Kim Shivler Reveals 23 Instructional Design and Business Best Practices for User Centric Course Creators

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In this episode of LMScast with Chris Badgett of LifterLMS, Kim Shivler reveals 23 instructional design and business best practices for user centric course creators. Kim shares the story of how she entered the online learning space, and talks with Chris about some key insights on course design and how you can make your online content more effective.

Kim started developing HTML in 1995, and she worked as a part of an IBM worldwide team. Kim has a master’s degree in education, and she’s an expert in online courses, membership sites, and WordPress. She works as a speaker, teacher, and instructional design consultant. She saw that some things were missing with most courses and membership sites, whether it was on the business end or on the learning end, so since she has experience with both she started working with online content creators to help make their products more effective and profitable.

Your course will see students who have different learning styles, so having multiple forms of media in your course will help your students internalize the content. Reflecting on course material in the form of a review will also vastly improve retention of information. Having a quiz at the end of course sections will help your customers apply the information they learned, and it will help you figure out where students are falling off from an analytics perspective.

Having your course content in small modules that are easy to consume will help your students digest the information and put it to use in a more effective way. Chris and Kim talk about why this is useful and how it will help your customers avoid information overload.

Courses are not just about sales or just about learning. They are about connecting with your audience and instilling them with a skill or solution to a problem. Testing of your course material is crucial for having success with your course. Kim and Chris talk about why this key piece of development is necessary and why it should never be left out. Creating a relationship focus rather than a transactional focus with your courses is a mindset you should take whenever developing online learning content.

Chris and Kim talk about why challenging your assumptions is also critical for creative problem solving, and how acquiring this habit can greatly improve the content you produce. They also discuss the journey from being stress aware to solution aware.

It is important to change your students’ views of quizzes and tests as well, because they are not meant to be punitive – they are learning tools that help both of you learn. Don’t create quiz questions with the intention to trick your students, because that is not very productive for learning. Chris and Kim talk a little bit about what a good quiz question encompasses.

To learn more about Kim Shivler check out kimshivler.com, and you can find her on Twitter at @KimShivler.

You can post comments and subscribe to our newsletter for updates, developments, and future episodes of LMScast. Thank you for joining us.

Chris Badgett: Hello, and welcome back to another episode of LMScast. My name is Chris Badgett from LifterLMS, and I’m joined today by a special guest, Kim Shivler, from kimshivler.com. Kim is an expert in online courses, membership sites, WordPress, and also just business and teaching. We’re going to get into some of these topics and how they all blend together. I recently met up with Kim at WordCamp Sacramento in late or mid 2017. She gave a great talk on membership sites, and I just had to get her on the show. Kim, welcome to LMScast, and thank you for coming to the show.
Kim Shivler: Thanks for having me. I think we found when we met at WordCamp Sacramento, this is the kind of stuff we could both geek out on for quite a while.
Chris Badgett: I’m sure this is part one in a series. For those that don’t know you yet, tell us a little bit about your world. How do you help people and what are you all about with WordPress and courses and membership sites?
Kim Shivler: I consider myself a speaker, teacher, and instructional design consultant. I work with companies to help them build educationally sound courses. Sometimes that’s online courses, sometimes that’s actually workshops. I’ve done that because I noticed I have a master’s degree in education, and I’ve been teaching for over 30 years now. I noticed as I worked with people who had to get out and teach whether it was online or not that there were just some things missing that they didn’t understand whether from a business perspective or a learning perspective, and being that I had that technical background I worked at.
In technology, I started developing HTML in 1995, and also was part of an IBM worldwide team. I had the tech piece and the educational piece. I just blended them together to help my customers go forward, and most importantly serve their customers.
Chris Badgett: That’s an awesome combination because if we’re all really honest with ourselves, usually on the technology side or the teaching side, or the expert … If you were to throw in a third leg on that stool, just general expertise, they’re usually not level at all. To have some strength in both tech and teaching is a really great asset. When I was listening to your talk, I heard you talking about things that I didn’t hear a lot of people talking about, but they were super valuable and things that course creators and membership site owners really need to consider, and think about as best practices when they build their platforms.
