Smart advice on creating an eLearning start-up


04 Jul
04Jul
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eLearning is forecasted as a growth industry in the next several years. Covid-19 has seen to it that education is no longer confined to the classroom, an individual who is skilled in a particular niche can brand and launch a platform. Revenue can be generated from: 

  • Selling online courses and eBooks
  • Selling subscriptions for a range of eLearning materials

 Depending on your model, your platform can be used for various disciplines. Language(s), Careers for Industries, Self-Improvement etc. No matter what the subject, having an eLearning platform is the foundation to base any long-term marketing and selling process. If you are in an industry where with an established reputation, you can sell your product or service online as an eLearning course and start developing a workable business model now. 

I could tell you about the usual planning, understanding the market, website design, booking schedules, research into student needs and the types of risks you might face and the plans to mitigate those risks, but the article would be too long and my website (whose Niche is aimed at the over fifties) has many years of working experience and this is a topic for any age and I thought I would approach this subject from a technical (not very) and practical standpoint. eLearning is an online subject and it is my intention to give technical and practical suggestions along the way. 

Generating Leads 

Ideally, having a website and a sales funnel could be considered as a good place to start, but this of course depends on your finances. In the early stages, just having a lead page (Lead pages is an online tool that you can use to collect email subscribers) could be a good enough place to start generating some paying students.   

If you have a small budget, YouTube, LinkedIn, Facebook and AdWords all work well for paid marketing. If you can stretch to some SEO to improve your organic traffic, it will improve your marketing campaign. Online marketing is the cheapest way to drive in leads for e-learning, and it's also very easy to track, manage and scale, but if you can scrape enough funds together to produce an expandable site, you should be able to keep your costs down and if you can build a D.I.Y. site, so much the better. 

Having a bootstrap mentality 

Getting your eLearning solution online means finding a method and structure in place that will provide: 

  • A video conferencing solution
  • Lesson schedules
  • Payment collection
  • An educational structure with a syllabus set up

 There are many ways to approach your service, but getting it off the ground will need a degree of bootstrapping otherwise it can get expensive and also complicated. Bootstrapping is a method where a minimalist approach at the start-up level is employed to provide a platform with low cost. Having a platform in place means that most of the hard work is done! 

In a mature solution, maybe a company will have a platform where students can go, take a test, plan a timetable, arrange a teacher and work to a model that has a management system to take care of administration and billing. But if you are a new, using your phone or laptop and using skype may be your way to get the ball rolling. 

For the totally uninitiated, your video conferencing service can be the following outlined below but there are many other options: 

  1. Zoom
  2. Google Hangouts
  3. UberConference
  4. TrueConf Online
  5. Skype
  6. FreeConference
  7. Lifesize Go
  8. Slack Video Calls
  9. Facebook Live
  10. YouTube Live

 1. I will not go into the details here of all the suggestions because you can treat it as a homework project and just use google search, but if you are going to take the subject on professionally and from my technical experience, I recommend you start with the free version of ZOOM for expansion in the future, but you will have to take into account the quality of the internet service and consider just how good is your ISP? It is not only a matter concerning the size of your bandwidth, but also the quality in terms who can handle live streaming consistently well. A fibre optic service will always be better than an ADSL company and if they say Fibre, make sure the connection is a “fibre all the way” service (this is my business and jargon is one thing ISP’s love to use when plain English is always best). 

2. Scheduling, in the beginning, this can be done using an Office program, but there are free tools for this, I have one on my site and again if you are going to do this on a professional basis, try to get into good habits and use a free tool(s) to relieve the burden if it is a one-person project.  

3. When it comes to payments, the ubiquitous PAYPAL is one option, but in some parts of the world this service may not be available (e.g. China) and having a backup option is always sensible. You should also have exchange transfer option(s), with Banks in Europe and in my experience the U.K. if you are out of the country, Bank transfers etc can get a little tricky and further research is required. 

4. If you are an ESL teacher, being native speaker should provide higher benefits. You may not have a degree, but an ESL qualification is essential. Ideally, a degree, some form of TESOL and experience will be a starting point if you want to work for someone else, but going it alone or having people working for you will require a syllabus. This can be made easier if you are using some form of Learning Management System (LMS), where the course content will be supplied, otherwise unless you just providing simple conversational classes, you will require a scope and sequence service. 

