June 6, 2017 at 11:15 pm #3978
AmakhosiKeymasterHow To Create Multi-Platform eLearning Courses
Make your mobile learning course a tactile eLearning experience.
One of the most notable benefits of using a tablet or smartphone to access eLearning is interactivity. While most eLearning courses rely on a point-and-click format, mobile learning courses can offer an immersive and fully tactile eLearning experience. There is a caveat to this, however. The “touch” elements within the eLearning course must be the right size, as learners need to be able to tap on them when using a variety of different mobile devices. For example, buttons that are too close together or too small may be “untouchable” for learners on smaller screens. You may also want to consider integrating swiping motions into your eLearning course design to take full advantage of device capabilities.
Research your audience to set minimum requirements.
While researching the educational background and experience levels of your audience is essential, creating multi-platform eLearning courses also calls for device usage statistics. What mobile devices are your learners using to access the eLearning course? The answer to this question will help you determine your minimum eLearning design requirements. If most of your learners are using more advanced phones or tablets, you won’t have to worry about designing for older models. It’s best to select a range that your deliverable will fall into. For example, you may choose to develop mobile learning courses that are targeted to iPhone 6 and Android 5.0 learners and above. Then you won’t have to stretch your resources thin trying to develop multi-platform eLearning courses for every device.
Opt for readability over creativity when choosing fonts.
If you have your eye on a fancy font that you think will boost the visual appeal of your eLearning course, make sure that it’s completely legible before adding it into your eLearning designlayout. Keep in mind that your learners are going to be accessing the eLearning course on smaller screen sizes, which means that they need readability over creativity when it comes to fonts. Use larger fonts, if possible, and opt for more “traditional” fonts, and follow the resolution/text rule: lower resolution requires larger text.
Use a responsive eLearning authoring tool.
Many eLearning authoring tools now offer a responsive design feature, which gives you the ability to create just one master eLearning course that can be viewed on all platforms. When your mobile learners access the eLearning course, its elements, such as menu, text boxes, etc., all adjust to offer the best possible eLearning experience. Regardless of whether your learner is on an iPhone or a tablet, they’ll be able to interact and engage with the eLearning content and activities.
Focus on ease of navigation.
There are few things more frustrating than accessing a mobile learning course, only to discover that you cannot use the navigation icons to click through to the next page or activity. Make navigation icons large and clearly visible, and avoid using hyperlinks to supplemental online resources. Tablet or mobile phone learners may find it difficult to click on tiny text links to access useful articles, eLearning videos, and external eLearning content.
Give learners control over audio elements.
Many of your learners are going to be accessing your eLearning course on-the-go. The beauty of using a smartphone, tablet, or even a smaller laptop to access eLearning is that you can participate anytime, anywhere. However, if you include an abundance of audio elements that provide key takeaways, your mobile learners aren’t going to acquire the information they need. Include subtitles and use text to highlight key concepts of the eLearning lesson. If you do have audio, integrate controls your learners can use to lower or mute the volume.
Use one design across the board.
Regardless of what devices your eLearning course supports, make sure that the instructional design is the same for every version, including color scheme, branding, and design elements. Doing so keeps the eLearning course design consistent, professional, and your learners know what to expect when they access the eLearning course on various platforms. This is yet another reason why responsive design authoring tools are ideal. You can create one master eLearning course, and the responsive design feature adapts that eLearning course to fit the resolution and screen size of the device. It’s cohesive and streamlined design at its finest and easiest.
Track user data to improve your multi-platform eLearning course strategy.
