Starting the Discussion
Justin co-founded LearnDash with his wife as a WordPress plugin that allows you to create or sell a scalable, online learning system. Today, his role involves advising on product conversations, networking with people in the space, and staying on top of the evolving industry. He also writes frequently and shares how LearnDash itself actually started with his blog which focused on exploring and discussing the potential of a WordPress LMS.
Prior to LearnDash, he was an e-learning consultant to organizations like the US Government, Dow Chemical, and 3M. He was instrumental in setting up their new learning procedures, from content creation delivery to post-training analysis. During one of these projects, the concept of open source LMS came up, and this made him wonder if this existed yet for WordPress. He did some research and started a blog to discuss what this might look like. They eventually launched LearnDash to their email subscribers.
“I think we (LearnDash) have a vision that is coming from my deeper history in e-learning… our approach to how we develop products often keeps along a consistent trajectory of implementing features that aren’t just going to be trendy, but that are actually going to lend themselves to an enjoyable online learning experience.”
Do you need an LMS?
An LMS allows you to deliver and track training.
If you have a few videos and content, a membership login might be all you need.
However, if you have a library of videos, a certain order they need to be delivered in, and quizzes your audience needs to take, then an LMS course becomes valuable. Most importantly, if you want to offer formal certifications, an LMS is definitely necessary.
Today’s fast-paced culture and shrinking attention spans make microlearning and microcontent the ideal format for e-learning courses. Justin says bitesize content that can be delivered quickly not only has a higher level of engagement but also creates learning momentum.
He says another thing to keep in mind is the method of delivery. If you have video, offer transcripts. And, not every lesson needs to be video. You can also implement quizzes, downloads, and exercises.
His advice is to start a wireframe or roadmap of your course so that you have a clear plan and purpose before building your structure. This streamlines implementation.
Marketing an Online Course:
- Set up some form of content: a podcast, blog, or YouTube channel. Start the discussion. Gauge the feedback. Also, listen to the Andy Crestodina and Joanna Wiebe episodes for sound advice on listening to your audience and what they need from you.
- Start small, create the first few lessons or do a webinar, and market it to your list. Then, see what response you get.
- Understand feedback as a barometer, not a driver of your content: be confident that you are the subject matter expert in the content you are creating.
Justin defers to Troy Dean when it comes to marketing insights, who markets his courses by focusing his selling point on what you’ll accomplish after you complete the course.
“Before he builds the course out, he sends his list a pitch to come join him on a paid webinar… if people are willing to pay to get that information… chances are they’re going to pay for a course or a more advanced topic in that area.”
Starting the Course:
Justin emphasizes the importance of spelling out exactly what your students do after signing up, setting up immediate wins, and building community.
“If you can create a community within your course topic, then it is going to be more successful in the end than just a static course.”
Also crucial to plan for when building a course is the amount of time it takes to develop something of quality. He typically quotes 99 hours of development for every one hour of training. You can read more on this topic on his blog, here.
Creative Use of their Software:
Justin credits The Great eCourse Adventure for creating one of the most innovative, immersive learning experiences with LearnDash.
Take your competitors’ courses to see what they are achieving and where you could add value, have an original idea, or make your field better.