I mention Point 4 again purely because it is intended to prepare you so that you will be few steps ahead, instead of only thinking about the one or two students that you might have in the early stages. Finding new students, plus developing a strategy for the problem of managing dozens of students in the future, can be solved by using LMS (which is gradually becoming a more popular). LMS will solve your method of delivering classes, if chosen carefully, you will be able to automate many of the processes that took so much time earlier. 

If you are still not sure about LMS solutions, some of the consequences for not using this type of solution include: 

  • Forgetfulness
  • Non-automated methods of monitoring and control
  • Increased teacher burdens
  • Insufficiently detailed statistics
  • Vague learning paths

 It is possible to obtain and use a free or reduced fee solution, but you will have to choose if it is an open or a closed sourced solution. Open-sourced solutions have more versatility but require more work in the personal customisation process, this may or may not be an option due to time or budget considerations. These options are also available if you have a Word Press or Custom website, but more research will be necessary if it is to fit your platform. 

Sync v Async 

At this point, I would just like to mention SYNCHRONOUS v ASYNCHRONOUS methods of teaching delivery when it comes to getting your business online (depending on your circumstances). Synchronous delivery revolves around live classes (real-time) with conversational topics, whereas Asynchronous delivery is the opposite, e.g a lesson maybe at home, using a downloaded source, with the student(s) working at his/ her speed. 

Whilst teaching in a classroom, using a direct approach will add value, it will not take long until you will have to consider (due to distance or numbers) a way to address the problems of integrating your present method with the way you will deliver classes in the future. 

Onward and upwards


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Once a course or courses are created, things shouldn’t standstill. The thought that producing a course and receiving money for eternity may sound pleasing, but stale courses need fresh topics or the process could jar to a juddering halt before you know it. identifying new learning needs and continually updating the content as topics change over time. 

Identifying new learning needs and continually updating the content as topics change over time, should be considered as organic maintenance essential to assisting student’s needs. Be sure that updates are always based on the latest, most relevant facts, you collect feedback, so the content can be adjusted further to ensure good quality.   

Utilize Push Notifications 

Push notifications have emerged as a highly effective marketing tool in the present framework. They allow the websites and app publishers to reach their prospects without knowing their contact addresses. You can leverage this channel to promote your courses and even to engage them in the learning activities. For example, you can send push notifications about: 

  • New courses or chapters published on the website.
  • Discounts and offers on the courses.
  • Questions asked by fellow learners on the discussion forum (if you have one).
  • Latest events or general information.

 Optimising screen content


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Having to read twenty or thirty pages can be boring at the best of times and time may not be your best friend if they have other commitments. So, any method to make students lives easier should be taken into account. It is easier when considering a platform during any start-up process, but this may become difficult when student numbers start to increase if you have not considered it earlier. Optimising for digital devices means having a platform that will resize your content for any device so that everything is clear and visible to your learners. Let’s take the possibility of three students taking a synchronous or asynchronous class remotely. One has a tablet, another a laptop and the third a mobile. The same lesson should be able to be seen on all the devices equally without parts of the presentation being “chopped off”. Adobe Captivate 9, Articulate 360 and Elucidat to name a few are authoring tools that may assist depending on your budget unless you move up to an LMS solution. 

Branding via white-labels 

Branding is an important method of how you present your platform to the world. Logos, company colours, banners all help to promote the image of the business. Using a branded service may come with some benefits, but “white-labelling”  can give your platform its own unique URL and removes the name of the software provider so your image truly looks like a part of your organization. This service will of course come with an extra expense but some packages are available for a one-off price. 

Conclusion  

Compared to other businesses, eLearning can be a minimum outlay, high profit, easily scalable business that requires little maintenance. If your marketing can produce healthy student quantities much of the process can be automated in an industry with healthy predicated growth figures. If you can start with a topic that you know a lot about will make things easier and if it can be made more “niche” the better e.g. technical vocabulary (generally refers to words and phrases that are used and known mainly in a. specific profession, trade), the better your position will be. 

You start out as a teacher, but your role may end up as an administrator with many perks. If you have any further questions about technical or other aspects of this article, please contact us at the website, we are to help and guidance is available. 

We provide support for video-marketing, website development, SEO and training, but most importantly we are here to assist women and the over fifties wanting to take their first steps into opening a start-up and all the issues that it entails when lifestyles are being affected by Covid-19.

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