Looking for instructional designer recommendations for the best software tools and ecourse methodology? Then you’ll love this interview!

We’ve been diving into the online course tools and ideas that will help you keep your students engaged and learning. Today, I’m really excited to be able to share the wisdom of Dr. Kelly Edmonds, from an instructional designer recommendation perspective.

Dr. Kelly Edmonds helps entrepreneurs, academic institutions, and corporations create, design and teach online courses.

A leader in the e-learning field she’s won seven educational awards, published many articles and presented at nearly 30 education conferences while helping thousands of people learn better through research-based instructional design.

In other words, she’s an awesome instructional designer and totally worth learning from!

Once An Educator, Always An Educator

instructional designer recommendationsKelly Edmonds has been a teacher for 20 years. 15 of those years have been spent in the LMS industry. Needless to say, she’s seen a lot of changes from the days when it was all hard-coding to now when tools are easy for the beginner to use.

She’s also seen a shift in the teaching styles, from an instructor-centric model to something that’s become much more student-centered… which definitely translates powerfully in the realm of online learning.

“When you’re online,” explains Kelly, “you lose a lot of control as a teacher in terms of what the students are doing when you’re trying to offer instruction.”

It’s a problem many course creators struggle with: high dropout rates and an overall lack of enthusiasm with a percentage of students.

What’s the solution?

“Really good content and really good course activities,” says Kelly simply.

instructional designer recommendations

Dr. Kelly Edmonds is a pro at keeping things engaging and focused.

The DIY Entrepreneur vs The Established Corporate Business

Dr. Kelly Edmonds is unique in the world of entrepreneurs.

“Well, there are very few of me [here],” notes Kelly. “Most people with my skill-set are out there working for large corporations, while I’m over here in the entrepreneurial side.”

Her challenge as a professional lies in trying to find out what the entrepreneurs need…Because it’s sort of all in their lap. Each entrepreneur has a unique mission, different from every other company out there.

Kelly often finds herself explaining more about what a good course looks like and de-mystifying that aspect than she did in the corporate world…simply because entrepreneurs tend to fall in the DIY category.

It’s something that is both challenging and exciting.

Never Be The Cause Of Frustration For Your Online Learners

When you’re offering an online course, you have to be extremely attuned to the learning styles and needs of your learners. Otherwise, the student might get frustrated by the fact that they’re sitting there, going through your material…still not learning anything.

“That’s one of the reasons why I’ve just decided to do some myth-busting on a lot of the marketing out there that says you just have to whip something up and throw it together, and suddenly you have a course,” Kelly shared.

“In today’s age everything’s so fast that entrepreneurs want instant gratification. But if you’re going to be super content-heavy on your course material and not offer any kind of faciliation, you might as well just buy a book. Because all you’re able to offer is a one-way conversation.”

ideas for online courses

That’s why Kelly’s goal is to help her clients to develop the skillset to create rich content that keeps users engaged and learning throughout the course experience. Through her training, they are able to come up with the solid ideas for online courses they need to create a successful membership site.

Instructional Designer Recommendations Of Software Tools For Online Course Creation

Earlier in her career, Kelly worked with the full-on learning management systems that Universities use. Pretty much everything is contained in these systems: student storage, modules, lessons, quizzes, journaling, etc.

Of course, the flip side is that this type of software tends to be very expensive.

For her own membership site, Kelly uses AccessAlly Pro and PopupAlly, noting that these tech pieces really do work and are extremely user-friendly.

AccessAlly: Membership Site Plugin Of Choice

Kelly’s customized landing page in her old membership site was becoming glitchy with every new WordPress update. She did not want to interrupt the experience of her members who were accessing her online tutorials and programs.

Since she also wanted to increase her educational products, making a leap to AccessAlly along with Infusionsoft was the best step for scaling up her business (which she attributed to great advice from her team).

“I had used PopupAlly for some time and found the products that Nathalie and Robin make were robust, user-friendly and comprehensive tools for the savvy entrepreneur,” says Dr. Kelly Edmonds. “More so, as business people they are so transparent and trustworthy! I didn’t think twice about using their membership software and Learning Management System plugin (AccessAlly Pro).”

When asked what she liked the most about choosing AccessAlly as her membership plugin, Kelly responded, “With their software tools, AccessAlly offers a range of features based on Nathalie and Robin’s own business needs and experience – they have built an impressive company and are sharing the tools and strategies that helped them excel.”

