How to Choose a Platform for Online Courses


More and more individuals are turning to online instruction as a means of saving money and resources otherwise spent on in-person trainings. Also, more and more subject experts are turning to online instruction as a means of increasing income on top of their incomes from their occupations in education. These reasons, among others, explain the increased prevalence and utilization of online course platforms.

One step one must take prior to looking for an online course platform is determining for him/herself what types of multimedia content should be incorporated into the course. Does he/she want to have content delivered through pre-recorded, video lectures? PowerPoint? Online readings? Webinar?  Understanding this will allow the course creator to then find an online course platform that will support all of these files.

Step 1: Look for an easy-to-use online course platform

The last barrier you want to face with interested learners is a confusing registration process. There is no reason why the online course platform format should stop learners from purchasing and participating in your online courses.

An easy-to-use platform for online courses should have an intuitive interface for course creators and for learners.  Course creators need the intuitive interface so that they can efficiently build their training programs without wasting time with extensive tutorials. Also, an intuitive platform makes it easier for new course creators or team members to learn the software quickly and collaborate with you on developing new online programs (Madda, 2017).

Having an easy interface also aids in learners’ pleasant experiences with your online courses. Pleasant course taking experiences lead to learners paying for more of your courses and telling their social circle about your online programs.

So, how do you ensure your platform for online courses is intuitive? It’s simple. Take advantage of free trials and really explore the features thoroughly on the course creator side and the learner side.

Step 2: Choose a platform for online courses with  eCommerce Capabilities

If you are looking to charge learners for online programs, ensure that there is a simple way for the online course platform to conduct and keep track of payment transactions. Rather than use a third-party for payment processing, ensure that exchanges are seamlessly integrated with your LMS.

eCommerce capabilities are essential for any person breaking into the online course business. Learn about the different payment processors, and understand which you would like to work with and then see if they can successfully integrate with the LMS platform you select.

Step 3: Look for a platform for online courses with customization features

When you are promoting your course, you are going to want a platform that integrates seamlessly with your personal brand. Don’t confuse learners by sending them to a third-party site to access your courses. Ideally, your online course platform can support a custom URL and your theme colors at the very least.

One example of a platform for online courses that will allow you to have a unique domain, a layout that reflects your business’s logo, and a layout with the colors of your choosing is CertCentral. CertCentral is a powerful platform for online courses by offering plans that are scalable for any budget!

Step 4: Research top platforms for online courses.

Once you have decided on the eCommerce integrations you want and the customization options you would like, it is now time to begin testing out different online course platforms. As mentioned above, it is important that you explore free trials of the top learning management systems during this stage in choosing an online course platform.

Ensure that these platforms are intuitive and can adapt to meet your online course needs before commiting to a subscription.

How do you find the top platforms for online courses? It’s easy. You can search capterra, a search engine for learning management system software–or you can use a broader search engine to read what others consider the top learning management systems and why.

Additionally, search for articles comparing and contrasting top online course platforms to help you make your decision as well. It’s helpful to gain perspective on a product from both the learning management system and also its consumers!

Step 5: Pilot your top 5 online course platforms with a test sample.

Once you have created at least 5 free trials on different top online course platforms–begin creating a smaller version of your course on each platform. Time yourself and see how long the upload process takes on each platform to determine which is most efficient.

Create a smaller version of your course that still utilizes all the forms of media you would like to use in your larger version. This way, there are no surprises when it comes time to create your larger version of your online course and you don’t learn that you cannot upload certain forms of media.

Create notes on your experience creating a course on each learning management system. Next, deliver your course online to a test sample of students. Deliver the same course to individuals on 5 different platforms and have students provide feedback on their course taking experience.

It is critical that learner feedback and your notes influence your decision regarding which online course platform best suits your needs.