How do you write an eLearning course, especially if you’ve never done it before? We’ve got the answer. Below you’ll find a step-by-step guide with our top tips and tricks for creating an eLearning course, as well as a review of some of the best learning management software (LMS) to get you started.
eLearning is more than just a buzzword people throw around. In our interconnected world, providing digital courses and lessons is a valuable way to spread your message to a broad audience, no matter where they are.
Whether you’re an educator looking to build a course for your digital classroom, a business hoping to train a large group of employees, or an individual looking to build an online course, you can use eLearning software to educate your audience.
How to write an eLearning course
Here’s how we recommend you begin:
Ask yourself, “What am I trying to accomplish and how can eLearning help?”
Before you can begin writing an eLearning course, you need to have a firm understanding of why you want to impart this lesson via a digital platform. The answer may be simple—your audience is too large to target in person, or they’re located around the globe.
But beyond logistics, consider the lesson itself. You should make a list of what you want people to learn by the time they finish the course. This list will come in handy as you continue to write your eLearning course—it will make sure the content you create always ties into the core lessons you want to convey.
Create an audience profile for the eLearning course
How well do you know the audience you are speaking to with this course? It’s not enough to simply say, “They are employees at X company” or “They are students in X grade.” You need to think about them on a deeper level.
Consider the age range, cultural background, experiences, and other demographic information that comprises the makeup of your audience. Ask yourself what formats they are most likely to enjoy, what kind of technology they are already familiar with, and what style of learning would be most effective.
This information will help you design a course that performs well with your audience, so keep this information nearby as you build your course.
Set objectives for your lessons
We’ve already discussed what lessons we want to convey, but you also need to set measurable objectives for each section of your lesson. This will help you not only design the perfect eLearning course, but also take stock of your success once the course is finished.
When setting objectives, think about what success will look like. Do you want your students to average a certain grade mark on the final test? Do you want your staff to be able to demonstrate specific proficiencies? Or maybe you want your homeschooling students to finish the course by a certain date or time? Think carefully about what success means for your specific course.
Create a storyboard
Once you know what your objectives are, who your audience is, and what major lessons you want to cover, it’s finally time to start creating a storyboard for your eLearning course.
This storyboard will essentially be an outline of the course, covering the major topics you want to cover, in the right order, as well as the content you will create and the benchmarks you will set throughout the course.
There are a number of eLearning authoring tools that make it easy to build your storyboard right in the same platform where you will eventually create your course.
Choose your technology and start writing!
The final step is to choose your technology. There are many different learning management software options, each with different features and capabilities to suit your specific needs.
This step may feel a little overwhelming, especially if you haven’t used learning management software before. That’s why we’ve gone ahead and put together a rundown of some of the most popular LMS options on the market.
What software works well for writing an eLearning course?
The learning management software you choose to write your eLearning course will largely depend on what you hope to achieve. Some platforms are better designed for businesses looking to train employees, while others are designed for teachers, tutors, and professors. Still, others are more open to customisation, making them perfect for outside-the-box courses.
Below we’ve outlined some of the most widely used platforms for creating an eLearning course. We’ve compiled their overall rating and ease of use, customer service rating, their cost, and some of their key features and differentiators.
For a detailed methodology of how we put together this list, see the bottom of the article.*
Free LMS tools
Ease of use: 4.6
Customer service: 4.6
Free version: Free version up to 5 users, 10 courses.
Cost to upgrade: US$59 per month for up to 40 users and unlimited courses.
TalentLMS is used by over 70,000 organisations to create eLearning courses. The platform is used in a wide variety of industries, from aviation to healthcare to education.
Capterra users highly rate the platform’s versatility—they could become a course creator in a few clicks, and they said the technology integrates well with most file types and multimedia (including iFrame and SCORM presentations).
Some of TalentLMS’s key features include:
- Live online user training
- 24/7 live customer support
- Self-paced courses
- Test/Quiz creation
- Gamification & social learning
- Certification management
Ease of use: 4.3
Customer service: 4.3
Free version: Free account.
