There is more to being an accomplished online course creator than simply knowing your stuff. True, 80% of your success may come from knowledge and experience, but the services and tools you use can make a difference as well. In our previous articles we concentrated on sharing our knowledge about building courses and managing LMSes, however, this time around we’d like to talk about some tools that will make your life much easier and more pleasant (well, at least where building online courses is concerned). Give a big hand to...
There’s nothing quite so dreary in this world than an online course consisting of nothing but text. Pages upon pages of words with nary a picture or a multimedia element to break up the monotony. Think this can only happen in nightmares? Think again! Pixabay will spare your learners from this fate by offering you tens of thousands of free photos and images licensed for commercial use. If you are in need of an illustration or a background image for your course, look no further. I’ve been using Pixabay for years, and can heartily recommend this service.
Many educators try hard to make their online courses resemble an interactive application by adding buttons, clickable icons, and who knows what else to the pages of their courses. If you’re among this cohort, but are no good at drawing icons, the IconFinder service comes to your rescue. There, you can find plenty of icons, pointers, thumbnails, and more to add to your courses. Add a navigational panel to every page of your course, or make a neat page with interactive links to your company’s social media pages - the sky’s the limit. A handy sorting mechanism lets you find stuff that is free, available for commercial use, and requires no attribution.
Paletton and Adobe Kuler
Having a distinctive character and visual style gives your courses a leg-up in the market. However, unless you have experience as a graphic designer, you may have trouble picking a color scheme that pops just right. What to do? If you’re a Photoshop novice, or, worse yet, have never worked in it, then Paletton or Adobe Kuler may just save your bacon. All you need to do is to type in the HEX code of the primary color, or pick one from a palette. The service will show a number of matching complementary colors for you to pick from. Easy as pie! And the result will satisfy even the most demanding taste.
Sometimes, you want to pull the rug from under your students’ feet, make your next course unique and surprising. A spicy little nugget, if you will, among blander fare. However, this comes at a cost, as adding unusual elements to a course is a work-intensive and time-consuming affair. The solution? Use Roundme to turn a panoramic photo into a virtual space, then add it to your course and watch your students’ mouths open in amazement. Here’s how you do it, easy as one-two-three:
Create a number of photos of the location or subject being studied.
Upload the photos to Roundme and build a virtual space.
Add interactive hotspots overlaying the virtual space. When a student clicks an overlay, an explanation regarding the area in question is delivered.
Add so-called portals to the virtual space - those enable learners to travel between various parts of the space.
I use all services described here in my daily work, and they help immensely in making my courses stand out from the rest. Don’t neglect picking a striking color scheme and visual design for every course you author - this makes your materials memorable and engaging. Add unusual elements to your courses to keep your students hooked. I’ve listed a few of my favorite web services, but there are thousands more out there, and every one of them can add a little spice to your courses. Explore, experiment, and know that your students won’t be bored by your courses as long as you have fun building them!