I want to get in to that and if you’re listening or watching this video in YouTube, I’d encourage you to grab a pen, and we’re going to lay out some tips that if you were to just absorb these and then do your best to implement these ideas, this is coming from a lot of experience across Kim’s experience, lots of clients and that sort of thing. These are some real best practices and insights that are worth trying out. You mentioned that there’s some business and instructional design or teaching best practices for the course creator. Which side do you like to start on?
Kim Shivler: I think let’s start at the beginning which would be the course design, and then take it through the second piece, which is you mentioned I talk about that a lot of times, people don’t, and that is the actual launch process, and things from a business perspective you need to do before your launch and during your launch to make sure that it’s the success, not just for you but for your customer who is really why you’re building this in the first place.
Chris Badgett: Absolutely. What are some key insights on course design?
Kim Shivler: A few of them. First of all, courses are one of those fun things that we all figured that we sat in school for a long, long, long, long time, so we can all teach. We sometimes forget that there’s actually a science behind this. One of the key things is that people don’t all learn the same way. There’s a big argument within the industry on whether or not they are true hardwired styles or just preferences, but it really doesn’t matter because some people are going to learn better very visually.
They like to watch videos. Others want to hear so you’ve got the audio aspect and then others actually need to see text. What we really find is you’ll get the best if you combine all of that. Not to mention the fact that until someone does it, they really haven’t learned it so we need to have activities in there that allow them to experience the success in whatever you’re teaching them to show that they are learning it, they’re doing it. Interestingly we’ve actually found out within the instructional design fields and the psychology fields that the deepest learning actually comes after you’ve done all the things I just said and then reflecting back upon what you did.
That’s when we fully absorb it. Reviews at the end of a course are really helpful for that student to take it away and internalize it. I don’t just mean a review like giving them five bullet points. Interaction with them allowing them to maybe some information delivered and then some they have to give back, they have to answer a question or complete a task to really cement that into their body and their learning. That’s a big one.
Then the other one is really the key for online learning. It’s not as big a deal in the workshops, but you really need to break it into teeny tiny little pieces because we don’t consume … We’re not people who want to sit and watch a 40-minute video for the most part. We want to consume it in small bites. We want to then interact with it however we’re going to whether it’s for example, [inaudible 00:06:36] drawing if you’re teaching drawing or installing WordPress, if you’re teaching WordPress. We want to have those little bites and those little successes going forward so really break it down, that’s so critical.
You also have the difficulty of when you teach live and I teach both live and online. When I teach live, I can layout across the room and you can tell that some people are getting it, some people aren’t. You always have that one guy or girl in the back. They are viciously nodding their head, yes, in agreement and you can just see in their eyes that they missed everything you just said so you can come back around to it.
Online, we’ve got to figure out where we’re losing people without being able to see them in the eyes and that’s whereas I mentioned before, we’re building this for our user. It’s a concept of breaking it down and then having some quiz questions, et cetera between there so you can see where people are falling out and where you need to pull them back in and what you need to address to make sure you’re reaching them.
Chris Badgett: That’s awesome. I think that’s just one of the things that makes them more professional course, and of course experiences, it’s not just about getting the content and getting it ready for consumption. There’s a lot more that goes into it like the activities you’ve mentioned and reflection, and circling back, having a feedback loop if something is not going through. I mean that’s the more professional way to do it. It’s not just about content.
Kim Shivler: Absolutely, or about sales. Not just content, not just sales, it’s absolutely about connecting with your audience and that’s where something I did talk about in the presentation at Sacramento is testing. Testing is so, so critical. I mean having people who are your target audience testing. A lot of times when we develop it, yes, whoever developed our platform tests from a technical perspective, we as content developers test from our perspective but like my business coach loves to tell me, “Kim, you’re not your target audience.”
I mean we need to have our testing done by that target audience. That’s where we find the places that we thought we were so clear but if 30% of your audience is missing it, you really need to go back and address it. The more of an expert you are in your field, the bigger that can be because we forget what we didn’t know when we were just starting out a lot of times.
Chris Badgett: Prelaunch testing is critical. I mean it can always get better after a long review, “How is it going? Can it be improved? I like to say that the launch is not the finish line, it’s the starting line in many ways.
