Getting Started with Online Teaching: 4 Things to Consider When Choosing the Platform
Here are a few tips for those who not only care about making sales but also creating better learning experiences.
I wrote this article earlier to show the research behind successful online courses. I mainly talked about how important it is for online course developers and teachers to maintain the following in their e-learning services:
- a user-friendly & compelling e-learning environment that will make learners want to come back to their course.
- high-quality and updated course content with rich multimedia material
- technical and pedagogical guidance provided for learners when needed
- social interaction that allows for deeper learning and higher motivation
- enjoyment factor that leads to deep involvement with the course
The research dealing with e-learning satisfaction advices us to keep those in mind for a successful online course. On the other hand, it may not be as easy as it seems to put all these into practice for those who want to get started with e-learning and turn it into profit.
Also it might be hard to know where to start especially for a beginner. Finding the right platform, developing the content using the right tools, making it all attractive & fancy, and reaching the paying customers are the key issues to consider and it might be off-putting if things do not go as expected.
For those who want to get started with online teaching and are on the look-out of an e-learning platform to host their course, I listed some of the platforms here.
In this article I will be highlighting some of the key areas to consider when choosing a platform especially for those who are new to the world of online teaching and learning.
Content Tools and Interactivity
The most powerful element in an online course is no doubt the content. The course content needs to be rich in terms of the variety of materials it offers. Being able to integrate different type of media to your course is no doubt a big advantage. Video has become the most common type of content in e-learning and integrations with other content platforms such as YouTube, DailyMotion, SlideShare, Prezi, SoundCloud and Facebook will give you an opportunity to make your content varied and rich. So it might be a good idea to check out the content tools first to see if it is flexible enough.
Not only variety but also interactive content matters in online learning. Interactivity has been proven to have a positive impact on learning as it puts the learner in an active role. Check to see if the platform offers interactivity tools such as adding questions and links to your videos. Some platforms even gives you the chance to add e-books and make them interactive by highlighting notes and creating discussions for students.
E-learning does not necessarily mean students will learn on their own. On the contrary, when learning is social it is more likely that students will enjoy the course more and they will learn from each other. The platform needs to provide both learners and teachers with the opportunity to see each other’s profiles, to send messages to each other, to create discussions etc. Socialising encourages peer-learning and boosts the sense of community, which is a very basic human need. It is interesting to note a study finding that even reading other people’s discussion posts has been found to enhance learning.
Analytics and Reporting
Check if the platform allows you to track how your students are doing with your course. Tracking learners’ activities and see their engagement levels through reports will give you a greater control over your course. Imagine you have created a course and have students enrolled but you have no clue if students log in and engage with the course. This would be the last thing you would expect from e-learning as a teacher. You have to be able to track learners’ progress and see their reactions to your course to be able to get feedback and improve the learning experience for them.
As an online teacher, marketing is a huge issue because your aim is to find paying students and this may not be as easy as it seems. Some platforms do the marketing for you by promoting your course in their market place and take care of the sales part for you, but of course this comes with a price. They charge for every sales they make. On the other hand, some platforms provide the necessary tools for you to do the marketing yourself and do not charge anything. They help you out with your marketing and lets you integrate tools such as Google Analytics and Mixpanel to track web traffic to your course and user interactions. The best platform I have seen so far is LearnWorlds. I highly recommend that you check it and see how they help promoting your online course or school.
I’ve listed some of the most important considerations a beginner online teacher should keep in mind before starting out. Although I believe that business side of online teaching matters to a great extent and admit that a lot of people are concerned about the chances of profit, I strongly argue that online teachers should remember the fact that they create “experiences” not merely sell a course. So make it an inspirational one!
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