“Do I need an LMS?” is then a very important question.
Manual vs. automated processesIt is always the choice of the online course creator what (s)he needs or doesn´t need. But in general, any type of software can take the place of manual processes and, as a result, saves you a lot of time. The same applies to Learning Management Software (LMS).
Our position in this is that if you run a pilot for your course and give instruction via live video calls or webinars and upload any downloadable content to Dropbox or Google Drive, you can do without an LMS during the pilot. You would have to invoice manually and do everything else manually, but you can delay the implementation of an LMS to a later date.
Having said that, we think that if you are out of the pilot stage – or if you want before – you need an LMS of some sort.
An LMS at minimum takes care of:
- delivering course content the way you want,
- protecting content so that those who do not have access to it cannot access it,
- arranging payment,
- enrolling students in the correct course,
- confirming the purchase to the student
As such, an LMS automates processes that would cost you a lot of time (read: money) to execute when done by hand.
Enhancing your brandHaving automated processes without the chance of human error also enhances your brand as an edupreneur.
Being an online course creator, people trust that you will be the one to teach them on the topic of your expertise.
Any perceived lack of competency in other fields may diminish your expert brand status. Even if running your course business may have nothing to do with the topic you teach. Students will expect you to have things set up correctly.
3 ReasonsSo an LMS is important from the perspective of:
- saving time
- saving money
- coming across as a professional business, especially when you are offering a high ticket item.
The question as such becomes: Build now or build later? Which in turn depends on how you want to launch your first course.
Build now or build later?The answer to that question depends on how you want to launch.
Do you want to launch with all bells and whistles, or do you want to use simple free tools that involve more manual labor for the pilot run of your course?
That choice, in turn, depends on how certain you are that your course will be a success.
You may know the demand for this topic because you taught it offline or wrote a book. A large audience on social media or a mailing list can influence your choice as well.
Pilot or not?If you are uncertain about the success of your course, the option is to run a pilot and do everything live for the first (couple of) editions.
However, there may be reasons to deviate from that, such as preferring not to do live sessions.
Another reason to go big immediately can be your price point or audience. If your course is perceived as a high ticket item, people will have expectations about how the course is presented. A make-do setup may then not meet participants’ expectations. The characteristics of the audience could also play a part. If they are sophisticated users of online courses, they will have certain expectations of how a course should be presented as well.
Essential to keep in mind is that your course is a business and that you have to take a rational, sensible, and strategic approach to develop that part of your business. Think things through, and if you need a sparring partner, reach out to us.
Having said all that, when your course takes off, you will want to automate content delivery, processes, and payments. An LMS is the solution to that.