Cost to upgrade: n/a
If you’re an educator working with students of any age (including university students), then you may already know all about CANVAS. This learning management software is widely used by schools and colleges around the globe to bring eLearning courses to students.
CANVAS is owned by parent company Instructure, and while they do offer some employee training features, their primary focus is on teacher-student relationships. Their platform features a parent portal, so Mum and Dad can help their kids learn, as well as curriculum management options for higher education users.
Other features of CANVAS include:
- Attendance tracking
- Progress reports
- Lesson planning
- Report cards
- Curve scores
- Video conferencing
- Built-in course authoring
Ease of use: 4
Customer service: 3.9
Free version: Moodle downloads & MoodleCloud (up to 50 users)
Cost to upgrade: US$80 annually for the Starter plan.
Moodle’s open-source LMS is known as one of the most customisable options for building an eLearning course. Within the platform, you’ll be able to design your own space, where you can use different themes, features, and settings to create the course you and your audience want.
Moodle integrates well with a number of other popular software platforms you may already be using, such as Google Apps, NextCloud, and Microsoft Office 365. Moodle also has built-in, in-depth analytics, which gives you deeper insights on how users are performing as they move through your course.
Some other features of Moodle include:
- Blended learning
- Mobile learning
- Video conferencing
- Asynchronous learning
- SCORM compliance
Free course authoring tools
Ease of use: 4.7
Customer service: 4.9
Free version: 14-day free trial
Cost to upgrade: $19 iSpring Suite for 3 months to support educators during COVID-19 (normally US$970 per user, paid annually)
About iSpring Suite:
iSpring Suite is an eLearning toolkit that’s compatible with many LMS platforms (including the ones we’ve outlined above). iSpring’s interface lets educators and trainers create features to help their audience learn, from simulated dialogue modules to training videos and interactive quizzes.
Capterra users said iSpring didn’t require much training. That being said, they do host online webinars and provide live online training for those who want it. They also offer 24/7 customer support for users, and say that 83% of all cases brought to their support team are solved within 24 hours.
Some of iSprings’ features include:
- Interactive content
- Test/quiz creation
- Template management
- Powerpoint conversion
- Self-paced courses
- Video management
Ease of use: 4.5
Customer service: 4.4
Free version: Google Classroom remains free for educators.
Cost to upgrade: Google is offering a promotional price of US$24 (normally US$48) per user, per year for its enterprise edition. Those wanting to take advantage of this offer should purchase it before July 31, 2020.
About Google Classroom:
If you’re in an organisation that already uses Google Suite for things like email or document management, then you should consider Google Classroom. The goal of Google Classroom is to help teachers and students collaborate, no matter where they are or what device they are using.
Google Classroom aims to streamline some of the administrative tasks that may bog them down otherwise when it comes to eLearning. The platform allows educators to provide feedback to students within the platform, reducing the communication issues that can sometimes appear with digital education.
Some other key features of Google Classroom are:
- Course publishing
- Test and quiz creation
- In-document feedback and commenting
- Live document collaboration
- Locked quiz mode
- User management
- We reviewed Capterra’s directories of learning management systems and course offering tools, which produced a list of 701 and 157 respectively (research conducted 16th March, 2020).
- Out of these products, we narrowed the list to those that had an overall rating of 4/5 stars, which reduced the lists to 374 for learning management systems and 93 for course authoring software.
- Since many educators won’t have access to face-to-face IT support during Australia’s lockdown, we examined user reviews and set a new criteria whereby the tools must have at least 3/5 star ratings for ease of use and customer service.
- Additionally, the platforms had to offer a free version (in the form of a freemium model or free trial) to help businesses reduce costs as they fight against market challenges produced by the pandemic.
- We then evaluated the number of monthly searches being carried out for each tool using the brand names and chose the tools with the highest search volume. This produced the final five tools in the list to cover both categories.
NOTE: The content in this piece that provides opinions and points of view expressed by users does not represent the views of Capterra.