Do you have the skill to teach? Are you interested in teaching linear thinking and binary logic? Are you good at programming? Do you have expertise in economics or management or any other subject? Don’t know how to go about? Don’t worry!
This article will shed light on the various steps to starting an online school.
No doubt, there’s a lot of information on the internet. Information isn’t systematic. Unfortunately, a lot of knowledge is lost in information. Loads of wisdom is lost in knowledge. Information, knowledge & wisdom will fade into oblivion if there aren’t any students hungry to learn. Fortunately, the world is blessed with several millions of students.
If you have skills to teach, information to share, knowledge to enlighten and wisdom to connect with learns, you require nothing than an online school. In this article, I’ll explain how to start an online school in 6 easy steps.
#1: Business Model
There are two types of business models:
- Standalone course model
- Comprehensive academy model
The business model of online platforms like Udemy and Skillshare is standalone. Standalone courses are laser-focused on one topic. Example: Microsoft Excel for Business Intelligence.
In this case, students enroll for the course, pay an upfront fee, complete every milestone of the course curriculum, and take a certification test.
Without question, this business model is profitable. As payments are upfront, it’s possible to earn a six-figure salary. If your course becomes popular among the community members of online learners, you can make seven figures a year.
There’s a major drawback with this business model. If you are keen on teaching multiple topics, you have to create multiple courses. And yes, a complete overhaul is mandatory if you wish to change the course content.
This drawback is addressed in the next business model – Comprehensive academy model. Thanks to this model, you can start an online school to cover each and every skill that your learners can learn.
Here’s an example – Online Digital Marketing Academy
You can cover multiple topics:
- Search Engine Optimization
- Social Media Marketing
- Email Marketing
- Affiliate Marketing
- Mobile Marketing
- Google Adwords
- Analytics Mastery
- Blogging Mastery
Students are required to pay a monthly or yearly recurring fee.
This business model has many advantages. It lets you bring diversity in topics. Learners will stay long-term with tutors as there’s a lot to learn. Learners will be excited about the new content.
And yes, it’s possible to earn a six-figure income if your courses are informative and insightful.
#2: Learning Management System (LMS)
It’s important to choose the right learning management system that lets you deliver learning content. Learning content can be an online training event, or a professional webinar or a private course.
Running an online academy is an uphill task. It entails tasks like management of multiple systems, documents, content libraries, audio and video galleries, schedules, etc.
LMS helps you keep track of everything. If you have an educational website, LMS lets you integrate your website with your training management system (TMS). It’s easy to pull content from your website. Not only does it save process and time but also eliminates the risk of human error.
And yes, systematic scheduling and assignment of resources such as instructors, course moderators & e-classrooms are paramount. LMS puts your mind at ease in this regard.
LMS has excellent reporting functionalities. It lets you track the progress of your learners. You will be able to identify KPIs as the number of learners enrolled in a course, average duration spent by learners on every topic, examination results, number of quiz attempts, etc.
Based on the KPIs, you can make improvements in your courses.
Focus on two things – Building brand identity and customization.
For customization, people generally hire a team of software developers. If you have expertise in CSS, you can customize the CSS code.
To build brand identity, your website should have multiple themed templates. Hire a professional logo developer and get your website a logo. Remember that great logos create everlasting impressions. There’s a strong correlation between logos and professionalism.
Your primary objective is to help learners master certain skills. Don’t forget the business aspect. Start online campaigns. Be active in forums. Spread the good word on social media. Organize contests. Announce the names of winners, congratulate them and give them free e-books. Repeat. You will be able to reinforce your brand identity.
Customize all your landing pages. Aesthetics cannot be ignored. Your website should have enough navigational and social features.
Once a learner purchases your course, he/she should be directed to a Thank You page. Your website should have multiple growth hacking features to let you upsell multiple courses.
It’s a good business practice to send notifications to your audience. Your audience always shows interest in learning more about your upcoming courses, discounts and subscription offers, scheduled contests, etc.
Instructors interested in communicating informative and interesting content as a research paper or an opinionated article. Email notifications come in handy in such a scenario.
Notifications are of several types:
- Registration emails: When a learner register for the first time in your website/learning portal, send registration emails. Password reset emails also fall in this category
- Enrollment emails: When a leaner enrolls in a course or a bundle of courses, send the enrollment emails.
- Subscription emails: Send subscription emails to keep your audience abreast of new subscription trials, features, benefits and offers, subscription renewal, cancellation and failure
- Learners’ notifications: These are required to notify your audience about their course assignments, tests, badges, grades, etc.
- Support emails: If learners have any doubts or concerns related to course content, they are at liberty to shoot emails to support desk. If they face any technical issues, they can appraise technical support team of technical issues.
It’s not feasible to send notifications manually. It’s recommended to automate email notifications. Often, learning management systems come with inbuilt email marketing and automation software. Leverage the power of automation.
#5: Course structure
Are you planning on starting a professional development course?
Do you intend to teach personal development skills? The choice is yours. It’s all about creating the right educational path for your learners.
Regardless of the type ofcourse, you should have expertise, experience & passion.
Define educational goals. For all intents and purposes, educational goals should be SMART – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-bound.
Your courses should aim at solving a problem. Your courses should bridge intellectual gaps of learners. Let your creative juices flow. Draft a vision. Articulate your mission.
The next step is to have a course outline. Based on subject categories, devise a logical order. There are several pedagogical approaches:
- Integrated learning
- Inquiry learning
- Case studies
- Open-ended instructions
- Differentiated instructions
- Cooperative learning
- Peer teaching
- Experiential learning
- Assessment and evaluation of student learning
You can follow any one of the aforementioned pedagogical approaches. As an alternative, you can come up with your blended technique.
Entrepreneurs often ask me –How to create an online school without following a pedagogical approach?
Well, it’s not recommend to start online schools and academies without incorporating pedagogical techniques. An absence of pedagogical techniques defeats the very purpose of learning.
Apart from e-books, PDFs, documents, presentations, animations, videos & audio tutorials, your courses should have enough gamification techniques such as tests, quizzes, badges, certifications, etc.
Your course content engine should support question banks, discussion forums, blogs, podcasts, live quizzes, mobile access, infographic content and a lot more.
Before launching your first course, make sure your website has a couple of payment gateways to accept payments.
No doubt, the first sale is the most special sale.
Keep tracking your progress. Identify new trends and e-learning business opportunities. Address the concerns of your instructors, learners & other stakeholders. Innovate. Focus on building a loyal audience. Be active on social networking platforms. Place advertisements on Facebook and Google. Run campaigns on Twitter.
Expand your portfolio of courses. Forge relationships. Be the custodian of your learners.
Now you know how to start an online academy, now’s the most propitious time to start one. Follow the afore-stated steps to starting an online school and walk your way to success. Do let us know if you have any doubts. Cheers!