EPISODE 90

3 Business Models for Online Language Learning Course Creators

If you know more than one language, you can teach it to others online. In this LMScast Chris Badgett will show you 3 business models for online language learning course creators to help you get started.

Language learning is in great demand for the global community. For jobs, travel, and social interaction, knowing multiple languages is a greater advantage than ever before. We’re going to show you 3 business models you can build on if you know more than one language well enough to teach it.

The first step is to find a niche. Think about who you want to teach and build your course for them, such as tourists, business executives, or trekkers. Get specific, like business English, English for Japanese travelers, or Nepali for mountain climbers. You could offer a traveler’s survival guide, like Thai for digital nomads, or English for people in the hospitality industry.

The first course model is a MOOC (Massive Open Online Course). It’s massive, because it’s open to anyone who wants to register, pay, and take the course, so you may have thousands of students at a time. And it’s online, so it’s available worldwide.

The blended model combines online coursework with in-person teaching and support. This is a good model for instructors who already traveled to other countries to teach, do classroom instruction, or conduct private lessons, but who want to expand their reach and depth. Online content provides most of the core learning with face-to-face sessions for support.

Finally, the flipped classroom puts students in control of their learning process and progress. The instructor provides content, materials, and support in an online classroom environment. Then at scheduled intervals they can meet in a virtual hangout like Skype, Zoom, or Google Hangouts for more personalized support.

If you’re a great teacher and these 3 business models for online language learning course creators resonates with you but you don’t have technological skills, our Boost service is here to build your course and get you started quickly. For more information on language learning courses, go to our LifterLMS language learning courses page.

Post comments and subscribe to our newsletter for updates, developments, and future episodes of LMScast. Thank you for joining us.

Chris: Hello, and welcome back to another episode of LMScast. My name is Chris Badgett, and in this episode we’re going to be talking about 3 business models for people who make online courses in the language learning niche. Language learning is a massive industry. I don’t know the statistics, but there is a lot of language learning happening all over the world. People learning their own language, people learning other languages, and for a variety of different reasons. Today I wanted to talk about the online course opportunity if you are a language learning professional, or you’re bilingual, trilingual, or you’re looking to build some kind of product or course in the language learning niche.

I wanted to go over three possible business models you could use to create a potentially hugely successful online course in the language learning niche. The first one I’m going to talk about is what’s known as a niche MOOC. What am I talking about here? What is a MOOC? MOOC is M-O-O-C, and it stands for Massive Open Online Course, that’s what a MOOC is. Essentially what that means is if you have a MOOC, you create a course, it’s available, there’s no limit. It’s available around the world. It could have 5 students in it, it could have 500,000 students in it. That’s the massive part, and it’s open. Anybody who finds it, signs up for it, pays for it, can take the course.

I recommend doing a niche MOOC, so what I’m talking about here is developing some kind of unique online course in a language learning niche that’s very niche. An example would be a business English course. You could create a course designed to help people who are learning English, it’s not their first language, become capable and adapt in business. It’s very different from just learning English, and learning how to talk to people on the street, and order food in a restaurant.

A Business English course would be more focused on the types of terminology, and the words that come up in business settings, and meetings, and business transactions, and banking, counting, all those kinds of things. Of course, you could have very beginner basic Business English, and you could have highly advanced Business English.

You could also have Business Japanese, where people who, let’s say executives from the U.S. are going over to Japan, and they want to put on a good impression, and try really hard to communicate in the native language where they are in Japanese, in my example. It’s not just all about learning English, it could be about learning anything.

Another example of a niche MOOC that you could be a traveler’s survival guide. Let’s say you want to go after the younger, work from anywhere, digital nomad, location independent traveler, that are going to Thailand in droves. You want to give them a Thai language crash course, tourists, travelers, location independent digital nomad survival guide course. That’s a very specific niche that you could do. You could also do that for people traveling to Spain, or Brazil, or any country, Russia.

You can create these niche online courses that are designed to teach people exactly what they need. Like our business example, which type of traveler are you catering to? I would not recommend a general language learning guide to Nepal in Nepali. I would not necessarily recommend that, I would go after people who are going to Nepal to climb mountains, so they’re mountaineering people, or trekkers. They’re going to be in the back country, they’re going to be with Sherpas, or passing through the villages, and stuff. They’re going to need to know certain words about mountains, and trails, and paths, and routes, and rocks, and weather. These are the kind of words that are important.

