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How to Create an Online Course Platform

How To Build An Online Course Platform

Online learning has become incredibly popular in the past few years and this popularity will only increase in the future. There is no doubt that e-learning brings much more to the table rather than a traditional one.

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How To Build An Online Course Platform

The recent report, produced by Digital Learning Compass, points out that 29.7% of high school graduates now take at least one distance education course. It’s clear that distance learning brings lots of benefits such as an opportunity to study on the go, avoid crippling student loan debt, and on top of that, learn skills that are vital to a good career.

Moreover, learning how to create an online course platform is the best way to monetize your knowledge and experience. It’s easier than it sounds. In this article, we will give you a run-down of the basics of creating an online course platform.

Why choose a custom online course platform?

We know what you’re thinking. What’s the point of jumping through all those extra hoops to create a custom online course platform when there are platforms like Udemy or Coursera that make this process easier? The answer is that some of the courses on standard platforms are difficult to navigate, hence many students aren’t happy with their learning experience.

This is why many instructors choose another way and opt for a custom online course platform development with multiple options to easily adapt any changes.

Here are some advantages you can get from creating a custom online course platform:

  • design aesthetics that would be a perfect fit for your brand

  • make your pages both SEO and UX friendly

  • enjoy the ultimate flexibility to change any components of your course (add and remove modules, integrate popular plugins directly into the platform, etc)

  • focus on a target audience’s “pain points” and pursue them with ease

How to Create an Online Course Platform

The question of How to Create an Online Course Platform requires the following steps.

Step 1. Choosing a Custom LMS to Work With

There are three ingredients you need to build a successful custom online course platform. It should be flexible, custom-built, and secure.

  • A flexible architecture allows learners to progress when time permits, get all kinds of support for you and your team and decide whether they need more practice or more theory. The learner can unlock more advanced information as they demonstrate competence in the niche and/or decide to explore the advanced modules.

  • The online course platform should be custom built to fit the needs of a particular course structure, give your learning material a voice of its own, and establish round-the-clock support to manage any operational issues.

  • The e-learning platform should provide robust security on a dedicated server with authorized access. In terms of countless copyright breaches these days, it’s crucial to secure your authorship. Many instructors set up multiple backup systems to recover their data in case of emergencies. Make sure your online course platform gets security updates to block malware and viruses.

At the time of writing, there are over 40+ open-source LMS software available. They don’t provide a one-size-fits-all experience, and Open edX is no exception. It was first founded in 2012 as a joint effort from researchers at Harvard and MIT. It was soon implemented by a wide range of organizations, among which are Google, Microsoft, McKinsey, Johnson & Johnson, etc.

The Open edX platform offers a range of benefits, including:

  • Advanced features such as course organization and content creation

  • Comfortable navigation experience both on mobile and desktop

  • Ability to work with various content types, including videos and quizzes

  • Integration with corporate

  • Analytical features and extensive reporting

  • Engagement tools that facilitate adaptive learning and leverage gamification

  • Aligning course visuals with the brand’s aesthetics

One of the most underestimated aspects of the learning experience is creating a custom user interface design. It can help learners achieve their objectives faster or ruin their experience at all. Open edX platform provides a clear yet simple interface that gives learners everything they need on an intuitive dashboard, leaving out the clutter that distracts them from a real learning process.

Online course navigation and UI

Step 2. Course Navigation and UI for an online course platform

A custom UI for an online course platform can improve the overall interface in various ways because it facilitates a student-friendly design. Anyone wondering how to create an online course platform should keep the following values in mind:

Keeping it Simple. Your UI should only show what is necessary on the screen without overloading users with too much information. A good online course is always in the background and stays invisible without distracting learners from the main objective – learning. There is no need to make it complicated by filling your course with big words from the thesaurus. It’s acceptable to use them now and then, but your priority is to make the interface intuitive and easy to understand. Don’t overwhelm your learners with confusing language and professional jargon. In other words, use clear and simple language. Written content also shows respect and consideration for the audience.

Give Attention to the Details. Small glitches can pop up in your interface, and they probably won’t distract from the overall look. However, they can frustrate learners quickly and ruin their experience.

Make Sure the UI is Consistent. Consistency improves usability and the ability to learn. It provides your learners with a better understanding of how to progress and where to find help. One of the main advantages of learning how to create an online course platform is personal brand recognition. You can make your course stand out by showing your product personality and commitment to professionalism. In fact, you can increase engagement with a consistent UI that stays true to your brand aesthetics.

Step 3. Providing Learning Material to Your Learners

This step of how to create an online course platform guide involves selecting the right learning material for your learners and prospective audience.

  • Select the Content: As an instructor, you should have a good idea of useful content and information that gives valuable experience to your students. Not to mention that the given information should also be relevant. Try to cover all aspects of your course and eliminate anything that isn’t of substance and detracts from the overall learning objectives.

