The Ultimate Guide To Creating eLearning


This article will help you understand what eLearning is and how to create amazing training content for your online course.  This in depth guide will save you a lot of time researching for yourself.  This in depth guide will save you a lot of time researching for yourself. 

The most important aspects you need to know when before creating eLearning content are:

  • Course Outline
    • Title
    • Target Audience
    • Course Outcomes
    • Training Pedagogy
    • Budget and Resources
    • Training Delivery
    • Types of Content
  • Assessment
    • Title
    • Target Audience
    • Course Outcomes
    • Training Pedagogy
    • Budget and Resources
    • Training Delivery
    • Types of Content
    • Assessment
  • Preparing Training Content
    • Creating
    • Packaging
    • Hosting
    • Securing
  • Tracking & Reporting Methods
  • Monetizing Your Content
    • Ads
    • Single Payment
    • Subscription

Let’s see what every aspect includes and how to create appropriate eLearning content for your course.

Course Outline

Planning is a critical first step to save you time overall and to make sure your training contains everything it needs for your proposed audience.  I personally find setting out a loose table of contents to be one of the most helpful tasks you can do.  This will save you lots of time during the development stage.

Here is what I suggest you think about:

  • Title
  • Targeted Audience
  • Course Outcomes
  • Training Pedagogy
  • Budget and Resources
  • Training Delivery
  • Types Of Content
  • Assessment

Below you will find an easy-to-understand explanation of the above-mentioned aspects.

Title

The title if you are selling this course publically online is extremely important.  You need to optimize your course title for search engines (SEO). Otherwise, your course will not be visible to your target market. 

There are 5 key characteristics of a great course title:

  • Less than 60 characters – google only shows this many in search results
  • Audience Focused – think of the level of your students
  • Specific – narrow down the niche
  • Entice the Students – catchy marketing name
  • Using SEO keywords – using the google alphabet soup or keyword research methods

If you want to learn more about course titles and how to create a catchy one for your class I suggest taking a look at the following article:

ARTICLE: How to Choose a Catchy Name for Your Course 

Targeted Audience

Knowing who your target market is for your course is critical to whether it succeeds or not.  You need to know heaps of things like what previous knowledge they have on the topic.  Do they have learning disabilities?  What are their Literacy, Language and Numeracy skills?  How old are they? Because you would teach children differently to adults..

Before you dig into the demographics of your students decide why your are creating the course:

  • As part of a formal qualification
  • To train
    • My staff
    • My customers
    • My volunteers
    • Hobbyists

Then decide who your target markets demographics are:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Geographic location
  • English language competencies
  • Prerequisites (educational background)
  • Learning style
  • Language, Literacy, and Numeracy (LLS) skills
  • Working Domain

Course Outcomes

When we look at the scope of a training course we start with what we want the students to learn and work backwards.  I personally as I mentioned above spend a fair amount of time on this step and work out the exact list of competencies.  Getting this right defines the scope of your training.

Making a course outline with a list of competencies is also the first step in managing expectations for students.  This list of outcomes is commonly displayed on the course description for students to understand what they get in your course. This is one of the most common reasons why students drop out of online courses.

TIP: Spend a good amount of time on your course outcomes because not only is it the scope of the course but it will also define the value of the course which will help with your pricing later on.

Training Pedagogy

Training pedagogy is the way you teach your students. There are heaps of pedagogies you can use but most people just use a simple Adult Learning one. This essentially is just a building block style one where you teach new concepts one after the other in a logical order.

If you would like to know what other Pedagogies you can use check out the article below.

ARTICLE: Wikipedia Pedagogy

Budget and Resources

When it comes to planning your course budget and resources you must take into account several key factors. These aspects are directly related to your course and refer to:

  • Targeted Audience
  • Amount of Interactivity
  • Course Outcomes
  • Delivery Methods
  • Equipment Required

This will determine the time and effort required to get your eLearning up and running.

Training Delivery

You have to make sure the delivery method is appropriate for your audience and allows them to learn in the way that suits them..

Some of the available delivery methods are:

  • eLearning
    • Third Party Website
    • Private LMS
    • Training Package
  • Audio Conference
  • Podcast
  • Video Conference
  • Web Conference
  • Live Virtual Classroom

If you want to know all the ways to teach online check out the article below.

ARTICLE: How Can I Teach Online?

Types Of Content

There are heaps of content formats you can use to train your students. Below you will find a list of all the types of training content along with several examples for each category.