I encourage you to think in terms of niches. Don’t necessarily make an online course about learning Nepali, make it about here’s a crash course for mountain climbers traveling to Nepal, who want to speak Nepali when they go there.

To give you a third example, you can think in terms of economics if you’re trying to find a niche. What I mean by that is let’s say in developing parts of the world people can get better paying, or better condition jobs, if they speak English well in the hospitality niche. Maybe you want to develop a niche course designed to help people get better employment by learning English as it pertains to hospitality. You can see that’s a very specific niche, a very certain type of language learning that could be used in any country. You could focus on the country, or you could focus on the type of resort job seekers. You could focus on a niche like the area of conversation, whether it’s business, tourism, or hospitality.

The other thing you can do with online language learning courses is what I call a blended model. This is where people who are already, let’s say they have an degree in ESL, or teaching English as a second language. They go to places like Korea, they teach English to Koreans, but they’re trying to figure out how to make more money, make things more profitable.

What you can do is you can blend that in-person learning with online training, so that let’s say you need less in-person time, because a lot of your online, your video courses, are really where the content’s happening. You don’t necessarily have to be in that private tutoring session, or in that classroom to deliver the educational content. Though you do get together in-person, and you review the material, you talk about it, you reinforce it, you figure out where people are stuck, and you continue there.

The third model I want to tell you about today is what’s called the Flipped Classroom. I’m going to do an all virtual flipped classroom example for you. There’s no physical tutoring session one-on-one, or classroom where people go and sit inside the same room. Most of the learning is going to be passive, so the online course, whether it be videos, worksheets, exercises, and so on, audios, a lot of that happens in the online course.

Then, let’s say once a week, or once a month, or a small portion of the day, you get together with the teacher, either in a group or one-on-one scenario via technology like Skype, or Zoom, virtually. You have a Google hangout, you have a get together, like I said one-on-one, or as a group. In that case the teacher acts more as a resource to support the students where they’re stuck. The onus of learning is more on the learner, and not necessarily on the teacher to deliver.

It’s a very empowering thing, this concept of Flipped Classroom, where you give the student the control, and it’s up to them and their determination, and they get to set the pace, especially if it’s an asynchronous online course. Then you have that virtual hangout to clarify things, to help remove roadblocks, and that sort of thing. It’s taking the power away from the teachers, and giving it more to the students, and let them be the leader of their own learning journey.

In summary, we talked about three business models that are ways to approach creating online courses around language learning. We talked about the niche MOOC. We gave you an example of Business English, a traveler’s survival guide in a new language, and then a course or platform of courses, for people who are trying to get better, or desirable jobs in the hospitality industry serving English speakers.

The second model we looked at was a blended approach. Where you take your in-person class, or tutoring time, and you add in an online component, which frees up more of your time, or allows you to serve more people at once.

Then we also talked about the Flipped Classroom approach in a virtual setting where a lot of the learning happens in a passive online course. Then on some kind of schedule, or as part of the curriculum, or whatever, the group, or one-on-one meetings happen to reinforce the learning, or provide an opportunity for feedback, and that sort of thing.

If you are wanting to find out more about what this is all about, and explore the language learning opportunity with online courses, and you may be a good teacher, but maybe you’re not a technologist, or website builder, or learning management system person, or online course person. I want to encourage you to check out a service we offer where we help people like you who are interested in language learning, we deliver the technology piece to create that online platform for you.

I’d encourage you to go to LifterLMS.com/language-learning-courses. I’ve got more information, and discussion around this sort of thing. There’s a way to contact me if you’re interested in discussing that. Again, go to LifterLMS.com/language-learning-courses, and I can show you more about that technology piece. Tell you about if you are interested in having someone else do the technology piece, so that you have the platform that you can step into, go check that out. Thank you for listening to this episode of LMScast, and we’ll catch you in the next one.

EPISODE 89

Consider This If You Want to Make an Online Music Course

Plenty of people are successfully teaching music online. In this LMScast Chris Badgett will show you what to consider if you want to make an online music course. Not only can it be done, but you have more options for music instruction online than ever before.

Right now there are musicians teaching people to play music by ear, giving piano lessons, and even doing live one-on-one instruction through the internet. Your first step is to realize that it’s possible for you to do this. Next you’ll decide whether your venue should be passive or active.

Traditionally you would teach music classes in a studio or classroom, at your home, or even the student’s residence. With online music instruction you can teach anyone anywhere in the world. Whether you’re presenting a passive fixed curriculum on audio, video, and print media, or arranging for live, active training sessions via Skype or Zoom, you only need a minimal setup.