She added, “With this product, I am not getting a fly-by-night concept but something to support me as I leverage my own business. AccessAlly has choice in design, member registration and management, interactive tools, affiliate program tools and scalability – all of which I was looking for. Plus it works tightly with Infusionsoft increasing the scale of what I can do now and in the future. It will definitely grow with me.”

Aww, thanks Kelly!

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How A Professional Integrates Her Ideas For Online Courses

As you might imagine, as an instructional designer, Kelly took very special care in designing her own membership site. She was careful to take all of the learning pieces and apply them to her own system.

ideas for online courses

“A shop can be an educational venue,” explains Kelly. “You can see there’s an array of different tutorials. I packaged my courses and am able to offer them all in one piece [what she calls an “E-Course in a Box], but you can also buy them individually.”

With this strategy, Kelly is able to market her courses to those who have no experience on the topic whatsoever (and would be interested in accessing the whole set) versus those who have an idea of where they want to go and need only a piece or two before they’re equipped to get started on their own online learning course creation.

Be Smart & Analyze What your Students Need

Kelly starts off her customer interaction with a free quiz on her website. It’s important for her to be able to pinpoint what stage of development they’re at.

This information allows her to help them figure out what step comes next.

“It has taken me a while to figure out what people really need,” Kelly admits. “If people already have AccessAlly and Infusionsoft, for example, they have pretty sophisticated needs and questions for me to address. It’s all about finding that right balance in helping people.”

The Impact Of A Solid Design In Your Online Course

In the end, it’s not the technology that makes the course; it’s the design and content. A bad design is going to prevent students from experiencing success from your course, even if the content is rock solid.

ideas for online courses

Kelly recommends asking yourself “What is it I want them to do? What do I want them to experience?”

Take, for example, an interior design course. By nature, this course has to be extremely visual and extend outside the online “classroom”. Extracurricular activities for this course might include compiling a collection of carpet, paint, and fabric samples – then bringing it back to the online group for feedback and ideas.

“Some courses could just be live calls, you know,” says Kelly. “But it always depends on the topic.”

It’s a challenge for each course creator to know what method of course delivery is going to best suit their brand of clients.

Why Marketing Can Be A Beast

Even for an extremely successful business owner, Kelly admits to experiencing some of the basic struggles associated with being an entrepreneur.

“What keeps me up at night?” Kelly muses. “The balance of marketing in a company. I’ve had a big uphill climb to get my business to where it’s at… but marketing is pretty time consuming.”

ideas for online courses

But of course there’s a balance in determining how much you’re able to do yourself as a DIY entrepreneur, and how much you can successfully hire out.

“How do I bring “me” into it? How do I make it fun for me? I’ve got my own Facebook group. I love being in there and talking to my clients… what’s the balance between time & money for marketing? It’s very overwhelming to be so busy with everything, but I do notice that when I’m out there, my stats go up. I have to be out there and visible.”

What The Future Looks Like For Dr. Kelly Edmonds

Kelly has always wanted to be educational learning advisor to significant entrepreneurs. It’s a challenge that definitely appeals to her experience and bold desire to make a difference in as many lives as possible.

For this to happen, Kelly said that she needs to “Keep studying within my own field. I know I’m a leader in my own field now, but there’s always room for more. Having 3 degrees in education, I still have a lot to distill and share with my clients. But it’s always important to stay abreast of the latest and greatest technology that’s out there to help.”

However, Kelly adds a cautionary note about balance: “You don’t want to bring in so much new stuff that you overwhelm entrepreneurs… and that can be challenging.”

The Resources Kelly Uses Outside of Instructional Designer Recommendations

While the scope of external learning is pretty big, Kelly did share a few of her favorite people to follow:

A huge, heartfelt thank you to Dr. Kelly Edmonds for taking the time to share her expertise and passion about online education with us!

We’re so excited to see how her ideas for online courses continue to impact entrepreneurs throughout the world.

Photo of a roll of duct tape and call to action to check out AccessAlly


  1. Kelly Edmonds on September 21, 2016 at 5:13 pm

    Thank you, Nathalie and Maria for sharing my story and work! Love that I can use your tools to provide my customers and clients with stable and functional platforms!

    Best regards,

    • ambitionally on September 21, 2016 at 10:59 pm

      We loved having you Kelly! You’re the best at creating learning and educational experiences that get people to absorb the information and apply it!

  2. […] And, since the effectiveness of your membership website isn’t dependent on how much you did (or didn’t) pay for your tech tools, the end result is always going to be the deciding factor. […]