  • Structuring the Content: Wondering how to create an online course platform that doesn’t overwhelm learners with information? Then you should know how to structure your online course properly. Try to break up your content into modules and create an outline that is easy to follow. Next, make sure those modules seamlessly segue into each other so that the entire course forms a logical sequence of lessons.

  • Course Delivery Methods: Will the course have text-only or be supplemented with audio and visual content? Will you conduct face-to-face training? Answer these questions before proceeding to keep your students engaged  and provide a valuable learning experience.

  • Start Creating the Course: This stage involves editing your learning material. The method of delivery should align with the learner’s preferences. In most cases, however, videos have proven to be the most effective method. It could involve you talking in front of a camera while the relevant information is appearing in the background.

  • Gamification: The biggest advantage of learning how to create an online course platform is the ability to implement gamification. You can tap into the same reward-based mechanics of video games such as challenges, competitions, awards, and leaderboards. Learners get ‘instant gratification’ by performing tasks and maximizing their involvement. This also improves their ability not only to learn but also revise what they have studied. Furthermore, learners feel more satisfied when they can share their achievements with their social circles. Social shares work as a tool that nudges learners in the forward direction until they complete the course.

Implement gamification in online course

Step 4. Measuring the Effectiveness of Your Online Course

While thinking about how to create an online course platform you need a better understanding of how users are learning and interacting with your course, both online and offline. This is where standards like SCORM and xAPI come in. To assess your online course’s success, it should be compatible with one of the following standards:

  • AICC: The AICC is among the earliest standards used by the aviation industry. It continues to be used in an online course creation because it allows instructors to track learners’ progress throughout the course.

  • SCORM: This standard is picking up steam and is relatively more popular with content distribution, especially when it comes to quizzes and videos. Learners find it easier to progress through the course and can bookmark exactly where they left off. SCORM also gives you access to a lot of data including completion percentage, screen time, assessment scores, and other key numbers.

  • xAPI: Often hailed as a direct successor to SCORM, xAPI allows instructors to track, personalize, and evaluate the learning experience of their users in a more responsive manner. By comparison, SCORM only tracked desktop LMS activity, but xAPI can extract data from multiple sources both online and offline into one place, a learned record store (LRS).

Step 5. Setting the Pricing System

While learning how to create an online course platform you should figure out basic pricing models. Here are some of the most common ones:

Freebies: Give away basic courses for free to attract a bigger audience, demonstrate expertise, and build trust. If your business isn’t just about courses, a free course can redirect users to paid services and products. Free courses can also serve as a precursor to more fully-fledged, paid versions.

One-Off Payments: this is the most popular model for an online course, as long as the price is affordable. Just make sure to not make the prices too low because they can detract from the learning experience of the course. Research your competitors and their pricing strategies.

Subscription: This is where you offer a recurring payment plan to your learners who will pay for their membership on a weekly or yearly basis. This allows learners to choose an option that is suitable for their needs and budgets. Memberships let you work with gated content that gives access to subscribers you have been authorized by.

Premium: This pricing system is derived from the subscription model and promises your readers more exclusive content. The idea is to provide an improved learning experience since fewer learners will be taking this option. This gives instructors the chance to connect more with their learners. To keep things interesting, you can offer personal training to your premium learners.

Step 6. Setting Up Your Payment Gateway

The two most commonly used gateways worldwide are Stripe  and PayPal. The good news is that Open edX lets you integrate easily with PayPal and Stripe without any hassles. If your audience is limited to specific geographic regions, you can choose other payment gateways as well.

PayPal and Stripe LMS integrations

Step 7. Testing Your Online Course Platform

Instructors who are still learning how to create an online course platform would do well to first test their course before rolling it out. Even if you manage all things and, eventually, create your online platform, testing is a must. A good idea is to conduct ‘user testing’ by gathering individuals that represent your student personas and asking them to complete the course. The feedback they provide will be essential to the overall tone and design of your course. By the end of the testing session, you’ll have a good idea of how ready your course is to be released in the market.

Step 8. Marketing Your Custom Online Course Platform

One of the biggest advantages of learning how to create an online course platform is the ability to market it in ways that you control. You can use SEO, PPC, email marketing, and social media marketing, along with access to an array of marketing tools that are otherwise not accessible via Coursera and Udemy.

SEO for organic traffic, in particular, is more appropriate for individuals who choose custom LMS development. If your website starts ranking for a particular keyword, it builds up trust and momentum that can translate into maximum sales.

Top Five Interactive Online Course Platforms to Choose From

Note: Keep in mind that the rankings in this top do not represent that one platform is better than another. We have just compiled a few of the most popular and best platforms so you can use them wide for your eLearning needs.

Platform #1. Teachable

Teachable is a cloud-based interactive online course platform that is an excellent solution for course creation. Its main goal is to meet the needs of novice users who are just starting with course development.

