students are expecting mostly video instructions when they purchase a course.  So for content creation you want video editing software, like iMovie or ScreenFlow, if you’re on Mac, and MovieMaker or Camtasia, if you’re on Windows.

Also check out this article about free screen recording software.

For uploading your course online and collecting payments, you have three options:

  1. Course Marketplaces: Searchable course listings with lots of students, and lots of instructors competing for their attention (get ready to play by their rules and give them a lion share of your earnings)
  2. Course Hosting Providers: Your own online school, taken care of by a third party (get ready to pay for their service)
  3. Self-Hosted Solutions (e.g. WordPress plugins): Your own online school, taken care of by you (get ready to sort out all the tech issues yourself)

Watch this video where I go into more detail about these three options, pros and cons, examples etc.

Have questions?  Let me know.