When it's time to compare tech tools, my automatic starting point is the tech equivalent of an arms race: the plugin with the most features wins.
Maybe in some cases this is a good way to make a decision.
But LMS WordPress plugins are different: their whole purpose is to enhance the learning experience inside your online courses, so that you can have happier students and grow a steady stream of revenue as a result.
In this case, the more important thing is to make sure your plugin can give you the elearning boost you need before delivering “nice to haves”.
This isn’t your first rodeo: you already have an online course (or many!).
Now it’s time to look at ideas for improving online courses, so your participants get all of the amazing results you know are possible for them.
You’re in the right place, because we’re going to take a look at an entrepreneur who had run an already successful online course for 5 years… and what she did to kick up the learning experience.
Meet Kendrick Shope and her online course called Sales School
Kendrick Shope is the creator of the leading sales training for women entrepreneurs, and the Authentic Selling® process which has created millions of dollars in revenue and new business for her clients.
Kendrick hosts her own daily talk show, and reaches nearly 100 thousand followers in six continents. She has been featured on the Steve Harvey Show, NBC, Forbes, and INC to name a few.
Before starting her own online empire, she spent two decades delivering top performing sales results for 3 Fortune 500 companies.
Our case study starts 5 years after Kendrick’s first round of her result-oriented Sales School program.
You see, Kendrick had been running her multi-million dollar course Sales School for 5 years, and she knew she wanted to improve the online learning experience for her students.
Here’s what one returning student had to say after the site update:
Now let’s take a look at the 7 strategies to improve online learning that Kendrick used, and how you can apply them to your business too.
Organize content using an intuitive navigation
In the early days of Kendrick’s Sale School, the program was run almost entirely within a Facebook group.
That meant students had to search for content, and finding things from previous weeks of the online course made it difficult to keep up or review.
Over the years, Kendrick built a beautiful membership site on WordPress to house the lessons and content of the course.
But one thing that Kendrick’s team realized is that just because a website is beautiful, it doesn’t mean that it’s functional.
That’s one simple way of improving online courses, no matter what platform or how much content you have to teach!
Track progress to motivate online learning
By adding progress tracking to the online course’s members area, Kendrick was able to provide a road map for students.
As participants watch training videos, complete assignments, and practice their sales skills in their own businesses…
They see how far they’ve come, and they’re more likely to finish each module, thanks to the completion bias.
The completion bias is our tendency as human beings to feel good when we finish what we start.
By implementing progress tracking checklists using AccessAlly, Kendrick was able to tap into human nature to help people extract the value out of the online course they signed up for.
Progress tracking is also helpful as an online course creator because it allows you to see how students are moving through your content. It shows trends and can highlight especially challenging areas that you can improve.
Offer bonuses and goodies for completion
Of course, improving an online course by adding progress tracking is just the first step… Kendrick took it even further by adding in bonuses and extra goodies when a module is completed.
Kendrick is always teaching her clients and students to do the common things uncommonly well, and when it comes to strategies to improve online learning… that goes double.
Really think through the bonuses or extra content you might offer a bonus for completing a course. It needs to feel like a reward, and not just more work to get through.
Kendrick’s enthusiasm is contagious, and her bonuses are truly motivating and rewarding for her students.
Setting up the online learning experience to unlock bonuses upon module or lesson completion isn’t hard with AccessAlly, it’s the intention behind it is what takes the most thought.
Overdeliver during live facilitation, and bring in additional coaches
If there’s one thing that Kendrick Shope has always been known for, it’s overdelivering for her students and clients.
Way back in the early days of her Sales School program, when it was delivered via live video trainings… Kendrick has rocked the live facilitation aspect of online training.
Answering participants’ questions, helping them role play, jumping into the nitty gritty and offering to edit sales scripts and emails… Kendrick is fully present for her students when she’s running her online course.
But as an online course scales and more students join in, it can become difficult for one teacher or facilitator to handle all of the questions and give the same level of feedback alone.
That’s why Kendrick brought in additional Sales School certified coaches to help new participants get the same hands-on learning experience, without burning Kendrick out.
If you run online courses, and you’ve noticed that you’re not able to answer all of the questions on your live group facilitation calls – then it might be time to hire on or train additional coaches to help you.
Follow-up based on student engagement and check in on social media
Kendrick has always had a “no student left behind” policy, where she would work with her course participants until they got results in their business.
