Top Tools for Online Course Creation

Are you looking for tools to create an online course?

If so, you’re in the right place! In this blog post, we’ll discuss a variety of tools that can be used to create online courses.

This includes creation tools, software, and platforms for mapping out ideas, creating slides and graphics, recording lessons, editing clips, hosting videos, and more.

We’ll also discuss an online course platform and plugin that can be used to host online courses, as well as provide some online course management.

You’ll also want to look at marketing—how you’ll market and sell your online courses to your students. It’s possible to use these tools to get your course up and off the ground, even without any training!

So whether you’re trying to get started with online courses or you’re looking for new tools to add to your toolkit, you’ll find something useful in this post!

Getting started

So, you want to create an online course. You might have a lot of ideas running around in your head.

Pen and paper

The first tools we’ll talk about are simple: a pen and a piece of paper, or something similar to help you take notes (such as a stylus and tablet, or word processing application).

Although you’ll be hosting your courses online, there’s no special software or platform necessary for this step.

Use these tools to map out your ideas. Write down everything you can think of that you’ll need for or want to include in your online course—in other words, your course content.

This includes the topics you want to cover, any materials or resources you’ll need, any exercises or activities for students, and anything else that comes to mind.

Your course content will depend on what you want to teach, your market research findings, what your prospective students are interested in, and several other factors.

The reasoning

Why go through this process? Because the best way to start planning anything is by writing it down. This gives you a chance to get your thoughts out of your head, and in front of you where you can start to organize and eventually create them.

Once you have a general idea of what you want to include in your course, it’s time to start thinking about how you want to deliver the content.

Content delivery

How are you going to deliver your content to your students?

Are you going to use slides? Graphics? Videos? A combination of all three? What software will you use in this online course creation step?

Slide Creation: Canva

If you’re planning on using slides, you might be thinking of using Microsoft PowerPoint, Google Slides, or Apple Keynote.

Here’s an unexpected option: Canva is a great (and affordable) graphic design platform.

Canva homepage

You can use it to create beautiful graphics and slide decks that will engage your students and help them learn the material. If you want to create visuals easily, Canva is a great choice as it has a drag-and-drop builder.

There are various presentation styles and templates to choose from if you need some inspiration or a head start.

You can also create a Brand Kit in Canva that contains your brand’s logos, colors, and font styles.

Canva is also good if you want to create other aspects belonging or related to your online course that may require custom graphics. This could include thumbnails, social graphics, online promotional images, and other visuals that support your course’s subject matter.

You can download your Canva creations as a PDF, PNG, SVG, and other file formats to best suit your needs. There are various pricing options, from a free plan to a paid account (with a free trial!) to fit your budget.

Video creation: Camtasia & Screenflow

If you’re planning on using videos in your online courses, you’ll need a screen recording tool to create them.

Camtasia and Screenflow are both great tools that will allow you to record your screen and add audio.

Both tools also have editing features so you can make sure your videos are polished before adding them to your online course.

Camtasia has a drag-and-drop interface that makes it easy to create your video to your preferences, and it also offers a variety of recording editing features.

When you’re creating your videos for your online course, Camtasia offers things like motion blur, themes, interactive components, and more. They offer a free trial so you can get a feel for the software before committing to a paid plan.

Camtasia overview

Screenflow also has a drag-and-drop interface and provides different features for advanced users. It’s a tool made specifically for Mac users.

This software offers options like a built-in stock media library, captioning, and multi-app recording. You can also opt for the free trial to get a feel for the platform before committing.

Screenflow overview

You can try both tools to see which one works better for you and your workflow.

Recording peripherals: Microphone, camera, computer & lights

When you’re recording, you may want to go super simple and easy, or you might want a more advanced setup for recording your videos.

You might want a microphone to record audio, and a camera if you want to add a video of yourself.

You can always record your audio directly onto your device, which is a good, inexpensive, and easy fix. However, a dedicated microphone can give you higher quality audio, if that’s important to you. Good audio can enhance your students’ learning experience.

As for lighting, you want to make sure there’s no glare on your screen, and that the room you’re recording in is well lit.

You don’t need a super fancy setup, but making sure your students can see and hear you clearly is important.

It’s completely possible to create videos for your online course without a fancy camera. You can record your video directly via the built-in camera on your device of choice, such as your mobile device or laptop. An alternative is an external webcam, which is a good option if you’re looking for something that allows you to save money but can create and record good quality videos. But, if you’re looking for something with all the bells and whistles and don’t mind investing in a more expensive camera, that is also an option.

If you’re planning on using your computer screen as your primary recording area, you might want to invest in some lights to help reduce glare, improve overall appearance, and create an overall higher quality video.

Audio editing: Recut

Recut is a video editing tool that specializes in cutting silences out of your videos. This can save you a lot of time when editing and help you create videos in less time.

Recut home page

Don’t fret, though—if you have intentional pauses in your video, you can tell Recut not to take those parts out. It can also be used to cut out parts of your audio you don’t want, as well as add spaces between clips.

This handy tool has a one-time purchase price of $99—you only pay for it once, as opposed to a per-month payment.

Schedule a free discovery call

Find out why AccessAlly is the WordPress course plugin that pays for itself.