Analytics is an important tool in any eLearning strategy, but doubly so for multi-platform eLearning courses. You need to be able to keep track of what devices your learners are using and how they are interacting with the eLearning content. This gives you the opportunity to fine tune your eLearning strategy based upon the device preferences and learning needs of your audience. For example, if your analytics reveal that many of your learners are using an older operating system, you can adapt your eLearning course to that system. You can also pinpoint weak spots in your eLearning strategy, such as interactive elements that are not easy to navigate on smaller screens. In addition to user data, get feedback from your learners via surveys and polls to determine what is working and what needs to be modified.SOME TOOLS
SHIFT: This toolbox has a huge wealth of features, ready for you to start creating training tools with them. If you want to just try it out, you can start a free trial and play around with it. One of the best things about it is that it’s cross platform compatible. You can use the tools on either a Mac or a PC, making life much easier all round.
Boom Essays: However you’re making your web based training materials, you need to know that they’re all easy to understand and follow. This writing service can proofread them for you before they go live, making any edits that are needed. An extra eye is always helpful where writing is concerned, so this service can be very useful.
TalentLMS: This web based training toolkit saves all of your materials to a cloud based server. This means that you can create them wherever you are, without having to worry about transferring them to other media. All you need is an internet connection to get started. It also offers detailed reports on trainees’ progress, so you can see who’s doing well and who needs some more input from you.
Smart Builder: This is a simple to use content creator that lets you drag and drop the components you need. It uses a What You See Is What You Get (WYSIWYG) editor, making the entire process as painless as possible. The best part is that it’s free to use, so there’s no initial outlay to make before you can start working on your tools.
UK Writings: All good web based training content needs good writing. Without it, your resources won’t be usable. This writing service can help you out if you don’t feel your writing skills are up to scratch. All you have to do is let them know what your resources need to do. They can create the right copy for you, and you can put it directly in your work. Your trainees will get a lot out of their training if you use this service.
MindFlash: This training company is trusted by top brands, and it’s easy to see why. You can create, manage and review your content all in the same dashboard. The UI is simple to use, and you can track every user’s progress. Once you’ve evaluated that progress, you can group them so you can laser target their training. This way, everyone gets the most out of their time with the system.
Digital Chalk: If you’re a start up, or a small business, you want to be watching every penny you spend. This tool is good for you as it offers affordable pricing plans, meaning you can train your staff with top quality online tools without breaking the bank. Their tools can be used on mobile too, so your staff can access them wherever they are.SOFTWARE
seems like 1 of the best deals
Elucidat is a multi-platform eLearning content authoring tool delivering educational content in HTML5 markup. Its robust features include templates, layout themes, and collaboration tools that facilitate communication with other team members throughout the content design process. This powerful content authoring tool supports popular learning management system formats enabling designers to custom brand their courses. It also offers analytics tools to provide aggregated data related to student performance and use of the course materials. Elucidat comes with a free 14 day trial license. After the trial the license will cost $2475 per author.
Raptivity delivers rapid course content creation by offering several templates that are easily modified by course authors. Their offering supports several output formats including HTML5 and Flash, allowing the course to be published to mobile learners and desktops supporting the Flash plug-in.The Raptivity toolkit comes with a media toolbox that gives content creators the means to add their own images, videos, text and buttons into their course interaction model. Raptivity comes with a free 14 day trial. The course tools are offered in several licensing models with the basic Essential version starting at $300 for a lifetime license. Educators, governmental and nonprofit organizations are offered a 25 percent discount.
EasyGenerator is a cloud-based software as a service (SaaS) content builder used for creating web based training solutions using a hierarchical workflow model. One of the more interesting offerings of EasyGenerator is its support for publishing course content to their hosted cloud. After the course is uploaded, the educatior is given a link to their course to distribute to their students. Pricing begins with a $0 entry level package that supports a maximum of 10 users and 10 courses. Their high end package is $59 user/month and supports unlimited courses and students.
Lectora Inspire is among the premium desktop software options for developing web based training tools . The software supports rapid content creation and deployment across mobile platforms. Their proprietary technology, Responsive Course Design, allows course authors to create the course once and make device specific customizations. Lectora comes with a free 30 day trial and pricing is $1595 for a single license or $2374 with the live technical support option.
5.M-Learn on the Go.
