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ATD Blog

Sharing E-Learning Projects Online Without an LMS

Tuesday, October 19, 2021
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So, you decided that you need to create a portfolio of your work and even created a website to host it. Congratulations, that’s a huge accomplishment! Now there’s just one more tech issue to handle. At this point, you have to figure out a way to make your e-learning courses visible online.

This is easily handled by publishing your course and hosting it within an LMS. But in this situation, you’re hosting your personal learning deliverables for public consumption, so you’ll need another method of course hosting.

Before going into how to do that, let’s start with an understanding of why doing so is necessary. If you already know this information, feel free to drop down to the part of the post where we’ll explore how to host your Storyline and Captivate files online.

What Is Online Hosting?

Information hosted online lives on a server, which is a computer hard drive that contains the files and makes them publicly available whenever a specific URL is entered into the address bar of a web browser.

For those who want more detail on the history of servers, here’s a little note from Wikipedia:

Originally used as “servers serve users” (and “users use servers”), in the sense of "obey," today one often says that “servers serve data,” in the same sense as “give.” For instance, web servers “serve [up] web pages to users” or “service their requests.”

If you want to know more, here’s a link to the entire Wikipedia article.

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For everyone else, suffice it to say that even your portfolio, if it takes the form of a website, it is hosted on a server located somewhere in the world. The same goes for the files on your website. To host your e-learning content, however, you’ll need to host your content on a separate server.

It’s important to note that there are some limitations to this method of hosting. Hosting your courses online only allows your courses to be accessible to viewers and allows them to experience the interactivity that you’ve built in, as opposed to viewing static screen captures. Hosting courses online, outside of an LMS, does not include the ability to track learner progress. So if this is eventually your goal, then you’ll need to host your course in an LMS.
If online course hosting sounds daunting, don’t worry, this blog post will get you started.

Hosting Your E-Learning Courses Online

Now that we’ve covered the basics of what online hosting entails and why it’s necessary for viewing your courses, let’s cover a basic outline of how to do it. To do this, we’ll use an Articulate Storyline course as our example in the steps below.

  1. Create a web server account.
  2. Publish your course.
  3. Upload the files to the host server.
  4. Link to the HTML output.

Now, let’s explore the process step-by-step.

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1. Create a Web Server Account
As discussed earlier, if you’re reading this article, then an LMS is not an option for you. Also, it’s fair to assume that you don’t have access to your own web server. That means you’ll need to use a third party service like Amazon Web Services (AWS) S3 or the Google Cloud Platform. While these services may require you to enter your credit card information to get started, they’re both simple to use and are affordable (if not completely free) for personal use.

2. Publish Your Course
Articulate, like other authoring tools, offers several options for publishing your courses. Since you don’t have an LMS at your disposal and your course will be hosted online, you’ll need to publish for the web.

3. Upload the Files to the Host Server
Your published output will contain several file folders. You’ll need to include them all for your course to function properly. While you’re at it, you’ll need to ensure that the buckets and folders containing your course materials are open for public access.

4. Link to the HTML Output
Now that you’ve set everything up, you’ll need to find the link to the file that contains the words HTML output. This is the link that you will need for linking to the course form your website. Copy that link to your website and double-check that the link works.

That’s it!

Again, this post is just a high-level overview of what’s needed to host an e-learning course online without using an LMS. For specifics on how to use AWS S3 or Google Cloud, read these posts:
How to Share E-Learning Courses Using Amazon S3
How to Share E-Learning Courses Using Google Cloud Platform

About the Author

Esther Matthews is an instructional designer and Vice President of Communities of Practice for Greater Atlanta ATD. A lover of all things tech, she focuses on crafting holistic learning solutions and using Agile project management principles to drive continuous improvement. She’s known for looking at old problems in new ways, asking the right questions, and working collaboratively to lead large-scale solutions that drive organizations forward.

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