Basic requirements include internet access and the ability to teach. There’s no loss of time, travel, or overhead costs. Decide if you’re going to offer passive instruction, personalized training, or a combination of the two. It’s often a good idea to offer a low-cost passive online music course with the option to pay a higher fee for live instruction via Skype. The greater value you offer, the more you can charge. You do need good enough equipment to produce decent quality sound reproduction, but it doesn’t need to be perfect. Your teaching style and methodology are most important, especially starting out. The key to grabbing an audience is to target a niche and give them options.

If you’re ready to get started, there are some great tools to accomplish that and to build it yourself, like our LifterLMS course development platform for WordPress. But if you really just want to teach your course, our Boost service will get your course built and ready to go quickly and smoothly.

So consider this if you want to make an online music course: You absolutely can. You’ll reach a greater audience with fewer obstacles, and do it on your terms. If you’re technically savvy and/or on a tight budget try a demo of our LifterLMS course development platform. Or if you just want to teach music without having to become a web technician, try our Boost service. For more information about teaching music online go to lifterlms.com/my-music-courses.

Post comments and subscribe to our newsletter for updates, developments, and future episodes of LMScast. Thank you for joining us.

Chris: Hello, and welcome back to another episode of LMScast. My name is Chris Badgett, and in this episode we’re going to be talking about things you need to consider if you’re thinking about creating an online course as a musician. The first thing I want to say with teaching music, it might seem impossible to do that through the internet, but it is actually quite possible. There’s people making great income, have built a great business and helped a lot of people learn different music skills on the internet.

A couple of examples that come to mind are Jermaine Griggs or Driggs. I think I’m saying his name right. He teaches people how to play music by ear. I know people who teach music through Skype from different parts of the world. I know others who teach people how to play piano in a passive format where there’s no live interaction. It’s just more of a teaching method and methodology. It is very possible. The first thing you need to consider if you’re going to be teaching music online or creating an online course around an instrument or some kind of musical education is to realize that it’s very possible, and there’s a lot of great examples of people out there who are already doing it.

The first big thing we need to think about once we’ve made the decision that yes, it’s possible to create an online music course is to think about the venue. We may be very used to having a music studio that our students come to, or making house calls, or teaching in some kind of music school or classroom. The venue is always the challenging part about music. But with the internet we have venues all over the place. It’s wherever there’s a good internet connection and a laptop computer even a tablet or a mobile phone. First we need to just think about the venue.

Once we come to terms with the fact that, okay, we can do it from anywhere, as long as we have a quiet environment or whatever, we can create our training or have our live music class with a student through the internet, that really solves the venue problem. It’s also really efficient. It saves a lot of time traveling to classes or paying for the overhead of buildings, taking the commute out, and all that sort of thing. Really you can reach the entire world, which is amazing. If you’re used to just teaching within a 100 or 50 or 20 miles of where you live, what if you could teach whatever your specialty is across the entire world? The venue question, now that starts to dissolve away.

It’s important to have good equipment, so you can get good sounds, like have a room or just somewhere to do your online music courses, whether it’s passive or active, where there’s decent quality. Don’t get too obsessed, because you may not need top shelf recording studio quality audio, and video, and equipment, and that sort of thing. The most important thing is that you have a methodology, you have a way of teaching people, and your hardware, your software, everything is good enough to make it happen.

The next thing we need to think about is are we going to be teaching in a passive manner, or are we going to be teaching in an active manner? A passive music course you could record on your own from home. Let’s say teaching people how to play piano by ear. You could record that course and teach all that’s possible without ever interacting with the student. Tape record those in terms of videos, maybe have some worksheets, some PDF documents, maybe some audio that goes in your lessons, and you’re good to go. That’s a very passive version.

Let’s say you’re teaching somebody how to play a very popular rock and roll song like Stairway to Heaven or something like that on the guitar. You could do that and not have any live interaction with your student. You can put it online, and say for $19 or $99, I’m going to teach you to go from not knowing how to play the guitar to being able to play Stairway to Heaven after a couple of weeks of practice. That’s very acceptable. That’s a passive online course, probably video based, audio based, that sort of thing.

If we want to go active or in person what we do is we create a … We need to have a way to also meet with people. you could do that with a service like Zoom, I recommend and also with a service called Skype, I’m sure you’ve heard of, some kind of way to meet in person. What I recommend if you’re going to do that, yes you don’t need the venue anymore. You can do it with your computer from anywhere, but you’re not really scaling yourself. You’re still trading your time for money. What I would recommend you do is consider a blended approach where you have some video content.