AccessAlly logo with a looking glass

Video editing: iMovie, Premiere Pro & Final Cut Pro

There are a ton of video editing software tools out there. Here, we’ll discuss a few of these software applications: Apple iMovie, Adobe Premiere Pro, and Apple Final Cut Pro. A good video editing software tool lets you create videos that you’re proud of through the available features and ease of use.

iMovie is a great video editing software tool for beginners. It’s simple to use, has a multitude of features, and comes pre-installed on all new Mac computers. iMovie support is also available if you get stuck. A big bonus of this tool is that it’s free, not paid.

iMovie home page

Here are some of the features:

  • Video color modifications and enhancing
  • Video clip cropping, trimming, rotating, and moving
  • Changing clip speed
  • Stabilization
  • Transitions between clips
  • Background noise reduction
  • Audio/volume adjustments
  • Text and sound clip addition
  • Direct publishing to select platforms

Premiere Pro is a more advanced video editing software tool with more features, used by professionals in the film and TV industry. It has a bit of a learning curve, but it’s worth it if you’re planning on doing serious video editing. It’ll allow you to create high-quality videos.

Adobe Premiere Pro overview page

Here are some of the features:

  • Work with multiple open projects + shared projects
  • Motion graphics templates
  • Virtual Reality (VR) editing
  • Audio options, including automatic volume matching and ducking, Adobe stock music, transitions, and more
  • Video titling + graphics
  • Transitions between clips
  • Regional closed captioning
  • Video color correction and support
  • Support for multiple video types and formats
  • Direct publishing to select platforms

Final Cut Pro is another professional-grade video editor, made by Apple. It’s similar to Premiere Pro, but with a few key differences in the software. It also comes with a heftier price tag of $299, though it is not per month but rather a one-time purchase.

Final Cut Pro features

Here are some of the features:

  • VR Headset Playback + VR editing
  • Advanced color grading and enhancing
  • Video clip cropping, trimming, rotating, and moving
  • Clip speed adjustment
  • Stabilization for shaky videos
  • Special effects, transitions, filters, and presets
  • Motion graphics templates
  • Support for HDR videos
  • Multicam editing
  • Text and sound clip addition
  • Works with plugins
  • Direct publishing to select platforms

So, which one should you choose? If you’re just getting started with online courses, we recommend sticking with iMovie. If you’re feeling ambitious or plan on doing a lot of video editing, give Premiere Pro or Final Cut Pro a try.

Content hosting

Video hosting: Vimeo, Wistia, YouTube & Amazon S3

After you create your recordings and edit them, your videos are ready and you’ll need somewhere to host them. You have a few different options here:

Vimeo: A popular video hosting platform that’s great for sharing videos with collaborators. It has both free and paid plans.

Wistia: Another great platform for hosting videos. Wistia has tools to help you track how your viewers interact with your videos, which can be helpful for understanding your audience—your students. Like Vimeo, there are both free and paid plans.

YouTube: A very well-known platform that doubles as a social media platform and tool. You can use YouTube to host your videos for free. YouTube offers metrics that can help you find out more about your viewers and what’s working well.

Amazon S3: Amazon’s Simple Storage Service is a great option for a platform if you’re looking for something with more storage options. You can pay for only the storage you use, making it a very cost-effective option.

Learning Management Systems

Now that you know what tools you need for creating and hosting your online courses, it’s time to choose an LMS plugin for your membership site.

What is an LMS?

A learning management system (LMS) is a software application for the administration, documentation, tracking, reporting, and delivery of educational online courses or training programs. Many WordPress plugins offer LMS functionality.

For example, AccessAlly is an LMS plugin that allows you to host and deliver your online courses, and track progress and student performance, among many other features.

You can use the LMS software platform to create and sell your course. It might be beneficial to choose one with good support so that you can resolve any issues quickly, to ensure that your online course is always up and running.

LMS Plugin: AccessAlly

AccessAlly is one online course platform that’s powerful yet easy-to-use that offers all the features you need to create, deliver, and manage your online courses.

AccessAlly feature page

Its drag-and-drop course builder allows you to create the course you’re envisioning. With AccessAlly, you can:

  • Sell more with features like recurring payments, affiliate tracking, membership management, and more.
  • Teach better with progress tracking, quizzes, assignment submissions, certificates, and much more.
  • Engage longer with features like gamification, badges, customizable member profiles, engagement and sales metrics, and more.

When you get started, you might notice that there is a bit of a learning curve with AccessAlly and you may feel as though you require some training.

But, if you’re motivated and keen on building your elearning course, AccessAlly is an excellent option.

If you run into trouble while you create your online course, know that there’s a team and community that offers support and troubleshooting.

What’s next?

After you create your online course and have it loaded up on one platform, you can start thinking about how you’re going to market and sell your course.

But before you do that, it’s important to understand your audience and create buyer personas (these will be your students). Once you know who your target market is, and what type of students you’re looking to have take your course, you can start planning out your marketing strategy and creating content that will attract them to your course.

Once you have all of that figured out, then you can start setting up a sales funnel and start making some serious money from your online courses!

For marketing, you can take a variety of routes and use a variety of tools. You can use social media platforms, email marketing, or even good old-fashioned word of mouth. It really depends on your students and where they hang out online.

There are many ways to sell online courses. But no matter what route or platforms you decide to take, always make sure that you’re driving targeted traffic to your course sales page.

Wrapping it all up

As you can see, there are several tools to help you host, create, and sell your online courses. By utilizing some (or all!) of the tools and platforms we’ve discussed, you’ll be well on your way to creating a high-quality online course that will engage and delight your students.

These tools are universal, so they can be used to create unlimited courses.

Whether you’re trying to get started or polishing off your course, know that you can always revisit these tools to create the online course of your dreams.

You can always start with tools that offer free versions, then upgrade to the paid version once your course grows and expands. There are so many tools out there to help you create online courses.

And when you’re ready to take the leap, be sure to take time to walk through the steps that follow and use the most suitable platform for your course, be it via email marketing, testing out the waters and revising, or taking up a social media strategy.

Do you have any tools for creating online courses that you would recommend? Let us know in the comments!

Explore AccessAlly to see what's possible

See what kinds of user experiences you can create with a live site.

AccessAlly logo with a map

you might also like...

Leave the first comment