  • Text (Articles, Statistics, How-To guides, eBooks)
  • Graphics (Photos, Charts, Screenshots, Maps)
  • Video (Demonstrations, Screencasts, Animations, Movies)
  • Audio (Interviews, Instructions, Podcasts, Conversations)
  • Interactive (Games, Points Systems, Rewards, Quizzes)
  • Offline (Team Projects, Assignments, Excursions, Meet-up Groups)

To learn more about the different content types and their application I suggest reading the following article:

ARTICLE: The Ultimate Guide to eLearning Content Types

Assessment

Assessment is an important part of learning online and it allows you to understand how much information your students actually understood. Before creating the training content you need to figure out how you can assess your students. 

The most popular assessment methods used in eLearning are:

  • Quizzes
    • True/False
    • Matching
    • Fill The Gaps
  • Self-Assessment
  • Peer Review
  • Industry Expert Review
  • Assignments

To learn more about how to assess your students during online courses I suggest taking a look at the following article.  Make sure you include formative and summative assessment types.

ARTICLE: 13 Ways To Assess Online Students

Preparing Training Content

After you understand all the topics I have talked about before it is time to prepare the training content your students will be using. To make it easier to understand I have divided this part into 4 distinct steps.

Steps to Preparing Training Content:

  • Creating
  • Packaging
  • Hosting 
  • Securing

Lets dig into each of the steps above and understand the specifics of how you can do each one.

Creating Training Content

When you are ready to create your training content there are heaps of tools you can use and some of them will also save you time.  The ability to create your training content once and to reuse it throughout your training courses is very valuable.

Below you will find a list containing the best tools that you can use when creating the different types of training content.

Text

The most popular tools you can use to create and edit text are:

If you want to create digital training manuals you can use one of the following:

Graphic

If you want to capture screenshots to use it as training content you can take advantage of:

Here are the graphics editing applications available are:

Audio

Among the most popular software used for audio recording and editing are:

Video

As well as recording with your phone, webcam, or camera to use in your training content you can also record your computer screen as well.

For screencast purposes you can choose one of the following tools:

If you are unsure whether to use screencasts as training content for your students I recommend taking a look at the following article.

ARTICLE: Spice Up Your eLearning With A Screencast

After you’ve finished recording your video, to edit the raw footage you can use:

You can find out my personal recommendations for all of the above tools for all content types by taking a look at the Recommended Tools page.  They are the ones I use myself.

Packaging Your Content

There are heaps of software packages you can use to package your training content. I do recommend Articulate Storyline 3 and the Articulate 360 suite. If you are unsure which one to choose you should take a look at the following article.

ARTICLE: Articulate 360 vs Storyline 3: Which Is Better For You?

When you use one of the eLearning packaging tools they allow you to output them in standard formats like SCORM or Tin Can.

SCORM Packaging

The SCORM acronym stands for Sharable Content Object Reference Model and it is a way of constructing training content that works well with compliant LMS. 

SCORM-based packages can be created one time and used in many different LMS..  The most recent version is SCORM 1.3 (commonly referred to as SCORM 2004). Compared to previous versions it allows educators to use more advanced functions (such as sequencing & navigation).

To learn more about SCORM packaging I recommend taking a look at the following article:

ARTICLE: SCORM Explained: In-Depth Review of the SCORM eLearning Standard 

TinCan Packaging

TinCan is a project that came up thanks to users’ requests related to SCORM and is the next version of SCORM that fills in the gaps in the technology.

Here are some of the advancements:

  • Enhanced Ease-of-Use
  • Removal of the Internet Browser Requirement
  • Addition of Simulations and Serious Games
  • Offline Tracking Capabilities
  • Customized Sequencing
  • Addition of Authentication
  • Real-World Tracking Capabilities
  • And more.

It can be found under different names, such as:

  • Tin Can API
  • Experience API
  • xAPI

To learn more about TinCan and its functions I suggest reading the following article:

ARTICLE: Project Tin Can: xAPI and its Functions Explained. 

Hosting Your Content

When it comes to hosting your content there are heaps of options. You choose among:

  • Learning Management System (LMS)
  • Third-Party Platform
  • Custom Website

Let’s find out which option suits your course the best.

Learning Management System (LMS)

A Learning Management System (commonly referred to as LMS) is an online tool that allows educators to deliver and guide their students’ training. Its many  features enhanced interactivity between students and teachers. 

The core features of an LMS are:

  • User Security
  • Content Storage
  • Scheduling Events
  • Assessment and Tracking
  • Teacher-Student Interactivity
  • Payment Handling Methods
  • And more.

To learn more about learning management systems and their features I suggest taking a look at the following article:

ARTICLE: What are the features of a Learning Management System?

The most popular LMS are:

Moodle

http://moodle.org

Moodle is one of the most popular LMS available worldwide. It is an open-source tool so anyone can use it for free. The only service you may need to pay for is the hosting.

