Steve Jobs once said,
And, I couldn’t agree more!
As an online instructor, you need to decide what kind of tools and resources you want to use for your online school. This usually isn’t a decision you need to take before the launch of the first course, but a constant one.
You might want to start with simple tools and grow into more professional premium tools as you go along making higher quality online courses. Adding or changing tools along the way is how elearning businesses grow and evolve.
We will be exploring 85 tools that will give you a competitive edge to create, market and sell online courses. We have split the best tools for course creators in the following categories:
Choosing an LMS
The most important tool you will need is an online course platform or a learning management system. An LMS is the essential tool to host and sell your online courses,you will need to choose the right one to grow your elearning business.
You will need an LMS which is:
Instructional designers know the elearning course creation tools as authoring tools. They are software to combine different elearning material into a course package. Instructors can customize the learning experience to suit their specific needs, teaching style or course requirements.
Authoring tools are used to provide a high quality courses that can be uploaded into your preferred LMS for hosting. The usual format is a SCORM, HTML5 or TIN CAN file.
If you are just starting out with online courses, you might want to keep authoring tools in mind for later use.
*Prices as seen on May 2019*
Adobe Captivate is one of the top premium authoring tools used to create immersive learning scenarios. It is the professional choice for creating high quality courseware and one of the top rated and most recognized brands in elearning.
Price: $1,299 (perpetual licence) – Student/Teacher pricing is different
Articulate storyline another top authoring tool and more suitable for newer designers for its ease of use. Storyline is a popular choice with many course creators and instructional designers choosing it as their favourite authoring tool.
Price: $1,299 (yearly)
iSpring Suite is the quick-start way of authoring elearning training. It might lack in capabilities compared to the other authoring tools, but makes up with the ease-of-use and speed you can create a course with it. It is great for new entrants who don’t need the full authoring capabilities of a more seasoned tool.
Price: $770 (per year)
Lectora is the powerhouse in the authoring tools coming with libraries of assets, templates and flexible. It even allows for out-of-the-box scripting, expanding the limits of what you can do with it. Lectora Inspire is the choice of experienced trainers and academic course creators that look for the best-in-class authoring tool.
Price: $2,595 (lifetime license)
Elucidat comes with a beautiful user interface (UI) and a modern, easy, navigation, making it one of the easier to use from the higher-tier authoring tools. You can choose one of its preset templates. It doesn’t offer the flexibility to create your own, but has 25.000 page templates, so you probably won’t need to.
Price: $7,500 (for 3 licenses)
H5P is a free, open-source, elearning authoring tool for smaller cloud-hosted activities. For course creators with no budget, H5P can be a life-saver, offering learning activities you won’t find anywhere else, such as flashcards, drag and drop, image pairing and many more. It can be easily embedded in most LMSs and add some extra spice to your courses.
Price: Free, Open-Source
Educational Content Editing Tools – Video & Graphics
1Video Editing Tools
Animoto is an excellent tool that can help you create impressive videos. More specifically, it allows you to share photos and videos that are accompanied with cool special movement effects and music accompaniment. Then it allows you to download your video and share it with your audience.
Animoto’s photo presentation tool is synced with the rhythm of the music you have chosen while at the same time it informs you about the steps of the video editing process all the way to its completion. This is a ground-breaking idea for the learning process since every tutor can create an Animoto account and create more accounts for his/her students using their emails.
Also, the tool offers the possibility of creating 30 seconds-long presentations which you can store and share online.
With Magisto, you can transform your ordinary videos to amazing and memorable movies that you want to watch again and again using an easy and automated tool. The only thing you have to do is to choose the best part of your video and your most beautiful images and add your favorite music. Once you create your movie, you can share it with others online. It is important to note that the free version of this tool allows up to 1 minute and 30 seconds of movie creation.
EDpuzzle is an app that allows you to turn your online videos into video lectures. With EDpuzzle you can change the video content, crop it and easily add quiz questions. This feature allows you to ensure that the video is appropriate for use in terms of its quality and gain more control of your students’ understanding.
Also, you can add sound comments, a record of your voice, give more detailed directions, and manage the number of students who are watching your video lessons. Adding more information to it helps students create a complete image around the course and learning material you offer. Finally, you have the ability to enfuse your video lessons to websites and icons accompanied with links.
