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E-learning development options are overwhelming. I’m here to you help you sort them out.

My name is Philip Hutchison, and I’ve been hand-building e-learning courses for about twenty years.

Before my career in e-learning, I spent a lot of time helping people through multimedia: creating print documents and accessible websites for a university, engineering long-distance education classes for a community college, engineering talk shows on public radio, producing live events and broadcasts of local bands, providing graphic design and prepress services for local businesses, logo design for top 40 radio stations, and more. I bounced around quite a bit, but I had a lot of fun, and it felt good to know I was helping others.

When I was trying to decide what I wanted to be when I grew up, I knew it had to be something creative, utilizing my diverse media experience, while also continuing to serve the community.

In a eureka! moment, I stumbled upon e-learning development. It was a perfect fit: Online courses were really just mini websites, with some extra code thrown in, and typically featured multimedia elements and custom graphic design. I realized I could help others and satisfy my creative itch by producing courses with interactions, videos, narration, animations, etc.

I knew the multimedia side very well, but didn’t have any formal training in instructional design. I decided to go back to school, and received a Master’s degree in Education (Instructional Technologies) from San Francisco State University. It really helped me tie everything together.

When I began working professionally as an instructional designer, I quickly learned most organizations use off-the-shelf course development software to build their courses due to the low barrier to entry. This makes sense — those tools are easy, they’re predictable, and the courses they generate are known to work with most learning management systems. However, as an advanced user and creative-type, I found these tools too limiting, putting significant constraints on what I could do within a course. Plus they were expensive and locked you into a vendor’s ecosystem. I decided to build my own course framework, where every page started as a blank slate, and could support whatever interactions or multimedia our team wanted to create.

The framework was a success, and I started sharing my experiences and code on my blog https://pipwerks.com. The framework was powered in part by my SCORM wrapper, which I open-sourced in 2008. It’s still widely used today — to date, organizations around the world (corporations, hospitals, government agencies, military branches, universities, etc.) have used it to register over a million* course completions. It blows my mind, and I’m extremely grateful for the developers who have trusted my code for their projects.

Over the years, I’ve continued to experiment with other forms of online courseware and content, typically navigating tight project constraints, such as lack of funding, being able to scale to thousands of users without incurring extra fees, being able to share content across systems, and making all content fully searchable.

I’ve watched online education blossom over the last decade, and the demand for online training continues to boom. There are many wonderful course publishing options available today that didn’t exist just five or ten years ago.

Unfortunately, the sheer number of options can be overwhelming for people who are new to course building — there are dozens of ways to build courses and training portals. Some very expensive, and some completely free. Some geared towards corporate compliance training, some geared towards the content creator self-publishing market. It’s hard to navigate, and puts businesses (and their developers) in a tight spot.

Courseware.dev was built to help people find the sweet spot for their educational project, whether it’s rolling their own courses, or finding an existing tool or service that fits their needs and budget.

Content will be rolled out over time, including courses about building courses (so very meta), tools and sample code for course developers, free articles about the ins and outs of course building, and video demonstrations of commercial products.

I’m excited to share my experiences and research with you, and invite you to join my mailing list! Get notified about new posts, and receive special offers for my courses and tools. I’d also love to hear if you have any areas you’d like to learn about or products you’d like to see demoed.

* Estimate based on usage within my own orgs, and feedback provided from the community.