How To Start An Online School (A Comprehensive Guide For Creators)
For over a year now, the Covid 19 pandemic has been forcing us to follow strict rules. E-learning, online education, and online classes quickly turned into inseparable elements of our lives. One could say that the pandemic popularized online learning and caused it to evolve rapidly.
These days studying and teaching moved to e-learning platforms, resulting in many webinars, online courses, online schools, and online training. According to Research and Markets, the e-learning business grew around 50% since 2020, up to $ 325 billion. These times of rising popularity are the perfect moment to start your own online school.
The interest in online courses has increased significantly since last year. People are searching for various online schools, starting with arts&crafts and ending with technologies and computer sciences.
Here’s the list of the ten most popular online courses during the pandemic:
- The Science of Well-Being from Yale University
- CS50’s Introduction to Computer Science from Harvard University
- Machine Learning from Stanford University
- Entrepreneurship in Emerging Economies from Harvard University
- Programming for Everybody (Getting Started with Python) from the University of Michigan
- Learning How to Learn: Powerful mental tools to help you master tough subjects from the University of California, San Diego
- English for Career Development from University of Pennsylvania
- Financial Markets from Yale University
- Mechanical Ventilation for COVID-19 from Harvard University
- Introduction to Psychology from Yale University
Even though the list shows strictly scientific topics, there are many other very profitable areas of online courses that people want to participate in, such as:
- Arts and crafts
- Business and entrepreneurship
- (Mental)Health and fitness
Let us offer you our guidance and start your own online school. Create a successful business model by learning about these aspects:
- First steps to starting an online school
- The requirements for online school
- The pricing of online school
- Pros and Cons of e-learning
Before you even start planning online classes or course content, focus on your intended target audience. Consider few factors determining your students, prompt to enrollment:
- Their age – depending on the age, you will have to take a different approach to the student’s learning. Kids require more education through fun and interesting, unusual practical exercises. On the other hand, adults will be pleased with better laid out material and detailed explanations. The duration of the class also differs for kids and adults. The first group can focus for a significantly shorter time than the second.
- Struggles – identify and interpret possible problems your audience can struggle with during your course. Prepare adequate solutions and uncomplicated explanations so as not to discourage and demotivate your students. It is crucial not to be oblivious to common issues with the subject and provide proper assistance.
- Intended learning outcomes – Setting measurable learning outcomes is crucial to a successful course design process. However, what is striking, numerous instructional designers forget to provide their audience with the description of expected learning outcomes. You want clear and listed learning objectives to improve the quality of your online course. Online courses that lack directly set goals and learning outcomes tend to be not as valuable and efficient. In your course design process, keep in mind that writing a course syllabus will improve your students’ ability to meet the course goals. Provide them with a very detailed description of learning outcomes for every lesson. However, remember not to set too high expectations. Learning outcomes should be observable and measurable.
You want your online course to be as engaging and encouraging for students as possible. There’s only one method to do it, namely talking about something that moves you. Choose anything about you to enjoy learning because you’ll need to conduct a lot of study on it. Not only will creating a course about a topic you care about to be more pleasant for you, but it will also be more enjoyable for your listeners.
Another important consideration when choosing a topic is to keep to a field that allows you to collect adequate material for your new course.
However, before you start working on your online course, you need to figure out your final aim, so you know where you’re headed. You can ensure a smooth flow by setting clear learning outcomes early in the planning process.
Your students should have their coursework divided into smaller parts for measurable and visible progress. Try to determine what your audience should learn from each lesson so that they feel like they accomplished another part of the course. Give them small wins – that way, the entire virtual learning experience will be far more pleasant and fulfilling.
Okay, you finished course creation – now it’s time to find the right platform for your virtual school. When choosing an appropriate one, consider your needs and requirements. There are a few options to pick from.
You could, for example, use an e-learning platform like Udemy. At first, it may appear to be a simple answer. However, you should be aware of the significant drawbacks that this approach entails. First and foremost, you are constrained by the laws and regulations of these sites. Another significant disadvantage is that you do not have control over your audience.
