I’ve worked in the e-learning world for a long time. Most of my professional life. I thought I knew it inside out, but recently that changed…

I discovered the other e-learning!

For much of that time I was immersed in the learning technology scene. Through social media and presenting at conferences and seminars. But a year ago I pulled back a little. It wasn’t a conscious decision. A new role and direction meant I had less time and need to participate. But now I’m back and it seems like little has changed. That’s not a criticism, just an observation.

Everyone is still talking about the same stuff

How to do (or should we do):

  • 70/20/10
  • Mobile learning
  • Neuro-this and Neuro-that
  • Gamification (or what’s left of the idea)

They are all good things.. potentially. And I get that change is slow in corporate land, I spent a long time there. But outside the world of workplace e-learning, things have changed.

The Other E-Learning

Outside the world of work, e-learning is rampant. The other e-learning is driven by individuals more than organisations. Individuals are producing and selling their own content. Individuals who want to learn are finding and paying for content, or getting it for free. I’m not talking about Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) either. Although the style of content is very similar.

This movement is entrepreneurial not academic

How are these amateurs doing this without instructional design qualifications, or authoring tool experience?

There is a new breed of tool. Well in some cases, like Udemy, it’s not new at all. But the MOOC model has gone viral. Anyone with a passion for what they do can create an online course today. There are many options to choose from that offer all in one course design, website hosting and marketing machines.

Take your pick from all in one platforms like:

or WordPress solutions like:

(Look out for our platform and tool review, where we take a closer look at each of these – coming soon)

They all follow a similar model of linear, lecture driven content, with quizzing options. They are clearly inspired by the path the large MOOC providers EdXCoursera etc have followed.

Passion and Motivation

It’s hardly revolutionary, but it works because the people using these platforms are passionate about what they do and the consumers are passionate about learning. Contrast that with workplace e-learning, where you spend most of your time trying to convince clients that there is a return on their investment. Or trying to persuade reluctant learners to pay attention to something they have little interest in. It helps that the platforms are designed with sales and marketing in mind.

If you work in the corporate e-learning world you’ve probably never heard of most of these tools. And yet, with your skills you could use them to create good courses much faster than you can with your current setup. Everything is cloud based of course. So if you can access the site from work it may be a viable option.

If you’re a smaller company it’s an excellent way to start benefiting from online learning. The barriers to entry are low and so is the cost. If you’re a larger company you will have to fight the usual battles with IT and compliance. But what if you used it to build and sell (or give away) content to support your products and marketing?

Is It All Good?

The flip side of this approach is that a lot of the courses have quite average content. And that’s being kind. We’re talking narrated powerpoint and screen casting, or webcam videos. If you really want to do this well and stand out from the competition, you need to invest in creating quality content and get good at marketing.

You need to put as much effort into course design as marketing. If your customers don’t stick with your course, or they can’t put your ideas into action, they won’t come back. They won’t recommend you to their friends or share your course on social media.

Quality content requires good design. Yes it’s about well shot video and crisp writing. But it’s also about instructional design and user experience design. It doesn’t matter how good at marketing you are, if your content sucks.

This is a guest post by Sam Burrough , our colleague from Transform Learning.