It’s easy to master this platform, and it doesn’t take too long to create courses there. The editor just needs to insert his content into the selected template and then tweak the overall functionality of the template as intended. In addition, the platform has convenient tools for setting up the sales page, payments, and other essential elements that affect the distribution and monetization of your course. The final advantage of the platform is a branded showcase of courses called “Discover,” and with due diligence, your course can be on it, attracting more students.

Additional features are also worth noting:

  • Easily import content from Google Drive, One-drive, and Dropbox.
  • Built-in certification
  • Wide range of supported payment currencies
  • Simple implementation of multimedia content in courses

Pricing

This interactive online course platform has several plans ranging from $29 per month to $249 per month, differing in the feature set and commission for course sales. In addition, you can use the free plan to get familiar with the functionality of the platform.

Teachable pricing

Platform #2. LearnWorlds

LearnWorlds is an excellent choice if you want to create interactive online courses and sell them. The platform has unique features such as a video player and e-book reader that are interactive and provide a unique experience for students, making learning even more engaging.

Creating courses is enclosed in an intuitive toolbar that is easy for a beginner to understand. The entire course editing process is a drag and drop system that is incredibly flexible and user-friendly. In addition, your arsenal will have responsive templates, interactive video features, marketing automation, and other critical features to create successful and popular online courses.

Among the advantages of this interactive online course platform, it is worth noting:

  • Wide range of supported languages
  • A powerful tool for creating quizzes, exams, assignments, and so on
  • An internal social network for more convenient communication between teachers and students
  • Customizing pages with Javascript and CSS

Pricing

LearnWorlds interactive online course platform has three pricing plans starting from $29 per month to $254.15 per month. Each package differs in a set of features, and in the cheapest package, there is a commission of $5 for the sale of each copy of your online course. In addition, there is individual pricing for large enterprises, which is discussed separately with the vendor.

LearnWorlds pricing

Platform #3. Teachery

Undoubtedly, Teachery is a newbie-friendly interactive online course platform that provides both easy onboarding and powerful course creation features. The platform is perfectly adapted for educators who are just starting their first steps in the industry, thus, the platform discards all the elements that can confuse a beginner. In addition,  the platform wholly abandoned commissions for selling courses on its platform for better user retention.

The course creation tools are pretty simple and flexible in terms of delivering content. They can help you create various online courses without tech knowledge that will perfectly complement or form the basis of your learning process. In addition, the tools are highly flexible and allow you to upload an unlimited number of files to your courses.

Apart from this, the platform also has the following strengths:

  • Convenient template system for creating courses
  • Easy customization of payments and connecting them to your courses
  • Robust tools to create landing pages for your course

Pricing

Unlike many other platforms, Teachery offers only one plan, which allows you to pay monthly or immediately for a year of use, with a small discount applied to you. If you pay monthly, the whole platform will cost you $49/month, while a one-time payment for a year of usage costs $470/year.

Teachery pricing 

Platform #4. Open edX

Open edX is an open-source educational platform that allows you to organize online learning for a variety of educational tasks: an online campus, instructor courses, group training programs, and one-off training courses. The platform was founded by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University in May 2012 and is distributed completely free of charge.

The main advantage of the platform is its high flexibility, which allows you to customize the appearance and functionality for the needs of a particular educational institution. The platform will enable instructors to publish courses, host discussion boards, manage groups and teams, edit grades, communicate with students, and more.

In addition to the above benefits, it is also worth noting:

  • Ability to use the platform on desktop PCs, iOS or Android mobile devices
  • User-friendly interface and course creation
  • Ability to easily integrate third-party modules

Considering the cost to create an online course can be significant, the free nature of Open edX offers substantial savings.

Pricing

As we said earlier, the platform is entirely free, which makes it an affordable option to establish your eLearning process in no time.

Platform #5. Zippy Courses

Zippy Courses is the ultimate online learning tool that makes it easy to create online courses and put them up for sale. At its core, you get a powerful course editor combined with a marketing promotion tool that allows you to create both interactive and successful courses in terms of attendance.

You will be surprised when you see the interface of this interactive online course platform. It combines ease of navigation with an elegance that pleases the eye. All the necessary functions are located in intuitive places, and you will have no difficulty finding anything on the toolbar.

Apart from this, the platform also boasts the following strengths:

  • The ability to sell several different versions of courses
  • Powerful Drag-and-Drop Editor
  • Flexible customization of each element of the course

Pricing

Zippy Courses has only two pricing plans, and the cheapest starts at $99 per month. The most expensive plan costs $199 per month. The main differences are the allocated storage capacity, the number of emails, and also the administrators who can manage your courses simultaneously. It is also worth mentioning that the platform has an unlimited number of courses and no commissions for selling ones.

Zippy pricing

Ready to build your very own custom online course platform that is fast, intuitive, and keeps learners engaged? To schedule a demo with Raccoon Gang, click here.

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