Kim Shivler: Agreed.
Chris Badgett: The way I look at that sometimes is assumptions play such a big role and how we operate as entrepreneurs or as teachers and really where you get the big breakthroughs is where you challenge your assumptions. I think being open as a teacher, as an instructor, as a leader, as a coach to be able to have your assumptions challenged that yes, I can teach this material with your target audience not other people just like you. That’s so critical and rarely done, I think, or not done as much as it should be.
Kim Shivler: I agree. For one, I think a lot of times particularly the testing piece, it’s done as an afterthought. Again, they test the technical piece. We make sure that Stripe is working and PayPal is working, and “We can get your money,” but we forget the testing of the users, and I agree. The launch is just the start. However, if you will back up and do some of this testing ahead of time, you can make the launch go even better and then it’s a start where you continue going on, but I have seen in a couple different case studies where no testing was done with users beforehand.
Both were situations where they had a pretty good size audience already. As we know that’s important if we’re going to have a successful launch and sell something but without that level of testing, there were so many issues in the launch that we lost a good percentage of people just from frustration that they couldn’t get through what they needed to get through. This was a warm audience. Think if that’s your warm audience you’re losing, if you’re running Facebook ads, and you’re paying to get people here, and you can’t serve them it was just waste in marketing money.
Chris Badgett: It’s miraculous what you can do with the technology tools available today and the internet, and building all the blocks and putting your online school or online program together but it’s just like building a car, something like that. You should test it before you go out on the open road with it just to make sure everything is good to go.
Kim Shivler: Absolutely. For example, what you guys do at Lifter, it’s fabulous software. It goes beyond. I built my first online course in 1997. It was hand coded HTML with CGI scripts piecing it together.
Chris Badgett: Wow.
Kim Shivler: It was ugly. I wasn’t even using active server pages and JavaServer pages yet. What you provide now is perfect. As course developers, we just have to still remember it’s about serving our audience. It’s not about our bells and whistles, and having fun, and sometimes particularly our engineers really like to just, “We’re going to do it because we can,” but when we’re trying to teach, that is a service to someone else, and we need to make sure that we are really reaching what their needs are, what their level of learning is. One of the things I find when I worked with people in instructional design, and the more expert they are again, the more this is true. They’re to cram 30 years of experience into one class.
Chris Badgett: How do you help someone who’s in that position?
Kim Shivler: The first thing we do when we work together is we do a big brain dump. When they get it all out, and I can show them how this isn’t one class, this is 12 classes. This is a series that builds upon itself. Usually they get really excited about that. It’s almost a freeing thing to them and of course they’re also saying, “Hey, multiple classes is multiple products to possibly keep your customer base going and purchasing et cetera.
Chris Badgett: Awesome. What about the business side?
Kim Shivler: The business side, I do, I look at two things. One, the testing that I actually consider part of the business side. Testing with your target audience and if that somebody … Say, you’ve got a warm audience already. Reach out to a small core of them that you know will do what you ask them to do and do a true beta program. We always think of beta from a technology software engineering perspective but this is a beta for your customer to go through the course and don’t even just tell them go through the course.
I actually give them a sheet. I want you to go here and sign in. It should take you here. Does it? They don’t know what the flow is supposed to look like, so they just go, “Good.” What if I’m sending them to the wrong page? I actually walk them through exactly it should look like. If they’re having problems, I do have them fill that out, but I actually give them little exercises to do and questions for feedback so that I can really get their picture. It’s a great place to use heat maps to see where they are clicking as their going through and make sure that they’re doing the flow that you’re looking for, and really look for things like particularly in your quizzes.
Make sure that you’re asking things in a way that people are getting it and you’re getting the right answers. If you built something, and a large percentage of the people are not passing it, that usually has something to say about your teaching, your content and what you’ve put out as opposed to the fact that your students are just dumb because it’s usually on you. Learn a little bit from that business side as you’re going into it. Really work with any activities or questions that you’re going to give them and make sure that you’re helping them along. Quizzes and activities should not be punitive. They should be learning tools.