M-Learn on the Go comes with thousands of pre-designed courses giving content creators easily modifiable templates. Social engagement between learners and instructors is supported via M-Learn’s audio, video and text functionality. Business users with existing Microsoft PowerPoint presentations will find the support for embedding in Skydive or Vimeo a very attractive feature. The course creation tool supports multiple choice and true/false quizzes and a rapid survey creation tool. Real-time learner tracking support is also available. M-Learn offers customized pricing and promo models that are available directly through their sales team.
6.Adapt Learning Authoring Tool.
Adapt is an open source tool for developing web based training courses on desktop and mobile devices. The Adapt project is a consortium of approximately 31 developers, creative staff, designers and content managers. Their offering supports rapid and highly customizable eLearning content creation. Several components supporting various content types are offered to course designers including: text, graphic, narrative and a “hot” graphic component that supports interactivity with the learner. The highly impressive tool set is made even more attractive through its open source pricing model at no cost with open source licensing restrictions.
SmartBuilder is a free-form, drag and drop, what you see is what you get (WYSIWYG) course layout tool. After the elements are in place customization is managed through their object-based inter-communication functionality. The tool supports several content output options including mobile-friendly HTML5. This environment also comes with content management and course creation collaboration tools supporting enhanced productivity and version management. Pricing starts at $0 for the collaboration license that allows an unlimited number of lessons to be created. The professional edition, which unlocks all features is $1970 author/year.
LessonWriter delivers a literacy and critical-thinking solution available for instructional texts with the goal of assisting students to improve their reading and comprehension. The basic services, which are provided free to teachers, allows to create reading lessons and materials, a lesson plan, flash cards and question review sheets and unlimited lessons from teacher provided digital texts without requiring any Instructional Design training. Pricing starts at a basic free service for teachers and goes up to a premium model at $60 per year that supports video, advanced lesson design features and allows lessons to be posted online. All offerings support mobile and web based content delivery options.
9.Adobe Creative Cloud.
Adobe Creative Cloud is a SaaS offering of popular Adobe tools including Photoshop, Dreamweaver, After Effects, Premiere, Illustrator and Comp. While not intended as a suite of web based training tools per se, Adobe Comp supports designing mobile-based layouts that transform drawing gestures into professional graphics that can be used in learning material creation. The Adobe suite can be used to design customized course materials for use on mobile devices. Pricing starts at $19.99/month for students and teachers.
Microsoft Learning Content Development System (LCDS) is a free of charge design tool that supports interactive, online course creation by Microsoft Certified Professionals. LCDS supports publishing e-learning courses by using their LCDS form-based design tool to generate customized interactive quizzes and game-based and other multimedia content. LCDS is available free of charge to Microsoft Professionals.
11.Articulate – Storyline
Articulate Storyline is a foundational elearning-authoring program for instructional designers, and Storyline 2 provides an improved user interface and interactive learning elements. Articulate Storyline is the industry’s favorite software for creating interactive courses. It’s simple enough for beginners, yet powerful enough for experts. And it lets you create virtually any interaction you can imagine, in minutes. With the new perpetual version of Storyline, you’ll be able to deliver mobile and accessible courses with enhanced interactivity faster.WordPress Learning Management Systems Outperform Standalone LMSs
1. Ease Of Use.
WordPress, being a more contemporary ecosystem, offers tremendous ease of access and a modern user interface as compared to the complexity of standalone systems like Moodle. This is evident while carrying out tasks as simple and elementary as adding a new course. Sample this:
Creating a new course in Moodle (as shown in Moodle documentation):
- Go to Administration> Site Administration> Courses> Manage Courses and Categories.
- Click on the category where you want your course to be.
- Click the New Course link.
- Enter the Course Settings.
- Then choose either Save and return to go back to your course, or Save and display to go to the next screen.
That’s five distinct steps and an option that’s nested 4 levels deep, folks. May not seem like much, but what about when you multiply it with setting up and editing content for tens and tens of courses? I don’t imagine things to be any simpler.
