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I still need a good pinch. This still totally feels like a dream. I opened my first online course, Define Your Style, for enrollment yesterday and I am beyond overwhelmed with the response so far. I mean seriously, when the first student enrolled, tears welled up in my eyes. It is totally cheesy to say, but I believe this is my gift to share. This is why I am here. To know I have students waiting for what I have to share is amazing. Thank you.
Finding a good e-learning platform, was one of the things that held me back so long from achieving my dream of launching an online decorating school. I have taken online classes with clunky forums, password protected blogs, and private FB pages. Most of them did not meet my expectations. I did not want to cobble a bunch of systems together for my decorating school. Only the best for my students!
I also imagine, as a student, the unknowns of taking an online course might hold you back from enrolling. If you have never tried an online course, it can be a bit unnerving to not know what awaits you on the other side. I remember when I took my first online course, I had no idea what to expect and am not sure I got everything out of the online classroom environment. For that reason, I teamed up with CourseCraft today to bring you this post and what it’s like. I asked them all the tough questions and got to work building and testing out my course, so I could share with you what it will be like.
When I discovered CourseCraft it was if everything fell into place. I believe it was a sign. At once, I truly believed I could make my dream come true. I was immediately impressed with the platform. Not only is the user interface minimal and well-designed, but the features available surpassed my expectations. It is as equally beautiful and easy to use as a course creator as it is for a student.
CourseCraft was started by husband and wife team, Sara and Ryan Funduk. I absolutely LOVE their mission:
Our biggest goal with CourseCraft is to make it easy for anyone to make a really polished and professional e-course and have fun doing it! The way we learn is changing in big ways; You don’t have to drop big dollars at a University to learn a new skill and you don’t have to be a professor to teach something. We love to see regular people sharing their knowledge with others and making money doing it.
Isn’t that awesome? I am that person, just an average person with a passion and knack for decorating. I have something to share, even though I am not a professor, and I want to reach other real people looking for an affordable way to enhance their decorating skills.
When I first shared my dream of starting an online decorating school, you were all so kind to share feedback about what you like and dislike in online courses. I think CourseCraft addresses all your needs as a student. Your needs can be summed up in a few words; flexibility, organization, and connection.
Here is a short-list of the ways I am using CourseCraft to meet your needs:
- CourseCraft allows instructors to publish all lessons upfront for a self-paced course or to publish them manually on a schedule of their choosing.
- For my course, lessons will be posted 3 times per week (M-W-F) for the duration of the course.
- There is no set class time. You can log in at anytime, day or night, to review the lessons.
- My course is open to students worldwide.
- I love organized content, too. Right from the start you will see a full course outline, week by week, on the course description page before you enroll. You will know exactly what to expect.
- Lessons will be published 3 times a week. Everytime you log in to CourseCraft you will see the list of lessons for the course, making it easy to see new lessons or go back to re-read old lessons.
- Interact with me and other students in the private classroom. There is a comments section on every lesson. I will actively monitor comments during the course and personally reply to students.
- Lessons will include a mix of media types, including text, images, video, and worksheets. I think video will help create a sense of personal connection with me, your instructor.
I have been working in CourseCraft for weeks now, creating my first course, writing lessons, uploading photos and videos, and getting ready for you, my students. Today, I want to give you a tour of the learning platform. I will show you exactly what to expect when you take my first course, Define Your Style. Along the way, you will get some sneak peeks at the lessons and content in the course, exactly as you will see it as a student.
Signing up for a course is easy. Just click enroll. Payment is processed through PayPal. During enrollment you will be asked to create a username and password to access the site.
CourseCraft will send you two friendly emails; one to welcome you to CourseCraft and another when you enroll in a course. The Course Enrollment email includes the title of the course and a handy link to visit the course.
You will need to use your username and password to log in to class. Only I, the instructor, and other enrolled students will have access to the classroom.
Each time you log in to the course, the first screen you will see is the List of Lessons. As a student, you will see only published lessons. As the teacher, I can see a full list of draft lessons. Yep…the screenshot below shows the first 3 lessons to expect in Define Your Style.
From the lesson list, you can click on any lesson in the list to go to that lesson page.
Each lesson has its own page for the content of the lesson, including text, videos, and images. Each lesson has a comments section (more about that below). On the lesson page, the course cover photo will always display in the upper right hand corner with a link back to the lesson list. At the bottom of each lesson, there are also next and previous buttons to help navigate through the lessons.
As an aside, it is fun working on lessons where I can share photos just for the purpose of teaching. Teachable moments don’t always make for pin-worthy images. As a student you can also expect to see some never before seen photos of my decorating journey before the Teal & Lime house. You will never guess what my style used to be when I first moved out on my own.
Within each lesson, I can include downloads. This is handy for sharing worksheets to go along with the lessons. Define Your Style is really a workshop, so I will be using this feature a lot.
I also plan to share a PDF download of the entire lesson, as long as students play nice and understand the downloads are for personal use only, not for sharing.
Here is where the good stuff happens. I’m talking about connections. In the comment section on each lesson, you can discuss the lesson and ask questions. The comments section is there to make it easy for you to interact with me, but also to interact with other students.
I love comments. I read every single one on the blog and try to comment back all the time. So, I am nerdy excited about a lively classroom comments section. I want students that are eager to discuss, ask questions, and to be present. I can’t wait!
CourseCraft also includes a feature to upload a photo along with your comment. This feature is perfect for decorating classes. You will be able to share a photo of your space or an inspiration image with the class.
Under the course cover photo in the upper right hand corner on the lesson list page, you will always see a little thumbnail of me, along with a link to my profile page. Within my profile, you can find all the ways to contact and connect with me…even by e-mail. And, it’s really my email…the account I check daily, hourly…okay, way too often. I want to encourage as much of the discussion as possible to happen in the classroom, but I also want students to feel they have all the means they need to contact and interact with me.
Last, but certainly not least, I LOVE CourseCraft’s custom branding feature. It enables me to replace the CourseCraft logo with the Teal & Lime logo on my profile and course pages. It also allows me to customize teal and lime accent colors for links and buttons throughout the site. This way, as a student, you will know and feel like the course your are taking is from Teal & Lime. Aesthetic is everything to me, so this was one feature I was very excited about.
Whether you want to learn or teach something yourself, you can learn more about CourseCraft and check out the example course here.
I’ll See You in Class
I strongly believe I have found the right e-learning platform for my decorating school! It has all the features I was looking for and more. I hope you enjoyed this little walk-through of what the learning experience will be like as a student. Please enroll now in Define Your Style…you are only a few short weeks away from uncovering your personal decorating style!
Disclosure: This post is sponsored by CourseCraft written by me. All opinions about the CourseCraft learning platform are my own.