Teach Online | Which Learning Management System is Right for You? | With Chris Badgett & Joshua Millage

Udemy, Teachable or Self-Hosting? Creators of LifterLMS and co-hosts of the LMSCast Podcast join me for a discussion on some online course publishing strategies.

In this episode I'm joined by Chris Badgett and Joshua Millage as we look at what the pros and cons of the various Learning Management System platforms available to the solo online course creator.

Chris says, “Choosing the technology should always come second to getting really clear on your unique value and what you're going to teach”.

Sometimes the cart gets put before the horse.

If you're looking at self-hosting you shouldn't just install a LMS plugin and set it up to work as a membership site. You can provide a very rich learner experience and incorporate engagement strategies.

It's interesting to learn that a freely available content management platform called WordPress powers 22% of the web. Its open architecture allows developers to add task specific functionality to an already rich and easy to use list of features.

Chris and Joshua looked around the online education space and decided to build a LMS platform that focused on engagement and was available on WordPress.

While not against the platforms such as Udemy, Teachable or Coursera, the guys at LifterLMS are also big believers in owning your own content, on your own platform.

What makes LifterLMS a more viable option to the solo online educator is what's included in the package.

There is nothing more frustrating than trying to string a number of plugins together to provide all the functionally you require. Inevitably a link in the chain will fail and you're left with an inoperable system and a number of less than satisfied students.

Chris and Joshua recognised that so they built LifterLMS to the be a complete solution right out of the box. LifterLMS comes standard with 4 key components -LMS features that allow you to build your course structure, assess student progress etc

eCommerce functionality that allows you to receive payments via PayPal. A Stripe addon is also available.

Student engagement monitoring, you can send emails directly from your WordPress plugin to students based on actions that they complete or even actions that they don't complete. Also included here is certification and gamification.

Full membership site functionality built in.

Everything is designed in order to allow the education entrepreneur to execute quickly and concentrate on their content.

LifterLMS also has a very active and supportive online community via their Facebook group.

In the past I've spoken about the issues I had in trying to setup my courses on my own WordPress site. Having to string together a number of plugins only to have the whole system fail. It was a lot of time and a bit of money wasted, but mostly it was frustration. Because when a link in the chain fails it's up to you to trace the problem and of course all the plugin developers swear their software is working perfectly.

It was this experience that pushed me away from recommending that online course creators host on their own site. It's just a big can of worms. Instead I recommended that instructors look towards platforms such as Teachable (formerly Fedora) where the developers of these platforms take care of all these headaches for you.

The downside to using platforms such as Teachable, Zenler and Edloud is that it costs you money, in some cases up to US$99 a month, to get all the premium features.

I'm still a big fan of owning your own content on your own site and LifterLMS definitely has my attention.

I have not tried LifterLMS myself and therefore cannot provide a personal recommendation at this time. I have however seen glowing feedback on the platform and spoken to instructors who are massive fans of the system.

If you are considering hosting your courses on your own site, then LifterLMS should definitely be on your list of platforms to trial and investigate.

Should you publish your courses to Udemy and similar platforms?

Absolutely! But you should use the likes of Udemy to cast a wider net, generate leads and attract them back to your self-hosted premium content.

Setting up my own website sounds scary. I want to host my own courses but don't know where to start.

There are a number of options you have here. At eCourse Domination we offer a range of coaching services, including a no obligation, free 20 minute session that can help you get on track.

LifterLMS are also bringing out a service called Boost, which is a done for you service, just give them your content and they'll set it all up for you.

Should I start with Udemy?

This really depends on you, your technical ability and how much time you want to spend on the backend. Do you have a list? Where is your audience?

If you're just starting out with no list and no audience probably Udemy is a better option for you. However, if you are tech savvy and know how to drive traffic to your site then there is no reason that you can't start out with self-hosting.

It also depends on where your audience is. If you are developing a corporate training program or looking at providing a large number of seats to various associations in a B2B scenario, then self-hosting is probably a better option.

What do I need to host my own online course?

There are a few things you'll need to put in place -

Web hosting service such as GoDaddy or BlueHost (from around US$3 per month)

Domain name that relates to your course or your school (approx. US$15)

WordPress installation - free

LMS plugin such as LifterLMS

Media host for audio and video files - Wistia, Vimeo, Amazon S3

A marketing and promotion plan

LifterLMS definitely makes it easy for the online education entrepreneur to get up and running quickly and with updates like plug and play themes for various types of courses, LifterLMS continues to bring great value to online instructors.

You can find out more about LifterLMS by clicking here

Also check out the LMSCast Podcast. It's packed full of useful information.

You can also follow Josh (@JMillage) and Chris (@ChrisBadgett) on Twitter.

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