On the other hand, we have Learning Management System plugins on WordPress like LearnDash which lets you publish a course in two clicks straight (it’s true!), accessible right from the dashboard. Or even WP Courseware, with a neat drag and drop interface to structure/re-structure all you eLearning content from a single screen.
Additionally, the back end controls are simplified and easy to use even by the standards of a novice user. All one would need to do is find his way around the dashboard and he’s all set to author content and publish them. Navigating through and configuring the settings is easy and intuitive, and even customizable to an extent when you consider the possibilities like coding in Meta Boxes for a quick access to options that you require often.
Configuring standalone Learning Management System to achieve an equally efficient back end UI will take hours and hours of coding and wishing you had chosen WordPress instead.
2. Front End Design And UX (User Experience).
The internet is a place where the phrase “don’t judge a book by its cover” does not apply. Netizens do, and will always, gauge your website in terms of design and user experience, no matter how great the content.
Not an area wherein standalone Learning Management Systems specialize.
The design offered my Moodle or Blackboard is pretty much standard and non volatile. Granted, there is room for personalizations, but it’s limited at the very best and nowhere close to what we have on the other side of the discussion. User experience on the front end of these systems echoes back end which, as we discussed, is cluttery.
WordPress Learning Management Systems have the distinctive advantage of being a part of the ecosystem which is primarily designed to develop great looking websites, and it excels at it. There are literally thousands of WordPress themes that you can choose from to glam up your eLearning site, and transform it in a visually striking internet entity.
And it’s NOT all looks.
You even have themes developed specifically the purpose of eLearning, that reduce the effort required for eLearning related customizations by manifolds.
With great design comes great traffic!
3. Less Demanding.
To give you an idea of how WordPress stacks up against conventional Learning Management Systems in terms of resource requirements, consider the installation zip file sizes for Moodle and Canvas, which are close to about 50 megabytes each.
WordPress, meanwhile, clocks in around a measly 4 to 5 megabytes of data. That’s about one tenth of the former, and should tell you how light it is when used as a LCMS. Even with 10 resource intensive plugins extending the functionality of your website, the size of the installation comes out to be less than 15 megabytes, which still is less than half of standalone set ups.
Additionally it can function just as well whether it’s hosted on a shared network or dedicated one. Moodle has been known to stutter on shared hosting and would cost you a small fortune in terms of the hardware required, when scaled for a large number of users.
Computational requirements are going to be just as high. While WordPress, no matter the scale, will work with virtually any contemporary operating system and processor with RAM needs as low as 512 megabytes (all you need is a server that run PHP and MySQL), system requirements for various stand alone set ups have been listed as high as 4 gigabytes of ram (for enterprise level set ups) along with 2 or more gigahertz of processing speeds.
Half the cost is double the profits.
4. Business And Marketing.
One of the USPs of WordPress is that it can be modeled as a powerful business and marketing tool with very high returns on investment.
When you’re looking to sell courses online, WordPress plugins like WooCommerce and Easy Digital Downloads offer a single step solution for all your ecommerce needs. Not only do these extensions set up an online store, ready for you to add a variety of products, but they also set up a payment gateway and provide you with business tools like shipping gateways, inventory management, CRM, invoicing… The list is endless really.
An added advantage would be the level of scalability that can be achieved with these systems. Consider the online store for WooThemes, the creators of WooCommerce (as the name might suggest). While the number of products is limited to under 500, the site itself has over 500,000 registered users and tracks up to 11,000 orders a month. That’s huge!
Of course their store is built on WooCommerce.
How do standalone Learning Management Systems compare, you ask?
Not particularly well. While systems like Moodle do let you sell courses online, things are nowhere nearly as efficient as ecommerce plugins. There are no payment gateway integrations, no ecommerce tracking and definitely not much of management. Tasks like building a course marketplace may as well be a distant dream.