Let’s go back to our example of learning to play Stairway To Heaven on the guitar. Let’s say you offer that, and you have the video lessons and so on, but then you also offer a weekly one-on-one 30 minutes to an hour session were you meet directly with student. Then you can critique them. Maybe you noticed they’re holding the fretboard wrong, or they’re not quite getting the chords right, or something, they have some bad habit that’s preventing them from mastering the song. You can help them develop as a musician in a live manner. That then compliments the online or passive training you have. That’s the blended approach, which I highly recommend.

That’s also a lot more valuable. If we sell our passive version, learn to play Stairway to Heaven in a weekend for $19, if it’s going to include four 30-minute sessions, I might now charge $200, $300, because you are getting me one-on-one as a teacher, so therefore there’s more value there. That’s another great thing about using an online service to have a live meeting. Video face meetings aren’t just for corporations or for connecting with family who lives on another part of the country or in another country. It’s also for that kind of exchange. There’s some great tools out there for that.

Then the last thing I would say to consider is just if you are creating a music course, is to be careful, because you’ve mastered the skill of learning to play an instrument. You’ve developed habits there. You’ve developed proficiency. There’s a cognitive bias we often fall prey to you called, I believe it’s called the fundamental attribution error, which means just because I’m good at something or this skill, I’ll be good at another skill. If you’ve develop the skill as a musician, you’ve proven that you have endurance, and that you can work at something for a long time and become good and almost bring the talent into your subconscious, so you can play or sing without thinking about it.

The skill of building an online course and integrating the live components, it’s not necessarily … The tools are out there, and yes, if you want to tinker around with it you can, and you can figure that stuff out. I recommend you should do that if you’re on a really tight budget. If you have some funds and you’re looking to set something up or have the online piece set up for you, I would encourage you to have a professional do that. We have a service where we do that for people. A lot of them actually are musicians or other kind of artists. It’s for people who are already successful. They know they don’t want to learn how to become web developers come and designers. They just want that technology partner to help with that. You can learn more about that if you go to lifterlms.com/my-music-courses. That’s lifterlms.com/my-music-courses.

I’ll tell you a little bit more about that, but first let me just say I wish you all the best. There’s so much great musical talent out there, especially if you have a micro niche like something … I would encourage you to get really specific and make your offering very niche, like learn how to play Stairway to Heaven in the weekend or teach somebody how to play one song on the ukulele. These are great courses where it’s not necessarily like ukulele 101. They’re really targeted and specific. I think you’ll be more likely to get some early success than if you are general in nature. I wish you all the best in creating your online music courses. We will catch you in the next episode.

EPISODE 88

The Health and Fitness Online Course Opportunity

In this LMScast Chris Badgett talks about the health and fitness online course opportunity for personal trainers and anyone else who is passionate about what you do.

There’s an abundance of niches and micro niches in the health and fitness community, and a steady steam of newcomers who want to learn how to get fit and healthy. If you can teach them, then you have a unique advantage in offering online courses. Look at CrossFit, vegan, ultra-endurance, Paleo, bodybuilding – the list goes on. And each niche has sub-niches, or micro niches. The more you can specialize, the more successful you can become by offering information no one else has.

With online courses you can also reach a worldwide audience, not just the few people who come into your local gym, box, or yoga class. Your online income potential is also greater than you can earn with conventional training. If you sell your $100 course to 100 people through the internet, that’s $10,000. And a micro niche audience is willing to pay more for what they can’t find elsewhere.

Your most valuable asset is your passion for health and fitness. You’re training people to follow your nutrition plan or fitness regime because it’s a discipline you follow yourself, and it works for you. The money is secondary, and you’ve likely already trained a lot of people for free. Now you can reach many, many more. You simply need to learn how to package your knowledge and ability to teach into an online course environment.

The technology around online course development may seem intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be a barrier. If you’re tech savvy, you can use our LifterLMS course development platform to build, manage, market, and sell your online courses. Or if you simply want to focus on training, our Boost service will build your course for you, complete and ready to go. Either way you own your platform, and all the income you generate is yours.

More than ever before the world needs people like you to leverage the health and fitness online course opportunity and drive positive cultural change. Choose a platform like LifterLMS or a service like Boost to make your online courses a reality. Try a demo of LifterLMS today and experience our course development platform.

Post comments and subscribe to our newsletter for updates, developments, and future episodes of LMScast. Thank you for joining us.