If you have your own web host you can use the installer to host Moodle as one of your subdomains. If you do not have a custom domain you will have to pay a subscription for the cloud-based version of Moodle. 

The most commonly used features of Moodle are:

  • Assessment and Grading Methods
  • User Security Management
  • Live Conferencing (using BigBlueButtonBN)
  • Mobile App (both for students and teachers)
  • Payment Handling Methods
  • Content Hosting

If you notice Moodle lacks one certain feature that you may need you can always take a look at the plugins database. All the plugins are open-source too and can be used without paying any additional fees.

To learn more about how to use Moodle to train your students I suggest taking a look at the following articles: Moodle Articles

Canvas

https://www.canvas.net

Canvas is a company that provides hosted learning management systems. You do not have to worry about hosting it on your website or paying for a domain. This subscription-type service is generally intended for institutions. However, you can successfully use it for your individual course. But get ready to pay for every feature you are going to use. 

The features it includes are similar to the ones of Moodle. The support they provide for their customers is a major difference. It allows you to get personalized solutions for any technical issue you encounter.

If you can not decide between Moodle and Canvas I suggest taking a look at the following comparison:

ARTICLE: Canvas Vs Moodle: Which is better for online teachers?

Google Classroom

https://classroom.google.com/

This is one of the top 4 LMS in the USA and Canada right now.. This is because it was designed by Google and it provides its users with amazing features without any cost. It can be used by individual instructors and eligible institutions. 

If you are not eligible there is a small cost per head for students and teachers. If you are planning on using Google Classroom and you are a school, university, or private training organization you need to sign up for G Suite for Education.

Its most commonly used features are:

  • Cloud Storage (through Google Drive)
  • Web Conferences (using Google Meet)
  • Submission Marking and Grading Tools (using Google Assignments)
  • Assessment & Quizzes (using Google Forms)
  • Communication with your Students and Parents (using the Guardian function)
  • Forums and Discussion Stream
  • Mobile App that Includes All the Important Functions (rated 3.8 on Google Play Store)
  • And more.

You can see the complete list of articles that are related to Google Classroom here:

ARTICLES: Google Classroom Articles

Blackboard

https://www.blackboard.com/

Blackboard is another amazing LMS you can use for hosting your training content. This one is not an open-source learning management system but a paid one. Just like Canvas LMS, Blackboard provides built-in technical support.  It is losing favor in K-12 but still strong in Higher Education.

This LMS features an integrated grading method called Blackboard Open Grader. It is an alternative grading option that allows teachers to mark students’ submissions more easily. 

Blackboard does not support as many plugins as other LMS but does have a partner network that provides plugins and content. The complete list of Blackboard partners can be found by accessing the following link:

LINK: Blackboard Partner Network

The most commonly used integrations compatible with Blackboard are:

  • Moodle
  • Sakai LMS
  • BrainHoney
  • Desire2Learn
  • itsLearning

If you are not sure what to choose between Blackboard and Moodle I recommend taking a look at the following article:

ARTICLE: Blackboard vs. Moodle: How To Choose What Works For You?

Third-Party Platform

There are plenty of platforms that allow teachers to host their training content online. This type of hosting provides your course with one important advantage, market exposure. Your course can be seen by heaps of students that are registered on the platform.

The most popular training platforms are:

Each website has its pros and cons. It’s up to you to decide which one fits your needs better. Make sure you carefully read the Terms of Service that are applicable to each website.

Skillshare

https://www.skillshare.com/

Skillshare is one of the most popular third-party platforms available designed for teaching. It features millions of currently registered users. This website allows teachers to upload their training content and host online courses without having to pay for a monthly subscription. 

The main advantage is that there is no need to worry about marketing your training course. After you publish your course on Skillshare, millions of students will be able to discover and deduce whether to enroll in your class.

If you want to learn more about hosting your training content on Skillshare, I suggest taking a look at the following article:

ARTICLE: Is Teaching on SkillShare Worth it? Here is the Truth

Udemy

https://www.udemy.com/

Udemy is another well-known teaching website similar to Skillshare. It allows teachers to host their training content online and find potential students for their courses. 

The variety of topics you can teach on Udemy is huge but so is the competition.. There are already educators that are running their online courses on Udemy for most common topics so it is worth thinking on how your content and your experience helps it stand out. Competition can be overcome by providing high-quality content to your students and earning their trust. 

Custom Website

Creating a website to deliver training is a great idea. You can use a content management system (CMS) to create and manage the training content on your website. 

When it comes to hosting your content on a custom website you must take into account whether you are going to spend extra money for a hosting provider or not. You can either use a subdomain of a website creator tool or pay a monthly/yearly fee to use your own domain.

