Producing a course for customers (not employees) - hosting advice

This may be a convoluted question, but here goes:

I am working with a non-profit client and the course that we are producing is going to be sold to customers, not used within a company for employee training.  I need to figure out a couple of things:

Output/hosting

I am only contracted to build the elearning course.  I am trying Articulate b/c of the ability to produce a CD version, as some of the customers are rural and may not have great internet access.  However,  I would like to phase in peer interaction outside of the articulate course like ning (or buddypress or elgg) and integrate webinars/synchronous learning as well.  I'd like to have all the related course options in one place, have it private and keep costs down, since they are non profit.  What do you think is the best route to go? 

I have thought of Moodle, and may go that route, but wondered what other suggestions you might have.  

I can also see them building more courses if this one is successful, so want the solution to be scalable.

Freelance processes

I am also wondering if anyone can share their processes for providing drafts to clients if you are an independent freelancer.   

Thanks for your input and any guidance you can provide.

Holly

3 Replies
James Brown

Holly,

If you are interested sharing something in the e-learning enviornment, Blackboard or "Coursesites" offers a free version where you can build instructions. However I think there needs to be a distinction made between e-learning / rapid development courses and an instructor lead online course. One is instructor led while the other is self paced learning.

Online Courses

Online courses that are presented in a LMS typically are instructor lead with the instructor guiding the student through the learning process. For example, I wanted to develop an online firearm safety course to substitute for Washington State's hunter education course where the course would run over 8 weeks and would be instructor led. I developed a lesson plan with activities on coursesites

To pass my course, students were going to have to do

* Read articles

* Watch videos

* Write about firearm related accidents in the home and in the field

etc.

Over the 8 week course they would have been guided through an actual online firearm safety course with an exam at the end. This type of e-learning enviornment could be termed instructor led with students doing the assignments in their spare time.

Hybrid Online Courses

The hybrid course is presented in a classroom atmosphere with assignments and interactions taking place in forums and blogs online.

Rapid E-Learning Courses

Rapid e-learning courses are quite the opposite. They are not instructor led and the learner goes through the material at their own pace. Rapid E-Learning courses are intended to teach the learner something and the goals needs to be obtainable and measurable.

Now the difference between the types of e-learning have been clarified, you need to think about your development of the materials. Since your client intends on selling the materials your best bet is going to be using Articulate or Adobe Captivate to create self sustaining E-Learning materials that will be presented in a DVD format.  To try and incorporate a LMS into this type of project, IMHO would only be a waste of time.  LMS's IMHO truely are meant for academia and public schools where courses are instructor led; where the instructor is the tour guide leading the learner in the quest of knowledge.

Others may disagree with me, but based on what I have learned about rapid e-learning development ans self paced learning, and what I already know about the scholarly teaching enviornment, an LMS would not be to your benefit for this project.

Holly MacDonald

Hi James

Thanks very much for your input - I am going to look at coursesites (first impressions sound good).  I understand your distinction between online courses and rapid e-learning courses.  I am really interested in blending all together.  The course is currently a 5 day face to face facilitator led train the trainer course, some learning outcomes which are best served outside the rapid course model.  Obviously that is waaaaay too much content to put in a rapid self-paced course (even though we will be redesigning for the medium, I can't take 5 days of content and squish it into a one hour course).  Moreover, the participants are certified to deliver the course to a local group following the completion of the course that I'm building.  The certification requirement is a reason that I would consider LMS for this group. I like the sound of coursesites as a moodle alternative. 

I am not a big LMS proponent, either.  And, they are not just academia, but widespread throughout industry/government, too. For this client it might be a good option to explore. This is, however, my first articulate experience as a developer, and there are nuances that I have to figure out.  

Thanks for helping me out so far!

Holly

James Brown

I found developing LMS courses may be accomplished pretty easy with Dreamweaver and I use CS3 Adobe Fireworks to create my graphics.  I also like Blackboards ability to share content and it's got forums and a gradebook built in. If you need assistance let me know. I have worked a little bit with Blackboard in the past and it's very nice for instructor based learning.