Chris Badgett: How do you make quizzes fun? I think for some course creators, they hear about a learning management system or an online course. They have this quiz or assessment tools, but they have … Maybe they’re somehow traumatized from their experience in school or something like that. How do you explain the value, or of quizzes, or make it … Get them to get over that hurdle of quizzes are evil?
Kim Shivler: First of all, I tell everybody that, with my students like, “Guys, first of all quizzes aren’t punitive. They’re learning tools.” I tell them my goal with this is not to quiz you, it’s for you to look at it and, one, check your own learning and two, quiz me because if you can’t answer it, I didn’t teach it right.” Once they turn the tables on you a little bit and then open to doing that, they’re like, “I’m going to get you.”
Then the onus is on me to write good quiz questions. One of the things people have when they’re writing quiz questions is they’re afraid of giving away too much information. Don’t be. Give away a good chunk of information so that they know where you’re going. Then they can get that next answer right. Whatever you do, make sure you’re not ambiguous. That’s where in the testing, I keep hammering on testing. You’re going to find questions that the students thought were ambiguous that you didn’t.
Don’t ask things like where was Lincoln shot? Which one of my brother’s history teachers did ask and when he put in the head, she had to give it to him even though she was going for Theodore. Go ahead and build those out and just make sure you’re testing. The other thing during the launch is prepare for support calls, prepare your team and make sure all hands are on deck because you’re going to have somebody that has a problem filling out their credit card information, tries to log in to the course, the platform, whatever you have and gets an error or somehow didn’t get their email conformation because their mail spam did, and we need to then be able to help them. Just whatever you do, don’t say you have to wait for the email. We need to be there to jump in and help get them on boarded if we’re needed to because we’re serving them.
Chris Badgett: That moment right and before after the purchase or the enrollment is so critical. You should be ready to provide a little extra hand or just be available because once you help get people seated in the classroom and going, they’re pretty good. I mean they’re still going to need help and have questions, but I don’t know. I think about it in the real world of going to college, and you get dropped off and there’s all this stuff going on. You got to find your room, you got to figure out how to eat and all this stuff, but once you got it, you got it. It takes a little extra guidance there in the beginning.
Kim Shivler: Absolutely. That’s definitely a huge part to make sure that you’re focused on them. Also remember, relationships span transactions.
Chris Badgett: What do you mean by that?
Kim Shivler: Most of us if we’re good business people and truly want to serve our customers, we’re looking to build a long-term relationship. I don’t you to buy just one day of consulting from me, or one class, I want you to be part of my tribe that thousand true fans that buys everything I put out. You’ll only get that when you build a relationship. If you look at something just as a transaction like “Got that person. Now get them out the door.” You will never build that successful … You’ll have to work harder because convincing strangers to become customers is harder than really serving your base well enough that they want to keep working with you and bring their friends, and they’re friends, and their friends.
Chris Badgett: That’s awesome. I’m just going to restate that again. It’s a mindset thing to have a relationship focus over a transactional focus. That’s so key and so critical. That’s for sharing that. It’s easy to get lost in the weeds of making sure the transaction runs okay. At the end of the day, you’re doing business between two human beings or teaching between two human beings, or a group of people. It’s all relationships.
Kim Shivler: Absolutely. Yes, you’re right. We definitely want to test those Stripe transactions, those PayPal transactions. We need to test that. We need to understand that but if we take a relationship mindset, it’s going to be easier to build a successful business. It’ll also make the whole thing easier. Approaching that, “We’re doing this launch. We’re going to have a webinar or an email list, tell everyone we’re going to do it. We know that this is a core time that we’re going to be having this extra support. If we look at it as relationship building then it’s much less stress when we get those calls.
We’re going to work together to fix this, and we approach it that way. This is not the 1980’s day of being in IT which I was back then where it was, “No. We’re IT. We say it’s this way. It’s going to be that way.” The world is different now and particularly if we’re going to serve customers whether it’s through an online course, or a series of courses, or a whole platform then we have to approach it with that mindset because the tools are there. You guys have even added this … What I’m looking forward to playing with. I have it and I haven’t installed it yet but where you can actually have special pages for private clients. For those of us who coach and consult that’s beautiful. The tool is there. I have to approach it with that mindset.