Platforms you can use for hosting your website as a subdomain:

There are plenty of providers that will host your custom domain and all your content for a very small fee. My recommendation in terms of hosting can be found on the Recommended Tools page.

Securing Your Training Content

It is very important that you protect your content and only allow specific users to access it. 

The two ways you can do this are::

  • User Level Security
  • Content Security 

Let’s find out what you can do to protect your training content.

User Level Security

This represents the main means of protection that you should use for training content. It allows you to decide who can access it and who does not. Depending on the type of hosting you choose for your content, the user security permission may differ. 

If you decide to host your course on a third-party platform then you will gain limited access. This means that you will be able to manage only the students that are enrolled in your course.

On the other hand, if you are using an LMS or a custom website for hosting your training content then you will gain full control over the user security features. This means you can add and remove users, as well as changing and managing their permissions.

Content Security

This refers to protecting the content against theft. It is basically a way of securing you intellectual property. After one student pays the full price of your course you will allow them to access all the training content you have prepared. 

Content security stops users from downloading and sharing or reusing your content. Depending on the content format you are using there are different methods of protecting it. For example, if your course contains pictures you can protect them using a watermark. This is the most common way of securing graphic content. 

Most videos are protected by using a player that hides the true source of your files using javascript or embedding them in flash videos.  When they try to download a video they only get the script or wrapper video and not the real content.  You should try this with your training content.

Tracking & Reporting Methods

These methods are usually available in all learning management systems as well as third-party platforms. This allows you to see the progress of your students as well as how they are using the LMS.  This will allow you to intervene with students who get lost, caught behind or lose motivation.  It will also allow you to change the LMS to make it easier for students to use.

Tracking 

If you are planning on tracking your students’ progress you must take a look at the type of hosting you are using. Third-party websites offer this feature by default and you do not have to worry about setting things up. You will receive reports of your students’ activity constantly.

Otherwise, if you are using an LMS you have two options you can track your students:

  • Use SCORM tracking
  • Use LMS features

Either way, you can create reports of your students’ progress. SCORM tracking is a little bit more detailed compared to the LMS one, but both types will work for you.

Reporting

Once you have recorded the tracking information and other information about how your students are using your LMS then you can report on them.  All LMS have some sort of reporting features you can turn on.  They will even track each page the student visits as well as their progress through the course.  

SCORM will only track your course progress so you will only be able to report on that.  You will likely use the LMS tracking and SCORM tracking so you can report on them both.

Common metrics for LMS systems are:

  • Course Completion Rate
  • Time to Complete
  • Mark Breakdowns
  • Teacher Performance
  • Most Visited Pages
  • Student Satisfaction Surveys

There are plenty of other things you can report on depending on the plugins you have installed and how you want to run your courses.  It is always handy to base your teacher key performance indicators (KPIs) on metrics that you can easily get from your LMS.

Monetizing Your Content

There are several different methods you can use to make money using your training content. The most commonly used are:

  • Monetized with Ads 
  • Pay Per Course
  • Subscription

Monetize with Ads

If you are using a custom website to deliver training then you can monetize your content with ads. This method does not require students to pay for the training content. You will get paid by advertising networks that place ads inside your course. 

There are heaps of companies that are willing to pay good money for getting their ads on your page. The revenue depends very much on the number of visitors your website has.  For Google Adsense expect a low figure of $5 to $10 per 1000 page views on average.  

For premium ad brokers like Ezoic or Mediavine you can expect $10 to $20 per 1000 page views but they do require higher page views with a decent amount of USA traffic to approve your website.  Keep in mind these are rough figures only and it will change depending on the niche your website is in and the advertisers trying to reach that market.

Pay Per Course

This is one of the simplest pricing models available for eLearning. Your students decide what course they need and pay for it. This monetizing plan is among the most popular because it allows users not to pay for content they do no need.  And depending on the price you set you can change the amount of value you give the student.

Subscription

This type of subscription requires students to pay monthly or yearly and learn anytime. Paying the subscription fee grants them access to all the training content uploaded on your course.

This can be considered passive income. However you must invest time and money into marketing to grow your income. And have a regular training content release schedule to keep your members.

If you want to learn more about how to monetize your online course I suggest taking a look at the following article:

ARTICLE: 10 eLearning Pricing Models Online Teachers Must Know

Glen Brown

I am a Technical Trainer and Manager with over 20 years experience in IT, Education and Business. I have multiple qualifications on each topic including post graduate qualifications. I have a passion for sharing knowledge and using technology to do this. If you would like to know more about me please see the about page of the website.

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