In terms of marketing, plugins like WordPress SEO by Yoast or SEO Made Simple optimize your website to rank higher for organic searchers, which is definitely a marketing strategy you’d want to take up in a world where Google is a man’s best friend.
Other marketing tools would include extensions that allow users to share content on social media, email marketing integrations, web traffic analytics, Google XML Sitemaps and loads of other useful plugins, all of which can be found in abundance on the net.
5. Community And Plugins.
I recently had the good opportunity of interviewing Nate Johnson, founder of Fly Plugins and the brain force behind WP Courseware. Here’s a snippet from the same:
Me: WordPress, in a word, is?
Matt Mullenweg couldn’t have stated it better himself (he probably would have used the exact same word though).
What started a little over a decade ago as a personal blogging software built on PHP has eventually go on to become an extraordinarily powerful web publishing tool that powers over 25% of the internet as of 2015.
And it’s growing at astronomical speeds.
The WordPress community is undoubtedly huge, with hundreds of thousands of developers constantly innovating and contributing to the code base, being an open source platform that it is.
Take a quick look at the release history of WordPress and you’ll see what I mean. Till date, there have been over 98 versions or WordPress, that’s about 8 updates per year. With over 29,000+ plugins, the level of functionality achievable within the WordPress environment is unmatched. So much so that “there is a plugin for that” is an inside joke within the community.
Support is just as tremendous. WordPress Codex is a Bible-of-sorts when it comes to documentation. It’s a massive online wiki that contains almost about everything you would ever need to know about using WordPress. Any other queries you might have during the development process of your eLearning site, chances are it will have already been asked and answered in any of the numerous forums all over the internet.
WordPress For eLearning?WordPress is a content management system that currently powers one fourths of internet today (27.5% of the top 10 million websites by traffic). It is an implementation of website-building tools which make the process of website-creation much more intuitive and user-friendly. Using the easy UI of WordPress for eLearning you can launch websites within a few days of conceiving the idea of your online course. For developing your online learning course WordPress would be the best tool when you are testing the waters for the feasibility of your content. The vast range of themes and plugins that WordPress offers could help you broaden the look and functionality of your website, so that you can handle and support learners in the range of a 100,000. Some of the most popular websites that use WordPress are TechCrunch and The New Yorker.
Features Of A WordPress eLearning Website
To build a great WordPress eLearning website without getting yourself involved in considerable coding will require you to integrate:
What follows are plugin recommendations.
Learning Management System to control your course and lesson pages.
Theme for supporting the Learning Management System.
Membership plugin to restrict and grant access to paying subscribers.
An eCommerce platform to handle payments and promotions.
Video hosting plugin for your video lectures.
1. Learning Management System
Developed by WooThemes, Sensei LMS integrates with the full suite of plugins that WooThemes offers. A single site subscription costs $129 per year. Sensei has an intuitive user interface, which makes the process of creating courses, modules, lessons and quizzes very easy..
Because it integrates directly with WooCommerce, Sensei does not require a separate membership plugin to control user access. A section on WooCommerce follows later.
Custom features can be enabled through a variety of shortcodes, such as videos which can be embedded into lessons using video plugin and shortcodes.
Learndash is another popular WordPress-based LMS. Its main value offerings that set it apart from competition are good customer support and an active community to discuss their courses. They also support Tin Can API to integrate offline learning activities. To support Tin Can API, Learndash supports the GrassBlade Learning Record Store. You can gamify your course to incentivize user achievements by integrating the BadgeOS plugin.
LearnDash integrates with 2checkout for membership and JigoShop for eCommerce, and offers PayPal integration.
1.NamasteLMSNamasteLMS is a free WordPress Learning Management System, with premium add-ons. For a free LMS it offers a lot of features. Besides creating courses, modules, lessons, and quizzes, this LMS offer various options for administrators to control user access. This includes a ‘To Do’ button for administrators to manage pending student enrollments, lesson completion, and homework assignment solution approval. There are free add-ons for integrating WooCommerce and Instamojo, making this an extremely useful free LMS to market your online course.