Chris Badgett: I think that’s really key. Another thing that I like to just add to that is from the relationship standpoint, and I’m speaking as a guy with a software product, LifterLMS people can … I make it so that anybody in the world can schedule a 15-minute call with me. I make it so it can’t fill up my entire week. I have blocks where it happens and I talk to lots of people. At the end of those calls, people do a ton of research when they’re selecting an online course or a membership or LMS system. They have tons of questions. After we talk for a while, they thank me for my time like, “Wow. I can’t believe you do that. I really appreciate it. I can’t believe you answered all my questions.” Sometimes I’m referring them to a different product because that’s not a good fit for Lifter. They’re like, “Wow. I can’t believe you’re doing that. “Thank you”
Then I just turn right back around and say, “No, thank you, because I’m understanding what you’re needing, what you’re looking for and if we don’t really know what our customers or perspective customers are like, what the questions they’re asking, we’re just at a sink, or we’re making a lot of assumptions.” I just turn right around and tell them I really appreciate your time too. I think in terms of relationships, it’s a two way street. It’s all benefit to the student. It’s also like to the teacher, or the web learning platform owner to have that feedback loop and be available is really critical.
Kim Shivler: Absolutely.
Chris Badgett: I wanted to ask you another question about that. It just pops in my head but on websites one of the most useful pages that can help save a lot of frustration is a FAQ or frequently asked questions forum. I mean that should be part of the beta program? I’m on a mission to discover what my FAQs are and not just assume I know what they are. I’m having trouble paying. How else can I pay for the course? That’s not the only FAQ you need, right?
Kim Shivler: Absolutely. The earlier you can bring a few core target customers in and get them going, the better because you’re going to learn what they’re needing, what you may be missed. What you really don’t want to do is build 12 modules only to find out, that it’s not what they needed or wanted. Then you can’t even sell it. When I did that presentation, I do talk about we actually do start with a brainstorm on what is needed and then I take it to my audience or to my client’s audience, to get their feedback on that, get their questions on that. Then we build a little bit. Then we have some core testers and then we fix and we build a little more at the time that we’ve got those modules ready and when you hear me say 12, I recommend no more than usually eight to 12 for a class.
Chris Badgett: When you say modules, you’re referring to those are lesson count, or those are sections that then contain those lessons inside of those modules?
Kim Shivler: Yes. Sections, chapters. If you’re getting to more than that, then you’re probably need to break this into two courses. Maybe even three or five, it just depends on what you’re teaching. Build those out, get that feedback and then once you’ve got it done, that’s when I go to my next size where I really try to get a 40 to 50 people if possible to go all the way through it and really get that feedback, see that they’re getting where they need to go. For example, say I’m building WordPress or teaching WordPress which is one of the things I teach. Have they been able to actually go through and build their site? If they have they probably got it. If they’re still stuck on the install, then we have to evaluate that they actually do the lessons or are they really not getting it? Just keep testing and checking back and checking back. If you do that, you’re going to end up with a course that is much more successful for your students and then again what’s the next course? What are they going to be interested in next? Keeping that pulse with them to find out.
I’m always reaching out to them. What is the next problem? Don’t ask a tip for that when you’re getting in touch with them. Again, as you’re doing this, you’re building out those FAQs. Don’t ask them always what they want to learn. Dig in to what is their business problem because they may not know what they want to learn. They may not know the solution you have. They may just know that my business problem is I’m not able to easily share information with my group coaching people other than emails, and the emails get lost et cetera, et cetera. Your private page within the system might reach that. They may not be thinking as far as private pages because how much of the technology do they know?
Chris Badgett: They’re just problem aware. They’re not necessarily solution aware.
Kim Shivler: Exactly. Your customer doesn’t so much care about the technology the bells, the features, the whistles, they just want that problem solved as quickly and easily as possible. That’s all they care about.
Chris Badgett: I think that’s a really helpful thing to think about when you’re a course creator. There’s problem aware and then there’s solution aware. Before problem aware, there is unaware. Somebody just may be like stressed or they don’t know what’s going on but something is not right. They’re unaware. Then after solution aware, they become product aware which is it can translate to different context depending upon where you’re interacting with them but I think that’s one of those assumption pieces because as the learning platform owner, course creator, teacher probably solve the same problem in our own life at some point, we’re already at solution aware, product aware. We’re past all that now.
