The eLearning industry is booming, and it’s not just online content providers who are benefitting. Many more traditional learning organisations such as colleges, universities and language schools are expanding into offering online courses.
Becoming an online course provider can be an excellent move. If your organisation is thinking about moving in this direction, here’s some guidance on how to take the first steps.
Why should you consider becoming an online course provider?
First of all, let’s consider why it can be a wise move to diversify your organisation’s educational offerings and becoming an online course provider.
There are a few very clear reasons why this can be beneficial, and the first is profit. When an educational organisation starts offering blended or/and online courses, they are no longer limiting themselves to a certain number or group of potential students. An online course can be offered to students around the world, not just those who are based within commuting distance. It’s also worth noting that online courses don’t need to be limited in numbers as much as in-person courses.The third clear reason why your organisation might want to consider becoming an online course provider is reputation. High quality online courses will help your organisation to get noticed, build a great reputation and get recognition for the work you do.
How to get started offering blended / online courses
Becoming an online course provider may seem like a lot of work, but like any large task it seems far more manageable once you split it into smaller steps.
# Step 1: do your research. Who are your potential students and what are they looking for?
Before you begin to invest time and money into online course provision, it’s important to do your research and gain a clearer vision of the online learning community you are striving to create.
Business planning is a very important stage in any growth project, and it’s important to ensure you’ve done your due diligence and know exactly what you’re hoping to achieve and what challenges may stand in your way.
The really key information here is to consider where your potential market is, and what particular type of online courses they are looking for as a group. This is a good time to survey your current students, asses your competitors and start to scope out possible marketing channels.
# Step 2: consider your virtual infrastructure. What kind of digital learning platform will you need?
In order to expand into eLearning, you will most likely need to invest in a digital learning platform.
The exception to this is organisations who already offer blended learning with the assistance of a learning management system (LMS) or learning content management system (LCMS). In these cases there may be scope for building on the virtual infrastructure you already have. If not, you’ll need to look into buying into one.
A high quality digital learning platform such as a learning management system (LMS) or learning content management system (LCMS) will be the digital learning space that hosts your online courses. The best LMS and LCMS software is cloud based, which means your students will be able to access it from their own computer, wherever they are in the world. Moreover, a good learning platform wil include buil-in virtual classrooms for you to teach your online lessons.
The style of online course provider you plan to be will determine whether an LMS, an LCMS or even a combination of both systems is right for you.
# Step 3: find an educational software provider you can trust. What should you keep in mind?
Of course, not all digital learning platform software is the same. There are various types of LMS and LCMS software available, and it’s really important that you find the right fit for your organisation.
At this point it is sensible to shop around and see what options are open to you. There are a range of factors to consider here, including:
- Is the software cloud based?
- Are smartphone and tablet apps included in the package?
- What level of technical support is available, and will you need to pay extra to access it?
- Does the software include virtual classroom capabilities?
- What kind of student progress measurements will you be able to access?
- Does the software include a pre-existing database of course content and resources to draw from?
Can we help you take these first steps?
If you’re at the beginning of the journey, we’d love to give you a helping hand. We offer free consultations to advise you on what kind of digital learning platform would be the right fit for your organisation.
Together we can talk through all the options, including virtual classrooms, learning management systems (LMS) and learning content management systems (LCMS). With our help, you will be better able to determine what kind of software tools you will need to invest in in order to become an online course provider.