LearnWorlds’ Interactive Video Player
LearnWorlds is the only course-platform that comes with a built-in interactive video player. The player adds a layer of interactivity on top of the videos with an easy-to-use editor. You can add videos, pop-ups, buttons, frames, videos on top of videos and quizzes to spice-up your videos.
2Images & Graphics
Adobe Photoshop is the go-to tool for many artists and designers. It is a feature-packed image editing powerhouse which allows image editing miracles. Photoshop is a tool for advanced users with a simple interface that new users can easily find tutorials on how to use it.
If you can imagine it, it can probably be done in photoshop if you know how.
Easelly is a tool that allows you to draw, sketch and present your own ideas in graphs, with the help of thousands of free templates in its collection. Apart from the ones that are already in the library, you can either edit them or create yours entirely from scratch.
As a tutor you can use this tool to map create conceptual maps just as quick and easy.
What’s noteworthy to mention is that you don’t have to possess any special knowledge or skills to use it since it offers a rather friendly environment. It’s ideal for teachers, students and business owners, as well as professionals who need to transform an idea, a thought, a lesson plan, or a concept into a visual image.
Gliffy is a tool for graphics creation which you can link with any text, shape and image. It offers the ability to share the graphs amongst the members of a team and allows the creation of flow graphics, network diagrams, floor plans, organizational charts, Venn diagrams, SWOT analysis, geographical maps, UML, entity-relationship diagrams, modeling, forms, a wide variety in the type of charts and graphics.
Piktochart is an app that gives you the possibility to create visual representations for the presentation of any data just as easily and quick. More specifically, you can choose from a range of ready-made templates (more than 400) and images, diagrams, maps, etc. or any other type you want. What’s great about this tool is that it allows you to print your final result and share it with others and promoting it on social media. With Piktochart, you can create simple graphic representations and associating it with text, images, your own choice of colours, shapes – standard infographics.
It is also possible to create data presentation charts in the form of presentation infographics. These can be directly exported to slideshare, interactive texts and posters.
Glogster is an app that offers the ability to create interactive multimedia posters that allow you to read, to listen and actively engage with their content.
In this interactive environment, you can add short texts, images and photos, sounds, video and a range of special effects that are necessary to create an online multimedia presentation.
Once you finish, you can save these posters to your computer, share them for other users to see either through your website or embed it in wikis, external sites and social media platforms including Facebook and Twitter.
Also, you can browse posters of other creators and add your own comments or they can comment yours. You can use Glogster to create posters along with your students, and help them understand the main concepts of your learning material better, choosing from a variety of themes and depending on their age capacity.
In its basic version, the tool is completely free for 7 days, and full access to it is granted with a small annual fee.
Pixlr Editor is an online app for photo editing and offers a variety of tools which you can use to remove red eye effects from your photos, or adjust a few spots on your photos you don’t like, change colours, or the position of people or other elements in it. Also, this tool has a private gallery where you can save all your photos and images.
It is essentially a web-based free photoshop alternative.
3Free Stock Images
There is a range of websites that offer free stock photos and this is an additional help to every online instructor who wants to use business and professionally-looking photos on their online school.
Stock images can be used in your school and when they are free to use or editing means that they don’t have any copyright restrictions or are under any licensed limitations. Hence, you can copy them, modify, distribute them or use them for commercial or personal purposes without the need to ask for permission.
However, it’s always useful and advisable to check whether any image requires attribution before using it.
The following websites are good resources to bookmark for free image searches:
Apart from stock images, there is the option of creating unique mockups and decorating your online school with branded-related material. This can easily enhance your promotional efforts and give your landing pages a unique look that stands out against the rest.
eLearning Dom is a creative content marketplace that offers elearning assets including images, graphics, backgrounds, illustrated characters, and layouts/templates ready for use by elearning professionals. You can get access to these assets by subscribing on their website and downloading them.
JumpStory is a premium visual content platform, with customers in 130+ countries, that gives users access to more than 25 million photos, videos, images, and illustrations. Especially interesting is JumpStory’s background removal tool that works with AI to remove the background of any images, without the cumbersome need to manually do it yourself.