We’re coming back to help, but we have to remember what it was like for that unaware or who came into your circle and is like, “Wait, there might be something here.” Then you define the problem a little better than they realize and like, “Oh, yeah. That’s what I’ve got going on. I have this problem.” They’re learning from you. That’s really cool. Just for the listener, I thought it would be fun if we could do a short game where you come up with three, and I’ll come up with three. We are saying to do a beta program, do a small beta than a larger beta and then launch but what do you think are three questions that need to be on almost every FAQ on an online course website?
Kim Shivler: The first one, other than payment. I’m not even going to talk about payment because we all know that. One, what do I need to know to take this course already? Sometimes there’s prerequisites and people get hung-up actually in like, “I read this, and it looks really good.” Particularly if you’re teaching technology like a lot of times I am, “Am I going to be able to do this? Cam I do this?” When I can say, “Here are my 70-year-old, completely not technical people building their first website. This is all you need for the prereq.”
A lot of times, it’s just easing fears so whatever the fears might be around whatever you’re teaching whether that’s for example fitness maybe, someone who’s a little out of shape. Am I going to be able to keep up? That type of thing. That applies to almost any type of industry. What do I need to do or need to know in order to do this return on investment?
Chris Badgett: Is it worth it?
Kim Shivler: Is it worth it? What return are they going to get? That’s particularly when you’re charging more than $29. If you’re charging $29 eBook fee, it’s a little easier, but if you’re charging more, then they really want to get that. I like to let people know what they can expect as far as personal interaction with me because a lot of times people actually try … They’re buying access to you. Again, if it’s a higher level course. If I’m charging $1,000 for something, I’m going to be giving people more access not just to my brain that I’ve laid out here but to how did they get help? Where am I available? I am frequently known for holding office hours. I will just send out a link. My office hour is this week or this. I hang out in a Zoom room. When someone need help, they bought in. Those are my three that I like to make sure are on every FAQ.
Chris Badgett: That is awesome. I’m really glad I ask that question. I thought you were going to steal the three that I had, but you didn’t take any of them.
Kim Shivler: Good.
Chris Badgett: Before I do my three, I just wanted to touch on Kim’s three here. What do I need to know to take this course? Underlying all of these frequently asked questions are subconscious. I mean maybe conscious but emotional needs. What do I need to take this course? They’re asking themselves like is this really for me? Can I do it? I’m scared. Will I be able to pull this off? Will I be able to go back to the gym? Will I be able to build a website even though I’ve never … I can barely check my email or whatever. These are fears.
Return on investment. People are scared about losing money and can I trust that I’m going to get a result on this program? This comes back to Kim’s conversation around quizzing and testing and making sure it’s working in getting that feedback loop open because the best marketing is a course that gets results for people not a high converting sales page. Having an obsession on student results is the best marketing activity can do in my opinion. The third thing she said is how much do I get to interact with you the course creator teacher leader coach?
People are paying for access, and it’s important to manage those expectations upfront. As course creators, it’s easy to get a little bit scared about my time doesn’t scale. I can’t do one on one. Kim mentioned some group coaching which is a great way to do it like weekly, monthly, daily, office hours, bringing a special guest, email support. I’m a big fan of doing things that don’t scale and just charging more for your program but I think access is really important and it’s one of those things that’s often overlooked in this day and age.
You don’t necessarily want to automate everything. In fact, it’s really … That would be one of the most challenging things to build an online course that gets results 100% of the time with no human interaction. Sorry. I just had to get on my soapbox a little bit because I thought your FAQs were brilliant and I just want to unpack them a little bit. Mine are more technical which is a good balance. Mine is just how I log in? That’s something that as you done your site a million times, you know how to log in. You might even go into WordPress or somewhere else where your users don’t go to log in, so you’ve probably forgotten how they log in.