What are your prospects of reaching your target audience and building a solid community if your courses are published alongside those of all your competitors? To say the least, they are a lot smaller than creating your own membership site.
Choosing an appropriate online course design platform is crucial to your success in teaching. You need to have an intuitional layout, original templates, a view of your student’s achievements and progress or worksheets, and a face-to-face interaction solution. In short, you need GroupApp.
We know that creating an effective and engaging online course might seem a little bit complicated, and that is why we come to help you with our easy-to-use online course builder. GroupApp delivers all of the tools you will need to create a high-quality online course. It has all of the features you may need to reach and please your audience.
GroupApp enables you to create and publish online courses directly inside of your online community. You can unify your online community with your online class for better community support and improve the learning experience.
It also gives you an option to manage your community from an admin dashboard, where you can manage members, moderate the content and track engagement and subscriptions metrics. It works as an LMS (Learning Management system) – tracks, automates, reports, and documents your online course delivery.
One of GroupApp’s advantages is accessibility. GroupApp offers a mobile-friendly experience for all devices, so you and your students can engage with the community from every device. It is available for all devices and platforms and both on iOS and Android.GroupApp allows you as well to connect with other media that will improve and automate your workflow.
You also get additional features such as:
- Members Profile: ‘Community directory that allows members to discover and connect with each other.’
- Activity Feed: ‘Community activity feed that allows members to share a post, leave comments, and follow topics.’
- Posting Types: ‘Creators and members can write a post, upload photos, ask questions, and share videos.’
- Notifications: ‘Send in-app and email notifications to your community members with a simple click of a button.’
- Invite members: ‘Invite members to join your community with your community invite link and email invitation.’
- Privacy Settings: ‘Share your community with the public or set your privacy setting to members only.’
- Paid channels: ‘Share premium content in specific community channels and have members upgrade to access it.’
- Export Data: All of your member’s data and data management is up to you
- Custom Domain: ‘Maintain a consistent branding experience and drive community traffic to your website by using your custom domain with your community.’
As you can see, GroupApp delivers the best quality platform for you to design online courses. It has so many advantages and options that you will indeed find something fitting your teaching strategies.
As a startup school, you need to decide on an adequate payment option. You must figure out how your online school will generate income. Fortunately, there are two possible ways to ensure that.
The first is to charge a monthly fee for the course. A learner would pay a fee in exchange for access for a specific period. Typically, there are numerous payment plans with varied periods and perks, enabling learners to choose the one that best matches their needs while also allowing you to make more money by selling more products.
The second alternative is to charge your students a one-time fee to access your course. There is usually a time limit to prevent illegal distribution, but it is typically long enough for a student to finish the course a couple of times. With this method, you may have a variety of plans.
Here at GroupApp, you can choose whichever form you like. You can build a thriving online community that pays you to do what you love by setting up membership subscriptions. Setup recurring subscription plans or one-time payments, include a trial period and drive sign-up with coupon promotions.
Course design is the process of creating quality learning environments and experiences for students. Measurable learning outcomes, active learning, course materials, and proper pedagogy add to successful learning.
The main points of the course design are:
- providing access to information and course materials
- a considerate amount of interaction between students and a coach
- stimulation of critical thinking and independent deepening of knowledge
- creation of a friendly and supportive learning environment
In general, courses are the foundation of the educational process. In other words, the practical and well-thought course design equals students who are more prompt to learn, listen and think. Successful teaching strategy means achieving specific learning goals by students and, thereby, simultaneously fostering a positive learning experience.
Here at GroupApp, we offer you support and help with the online course design process. The main features include:
- Community Space
- Courses Creator
- Community Channels
- Membership Subscriptions
- Sell Courses
- Custom Domain
- Theme Customization
- Email & In-app Notifications
- Zapier Integration
- Weekly Email Digest
- 100% Ownership & Control
If you are still worried or want to learn more about creating your online course, for more details on this step, go to the article: ‘How to Create an Online Course and Get Ideas for It.’