Chris: Hello, and welcome back to another episode of LMScast. My name is Chris Badgett, and in this episode we’re going to be talking about the health and fitness online course business opportunity. We all know if you’re in the health and fitness niche that there is a lot of things going on. There’s a lot of different niches that people are operating in, whether that be CrossFit or vegan nutrition or ultra-endurance, athleticism. There’s so many different niches in the health and fitness community that it’s just really a big world out there.

We’ve all heard that you can make money with online courses. It’s interesting to look at the health and fitness niche because people there have a unique advantage, and I want to go over how you, if you’re in the health and fitness community, you have an advantage over others in creating your potential online course business and what the opportunity really looks like. Just to touch on the opportunity, the world is a really big place, as we know, and a lot of us in health and fitness, we probably are only able to reach our local community or the people in our yoga class, or the people in our gym if we’re a personal trainer, the people in our restaurant if we’re a professional health-conscious chef and that sort of thing.

There’s this big opportunity with the scale of the internet, and just to put it all in perspective, if we are to look at the niches, if you were to look at traditional book publishing, and you were to go into a Barnes & Noble or a major book retailer, they’re going to have some interesting niche books, because they’re going to have some books for example, like on a vegan cookbook, a vegan recipe book. There’s niches if you go one layer down that are just too small for a big-box store to put effort into titles, but that’s where the big opportunity is, because just because one bookstore that’s mainstream and in major urban centers can’t carry enough of that book, there’s still an opportunity. There’s still a community out there.

Let’s say you just need 100 people. If your course is $100, that’s a $10,000 income potential. Let’s say you find 1,000 people. That’s $100,000 income potential. That may not actually be 1,000 people for a book, may not be enough for Barnes & Noble to put it on the shelves. I would encourage you to think about micro niches and go in one niche down.

The other thing that’s out there that’s interesting in the health and fitness community is that you’ve likely already taught it, or you’ve gone through this transformation yourself, so you’re now already teaching it to other people, perhaps in the brick and mortar space but not on the internet. You have a teaching methodology. You need to translate it and package it in a way that’ll work online. You have that teacher mindset. That’s not going to be new to you.

The other thing that you have is just a lot of passion. When I see people who are in the health and fitness world, they have quite a bit of passion. That passion is going to carry you through the hard times, the difficult times. Building a successful online course is not just about making money, or it’s a business opportunity. You have to have passion. You have to care about the impact you create in other people’s lives. You have to care about the work you do and the micro niche that you’re in, whether that’s vegan body building, some kind of specialized yoga, some kind of injury recovery system, and so on. There’s just so many really fascinating micro niches out there. You’ve got that passion, and really, just know that it’s not that hard to find 100 people around the world if you’re passionate. If you’re not that passionate or you haven’t really niched down to that micro niche, then you might have a harder time. I’d encourage you to niche down and really use that passion.

The other thing is there’s schools out there in technology where it can be intimidating, especially if you’re in the health and fitness world, and you’re not really in the internet world. Just know that the technology does not have to be complicated. I’ve got a link over here to a service we offer to get your health and fitness course up and running on a platform you own where you’re not sharing revenue with some big, online course provider or something like that, where you keep it all. You own it all. It’s your content. You own everything. It’s just an online course delivery system or a learning management system. If you want to check that out, go to lifterlms.com/my-health-and-fitness-courses. That’s lifterlms.com/my-health-and-fitness-courses. To know that the technology piece doesn’t have to be difficult, if you do want to learn technology and spend time developing skills and how to build a website and so on, that’s totally fine. You can do that, but just know that you don’t have to.

I just encourage you to keep up the great work, and it’s great to have people who are passionate about health and fitness out there because the world needs you, especially in the various niches in this age of technology overwhelm and attention. It’s hard for people to stay focused, a lot of stress is increasing and so on. Health and fitness is a really big part of positive culture change moving forward. Thank you, and I wish you the best on your health and fitness courses.

EPISODE 87

How to Launch a Business, Marketing, or Leadership Online Course

If you’ve been thinking about building an online course, this LMScast is for you. Chris Badgett tells you how to launch a business, marketing, or leadership online course even if you’ve never had a website before.

If you’re like Chris you have experience, skills, and expertise in leadership, marketing, and/or entrepreneurship, and you’re passionate to share your knowledge with others. Online courses will allow you to reach learners around the world who are hungry to learn what you can teach them.

You can enjoy a side income from your courses, or possibly even leave your existing job to do eLearning full time. First you need a foundation to build upon, and that consists of 3 parts: the teacher (you), the content, and the delivery system.

