January 11th, 2017 Instructional Design

As I have conversations with people creating their first online course I often hear them talk about two distinct things:

  1. Learner experience
  2. Content security

And what many often come to realize is that paying attention too much to content security can ultimately lead to a poor learner experience.

The desire to secure your course content, especially if your selling it, is understandable. You put in a lot of time to come up with the content itself and to organize it a way that is optimal for learning the key points. It is disheartening (heck, frustrating) to think that someone can come along and just steal your work.

The good news is there are some very simple things you can do when creating and selling online courses to make your content more secure. For example, if you use videos in your courses then I highly recommend leveraging a program like VimeoPRO (or something similar) for hosting the videos.

Speaking strictly from a security standpoint VimeoPRO is fantastic. You can specify the exact web address where the video is permitted to play. If anyone else tries to download it or hotlink the video then it won’t work.

You can also leverage download manager plugins to secure your course’s downloadable assets. Again, another easy security measure.

Don’t want someone to share their log-in information? Well with WordPress and LearnDash you can limit account access by IP by using free plugins as well.

The best part about both of these methods for content protection is that it doesn’t negatively impact the learner experience. When you start thinking about ways to disable copy & paste, booting out inactive users, using overcomplicted Captcha methods at sign-in… well then you start to run into issues.

If the user experience is impacted by the security measures you put into place you are sending your learners a clear message: you don’t trust them. If you don’t trust them then they will have a hard time trusting you.

Do yourself a favor and don’t waste too much time thinking about ways to lock down every part of your online learning program. If someone really wants to steal it then they will. Spend your energy instead on creating the best course experience as possible.

Justin Ferriman photo

About Justin Ferriman

Justin Ferriman started LearnDash, the WordPress LMS trusted by Fortune 500 companies, major universities, training organizations, and entrepreneurs worldwide for creating (and selling) their online courses. Justin's Homepage | Twitter


7 responses

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Nice article Justin, I agree with you on the VimeoPRO. Great way to restrict content by domain. UnCannyOwl have some great little features in their toolkit for login into your site and hiding parts of a page if your not logged in.

Avatar Steve

Thanks Stephen, and nice recommendation regarding UnCannyOwl’s toolkit.

This makes a lot of sense. I’m curious… do you have a recommended download manager? I’ve used a couple of different ones, but I’m looking for other options now.

Hi Ellen, there are many viable options on the repository. I’ve heard good things about this one.

Hi Justin,

I quite agree that the learner experience should be the top priority of content creators. However good video security is not that complicated as to considerably diminish user experience. To ensure video security you need security at each level of video handling (encrypted file storage, encrypted transmission, verified backend authentication, besides watermarking for deterring downloads). VimeoPro prevents a number of downloading websites from download, but there are still free tools out there that can download from a VimeoPro account. This is because their links are publicly sharable.
VdoCipher offers a much more robust solution security-wise, while not compromising on UI. Check out their security feature set here:

Avatar Milan

Hi, can I use the private settings in YouTube to embed the videos I want to show only in my LD course instead of Vimeo? Thanks.

Avatar Fran

I’m not very familiar with the extent of YouTube’s private settings. For example, I don’t think they have domain restrictions but if they do then it’s worth a shot!

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