4Comics and Animations
Pixton is a tool that helps you create comics, your own stories with your own main characters. You don’t need any special knowledge, drawing or painting skills since this tool offers a range of ready-made figures, landscapes, and comics templates which you can edit. The basic version of Pixton is free, but there is an extra charge for the use of additional premium features.
PowToon is an animation software which allows you to create motion presentations. With a wide range of ready-made elements, images, sounds, and other type of narration, at your disposal you can create your own story. You can create beautiful and creative video-presentations and educational graphs, and many others within just 5 minutes. Presentations can be created online, and you have access to them regardless of your location, and your final product can be exported to YouTube or download it as MP4.
Quizlet is a digital tool that aims to memorize concepts. With it, you can create totals, study sets, and create definitions with relevant meanings, add images or narration. These totals can be studied in many different ways for practice such as audiovisual presentations, tests and games (Flashcards, Learn, Speller, Test, Scatter, Gravity, Live).
A study set can create or be modified by one or more users and share it with other team members of an ‘online class’. Quizlet also allows you to sign in to an online class and use ready-made study sets or create your own online class with study sets you have made.
Google Forms allows you to create questionnaires and collect data. Questions come in varying form, open or close type and different variations. There is also the possibility of linking questionnaires with websites or sending them electronically to your students. The answers of each questionnaire are gather and saved digitally in an excel file. It’s important to say that this data is available for editing and can be used in graphs, diagrams, or statistical analysis.
Typeform is a form and survey software that makes a difference in the user experience. With a smooth user interface and mobile responsiveness it makes completing surveys an art-form. It is a great tool to collect feedback, data and other information from your students or customers.
Padlet is communal visual ‘wall’ which you and your students can use to add additional content including images, video and documents.With this tool, you can promote the cooperation and discussion amongst students and you have the option to post content expressing your thoughts and ideas for anyone to see.
Padlet looks like a school chart of announcements that increases student involvement and their engagement in learning. The tool also offers the ability to create public and private ‘walls’, providing the possibility to users to manage the way it works and either approving/disapproving posts before they appear on it.
Storybird offers you the possibility to create your own illustrated online story. It offers a great variety of images and collections from artists with a carefully chosen theme/category. Stories that are being created can be shared or embedded in websites, distributed amongst users or printed directly.
The Best Video Recording & Editing Tools
A list that you need to keep with you at all times and especially when creating a new video course, is the video recording and editing tools resource. This list points you out to a wide range of video production and editing tools and equipment that are helpful for you to use.
Here is a condensed list of the most widely used video recording and editing tools:
Adobe offers high-functioning tools including Adobe Premiere which appears to be the leading video editing software for film, TV and the web. The tool allows you to capture footage and start editing content anywhere and on any device.
Filmora is a video creator that suits the style of every course creator as it is easy to learn and use, while at the same time, it offers a useful tool kit with amazing editing features.
Another excellent choice that plays well on both Mac and Windows. Camtasia makes recording and making training videos and tutorials simple.
ScreenFlow is an award winning and easy to use video editing, that is suitable for screen recording and creating high-quality home or professional videos in no time.
With Screencast-O-Matic you can easily record – capture your screen through a screen recorder, edit with the video editor share your video in only a few steps through cloud hosting.
iMovie is the iconic tool for Mac – for all apple mobile devices, offering unique features including studio quality titles, extra special effects, filters, built-in music and voiceover.
Final Cut Pro
Final Cut Pro is also a tool for Mac only, offering advanced features such as editing, audio, motion graphics, a VR headset playback, advanced color grading and built-in controls to create, edit and deliver closed captions.
Handbrake: this tool is free to use and ideal for compressing videos. On the site, it is described to be the ‘open source video transcoder’ because of two basic reasons: it can convert video that comes at any given format and can work for Windows, Mac and Linux.
Compressing files allows for smaller-sized videos and is better for web-based courses and students without access to high-speed internet.
1Video Recording Equipment
Most elearning courses nowadays include video lessons. If you are starting out, you can shoot video from your laptop, tablet or smartphone, but if you are looking to take your courses up a notch, you will need to use professional video recording equipment.
Choosing the best video recording equipment you can find, adds to the overall quality of the training that you aim to provide to your students. At first you may choose the ones that you can afford and then as your audience and your work grows, you can upgrade to something better.
