I often hear from educators and others wanting to set up a simple, small-scale e-learning platform to support their activities. While such a site has the potential to be more flexible and adaptable than a large institutional setup, it’s important to start it off on a sound footing to avoid wasting time and money.
- Start with and maintain a strong focus on using the web to support learning, not to merely publish information. This should underlie all the decisions you make on technical matters.
- Don’t spend any money on arranging hosting until you have made decisions about the software platform (eg LMS or CMS) that will best meet your needs. Some platforms require much more robust hosting than others do.
- Don’t spend any money on a software platform until you have made some decisions about exactly how you are going to use the site to support learning. In fact, once you have done this it’s very likely that you can identify free and open source software (FOSS) that will be very suitable.
- Get help to identify your needs and make decisions. Not just because you may not have all the knowledge required, but also because an outside perspective is invaluable.
- Seek out independent help and advice. Talk to lots of people, but be aware that many of the people who will offer advice may not have an objective understanding of what you want to achieve.
- Spend money on what matters – apart from ongoing payments for hosting, you probably have a small budget for initial set up. Since it’s very likely you won’t need to spend anything on software (see point 3 above), set aside at least some of your budget for buying the time of someone independent to help you identify needs and make decisions.