Finally, you must sell your online school to your target audience. Promoting your new platform through your existing channels is the quickest and easiest way to do it. Advertise your online school via social media, YouTube, or your mailing list.
The more you spread the word on the Internet, the faster the number of students increases. Link your school website address on, for example, Linkedin, Facebook, or other popular social media for easy gaining new subscribers.
One of the major of online courses is that everyone can become an educator. However, there are some requirements needed to be met if you want to become a successful teacher.
Even though you do not need any certificates or diplomas to create an online school, the more verifiable verification you have, the more likely your students will sign up for your online program. In times of the rising popularity of online courses, the quality of your teaching cannot only rely on your education itself. Yes, your legitimate qualifications are essential, but the functionality of your coursework depends primarily on your ability to work in an online environment. Before starting an online school, consider various factors, differing teaching through online courses from the knowledge delivered by traditional educational institutions.
To succeed in the teaching field, you need to demonstrate appropriate skills such as good communication, patience, a little bit of indulgence, and flexibility. Because online school is slightly different (well, maybe even a lot) from traditional schools, you must focus on a different approach. Here are some tips to successfully assess and motivate your audience:
Due to the online environment barrier, your students can’t see your reactions, read body language,(sometimes) hear your voice, or get to know you personally. You have to work twice as hard to present yourself as an interesting and passionate person. Demonstrate that you are fascinating and full of charisma. Put extra effort into your coursework and course content to motivate your students and create an extraordinary and unusual learning experience.
Remember about small talk and a chilled-out atmosphere. Laid-out, a friendly discussion will only engage your audience more and create a strong bond among your community. A secure and comfortable environment will only result in better learning outcomes and higher group morals.
Fast and detailed feedback on your students’ assignments will show them that you care. Provide your audience with a deep analysis of their work, so they can understand your assessment technics and know what you expect from them. Delivering assessment as soon as possible is going to profit in the future. When your students understand what you want them to learn, they will do their work more willingly. Late – or even worse – no feedback is going to discourage your community from participating in your online course eventually.
Avoid doing anything that isn’t necessary. Students will be more attentive to the relevance of each activity to the subject acquired. Online educators tend to assign their audience too many tasks and things to learn because of the different types of teaching. Remember that your students will have to do all of the assignments in their own time. Too much to do and learn is only going to overwhelm and demotivate them.
Apart from your teaching skills, the ability to navigate in the online environment is of comparable importance. Make sure you feel up to the challenge online schools pose. Meaning it challenges you with a different teaching style and approach.
As an online educator, you will need to gain skills and expertise specific to Web-based educational institutions. Teachers should be able to show competence in the online environment. You have to keep in mind these requirements to avoid technical issues and problems with online policies:
- Accessibility standards for technology in the classroom and online instruction are entirely understood.
- Possess the ability to assess Internet resources.
- Understand many features of copyright privileges and infringements.
- Monitor and model proper etiquette and commonly acceptable online use standards.
- Making appropriate lesson ideas for online students and putting them into action.
- Ability to handle minor technical problems and, when necessary, turning to technical support professionals.
In an online learning environment, time management is much more important than in traditional educational institutions. The information on the Internet is constantly changing. As an educator, you have to assess data and modify course materials as needed to ensure that students receive relevant information on time. It is crucial and necessary for the entire online learning process.
Additionally, students should receive comments and assessments at your earliest possible convenience. Tasks and overall coursework should be evaluated within one week of submission. As the course advances and you move on to more complicated material, students are more likely to assess their work and ask questions regarding subject material as the course advances if given a rubric with suitable comments for tasks.
Time flexibility is crucial for online schools. Because everything is happening from the comfort of your and your students’ houses, consider wider time frames for reporting back the assignments. Provide your students with additional assessment and support outside standardized work time frames.
As you can see, there are numerous things and factors to consider to achieve a profitable, successful online school. So the next question is how much and what way should you charge your audience for participating in your online school?