What you will need:
There is a range of options on video cameras to choose from, but perhaps the most cost-effective option are the following:
Your smartphone: smartphones now have much better cameras for recording and you might not need anything more to start with. It might be a good idea to start from there and see what you can get out from it first.
A simple webcam: a suitable product is the Logitech e930e 960-000972 Webcam which has the basic features you need to record.
If you are after a more expensive option:
There is always the option of choosing the Panasonic HC-V380K-Camrecorder, which offers full HD recordings.
A second choice is the Canon-PowerShot-G7 digital camera that has a long battery, full HD support, an improved quality of image and autofocus system. This is suitable for experienced course creators with an audience and a budget to support it.
The microphone is one of the most essential pieces of your equipment. Even if you are shooting with a smartphone, consider a good lavalier microphone. The audio of your video is the most important part!
A cheap option is the Lavalier Microphone that can work as an extension of your smartphone’s system.
Another relatively cheap option is the Samson-Handheld microphone that comes with the Q2U recording and podcasting pack and many other added capabilities as you can see in the product description.
A more expensive yet – one of the best options, is the Blue Yeti-USB microphone that is the preferred choice in the industry.
Whether you shoot video indoors or outdoors, you will need a proper lighting equipment to balance the quality of your video. Two desk lamps could do the work, but OPV Dimmable LED Ring Light is more suitable for you if you are recording from your mobile phone. Alternatively, if you are going big and have a budget to spend you could go for the more professional option of Linco Lincostore Photography Photo Table Top Studio Lighting Kit.
There are more options on lighting equipment and techniques in our article about lighting you can browse, and choose one depending on your recording requirements and conditions.
Webinar Software for Live Training
Many instructors have chosen to use webinars as part of their online training and have not regretted doing so. Why should they considering that creating webinars offers valued and useful content and helps them work with their students better?
Webinars can also be reused and offered as on-demand training with a little to no editing. If you want to create your own webinars, you might want to use the following tools:
A popular choice amongst webinar instructors is YouTube live. This feature has been created as a result of Google Hangouts and YouTube integration and now you can have access to it through your Google account, which is the only requirement for its use. Youtube live is free and easily embeddable.
Zoom is a tool that offers a unique and consistent enterprise experience as it is suitable for conferences, video webinars, It offers an integrated phone system and a cross-platform for messaging and file sharing.
Gotowebinar is an extension of gotomeeting’s services and is another popular choice for running webinars. It is a solid platform and an all-round tool for your live classes.
Clickmeeting is a dedicated webinar platform with unique features for engaging viewers with dynamic presentations, interactive whiteboard, videos and live chat.
Marketing & Sales Tools to Grow Your e-Learning Business
You will need to monitor your visitors, send emails, collect leads, run campaigns and manage your customers. Here are some of the tools that will help you grow your business:
The absolute first thing you need to do when you have a course website ready is setup your analytics. An analytics software will help you keep track of your website visitors, your marketing campaigns and everything going on to your website.
Getting as much information on visitors demographics/characteristics can get you one step closer to understanding your audience and delivering the right ‘product’.
As a tracking and reporting tool, Google Analytics offers a great resource of customer demographics. With it, you get insightful information on how many people are coming to your website, as well as where they come from, how long they stay on your site and how they interact with it.
Facebook Pixel is a piece of code that can work along with your website enabling you to measure, optimize and build audiences for your ad campaigns. This tool optimizes the preferences of your customers and can help you create an audience, who is more likely to respond to what you have to offer and you can advertise to. Now, Facebook offers a similar service to Google’s Analytics for tracking and reporting on your visitors. It is essential for both your marketing and reporting needs.
Mixpanel is a business analytics service which tracks user interactions with web and mobile applications and offers tools for targeted communication with them. Collected data is used to build custom reports and measure user engagement and retention. It is a more advanced tool than the previous ones, but if used correctly it can improve all aspects of your marketing and sales processes.
Email marketing is an important aspect of every advertising campaign, and should be central in your promotional efforts. Email can be used to communicate with your audience, nurture your brand and market your courses. To do so, you will need an email marketing tools.