There is no course without your business, marketing, and leadership expertise. You must have valuable information to share. But you also need to be a good communicator. It will help if you are already training and mentoring people in some area of your life or work.

The second element is your learning content and instructional design. This is where you take what you know and package it into a course design other people can learn from. It needs to be clear and accessible and deliver a desired result for the learner. You’ll want to plan your content and decide how to present your information before you start building the course.

Once you’ve put your course together, you have to make it available. You need a course delivery system, possibly a full learning management system. You can either host your course at a site like Udemy — pay their fees and play by their rules — or host it yourself and have complete control of your learning environment.

Our LifterLMS software solution lets you create, administer, and sell your online courses on your WordPress website. If you have technical ability and want to do it yourself, this is a great option for you.

If you have a great course but don’t want to handle the technical end yourself, our Boost service offers you the option to professionally put together your eLearning site in just 5 days and get you started at the level where you’re most comfortable.

Knowing how to launch a business, marketing, or leadership online course begins with your abilities as an instructor and your instructional design. Once you have that you can choose your course delivery. If you’re ready to build it yourself, try a demo of LifterLMS, or if you want to focus solely on your course try our Boost service.

Post comments and subscribe to our newsletter for updates, developments, and future episodes of LMScast. Thank you for joining us.

Chris: Hello and welcome to this Blab where we’re going to be talking about how to launch your online course if you’re into leadership, business, or marketing. If you have skills or life experience or passion in those areas and you’ve ever thought about launching an online course as a way to create more income and impact in your life, this Blab, this video is for you. My name’s Chris Badgett; I’m the cofounder of LifterLMS. It’s a powerful tool for creating online courses on your own WordPress-powered website. It makes it easy to create, sell, protect your engaging online courses with a simple WordPress website.

I want to talk about this a little bit. This is definitely an area of passion for me since I have a background in leadership and in marketing. Also, I’m an entrepreneur. I run a business. I love learning new things about business and entrepreneurship. Because of that, I have a lot of time and experience and skills that I could go out and I could create an online course about those things. There’s lots of you out there like me who have skills in these areas.

The purpose of this Blab here is to show you where your blind spots might be, because launching an online course always sounds like a good idea, you could teach to people all of the world and potentially produce a significant side income or even replace your existing job, but there’s a lot of pieces that have to click together in order for you to successfully launch that course and launch that as a business, as part of your brand or your entrepreneurship strategy.

First I’d like to say that there’s really three parts to creating and launching an online course. The first part is really it’s you. It’s your expertise. It’s your skills in business. That’s what you bring to the table. That is only 33% of what you need to have a successful online course. The other piece that you need is you need to take all that value and package that into a digestible, easy to follow, attractive, impact-producing online course. Some would call that instructional design. In order to do that, if you’re in business, or you’re into leadership, or you’re into marketing, you’re probably above average communicator and have probably had to mentor or guide people before. You have some experience there in creating a learning process, or training somebody in some activity, or teaching somebody something. But you really need to design your course so that it has a clear promise, it has a clear start and end, it’s well organized, and it can really take that person that you’re trying to get to improve in their business through a desired result.

The classic mistake that people make is trying to cram too much into an online course. You know a lot about business and entrepreneurship and marketing, but you don’t necessarily have to package it all into one course. When you’re designing and creating that design around your learning content, that instructional design, really have a clear picture of what you’re helping, and what the starting point, and the end point, and what your promise is. Then when you create that training, you yourself may not have a lot of technical experience, or video experience, or internet experience. That’s okay. There’s people out there that can help record videos or show you how to use the tools that you already have on our computer. The most important thing is to just either hire somebody to help or to get it done and don’t focus on being perfect.

Because if we look around us, we’ve all had those great coaches, those great bosses, those great leaders or managers in our life who we had an in-person experience with. Maybe that was a long time ago before the internet was big, or maybe that leader or that person or that mentor is just not a real technology person so everything was just conversational. The real opportunity here … when I see somebody like that, I’m like wow, that leader or that businessperson, that entrepreneur has so much value but they’re only ever able to deliver to that group of people who immediately surround them, or at the conference or whatever. That’s the big opportunity, is we need to take all this great value and package it in an online format. The best way to think about that is creating multimedia content in terms of videos, audios, text, images, worksheets, infographics. Whatever you can think of in a multimedia format, because there’s different learning styles, is really important. You put that into your lessons.

