How To Create An Online Learning Platform

“How can we collectively foster STEM learning for all students? How can we offer them an expanded range of pathways?

It isn’t just university students and the likes who are demanding online courses. Last year I watched as thousands of bored adults streamed or downloaded courses on Youtube, iTunes U and Udemy. The feedback was mostly along the lines of: “I got hooked! I couldn’t stay away!” Online learning even became one of the major themes for school creation guide WhatArePeopleInterestedIn.

The silver lining to these train wrecks (well, three skinny ones) was the momentum they set in motion. As they continue to claim millions of views, education entrepreneurs now understand the market is already there to be driven by online courses for everything from commercial skills to passion projects.

This growing popularity has grown the appeal of today’s course creation startup. As education prepares for a big wave of growth, with at least a dozen startups emerging each month, here are a few tips to keep in mind when creating a platform.

1. Test first.

The internet is a great testing ground. Take any existing course you’d like to review and try it out. Then compare it to the others on the platform. A few things may change — for instance, one may be more widely viewed by teaching assistants than another. The more options you have, the better! As for the end results, you’ll want to test your courses with those who really appreciate them as they’ll appreciate the effort. Before you create a learning platform, you’ll want to put together a team of people who can play expert contributors (equally valuable) on a variety of topics. Then start posting your concepts and ideas. The world will come looking for something similar so you’ll want to work quickly. It’s also likely your course will be reviewed by many people, but be selective about who you choose to represent your platform. When the time comes, think of it as a shot in the dark.

2. Treat your platform like a business.

Create a platform that is your own brand, just like you create the framework of your website or your shoe brand. The easiest and fastest way to achieve this is to recruit people around you. Make use of tools like social recruiting to increase the likelihood you will find top contributors. Social recruiting can provide strategic, actionable examples of talent to reach and is a cost effective way to drive the greatest depth of inclusion. Training anyone to be a reporter is likely just a two-week boot camp. Why not spend the time and resources on cultivating a group of committed contributors for your platform?

3. Keep it simple.

Explain the purpose of your platform well in your pitch. Explain who you are targeting, what is your value and what you’re offering on your platform. Also, it helps to have a unique view of what your service will offer so anyone can understand what you’re offering and why.

4. Market to the right users.

What is the best audience for you? You have to focus your marketing efforts to educate the right audience. You don’t need a massive set of expensive users. Instead, focus on users you can promise to increase your growth exponentially. Do this by testing the message on your channel, talking to audiences you know are high-value users (you’re marketing to) and writing terms of service (giving users a set of expectations about how your platform will work).

5. Figure out the apps.

Who are the apps that are highly influential for a specific audience? I’m thinking of Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, and even role-playing games. The goal is to find a community of influencers on those platforms and then serve their needs. If the platform is mobile, you have to optimize for the platform. Even if it’s not, there are dozens of possibilities to add value on the platform to turn the platform into a sharing hub or live streaming tool.

When thinking about growing your platform, don’t forget to have a business plan. The goal is to provide value to the students you’ll be targeting and to the ecosystem you’ll be contributing to.

With education and online learning as a key component, everything will be on the rise. Now that we have evidence of the potential, investing in an online platform may be the answer.

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