Where do I get my learning material?

What Are Online Courses Made Of?

Use text and images as basic course content
Complexity: Low

Text and Images

Tried and true, low-tech, fast-loading, easy to acquire and implement.

PowerPoint slides can be easily imported into a course
Complexity: Moderate

PowerPoint Presentations

Easy to create, and popular, but need to be converted to a deliverable format.

Videos and other miltimedia are good learning material
Complexity: Moderate to High


A favorite of most online learning communities, may be various lengths and sizes.

Audio helps increase learner engagement
Complexity: Moderate

Audio Narrations

Narrations help emphasize the information in each lesson, and increase engagement.

Course exercises help insure knowledge transfer
Complexity: Low

Learner Exercises

These exercises keep the learner focused and help with knowledge transfer.

Knowledge assessments measure how much learning material has been retained
Complexity: Low

Knowledge Assessments

A knowledge test may be required before, during, or after an online course.

What Tools Are Used To Create Courses?

There is no standard, universal course-builder tool

A wide variety of tools - software applications and desktop editors - are used to build online courses. Some of them create content, for example video, by capturing screen activity. Examples of these tools are Camtasia, Captivate, and Articulate. These software packages create video files which can be used in online courses.

Other software systems assemble content and create the actual lessons and courses. These systems let a user build a course by aggregating text, PDF's, audio, video, and images into a structured course. They are typically run on a web server (or in the cloud) rather than a user's desktop.

It is also possible to create very useful learning content from PowerPoint. There is an excellent source of information about ways to convert PowerPoint slides to online lessons at

People Involved In a Learning System

Course authors - Creators of actual courses, lessons, and tests

These important contributors are usually subject matter experts, or SME's. They will want an LMS that is available when they need it. They will also want an easy-to-use interface that lets them focus on knowledge transfer rather than technology. And they will expect your course management system to be able to handle several content formats, as identified above.

System Administrators - People responsible for configuring and operating the platform

Learning system administrators will actually set up and configure your LMS, often with help from the technology supplier. This involves tasks like choosing performance and behavior options, establishing the appropriate system settings, and importing learners into the database. In a small project, they may "wear several hats", also also perform authoring or other duties.

Executive Sponsors- Overall responsibility rests with these key leaders.

An executive sponsor is, first and foremost, the individual who pays the cost of the learning technology. He/she may also be a resource to advise users on the best strategies to use in selecting training topics and priorities. The executive sponsor should be seen as an advocate for the online education project, and should encourage management and staff to make the best use of the LMS and related resources.

Online Learners - Users of the student module and the target of the training itself

Your online learners, or students, will consume the training, and are the reason the learning project exists. They may be employees, customers, or business partners, or simply web site visitors with a specific need. Learners will use a different login screen and menus to access the LMS, as compared to authors and administrators. The benefit gained may be continuing education, compliance with regulations, performance improvement, or simply additional knowledge.

Technical Support - Keeping the system running.

Tech support staff would be responsible for the server hardware, network connectivity, database, software installation and updates, and in some cases answering users questions. However, in a cloud-based solution, where the system supplier also handles hosting, tech support would come from the supplier, and would generally be limited to software issues, and the responsibility to keep the system running.

Instructors - Guidance and expertise on the subject

With the advent of self-paced online learning, there are fewer instructors involved in E-Learning initiatives than you might think. For example, the popular FlexTraining Learning Management System has several built-in Instructor features, and these are included in every installation, but they are rarely used.

The instructor would typically be a SME who is available to interact with learners through a blog or chat service, and may even grade assignments if assignments are used in a given course. An instructor can be a valuable addition to an online course, but instructors are people, and people cost money. It is usually cheaper to rely on the automated delivery and grading that is built in to a modern LMS.

Security Team - Manager and Incident Response Team

Today there are threats of all kinds on the internet, and web systems are constantly being attacked. Having a designated Manager and support team allows you to plan for, and recover from, cyber attack incidents.