The other thing is I forgot my password, so the question is like … It’s more of a statement. I forgot my password. I do. That’s a good one that you can save yourself a lot of time, frustration on you customer’s part. Then my sixth one is just how do I start? When somebody comes into an online course right after they bought or if it’s a free course and they enrolled, that very first lesson is when the excitement, the energy, everything is the highest. I encourage people to really, really focus on that first interaction and getting people comfortable, getting them excited, getting them some kind of result or at least forward progress.
You may know how it’s going to start. You design the curriculum but if you hire someone to build a house and the builder shows up on your raw piece of land, you could very well just be like, “What do we do first?” I mean you don’t know, the builder knows. Excitement is high to take advantage of it. That’s my three FAQs there.
Kim Shivler: I love those. The excitement is high. Also, there may be a little bit of fear in there too. Thinking of your first day of school, back in elementary school, you might have been excited. You might have been also a little nervous. I love that. On boarding them right there at the beginning and making it fund and easy and building that excitement is really a good one.
Chris Badgett: Just trying into what you said there. A lot of FAQs, the underlying emotion is fear. It’s fear of can I do this. It’s fear of can I trust this program or this person? It’s just important to acknowledge that, and it’s scary to go to school for the first time no matter a new program, a new yoga class, the gym, whatever it is.
Kim Shivler: Right. For some people you tie in to that fear. I so much agree with you. Not everybody had a good school experience, so they maybe even tied back to, “I really didn’t like going to school. Why would I want to do this?”
Chris Badgett: That’s a good point. Let’s leave the listener, Kim with one more just insight or something, best practice that people should consider when building an online course either from the instructional design side or the business side. What’s something that you don’t see talked enough about that’s super valuable and everybody all course builders should consider?
Kim Shivler: This one, I’m actually going to throw out a technical one because it’s when I have seen so much trouble with and it will save your butt. You’re going to have. When you’re building an online course, you are going to have some dependents on emails being sent and received from that course, from your WordPress website, from wherever you’re doing it. Make absolutely sure you are using an outside mailer like SendGrid, one of those that is a trusted mailer because if you’re just using the default from WordPress, the PHP mail, they’re not going to be getting those emails.
You will save yourself hours of hair pulling and dealing with one on one with clients if you make sure that that’s put in right so that people can get the emails you’re sending ou,t and they’re not ending up in spam. What you’ll get from people is, “They can’t be in spam. They’re not in my spam mailbox.” Then you have to deal with, they’re not even getting there. They’re being caught up here in the ether that says no. It’s spam. It’s not even getting to the spam mailbox.
Chris Badgett: I feel like you’re a psychic, Kim because I’ve been helping some LifterLMS customers today, and they were having those exact issues with just setting up transactional mail service like SendGrid or Mandrill. If you’re listening to this, and you are a LifterLMS user, just head on over the documentation and search email FAQ. Your website can send emails, but it’s not … if you’re really going pro or turning professional on your platform, it’s best to use one of those transactional mail services and of course test that. I think emails like one of websites sends emails, or the password reset function and all of this is something that people really don’t … A lot of people don’t test as much as they should. Thank you for that tip, I really appreciate that.
Kim Shivler: You’re welcome. It’s when I deal with people a lot also, and I’ll tell you … I will not say their name. I’m not going to throw them under the bus but there is a software as a service company out there who doesn’t have this ready. I am therefore not their customer but because they refuse to help me in any other way when I didn’t get their email so I use a competitor’s product.
Chris Badgett: It’s a big deal. Kim, thank you so much for coming on the show. Everybody, I encourage you to check out kimshivler.com. That’s S-H-I-V-L-E-R. That’s K-I-M S-H-I-V-L-E-R, kimshivler.com. Kim, what other ways can people connect with you on the web and just remind people how you can best help and serve them if they’re resonating with this episode?
Kim Shivler: Absolutely. You can find me on Twitter, @KimShivler. From kimshivler.com, you can see how to get to my How to Build an Online Course and instructional design if you’re interested in that. My general web training site or any of my business communications, training and consulting that I do, it’s all tied in there. I’m here to serve you just like I want you to be there to serve your customers.
Chris Badgett: Awesome. Thank you, Kim for doing part one. I cannot wait for part two.
Kim Shivler: I look forward to it.
Chris Badgett: I hope you have a great rest of your day.
Kim Shivler: Thanks. You, too.

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