But the onus is on the student to ask questions, and raise their hand when they fall behind or get stuck.
One way to catch people who might be falling off the wagon is to look at their engagement and their progress, and reach out before it’s too late.
Kendrick and her coaches check in with students on social media, and make sure that people are having a good learning experience and most importantly are implement what they learn.
With AccessAlly, it’s also possible to see who hasn’t logged into the online course members area, and check in with them.
Sometimes people sign up for online courses before they’re ready to participate, but if you’re offering a live round of a course then you’ll want people to join in for the live sessions to get the best experiences.
Ensure smooth purchase and login experience
One often overlooked way of improving online learning is to make the on boarding experience glitch-free.
It’s easy to set up an online course platform and shopping cart and assume that it can handle a big launch and student registration period without a hitch…
But not all online course plugins and integrations work seamlessly together, which can lead to a choppy registration and login experience.
Kendrick’s Sales School launches had always felt a little chaotic, with last minute fixes because of login issues or other access blips for her students.
After switching to AccessAlly, Kendrick and her team realized that the peace of mind they got from having a smooth purchase and login experience for their students was worth way more than the price of the plugin.
Plus, thanks to AccessAlly’s cross-selling dashboard functionality, Kendrick could display both the free video series alongside her paid courses all in one place.
Here improving the user experience leads to more sales, fewer support requests, and a better learning experience, too.
Call in experts and bring in complementary resources
The final tip in our list of 7 strategies to improve online learning is simple, and it doesn’t involve you as a teacher doing any additional work.
During Sales School, Kendrick often reaches out to her colleagues and fellow experts to help answer questions and provide resources for her participants.
The benefits are clear: as a teacher, Kendrick shares from her area of expertise and brings in the complementary resources and teachers to help her students succeed.
This way, she doesn’t need to be an expert in “everything” and she’s still improving online courses because it’s not just a static experience but it will differ based on the questions people ask.
Kendrick taps other people’s expertise in a very classy way, by sharing the answers to students questions and giving full credit to the colleague who helped out. It’s a win-win experience for everyone involved.
As a course creator yourself, you can do this informally for on-the-spot questions or you can have other experts create content right inside your members area, too.
Migrating Course Platforms Top the List of Ideas for Improving Online Courses
Undertaking a course platform migration is not for everyone, but if you find yourself considering switching course solutions to improve your online courses, then Kendrick’s experience will be helpful.
Here’s what Kendrick had to say about her migration to AccessAlly:
Now let’s take a look at what tech systems Kendrick was using before, and what her transition looked like.
Improving Online Courses: The Tech Stack
Looking to improve the learning experience, Kendrick’s team undertook the migration of existing members using AccessAlly’s migration plugin and building a new version of the membership site.
The final tech stack looks like this:
There are not a lot of natively integrated Ontraport LMS plugins on the market, but another aspect that was useful for Kendrick’s team was the ability to pull in the affiliate information into the membership area, too.
Kendrick’s team plans to make use of AccessAlly’s order forms and abandoned cart follow-up functionality in future launches.
Design and Development of the New Online Course Environment
I asked Laís Cerutti Scortegagna, the designer responsible for the new course set up what she thought of the migration project.
Here’s what she had to say:
“My favorite part was being able to create a learning environment that really supports the level of the learning experience Kendrick offers. We were able to personalize it and make it as actionable as Sales School is.
Kendrick gives everyone action steps and being able to mimic that inside the members area was a breeze.
Creating the structure was super easy with the AccessAlly course wizard.
The migration system also makes it so easy to migrate to AccessAlly. The tag system made it easy for the team to create the drip release automation in Ontraport.
But there are special details that AccessAlly made easier and are worth mentioning:
- creating a beautiful dashboard that creates desire with different course icons for who has an who doesn't have access
- being able to use the students' names to welcome them
- creating checklists for each module and bonuses that reveal once they complete it
- easy to create a beautiful login page
I also really liked that AccessAlly with Divi makes it a dream to create membership sites.”
Improving Online Courses Starts with Your Intention
The biggest takeaway I want you to have from this case study is that having an attitude of constant improvement is key.
Kendrick’s Sales School program started off as a totally live program run in a Facebook group, then from year to year she upped the learning experience.
Each time, she put a lot of heart and thought into helping her students succeed with the program.
In turn, she upgraded her technical systems, and hired team members to help her develop the technical foundation for her online course to scale.
