How to Share eLearning Projects Online Without an LMS

So you’ve 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’ve got to figure out a way to make your elearning course(s) visible online.

Normally, 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 exactly how to do that, let’s start with an understanding of why that’s 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, 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’re dying to know more, here’s a link to the entire Wikipedia article

For everyone else, suffice it to say that even your portfolio, if it takes the form of a website, is actually hosted on a server located somewhere in the world. The same goes for the files (pictures, text, etc.) on your website. To host your eLearning content, however, you’ll generally 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.

How to host your eLearning 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.

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 3rd 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 fairly simple to use and are incredibly 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 make sure you include them all for your course to function properly. While you’re at it, you’ll need to make sure 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 a eLearning course online without using an LMS. For specifics on how to use AWS S3 or the Google Cloud Platform, be sure to read the articles from Articulate’s Rapid Elearning Blog and below. 

If you find the content too complicated to follow, don’t worry, you can check out the DIY Instructional Design Youtube channel for simple and easy-to-follow videos.

As usual, if you know someone who would benefit from this article, please feel free to share. Until the next time - happy course hosting!

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