Here are the top email marketing tools:
Mailchimp is an email marketing software that gives you a number of easy options for designing and sending emails. It is very popular tool and no wonder there is a whole list of good Mailchimp alternatives out there (each with their own strengths). Mailchimp offers the ability to create newsletters and easy options on social sharing for Facebook, Twitter etc.
ConvertKit is an email service that provides marketing automations capabilities. It helps to increase conversions through the creation of emails that are more targeted and personal, corresponding to the needs of the respondents.
ActiveCampaign is an intelligent platform that makes it easy to leverage marketing automation. It lets you design sophisticated, automated marketing processes that save time and generate additional revenue for your company.
Aweber is an email marketing and autoresponder service which helps businesses communicate more effectively and profitably with prospects and customers. It is suitable for small businesses and entrepreneurs to drive real results with powerful, targeted email automation.
3Support & Chat
One of the most important features of your school – and perhaps the most needed for your students, is the support service you will be providing to them. Choosing a reliable support provider can ensure that you will be offering the best kind of support and the most convenient communication means to your students.
Here are a few good options to consider:
As a live chat system for support, Intercom allows a user experience that is similar to the Facebook messenger chat. The Intercom software can be used as a messaging platform which allows businesses to communicate with prospective and existing customers. The tool can be accessed through the website, social media or via email.
HubSpot is an all-in-one marketing platform that covers a vast array of features and capabilities including an instant messaging tool. The software can be used to carry out, track and measure all your online marketing activities such as blogging, email marketing, and social media marketing.
Freshdesk is a full-fledged cloud based customer support solution that offers everything a business needs to deliver exceptional support. LearnWorlds integrates with Freshdesk allowing you to offer seamless support that will wow your students.
Tawk.to is a live chat application that lets you monitor and chat with visitors on your website or from a free customizable page. LearnWorlds integrates with Tawk.to so you can message your students and solve their problems in real time.
4Referral & Affiliates
Affiliate marketing is another important aspect of the promotional efforts of your online school. Through the referrals you can maximise your audience reach and create an affiliate partners network that will bring you additional course sales.
Out of the tools that can help you, we recommend that you use the following:
LearnWorlds’ Build-in Affiliate
LearnWorlds is an all-in-one course platform which includes a built-in affiliate program. You can create, market and sell your courses from one central system and track affiliate sales without any extra costs. (Coming Soon)
Refersion is a tool that is designed to help you quickly create and launch your own promotion network. It allows you to focus on growing your business through partnerships with bloggers, influencers, ambassadors, and promoters managing all your affiliate marketing efforts in one place.
ReferralCandy is an ecommerce store plugin that helps you get more sales through word of mouth. It offers a great help and useful resources on how to set up your own affiliate program for your LearnWorlds school. With this integration, you get an amplification of the power of referrals through the unique features it offers.
5Other Marketing Tools
FOMO – social proof marketing platform, is the best tool for Social Proof Notifications. It’s designed to increase conversions by showing off the customer interactions such as user signups and course purchases.
SumoMe is a web-based platform providing a suite of free online tools that can be used to grow your website’s traffic and engage your students. Capture leads and allows your students and site’s visitors to share courses using their social media accounts and to engage in their community.
Keywords Everywhere is a chrome or firefox extension tool that is ideal for researching keywords and makes your search of keywords easy. This free keyword tool gives you useful Google keyword search volume statistics, cost per click and competition data of keywords that appear on multiple websites.
Omnisend is a marketing automation platform that allows you to take email marketing a step further. Using pre-built and drag-and-drop composers for easy creation, you can make workflows incorporating email, SMS, Facebook Messenger, push notifications, and much more. From there, you can target your messages to your customers easily with their smart segmentation and split automation. For those who love email marketing, but need more, Omnisend is a choice worth checking out.
6Receive Payments with a Payment Gateway
While selling online courses, you will need a payment processor (payment gateway) to receive your money. LearnWorlds suggests the following five payment gateways that we also have a direct integration with:
Productivity Tools & Other
To keep up with your online business efforts, you will probably use a number of tools to manage your work, documents, and other files. Here are some of the most popular tools you can choose from:
One of the best cloud-based task management software, monday.com is offering a simplified way for you to manage any team and any project while creating a more transparent work culture. It is the fresh, new way of managing everyday tasks and be more productive doing so.