Finally, she migrated to AccessAlly to provide the level of online learning automation and personalization that she knew would deliver the best results for her students.
If you want to see if AccessAlly is the right online learning plugin for your business, then book a demo.
Quick: if you had to say what the most important learning metric is for your online course… what would you say?
Chances are you'd say “course completion rate”, but this is not the only or best online learning metric to use to judge how effective your courses are.
According to a survey conducted on Learning Measurement 2016: Little Linkage to Performance by the Brandon Hall Group:
Course completion is the number one metric being used, and by a wide margin.
This is clearly the easiest metric to gather, but it doesn’t really tell an organization much.
If 98% of learners complete a course, you still have no idea if it was effective, if they liked it, if they will remember it, or if it will help the business.
The more strategic measurements are much further down the list, like team effectiveness or time to effectiveness.
You're creating an online course… and it's packed with high-quality video presentations, quizzes, and in-depth content for your students.
The videos themselves are professionally recorded and include every bit of info your students need to ace this course.
There's just one problem:
Each video is over 45 minutes long. Forty-five information-packed minutes.
The most powerful message in the world can be meaningless, if it's said in the wrong way.
It's like when we were kids, and we were told to say “sorry”… which all too often (at least for me!) was spoken in a sarcastic tone. Definitely not the impression I was supposed to give!
But if you've ever received a heartfelt and sincere apology, you know how transformational it can be.
Because the tone matters.
… and it matters a lot with what you present online, especially with your e-course.
If you are confident in the value and importance of your message and know what you want to say, you still face the challenge of delivering it properly.
And that's where using tools like learning management system (LMS) plugins can make the world of difference.
There's a reason that the entertainment industry is a billion dollar business: we're endlessly fascinated by stories.
We love a good storyline in a movie, a book, or a video game… even around a campfire.
So the question is this: why would an online course be any different?
For many years now, we've been following the academic way of creating courses… but let's check:
If someone where to ask your 7 year old self if you'd rather “do your homework” or “listen to a story”, you'd likely opt for the story.
Human beings are wired to learn via story, but often the power of story is exploited to market an ecourse rather than teach it.
Although I'm often guilty of delivering my courses in a more academic way myself, I'm getting more and more excited about the new ways we're pioneering to educate, inspire, and enlighten… beyond sharing mere facts.
Can a simple WordPress membership management plugin really make a difference to your business' bottom line?
Yes! We know that AccessAlly is our WordPress membership management plugin that helps entrepreneurs create amazing online spaces for their own clients…
That's one of the reasons why I'm so excited to showcase Naveed & Sonika's membership site in this case study.
But the coolest thing is this: not only is this site built with AccessAlly, but it's also designed with the principles of the Login Optin™ Strategy throughout the workflow of her business.
Last week, we dove into the incredible Login Optin™ Strategy… one of the best ways to build your list this year. Today, we're going one step further with online course upsell strategies.
We'll be using that free membership site to get more paying clients through a very organic online course upsell.
If you haven't heard yet, there's a lot of buzz going on about Learning Management System engagement.
A Learning Management System (or “LMS” as it's commonly called) is a rather broad term that can apply to a variety of features and tools used to facilitate online learning. It's a term that can be used to describe anything from progress/goal tracking to quizzes to granting student certifications.
And although LMS systems have actually been around for quite a while, it's only been within the past few years that they've garnered attention in a larger variety of industries.
Once entrepreneurs started making the shift towards a profitable course launch formula, the demand for user-friendly LMS systems began to grow exponentially.
Now, a simple online search reveals dozens – actually, hundreds – of LMS platforms for you to choose from.
The question remaining is: will the Learning Management System engagement justify your investment in it?
Online courses are a great way to drive recurring revenue and deliver consistent high quality value to a large volume of clients.
…as long as you’ve got the right foundation laid for your online course students to succeed.
Sometimes, it's tempting to create really fabulous content, then just throw it out there and assume that the quality of the material will be enough to keep your students engaged.
Humans learn best when we're able to see our progress and receive positive feedback for our efforts. It's something that happens very naturally in a physical classroom, but can be challenging to integrate in an online learning environment.
And that's exactly why Learning Management Systems were created. It's also why they continue to be such a powerful addition to any online course or membership area.
But it can be daunting to look through a list with hundreds of the available Learning Management Systems and wonder which one is going to get the job done.
So let's look at what really makes up the best Learning Management System for WordPress, and whether it's going to boost the success rate of your online courses.