Remember: how you value yourself, they will value you. Sometimes the lower price of the course will make it look much less legitimate and discourage potential new subscribers from participating. Of course, you can set the low price, but only if there is a reasoning behind it. It is justified when the low-cost offer is time-limited or special discount to acquire and encourage new students. However, it would be best to consider setting few pricing options so that your course attracts more people. Keep in min those options:
Some sort of a trial, demo version of your online course can be given away for free. It will help your potential students to decide on purchasing full access to your course content. However, make sure that the free content is still high quality. It is supposed to attract new members of your community, so you want it to reflect the quality of the entire course. For minimal effort, a good incentive will only bring you profits. Consider implementing a free (high quality!) course sample into your online course pricing plans and observe your sales going up.
Lots of times, course creators offer the purchase of one course. It is one of the most frequent pricing methods since they fulfill basic requirements for a very reasonable price. It is an excellent way to show off the entirety of your brand so that your audience will be more willing to purchase another online course. New members usually are not hundred percent sure if they want to participate in the entire cycle of online course and one-off payment is a very reasonable idea to show off your coursework.
But, as we mentioned before, do not charge too little for each course. Lower cost reduces your reliability. The best would be if the price were reduced only for a particular time. It is a more effective way for gaining new students and ensures your credibility.
With subscriptions, you may provide your community the choice of paying for their course membership. You provide them with new content daily, weekly, monthly, or yearly basis and they pay for that in advance. You can set a few payment options adjusted to the financial standing of each of your students. This opens up the prospect of more solutions for potential members and offers them a choice of how long they want to purchase your content.
A subscription-based membership offers exclusive content to which only your students have access. Instead of providing one-time online courses, you allow your community to maintain a subscription in exchange for access to special offers, discounts, and a community they can engage with. Subscriptions work well with membership sites. They are easily adjustable to fit your audience’s preferences and are affordable for every budget.
Make sure you provide your community with extra-paid, exclusive content. A pricier payment plan should be subscription-based and, in exchange for purchasing for a longer time, ensure additional features.
You should offer the more advanced or more complex courses, extra course materials, or free incentives such as ‘Subscribe for 1-year and get two months for free.’ Your community will be more willing to purchase this type of subscription if they are granted higher quality course content, ultimate guides, and a better, more personal approach.
Providing your community with various payment plans and pricing will attract wider clientele, and therefore keep your business up and running. Make sure you offer content for every budget, but the pricier one is the more advanced and better features it has.
Virtual learning is a lot different from the traditional one. However, it doesn’t mean it is worse. Constantly improving technological solutions slowly turn the virtual school into the future of education. It comes with various advantages that a regular educational institution cannot provide its students with. Those assets are subsequently:
- Flexibility – the standardized work time-frames do not restrain you and your students. Your audience can access the course and do their coursework whenever and wherever they can. It helps make learning more available for employed people and students who prefer to study at different times of the day.
- Availability – as we mentioned, the course materials can be accessed whenever you want to. There is no strict plan determining when your students have to learn. Just willingness and motivation are required.
- Accessible resources – unlike traditional education, online learning gives better access to all the material needed for a course. You can simply link the articles, resources, step guides – whatever your community may need so that they do not have to search for extra information on their own.
- Creativity – the freedom of the Internet gives you the freedom to create. You can use various apps, programs, and tools to make your online course more engaging and fascinating.
- Individuality – because you do not have to deal with the entire class, full of students, you can approach each one more personally. It helps solving the issues and problems with coursework they may have.
However, it would be best if you looked out for a few problems online schools come with. By that, we mean:
- Lack of communication – just because you cannot interact with your students does not mean you have to listen to and discuss with them. Keep in mind, verbal communication and feedback are still important.
- No access to technology – before you start an online school, make sure that you possess appropriate technological support so that you can deliver top-notch content to your community.
We hope that we helped you get familiar with the topic of starting your own online school. As you know by now, it is not that difficult to create a high-quality online course with proper tools and knowledge.
At GroupApp, we provide you with all the support and features you may need to start an online school. Do not think about it too long! Sign up for our membership and begin your journey with your virtual school.