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Ready to Teach Online? Here’s What You Need to Know

Ready to Teach Online? Here’s What You Need to Know

When Kitty Bucholtz decided to start teaching her writing classes online, she figured she had all the keys to success.

After all she had been teaching since 1998 so she already had her course materials in place and a devoted following. And when it came to the task of setting up her infrastructure, Kitty also had some decent technical chops as she had already created a website with a blog. So she figured it would be reasonably straightforward to take her business to the next level with an online course.

But Here's the Kicker:

It was not straightforward at all. And it took way more time that Kitty had even anticipated.

Nine months later, Kitty had finally gotten to the point where she had cobbled together some tools to create a website for her course. But it barely worked and Kitty was about to pitch the whole thing into the trashcan. In fact she was actually considering going back to her clunky 20th century method of using Yahoo Groups to communicate with her students.

Fortunately she found CourseLauncherHQ and we got her up and running in 2 weeks.

Why Did Kitty Struggle So Much Setting Up Her Online Course?

The reason lies in the fact that an online course has a lot of moving pieces, many more than your typical website. These components have to work synergistically together to create a welcoming place for your student to get the full benefit of the course.

In a perfect world we could put together an online course like we put together Lego bricks, but software components don’t just snap into place. They have to be configured and integrated.

And even Legos have evolved. You can now buy Lego kits that build a dump truck or a starship. Unlike the generic Lego bricks, each piece in a Lego kit has a specific role. As any eight year old will tell you; substituting the wheels for the nose cone of a plane will not work. The pieces are not interchangeable. Neither are the software components you’ll need to market and deliver your online course.

Why You Should Consider Creating an Online Course

At this point you might be a little hesitant to create your own online course. Don’t be. Online training is hot and a huge market, over $100 billion! If you love to teach and help others there’s no better way to reach more people.

Here are some of the great benefits of having an online course:

  • Teach once, sell multiple times
  • Big profit margins
  • Very low overhead cost

We’ll look at the very compelling numbers later on in this article.

Making Your Online Course a Reality

So let’s take a look at the technical components you’ll need to make your online course a reality. To do this and to make it as understandable as possible, we are going to use a typical classroom as a model.

If you are a teacher, especially if you fill your own classrooms, you know there’s a lot needed for a successful class.

Let’s walk through each activity and how that translates into a requirement for your online course website. Keep in mind that you may not need software for all activities. For example instead of a discussion board, a Q&A call may be sufficient. It all depends on what you want to accomplish.

Getting the Students

In our example, our class is not free and requires registration. So to get the students into the classroom we need two functions:

  • Marketing:
    Communication that explains the benefits of the class and a way to communicate those benefits through various channels (and not just on the school marquee)
  • Registration:
    Students need to register and pay for the class

We’ll need several website components to get the students started in the course. We need:

  • Sales pages that help the student decide to take the class
  • A way to take payment
  • A registration process so each student gets his or her own login and account
  • An email system to communicate with both prospective and registered students

Keeping the Classroom Door Closed

While we are teaching we really don’t want random strangers off the street wandering in and disrupting our class. And we definitely don’t want people in the class who haven’t paid for it.

So when it comes to our website for our online course, we need:

  • Ability to restrict our content so only our students can view it
  • Security mechanisms to protect our content and our student’s information

Typically restricting content is done with membership site software and you can also install special software to increase your website’s security.

Teaching the Students

Now we get to the fun part, teaching! Good teachers use a variety of ways to inspire their students to learn the material. They of course instruct, but also write on the chalkboard, and give quizzes and handouts.

  • Think about the different types of media you’ll need to create an ideal learning experience for your students. You can primarily rely on audio, or perhaps you want to provide a rich media experience which includes different types of video, downloadable PDFs and exercises. Our website not only needs to store these various forms of media but also deliver them in an easy to consume format. For example if you are using video, you will need both the video files and a video player.
  • How will your students progress through the course material? If your course is self-paced your content will need to be organized in a logical and sequential way. So you’ll need sections, modules and lessons, and each of those may require a different web page format.

Software that facilitates an e-learning experience is called a LMS, short for learning management system. If you are serious about delivering a great online learning experience, a LMS is a must have.

A LMS can have many more features than we are covering here. For example, one key feature you may want to have is the ability to track your students’ progress through the course.

Classroom Discussion and Community

One of the challenges with online learning is that attrition is higher than it is for in person courses. Your students may feel isolated or may struggle with the material and give up.

A discussion forum is one way to address these issues. Students can post questions and celebrate their successes and feel connected to you and the class. A forum can really help give your students the community support they need. And it’s not uncommon for other students to jump and answer the questions!

Invest Wisely for an Outstanding Result

As you can see, when you start to consider all the functionality you’ll need to deliver an outstanding online course, there’s likely more technology than you initially thought. You’ll also need hosting, a website design (the fonts, layout and colors of your website) and perhaps an affiliate system.

