ALEx stories

Q&A: Course Building with ALEx

Chelsea Iversen Nov. 14, 2019

Education is more than just spoon-feeding information. In order to truly teach a topic, we need to break it down and pass on what we know in engaging ways -- ways that tap into varying learning styles, keep people’s attention and allow them to actually absorb the content so it’s useful long-term.

At ALEx, our job is to achieve exactly that, and we do it by engaging learners. We create courses that are meant to bring media and advertising professionals up to speed on industry topics. But our courses do more than that: They are also designed to inspire effective knowledge-based action in a marketing landscape that’s always changing.

To explore the evolution of course design and shed light on what it takes to create engaging learning content, we sat down with Brynn Vollmer, EVP of Operations and Content Development at ALEx.

Here’s what she had to say about the process of course building in ALEx:

What’s the first step to create a great course?

Brynn: Course development is a multi-step process that requires some groundwork before it’s actually executed. Before we start a course, we administer an initial course questionnaire. This helps us answer a few basic questions such as: How do we envision the course? Is it an in-depth single course? A robust certification-level course? A webinar? A brief but powerful lunch and learn? Then, we address the most critical question of all: Why is this course relevant? Once we answer those, we’re ready to begin the actual course building.

What does course building entail?

Brynn: Course building starts with an outline. In this early phase, we figure out what the story is -- every great course has a story at its heart. Then we dive into research. We take a deep dive into recently published studies, consult subject matter experts, conduct interviews on the subject and find the latest articles on today’s hottest industry topics -- all to gain valuable, accurate insights.

After research and outlining is complete, it’s time for drafting and design. Our team of instructional designers and writers work together to optimize retention for our learners. This is where we build out the story of the course into modules and lessons. Here, too, we identify places in the learning that would be improved by the addition of video, audio, graphics or any other enhancements, and then our skilled designers create the necessary assets to really bring the course to life.

How do you work with thought leaders, businesses and individuals to build courses in ALEx?

Brynn: When experts and businesses come to us with course ideas, it’s very exciting. We know that their content will be based on years of experience or a high level of expertise, and it’s often in a segment of the industry more people need to learn about. Our role is to support these course owners and help them build out the best course possible.

Some course owners come to us with a fully-formed course in their minds, and we simply help them bring it to life. Others come with just an idea, and we help them create a story and construct effective lessons around it. We also support all our course owners with research assistance and asset development -- anything that will enhance the experience for learners.

What’s the review process like?

Brynn: We are sticklers for making sure our courses are of the highest quality. That’s why we have a thorough review process that begins with one round of internal content edits once the course is written.

We then review with the course owner to make sure all the pieces are in place. Here is where we advise our course owners on a pricing and marketing strategy based on a pricing framework we’ve developed after years in the business. Our goal is always to find the perfect balance between making sure the course is a rewarding revenue stream for our course owners and making it accessible to learners.

After that, we load the course into the ALEx platform with all the assets and do another round of edits. This time, the aim is to make sure the UX is bulletproof. Finally, the course is approved by a QA committee for accuracy, appeal and readiness for sale.

Then, voila, it goes live!


Interested in seeing ALEx courses in action? Join the ALEx community for free to browse the course library and start your learning journey.

Questions about becoming an ALEx course owner? We’d love to partner with you! Reach out to us here.