2. LMS Themes
LMS themes are a useful addition when you wish to customize the look of your online course website without investing too much effort into doing the design yourself. LMS themes are designed to integrate with specific LMS, so the following recommendations integrate with Sensei and LearnDash respectively. Most LMS themes include added functionalities, such as social login, through which users can login to your website using their Facebook or Google Accounts. Many themes also offer BuddyPress support. BuddyPress plugin helps you build community pages, to facilitate active discussions around your course.
LMS By Sensei
The LMS theme (yes, they named a theme ‘LMS’!) integrates with Sensei, and by extension, supports WooCommerce. You can use this to customize class pages, timetables, Course Page, and Quiz Pages.
LMS theme is the best option for course creators using language other than English. This theme integrates with WPML multilingual plugin, to support multiple languages. It also supports Right-to-Left scripts.
LMS theme also supports certificates and badges options for courses for gamification.
The EduPro theme integrates with Learndash. The large variety of unique homepages that EduPro supports make it a highly resourceful theme. Additional customizations include custom font configuration, Drag & Drop Themes, and Revolution Slider for slider-based themes.
3. Membership Plugins
Managing memberships to your eLearning course is critical to monetizing your content, and ensuring that only the users you wish to grant access can view the course. The following are the most popular plugins in WordPress for eLearning.
WP eMember does the basic job of creating different categories of user access roles. Different categories means that you can create different membership levels, each of which will have varying level of access to your course. You can implement content restriction through configuring individual pages to allow access to only particular user role(s). Through partial protection within page you can display additional material within the same page for paying subscribers. This means that paying subscribers get access to more information without having to navigate to pages behind the paywall.
A useful feature for course creators is the ability to prevent multiple simultaneous logins. This is an effective deterrent against multiple users accessing your content via password-sharing.
eMember also enables drip-content – scheduling content periodically so that learners are not overwhelmed by information.
Membership 2 Pro
Membership 2 comes with a free version, which can be upgraded to a paid version for added functionalities and integrations. Because the base version is free, Membership is one of the most widely used memberships plugin.
Membership 2 has a great interface to guide users to use its features. This includes a New User Wizard, to help you get started. For each course/ lesson you create, you can set the membership levels that have access on the course/ lesson page itself. Likewise you can decide whether to release the content immediately or to delay it as part of the dripped content management.
The paid version of Membership 2 Pro offers a large range of integrations, including the payment gateways PayPal and Stripe.
4. Payment Gateway
An eCommerce platform is necessary to market your course, and to configure payment gateways such as PayPal and Stripe.
You can use WooCommerce to sell products. A product may be an online course. WooCommerce gives you a variety of options for selling your online courses. You may market individual courses online, or instead you may bundle multiple courses into a single package for learners looking for exhaustive subject-matter courses. The ability to tailor your course offerings for different users is a big advantage of using WooCommerce. Most Learning Management Systems and themes support WooCommerce, for which reason you are unlikely to find any compatibility issues with using WooCommerce for selling online course.
Both PayPal and Stripe integrate with WooCommerce. PayPal and Stripe offer different value offerings. The range of APIs that Stripe offers means that you can conveniently integrate Stripe with your WordPress online course website. PayPal on the other hand is largely popular for its reliability, ease-of-use and customer support. The transaction fees for both are roughly similar (PayPal charges extra for Pro and Business users)
5. Secure Video Hosting Plugin
The content and lights-camera-action in video production requires a huge investment outlay. Ensuring that the videos are not downloaded and shared illegally is critical. A video hosting plugin that is at the same time easy-to-use and secure is very useful. WordPress has an in-built video player, YouTube can also be used, but a dedicated video hosting for eLearning is recommended to allow viewers to view your content without glitches and at the same time ensuring highest security of your content.
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