When we totaled up the cost of the components that make up our CourseLauncherHQ Pro system, it came to $1,637.64 a year.

While that may sound high, it’s actually not given the potential return. Let’s take a look at the numbers:

  • If you sold your course for $500, all you would need is 4 students to make a profit.
  • If you enrolled 100 students, your revenue would be $50,000.
  • 1000 students? Your revenue would be a half million dollars.
  • The numbers get even better with a higher priced course. 100 students in a $1,000 course will yield revenue of $100,000.

So don’t skimp on the software needed to deliver an excellent online course; the investment is well worth it.

Note that these numbers do not take into account the cost of your time. So don’t make the mistake Kitty did and underestimate the effort it will take to setup your online course website. We’ve heard a lot of war stories from our clients who have gone through the process. So we do recommend getting some expert guidance so that you don’t end up with a system that doesn’t work for you.

Online Course Blueprint

Getting your website in place is just one part of what you need to do to develop your online course. You’ll also need to:

  • Research your market:
    Is there a need for what you want to teach? Identify your target students and what they are specifically looking for.
  • Plan your course curriculum:
    Create your course objective and a list of lessons.
  • Develop your course:
    With an online course this usually means creating videos. Decide whether you are recording talking head videos or using screencast and PowerPoint slides.

If this all seems overwhelming, fortunately we have a great resource that will get your started in the right direction. Our Online Course Blueprint is full of helpful tips and free to download.

How to Build a Best-in-Class Course Website and Create a Massive Revenue Stream for Your Business

How to Build a Best-in-Class Course Website and Create a Massive Revenue Stream for Your Business

It’s no secret that the online learning market is booming. According to Globenewswire, the global e-learning industry is set to reach $325 billion by 2025! If you’re planning to create an online course for your business, you’ve tapped into an amazing business opportunity that can potentially turn into an enormous revenue stream.

But how exactly does one go about creating a course site that actually brings clients? Today, we’ll get to the nuts and bolts of building not just any course site but a best-in-class course site and even adding it to your service roster so that it turns into a high source of income. This blog post is about doing rather than dreaming.

Let’s dig right in!

Your Target Audience

First and foremost, you need to lock down who your potentials clients are. What are their problems and how can you solve them? If you’re planning to create a killer online course site, you have two types of target audience:

Audience #1: Learners: These are people who’ll be buying your course.

Audience #2: Course Creators: These are people who’ll be interested in learning how to create a course site.

Due to the rise in the global e-learning market, it’s safe to say that there’s no dearth of learners or course creators online. You need to get on top of their likes, dislikes, problems and the challenges they face. This will be extremely helpful in molding your course site to address their issues, thus creating real value.

Service providers who take their businesses seriously will not head to Udemy or other such sites to sell their courses for $20. They’ll be looking to sell them themselves. These people might be skilled at their niche but they’re not experts at technology, course creation and marketing. That’s where you come in.

By helping your clients transform their businesses and significantly increase their revenue flow, you’ll establish yourself as a leader in the course creation niche. And with the explosion of entrepreneurs working in this field, you’ll never be short of clients.

So now that you know who your target audience are and what they need, what’s next?

Choosing the Right LMS platform

When it comes to making your own online courses, the first question that pops up is which learning management system to use? There are hundreds of LMS platforms to choose from, and for a non-techie, the choice can be quite confusing. It’s extremely important to choose the right system, as the success of your course will largely depend on how good your student/course experience is.

Here are some key components you should keep in mind when choosing an LMS platform for your course:

  • Student progress tracking
  • Shopping cart compatibility
  • Reporting and analytics
  • Mobile-friendliness
  • Search capabilities
  • Quiz management
  • Customer support for yourself and your students

A key factor when deciding on an LMS platform is cost. The good news is that most platforms have free trials, so you can experiment and see which one works best for your specific needs. Some examples of learning management systems you can consider are Thinkific, Teachable, Moodle, Kajabi and Docebo.

Customer Success

Once you’ve finalized a learning management system for your course, your top priority should be customer success. After all, your success depends on how well your clients’ businesses are going. Acquiring clients is one thing; keeping clients happy is quite another. Your relationship with your client doesn’t end when they purchase your course. On the contrary, that’s only the beginning.

You must ensure that your clients are completely satisfied with their overall experience and training. This way, you’ll not only get raving reviews and testimonials, you’ll also get word-of-mouth marketing (which is really the best type of marketing there is).

Here are some ways you can ensure your clients’ engagement and retention:

  • Accountability:
    Making your clients accountable for their learning is extremely important. You can make two students accountability partners or create small groups of students so that they remain engaged.
  • Gamification:
    Gamification can really help students get the best out of their learning experience. You can offer incentives and rewards for key milestones in your course to encourage your clients to do better.
  • Reminders:
    Show your clients you care about them by sending them reminders if you notice someone hasn’t assessed the course for some time. Also prompt them to leave you feedback.

