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How to Create an Online Course Platform

How to Create 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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Head of Sales and Marketing, Raccoon Gang

Sergiy has significant expertise as an eLearning and Marketing expert since 2012. He brings his experience into play to help RG customers to keep pace with the changing dynamics in the Learning indust

How to Create 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, and 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. 

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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