Then your lessons, I recommend mapping it out on paper, like what is the process I’m taking this new person through in my online course. You have to develop that, and then you have to fill that architecture with the various components or bite size pieces of lessons, which you can then have a hierarchy and organize a group of lessons into what we would call a section. A classic way to divide a course is into three sections. You could look at that as a possibility. That’s number two. That’s the instructional design. Again, number one is the expert; that’s you. Number two is actually creating learning content or the instructional design.

The third thing you need to do to launch a successful online course is to have an online course delivery system or a learning management system. There’s lots of options out there. You could choose a hosted solution like Udemy. The trouble is there that’s like the Walmart of online courses. It’s not your platform and there’s going to be a lot of competition there. You have to play by their rules and share revenue with them and that sort of thing. It’s not necessarily a bad idea.

The other option is to host your own, which I definitely recommend to create your own training site. The way that works is you get web hosting. If you haven’t had a website before, essentially you create a website that is able to deliver the online course, to protect the material, and to handle the ecommerce component, if you’re selling your course, to collect the money for that one time or that recurring payment. Now that’s all possible with our software that we make, LifterLMS.

The reality is, what you would need to do is if you’re not already technical or have a background with using tools like WordPress, or working with webhosting, and working with embedding content into webpages, some people come to us and they go through our boost services to have us do it for them so that third leg of that stool, the learning content delivery system, it’s not a new skillset they have to learn. That’s something that we help with at LifterLMS.

Just to recap on how that works. There’s really those three components. There’s you as the expert. There is the learning content, like packaging that material, that value that you have inside of you, into an online course. Then the third piece is to have that online course delivery system that’s going to handle all of the mechanism of having a user account, manage the transaction of the money if you’re selling your online course. You’re really have to have those three things come together for it to all work out.

If you check us out at lifterlms.com/boost … I’ll put that in the chat here … you can see where we have a way to set that all up for people. If you’re comfortable with building your own website, you can use our free software, LifterLMS, and get up and running. We have a lot of people come to us who aren’t technologists; they’re experts and they just want help. They want it done correctly. They want it done fast.

When we set up a learning site for somebody, we do it in just five days. We set up all the tools. It’s up to you whether we install the content or not. We take that whole technical piece out of the equation and get that done for people. If you want to see some examples of some learning sites that are powered by LifterLMS, I think a great one is wp101.com. That’s a technology training site. There’s a lot of great opportunities to package all that information that you have, all that knowledge, all that wisdom, all that hard work, all that life experience into an online course. I encourage you to focus on that. If you’re just in the beginning and you know you’re the expert, don’t even look at the software, don’t even look at our boost services. Look at the instructional design piece. Spend some time thinking about it, thinking about how you could best train somebody in a digital format, like what resources would you give them, what kind of video presentations or slideshows, what kind of PDFs, audios could you deliver, infographics.

Maybe you’d like to include a live coaching call, one on one or one to many. All that stuff is possible. Really think about how you can package, design that content. Then after that, it will be time to look at the course delivery system or the learning management system. Thank you very much for coming. If anybody has any questions or would like to discuss working together, you can find me at lifterlms.com. If you’re one of those people who are looking to not do the technology part and just have it done for you, check out lifterlms.com/boost. Thank you all.

EPISODE 86

Am I Making a Membership Site, Online Course, or Learning Management System?

In today’s LMScast Chris Badgett tells why you need to ask yourself this one question before you build your eLearning site: Am I making a membership site, online course, or learning management system? You may be thinking they’re all pretty much the same thing, but there are differences that become significant as you decide what you want your site to do. So let’s start by defining each kind of site.

A membership site is an online content resource that users pay a fee to access. It may include an email newsletter, media files, interactive groups, or other features and materials. There may be online courses included in the membership as well.

An online course is an educational or training class that’s delivered over the internet instead of in a classroom. Many universities are offering some classes as MOOCs (massive open online course), but online courses can also be developed by individuals who have knowledge and skills they want to share. These courses employ text, audio, video, and other content in an engaging learning package.

A learning management system, or LMS, is the next level up from a simple online course. This is where you want to offer tests and quizzes, grading and analytics, and tracking and certification, possibly for multiple courses and levels in one or more subject areas.

You can see the importance of knowing what you want to build before you start putting it together. It’s also a good idea to think ahead from what you want to start with to where you might want to scale to in the future.

Whether you want to make one or a blend of these site formats, our LifterLMS course development plugin for WordPress will help you build it. We’ve designed LifterLMS with engagement at the core, so whatever you create will attract an audience and hold their attention with elements like attractive themes, multimedia, gamification, easy integration with other tools, and personalized interaction with students.