Marketing

Once you’ve built a kick-ass course site and streamlined the training process, you need to build your audience. Here are the top three ways to get word out about your course:

  • Email Marketing:
    One of the most effective ways to generate sales is through email marketing. If you already have an email list of people interested in your course topic, that’s your most valuable asset. If not, your first priority should be building an email list.
  • Social Media Marketing:
    Find out which social networks your target audience hangs out on and create your profiles on those networks. You don’t have to be all over the place; just choose two or three and concentrate your efforts there.
  • Content Marketing:
    As much as you can, offer people free content related to your niche. Make sure the content is fresh, detailed and helpful. You can offer content in various forms, such as blog posts, infographics, YouTube videos, images and podcasts. This will help you establish yourself as an authority in your niche and people will be more inclined to buy from you.

Conclusion

Building course websites is the next big thing and you’re approaching the market at the right time. By implementing the above-mentioned steps, you’ll surely be on your way to adding a massive income stream for your business.

6 Tips to Engage and Motivate Students in Your Online Course

6 Tips to Engage and Motivate Students in Your Online Course

As an e-learning professional, keeping your students engaged and motivated should be your ultimate goal. When an online course is interactive and engaging, learning becomes effortless and natural. However, creating learning deliverables that keep students involved throughout the ecourse can be challenging.

So how does one create an online course that’s not only informative and engaging but also builds a sense of community among learners? In this blog post, I’ll share some practical strategies that you can use to turn your e-course into a meaningful learning experience for your students.

Let’s get started!

(1) Make Your Online Course Interactive

Interactivity works on two levels; firstly, it makes your course content more interesting. Secondly, it increases students’ focus. Both these points are extremely important in boosting engagement. You can incorporate interactivity into your ecourse through various methods. By using web-conferencing applications, you can add interesting interactive features into your presentations. Some examples of interactive features include social functions such as comments and likes, simple drag and drop options, study groups, virtual classrooms, group discussions and feedback sessions.

Just keep in mind that your main aim is to keep your students interested and fully involved so that they can easily achieve their learning objectives.

(2) Use Visually Appealing Design Elements

Your online course layout and design matter a lot in capturing learners’ attention. Try to use visually stimulating design elements to attract your students’ interest. Remember, you don’t have to use flashy designs and bright colors; simply create an aesthetically attractive learning environment by keeping your texts short, using high-quality images, easy-to-read fonts and whitespace balance so readers are able to focus on your course content with ease.

How learners view your e-course can have an effect on their learning process so make sure your course design complements your course content.

(3) Keep Your Learning Objectives Clear

Learners will only be able to retain their focus is if they know exactly what they need to learn and why. Hence, it’s crucial for each online course to have a clear set of objectives that spell out what exactly students would be learning, how it would be beneficial for them and how they could use that information in their lives. After all, they’re paying good money to take your course. You need to make sure they’re constantly reminded of the benefits they’re getting. At the end of the day, the success of your course depends on whether your students have achieved their goals and benefitted from your online course.

Setting learning objectives will not only motivate your students to do better, it’ll also be helpful for you when creating your course structure.

(4) Use Gamification

You can make your ecourse highly interactive and engaging by incorporating gamification into your e-learning strategy. Gamification is an extremely effective method that uses basic human instincts such as the need for recognition, competition and achievement to help people accomplish their learning objectives.

To apply gamification into your course, you can create interesting scenarios, challenges and choices. You can use storytelling to build a gaming experience that lets learners choose from a set of options, with each option leading to a different story. The options are endless.

By adding a system of points, rewards or badges, you can keep your learners motivated to achieve their goals, thus unleashing their true potential in a way that’s not only beneficial but fun!

(5) Include Frequent Quizzes and Assignments

Test your students’ knowledge by adding quizzes and assignments into their learning process. It’s a fun way see how much they’ve learned. You can pose questions that encourage them to think and answer on their own or you could create groups and give each group a different set of problems to solve. You can design group assignments and activities to encourage student collaboration and have them fully involved in the learning process. Not only would this encourage self-study, it will also help learners interact with each other, thus creating a sense of community.

(6) Keep Your Online Course Organized

Having a clear structure of your course content is extremely important for a good student/course experience. Make sure that the learning material is prioritized and organized. Structure the information in digestible bits so that students can take their time taking in each bit of information instead of being overwhelmed with too much content too fast. This will help learners absorb the material effectively, preventing cognitive overload. Use easy navigation, clear instructions and short sections to help students stay focused and engaged.

Conclusion

As an instructor, it’s your duty to make your online course as interactive and informative as possible. This means you need to go beyond just creating a bunch of slides with instructions. Your students should have a reason to be excited about your course. By following the six tips above, you can be on your way to creating an amazing online course that students will love!