What online learning system should we use?
July 30, 2017 5:10 PM   Subscribe

What online learning system / course delivery should my startup use?

My friends and I want to provide some courses online, as part of other work we are doing. We are all techno-literature, but busy professionals. We've looked at Thinkific, Canvas and other options. What would be the best solution? We'd prefer not to be chained to the provider forever and we'd like to keep costs down. However, we don't want to have to do a ton of tech support and we'd like things to work smoothly and not frustrate the heck out of us or our users. We'd like to eventually be able to scale up and to pay course authors. I've used a homegrown system, Canvas and some custom corporate (high end) tools before. Any suggestions? We have experience with teaching and developing courses, but figuring out how to do this is not really what we do. And we are cost sensitive as part of our lean and MVP orientation. Thanks.
posted by acoutu to Technology (8 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
*Techno-literate, but apparently not literate literate.
posted by acoutu at 5:18 PM on July 30, 2017

I did about two weeks of research into this awhile ago, and Thinkific was the most impressive and flexible option, but your requirements might vary. In the end we kept our custom Rails app instead of moving to a platform; if we had been starting from scratch, Thinkific would have been perfect.
posted by third word on a random page at 6:03 PM on July 30, 2017

As a learner, I've found Canvas to be intermittently buggy, though I haven't used it in the last six months. I've found Thinkific to be very straightforward and have had no problems. My experience with designing learning for it is limited, but if I were to choose between just those two, Thinkific would be my preference as both a student as a provider.
posted by The Wrong Kind of Cheese at 7:56 PM on July 30, 2017

Canvas seems popular and I used it briefly as a learner on a MOOC a couple of years ago with no difficulty. Are you looking at Moodle? It has its frustrations but those are more on the instructor UI than the learner UI. It's worth a look--it's what I use for an undergraduate faculty with a few hundred students. Stable. Lot's of support out there. Open.

Looks like Google Classroom has opened up more so you might want to try that. Though I haven't tried it myself. Upside: people will likely be familiar with the look and feel of Google. Downside: You never know when Google will just go and change something on you and you might really depend on it.
posted by Gotanda at 11:30 PM on July 30, 2017 [1 favorite]

I'm not an online learning expert, but a couple of days ago did a transcription for someone who claimed to be. She had good things to say about Thinkific as well.
posted by quinndexter at 12:15 AM on July 31, 2017 [1 favorite]

My university currently uses Canvas, and I've found it much more user friendly than any other LMS I've used elsewhere (on both instructor and student sides). No idea about costs, etc. though.
posted by rainbowbrite at 10:22 AM on July 31, 2017 [1 favorite]

I work in distance learning at my university, and we use webex. I also use it with my supervisor for our one-on-ones when I work from home. Works really well.
posted by poppunkcat at 3:00 PM on July 31, 2017 [1 favorite]

Thanks! I think Thinkific sounds like the way to go, if we don't want to have to do all the tech support headache on our own.
posted by acoutu at 7:33 PM on August 1, 2017

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