4 Main Types of Technology for E-Courses

The most asked question around course creation is, “What course technology should I use?” And it’s a very valid question considering the digital nature of an e-course.

I have created numerous e-courses in all sorts of course platforms over the last 20 years, so believe me when I say:

If you have the option to choose your course technology (meaning you haven’t bought a plugin, or invested in a hosted platform, or are willing to change these) then I highly recommend you take a look at the way you want to teach and for your students to experience your course.

To add, there is more to consider for technologies than a platform. These include:

  • Learning technologies: Software to enhance learning
  • Communication technologies: Ways to increase interaction between you and your students
  • Presentation technologies: Software you can use to display content in unique ways and for your students to do the same
  • Course platform: The accessible online environment to add your content, multimedia, activities and resources.


Let me give you an example. Say you want to have an online photography course to share your unique editing strategies that make final pictures quite exemplary (even award winning.)

You’ve taught your editing strategies in person through quick workshops at a local college using their computer lab. You feel confident you can teach this online.

Your workshop curriculum was as follows:

  1. Showcase the difference between ordinary photos and the Shining Photo Finish technique
  2. Have students distinguish the finishing elements that enhance photographs with the unique editing technique
  3. Introduce the finishing technique using common photo editing software
  4. Provide a cheat sheet on the photo finishing steps
  5. Have students practice the technique on a given photo and provide a final version to compare results and discuss with class
  6. Test students on the steps as well as correcting procedure to enhance poor quality photos
  7. Have students enhance their own photo and share the ‘before and after’ results with class for feedback

What type of technology do you think this course would need if delivered online?

I say it could use all 4 types of course technology:

  1. Learning technology: A quiz maker with feedback component (items 2 & 6)
  2. Communication technology: Online forum to share their results from photo exercise (items 5 & 7)
  3. Presentation technology: Photoshop or link to trial period of sophisticated photo editing software (items 3, 4, 5 & 7)
  4. Course platform: Plugin as purchasing a hosted platform might not be economical for one course, such as Zippy Course plugin with a one-time fee) (items 1, 2, 3, 4 & 6)



Let’s say for another course, I am an accountant (actually, I am) and I want to teach about this year’s taxation regulations and how to apply them to personal tax returns. What an exciting course!

I could probably do this via email with a link to 2 or 3 password protected and connected webpages where I have:

  • One or two instructional videos
  • PDF of current tax regulations
  • PDF of 2 sample tax returns
  • Cheat sheet for application
  • Links to government resources
  • And perhaps but not necessary, a link to a Facebook group or Slack for questions.

See how the technology for this course differs vastly from the first one due to what and how you want to teach the topic. And what you want your students to experience.


For either of these courses, create your content offline (i.e. use Word for the text, save produced videos and graphics, etc.) so that you can easily switch course platforms IF you choose to expand your offerings to more courses. For example, you want to move from using the Zippy Course plugin to Thinkific hosted platform.

To do so, upload your saved content into the new platform to promote and sell  your existing course. Then start to build your next one. I am not saying it will take a weekend to add your existing course, but you will have all the content to place into a new environment.


If you visualize your course first and how you want to teach your students along with the experience you want them to have, the types of technology you really need will emerge.

Explore this website for more resources on how to design your course before taking the technology plunge.

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