E-learning is one of the few pandemic-era success stories.
Before the crisis, experts said the e-learning market would reach $325 billion by 2025. The latest data now predicts the market will surpass half a trillion-dollars by the beginning of 2021.
Academic institutions are using video to substitute in-person classwork. Self-employed instructors are putting their courses online. Businesses are leveraging video to train a newly remote workforce.
This is an era defined by school closures, remote work contracts, and local lockdowns. The need for a flexible, economical alternative to in-person education has never been greater.
Until recently, the technology needed to create and monetize an online video course has been out of reach for most people.
Now anyone can create a high-impact online training course!
Step 1: Identify the features your online course needs
When it comes to technology, today’s e-learning instructors have more options than ever to choose from. There is an e-learning platform out there for everyone – from corporate trainers and fitness instructors to physics professors and more.
But before going over some of the best e-learning platforms available today, we have to cover some of the differences between those use cases. Consider, for instance, some of the differences between those three examples:
- Corporate trainers are typically paid by the organization they work for. They don’t need to accept payments from students, but they do need a highly organized, integration-ready system that ensures student compliance.
- Entrepreneurs like fitness instructors need to onboard new students easily and accept their payments smoothly. They need automated solutions for student management, digital marketing, and payment processing.
- Teachers and professors depend on their institution for infrastructure. They don’t typically need to accept payments from students or automate marketing. They do need to monitor user behavior and track student performance, though.
Most online courses fall broadly into one of these categories. Some have shared characteristics. An admissions exam preparation course, for example, might be entrepreneurial at heart, but require the same features (like testing and student progress monitoring) as an academic course.
Take a moment to think about what your course is, and what features it needs. Look at some examples of similar online courses and make a short list of the things they promise their students.
Step 2: Choose the right platform
Once you have a broad idea of what features your online course needs, you’re ready to start looking at e-learning platforms. There are several popular options on the market, and each one offers unique advantages and drawbacks.
3 options for setting up a successful e-Learning course
Thinkific gives content creators a great deal of control over their course content, and offers a suite of payment plans designed to fit educators of all kinds. The interface is clean and intuitive, but also includes advanced options for people who want to customize their courses. Similarly, you don’t have to integrate Thinkific with third-party apps and services to build a successful course, but you can (and doing so is recommended).
Thinkific is well-suited to entrepreneurs and corporate trainers. It integrates with PayPal and Stripe to accept student payments, and offers sufficient user segmentation options to keep corporate teams well-organized. Thinkific also offers a limited Free Forever plan ideal for people who have never created an online course before.
While customer segmentation is easy to implement on Thinkific, full customer management is not. For instance, you cannot resolve a customer payment issue from within Thinkific – you have to go to the payment processor directly and manage the customer’s account there. This kind of disconnect can become an obstacle to scalable growth over time.
Podia offers an intuitive platform ideal for beginners and less technical users. It is primarily designed for entrepreneurs who need a low-cost video hosting solution. Many of the add-ons that other platforms charge for are available on Podia for free, like unlimited students and emails.
All that simplicity comes with a hidden cost, though. Podia is less customizable than many other options, and therefore less growth-friendly. This might not be a problem for teachers and professors who need to stay within their institution’s budget while maximizing the platform’s potential, though.
If there is one thing that Podia really needs, it is more integrations.
While its current integration options are intelligent and well-engineered, it loses out in the long run by the simple fact that it supports less of them overall.
Kajabi is more expensive than the other options on this list, but it also offers the comprehensive suite of features. Instead of focusing on third-party integrations, it actually replaces just about every third-party tool you might consider using.
Kajabi gives you a digital storefront, hosts your website, and processes your payments. It gives you tools for user analytics, email marketing, and community development. This all-in-one approach is great for entrepreneurs who want to plan ahead from the start.
The main drawback to Kajabi is the fact that there are no unlimited plans.
Where other platforms offer unlimited courses, students, and contacts, Kajabi simply doesn’t. It’s most expensive plan limits users to 100 courses, 20,000 active students, and 100,000 contacts. To be fair, once your online education business becomes that successful, you’ll have the resources to build your own platform from scratch.
…And a fourth, scalable solution:
Setting up your own platform!
The three platforms above aren’t your only options. Many course creators learned how to set up a successful e-learning course on their own. This is the most flexible and scalable option by far, since you are not tied to any single platform or tool.
While e-learning platforms are undoubtedly useful for non-technical course creators, they will always end up costing more than your own purpose-built solution. Setting up your own online course platform isn’t as difficult as it sounds.
If you have your own website, you’re already halfway there. All you need is a marketing-ready video hosting solution and a Shopify account.
Cincopa Video Course integrates with Shopify, letting users turn their videos into digital products. From there, you would have total control over lead generation, marketing, and third-party integration.
The combined cost of your entire technology stack would be far less than the monthly overhead of any e-learning platform.
This approach is ideal for corporate trainers who want to leverage their own video hosting platform to optimize viewer engagement and meet compliance guidelines. It’s also great for entrepreneurs and educators who want a growth-friendly solution that scales with them.
Step 3: Wow your audience!
Once you know what tools you will use to deliver content to your audience, it’s time to work on the content itself. We can’t teach you how to teach, but we can offer some data-backed tips on how to make your educational content really shine:
- Serve mobile users: You can’t wow your audience without a smooth, mobile-responsive user experience. Mobile-responsive learning platforms enjoy 72% higher user engagement rates than desktop-formatted courses. Your students will appreciate having access to insightful course content any time, anywhere.
- Aim for bite-sized lessons: The two-hour university lecture is increasingly becoming a thing of the past. Break up your content and title your chapters in ways that make specific lessons easy to find. Don’t force your students to scroll through your video just to find that one piece of information you mention 45 minutes in.
- Pay attention to user feedback: E-learning will be new for many of your students. Solicit their feedback and listen to what they have to say. Use behavioral analytics to get implicit feedback from users based on their actions. Find out if students are skipping through your videos and use that data to optimize your content.
The better you optimize your e-learning business, the happier your users will be with the results. Cincopa Video Course guarantees a mobile-friendly, analytics-ready user experience with built-in content segmentation features. Whatever platform you decide to go with, you should commit yourself to consistently improving the e-learning experience, and you’ll see your audience grow steadily over time!