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Creating Simple Online Courses For Free With MyiCourse

by Kelly Walsh on February 27, 2011

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Our quest for free web-based CMS and LMS tools continues with a trial run and overview of MyiCourse.com.

This is the third in a series of articles in which I look at online LMS/CMS applications that offer free capabilities. In my first post, I narrowed these down to four apps that seemed to have few limitations in their free or very low cost offerings. Last week I looked more closely at Rcampus.com, and learned that while it has a lot to offer for free, some of its functionality requires an upgrade to a Premium version that isn’t available yet. This week I move on to MyiCourse.

After a couple hours creating my online “University” and a basic course in MyiCourse, and scanning tutorial materials and trying to make sure I wasn’t missing any functionality I was hoping to find, I can confidently say that MyiCourse has some strong points. At the same time, it is probably a bit too limited in capabilities to meet the needs of many instructors. So if you are looking to put up your own online courses and intend to keep it pretty simple, check out the pros and cons noted below. You may also wish to view  this tutorial that I made about the process, for further insights.

What MyiCourse does well
MyiCourse does some things well. In a nutshell, you can create simple online courses (and charge for them), with relative ease.

  • It’s free, with no cost-based functional limitations, and no apparent limits on the numbers of courses or students. The only possible charges relate to the top banner ad image (see the section below for more on that).
  • It is simple and pretty easy to use.
  • You can create your own “online university”, with its own unique URL (I created emergingedtech.myicourse.com).
  • You can create multi-page courses, with images, links, embedded videos, and audio.
  • You can create multi-module courses.
  • They offer good online tutorials to help learn how their system works.
  • You can create courses that you charge for (great for individual entrepreneurial instructors looking to do online training for a fee).

Drawbacks and limitations of MyiCourse
Following are some of the shortcomings of this application.

  • Limited capabilities. What you can do with MyiCourse is really pretty limited – you can create web pages with a reasonable level of sophistication, and you can create simple tests, but beyond that, many of the elements of today’s CMS/LMS systems are missing. For example, the lack of any sort of Discussion Board eliminated it from my consideration for a potential tool where I could host online workshops.
  • MyiCourse is not robust enough for organizational/enterprise use. Some online CMS tools provide free functionality for the individual teacher, with paid membership required for access to enterprise features (integration tools, expanded support, etc.), which I feel is a good model. MyiCourse lacks the types of tools generally required for enterprise integration, and it’s lack of features is likely to eliminate it from consideration by many institutions.
  • Some ads in the top banner are inappropriate for kids, forcing instructors to pay the $10/month to turn them off (granted, this is pretty nominal fee).
  • MyiCourse was in beta in 2008, and some of the materials on the site still show “beta” in the logo. Given their functional limitations and a lack of information about how extensive their existing customer base is, I found myself questioning the long term viability of the platform.

Conclusions
MyiCourse appears to have its place in the sphere of online CMS tools. If you’re an entrepreneur wishing to create simple courses that you charge for, it looks pretty attractive. It’s also a fine way to get one’s “feet wet” in the waters of online CMS tools. On the other hand, some of the other apps under consideration in this series may better fit your needs. I look forward to taking Schoology.com for a test run next!

As always, comments and questions are encouraged and welcomed. Please click here and contribute!

Related Posts (if the above topic is of interest, you might want to check these out):
Exploring the World of Free Teaching Productivity Resources on the Web
What Are The Best Free Hosted Course Management Systems On The Internet?
Free Hosted Course Management Systems, A Closer Look – Rcampus

About 

Kelly Walsh is Chief Information Officer and a faculty member at The College of Westchester in White Plains, NY and is the founder and author of EmergingEdTech.com. As an education technology advocate, he frequently delivers presentations on a variety of related topics at schools and conferences across the U.S. Walsh is also an author, and online educator, periodically running Flipped Class Workshops online. His latest eBook, the Flipped Classroom Workshop-in-a-Book was published in September, 2013 and is available here. In his spare time Walsh also writes, records, and performs original (and cover) songs (look for "K. Walsh" on iTunes or Amazon.com or check out his original song videos on here on YouTube ).

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