How to find the perfect eLearning platform?
There are some absolute musts and don'ts in selecting the tool with which you can create, sell or otherwise deliver your online course content to your target group. But first, let's focus on why I think that selecting the most suitable platform from the beginning is so important.
Why is this important?
1. Do everything only once, if possible
Trust me, you really do want to select a platform with which you are satisfied after one or two years' usage. It may well be that after a year you have several courses built and if you then realize that you have to switch platforms, transferring your content to some other platform is not possible. Yep, there are only a couple of environments that allow you to transfer your courses. This means that you will have to build the courses all over again.
2. Brand & impression
The platform you selected is a part of your brand one way or another, no matter if you are selling your courses to your customers or if you are delivering internal training using it. Discontinuity in any kind of customer service is unwanted: you will have to instruct your customers or personnel on how to use the new platform.
You are probably paying a monthly or annual SaaS fee to the service provider, so it makes no difference to whom you pay it (of course the new platform may have a different price tag than the previous one), but if you have some integrations made between your eLearning platform and other systems, or if your platform has been branded to look and feel like your company, or if you have other extra work made, you will have to pay for all these again with regards to your new environment.
The selection process
Start by answering these questions:
what kind of content do you want to add to your courses
what is the purpose of your courses
what is the learners' profile
how many learners will there approximately be, monthly or annually
should the platform have an emphasis on independent or collaborative learning
is an eCommerce integration necessary
do you want to brand the platform to resemble your company's look & feel
what is your budget?
Once you have the answers figured out, you already have shortened the list of suitable eLearning environments.
Utilize trial periods
In my opinion, you cannot emphasize this too much. You cannot and you should not acquire any platform before you have used it, and a couple of other platforms, too. This is the only way to really find out if some platform is a match or not. Even if all the platforms you have shortlisted have the features you require, there will be big differences in the way they function, how they are used, what is their logic. And it makes all the difference whether you think using your eLearning platform is always painful or as easy as breathing.
If you will be the one creating content and building courses, test the platforms yourself. If there will be other admin users, include them in the testing process!
Pro tip: use the same content and create an identical course to each of the platforms you want to test. Pay attention:
how does the material fit the platform in question? e.g. to some platforms, you can embed iframes but you can't scale the content so that it looks good on all devices
what is it like to build the courses
how easy is the user-management
is it easy to use the platform? (I prefer almost intuitive easiness of use)
what does the material look like from the learners' point of view and using different devices and browsers
what kind of learning analytics is available from the platform?
If you want to upgrade your selection process, gather feedback from all the test users on all the bullets in your list, make a summary and select the platform purely based on the results of the summary.
In need of help?
Should you need help with regards to anything in eLearning, contact us! We give advice pro bono and also consult our customers. And you can, of course, get tailored eLearning content from us.