Before you even think about software, web hosting, or technology, make sure you’re clear on this question: Am I making a membership site, online course, or learning management system? Then try a demo of LifterLMS to see how this course development platform can help you build the site you really want.

Post comments and subscribe to our newsletter for updates, developments, and future episodes of LMScast. Thank you for joining us.

Chris: Hello. We’re back with another episode of LMScast. My name is Chris Badgett. In this episode we’re going to be answering a question you should be asking yourself, which is am I creating a membership, and online course, or a learning management system? This is a big question that comes down to semantics, and people are often confused. What I mean by that is somebody may be trying to build a membership site, or they at least think they are, but they actually are trying to build a learning management system. Or somebody might be trying to build a learning management system, but all they really need is a simple online course site or online course delivery system for their material.

Let’s break this up and explain what all these different approaches to what seem like the same thing but actually aren’t and help you understand the landscape around membership sites, online courses, and learning management systems and how they’re different. First I’d like to give a shout out and just thank a good friend, mentor, colleague, industry thought leader, and fellow person in the online course learning management system space, and that’s Chris Lema. He wrote a post about asking this question am I building an online course, a learning management system, or a membership site, and depending upon your answer to that question you’re going to need different tools. So thank you to Chris for inspiring some of the ideas behind this episode.

To start off, we’ve always said at LifterLMS we’re kind of the next evolution of the membership site. What we like to see is we like to see people not just trying to create a membership and put stuff a bunch of content behind a pay wall, but actually create an engaging learning experience for the people that come to this system. That’s always been our angle at LifterLMS and why we’ve focused on creating an engagement system that makes courses more gamified, fun, engaging, and really help scale the human touch of the instructor in the online course.

Let’s just back up for a second and talk about a membership site. A membership site is for having content behind a membership level where you’re basically blocked unless you pay the membership for a one-time or recurring fee in order to access that material. That’s a membership site put simply. Another membership might just be some kind of access to an email newsletter that’s not free. It’s a paid membership. A membership is a very basic thing and you can put different types of content behind it. Online courses and engaging learning experience is just one example of what could be included in the membership, or a membership could just be really simple, like I said, and just be a premium email newsletter that has a monthly fee or a one-time fee. That’s a membership.

An online course, or if you look at something called a MOOC, the acronym or that is M-O-O-C, massive open online course, these are where universities put their courses online for the world to see on a platform like Udemy, which brings courses to the masses, these systems are essentially just delivering an online training of some kind. They’re full of oftentimes video or audio content, perhaps some other multimedia, like PDF downloads or lists of resources and links to external sites and stuff. That’s basically an online course.

The thing I really want to focus on here is what’s the difference between an online course and a learning management system, or LMS? Before I get into that, I just want to say with LifterLMS, the online course software that we create, you can actually use it to create a membership site. You can use it to create an online course. If you started using a lot of the features in there and really getting into it, you’re really getting into using a learning management system and doing more than just creating an online course delivery system or a membership delivery system.

The difference between an online course, or shall I say the evolution beyond an online course to a learning management system, is where you get into fancier elements where you may need to have quizzing to reinforce the learning, the gamification like we have with LifterLMS with achievements and certificates. Looking at student analytics, now we’re really starting to get into the management system part of it all. You can add and remove students from courses. It’s not simply just an online video course with a bunch of videos put in a certain order.

There’s nothing wrong with that, and perhaps your material caters to that just simple online course format, but when you want to get into more advanced things with your online courses and perhaps you want to start blending in memberships too, which you can do with LifterLMS, then you want to be able to drill down and look at what is this one particular student doing, where are they at, where are they stuck, what’s the last lesson completed, how many days has it been since they last logged in, these are all things you can do with LifterLMS and these are examples of a learning management system in action.

I just want to ask you to take a step back and ask yourself are you really building a membership site or are you trying to build an online course or do you need a learning management system? The truth is here at LifterLMS our software can really cater to all that, depending upon what you’re trying to do, especially in terms of creating and delivering an online course. You can do a simple online course with LifterLMS, but you can also do a more complete, robust learning management system that includes online courses with LifterLMS as well, so take a step back and before you start selecting your software tools and the website materials and all the technology stack that you’re going to need for your education project think about it for a second. Do you need a membership site plug-in? Do you need an online courses plug-in? Do you need a learning management system plug-in? Which one of those are you?