Asana allows you to turn long conversations, call-to-actions and chats into actionable tasks and share these with the rest of the team. It also offers the ability to connect it with other apps that track time spent on projects.
Trello offers a flexible, creative and interactive dashboard that organizes all of your teams to-do tasks into one and it’s visible for everyone to view and use. This is possible through the creation of boards, lists and cards that appear on the dashboard and help to prioritise actions and projects.
As a file storage tool, Dropbox offers an online (offline) space for sharing and collaboration among group/teams and businesses, with advanced security features, and a dedicated live support along the way.
Google Drive & Docs
Google Drive is great for team collaboration as it makes file sharing easy and effective. Apart from that, it also offers public and private viewings on folders, documents, sheets, or slides, as well as the ability to share these with others, the ability to comment, edit and make changes on them.
Canva is an easy-to-use tool that has effective functionality and offers the ability to create a large variety of documents ranging from social media banners to business cards, advertisements, postcards and presentations. What’s great about this tool is that it allows you to upload your own images, logos or patterns to create your own unique photos to decorate your online school. Also, it’s a great platform for the creation of shareable quotes and engaging visuals.
Nextiva is one of the best business phone services in terms of features and intuitiveness. They offer a large set of features, with quick setup and reasonable pricing. It comes with a simple web-based interface which makes it easy for most users to easily manage complex communications.
The Microsoft Office package never gets out of fashion as it has proven itself essential whatever the business you are doing. Amongst the tools it offers, perhaps the best and most useful to online instructors is PowerPoint. PowerPoint, which is a tool used to create presentations, allows you to easily come up with an online training course material – through slides for your online course. Never underestimate the power of the simplest tools to create an engaging presentation or training document.
Keynote is the alternative option of PowerPoint for Apple users. With this, you can create compelling presentations containing text, graphics, tables, charts, video and audio. Keynote allows you to add audio and create voice over and adding unique sound effects or other audio clips to slides.
Finding the right voice for your course is an important factor in information retention. By using a professional voice actor, you can find a voice that speaks directly to your target market and one that delivers a professional-sounding experience for your students.
Zapier – Connect Your Favourite Tools
Zapier gives you the ability to link it with more than 1000 apps you use every day to automate tasks and save valuable time. With Zapier, you can automate tasks such as course enrollments, syncing leads with your favorite mailing application or CRM, sending coupons, recording sales in your accounting software.
When linked with LearnWorlds you create Zaps that can automate your repetitive workflows and take care of tedious, yet important, tasks. vOnce you connect it to your school, check out some ideas for Zapier.
Lastly, we wanted to leave you with some of our own resources to help you while creating and selling your courses. We have been creating content for edupreneurs for a while, and we have some sweet resources you shouldn’t miss:
The LearnWorlds Academy offers a variety of courses for new and seasoned edupreneurs, and we keep releasing new courses. Here are some of our most popular courses:
You can join a community of online instructors and learn how to manage your own course business, create content and sell more courses.
LearnWorlds offers two complete ebooks to online instructors the ‘Ultimate Guide on Marketing & Selling Online Courses’ and ‘Sell Courses with Facebook Remarketing & Custom Audiences’. The first ebook focuses on the steps you need to take upon creating and marketing your online courses and the second ebook talks about Facebook Ads and Pixel and how to use these effectively connecting it with your LearnWorlds school.
The Ultimate Guide To Selling Online Courses (vol 1)
Get access to ‘The Complete Checklist To Selling More Online Courses’ that gives you a handful of ideas on how to position your business in the right way so that you interact with your students better.
The Complete Checklist To Selling More Online Courses
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As you can see, there are tons of tools and resources at your disposal. What’s left for you to do is to decide which ones work best for you and go along with your own business plans and needs, as well as your own personal preferences towards building an online course empire!
Should you require any help on creating and selling your online courses, don’t forget to check out our brand-new complete guide that tells you all you need to know!
Kyriaki is a Content Creator for the LearnWorlds team with more than three years of experience in digital marketing. Graduated from the University of Huddersfield with a Guidance degree, she has equipped herself with hands-on experience in education management and career guidance.