How to Start an Online School – 6 Easy Steps
Do you have the skill to teach? Are you interested in teaching linear thinking and binary logic? Are you good at programming? Do you have expertise in economics or management or any other subject? Don’t know how to go about? Don’t worry!
This article will shed light on the various steps to starting an online school.
No doubt, there’s a lot of information on the internet. Information isn’t systematic. Unfortunately, a lot of knowledge is lost in information. Loads of wisdom is lost in knowledge. Information, knowledge & wisdom will fade into oblivion if there aren’t any students hungry to learn. Fortunately, the world is blessed with several millions of students.
Why should you start an online school?
Online schools are still futuristic concept. However, the world is gradually moving towards online resources to learn and impart new skill sets. Some do this to learn new skills while many others do this to stay in the competition and pursue their passions.
You can guess the immense popularity of MOOC platforms by the fact that Udemy, a MOOC platform has over 10 million learner accounts. Realizing MOOCs as the standalone or blended source of information, traditional establishments are seeing a 40% boost in enrolments to their online courses.
Students are seeking easier ways to continue their education. They want to learn in their own time, from anywhere, and from anyone who can teach. There is no fixed age for learning. From school students to industry veterans, everyone has this hunger for self-education.
You can capitalize on this hunger and generate a business opportunity out of it. You can start an online school to offer education and learning –
- At Anytime
- At Anywhere
- By Anyone
- To Everyone
While it may sound very mammoth task, it can also seem to demand a lot of sophisticated techs, resources, manpower, and legal formalities. However, in actual ground conditions, the technology part has got covered already by the software development market, and your initial investments have gone down pretty low.
In fact, the potential profits are quite mammoth. With an array of new business models, you can always find the one that suits your requirement and local opportunities. Starting an online school is one of the most flexible business models. You don’t necessarily need a huge establishment, and can start from anywhere as long you are connected to the internet.
So if you have skills to teach, information to share, knowledge to enlighten and wisdom to connect with learns, you require nothing than starting an online school. In this article, I’ll explain how to start an online school in 6 easy steps. Before that-
Types of Online Education Business Model
There are two types of workable online education business models to start an online school:
- Standalone course model
- Comprehensive academy model
The business model of online platforms like Udemy and Skillshare is standalone. Standalone courses are laser-focused on one topic. Example: Microsoft Excel for Business Intelligence.
In this case, students enroll for a course, pay an upfront fee, complete every milestone of the course curriculum, and take a certification test.
Without question, this business model is profitable. As payments are upfront, it’s possible to earn a six-figure salary. If your course becomes popular among the community members of online learners, you can make seven figures a year.
There’s a major drawback with this business model. If you are keen on teaching multiple topics, you have to create multiple courses. And yes, a complete overhaul is mandatory if you wish to change the course content.
This drawback is addressed in the next business model – Comprehensive academy model. Thanks to this model, you can start an online school to cover each and every skill that your learners can learn.
Here’s an example – Online Digital Marketing Academy
You can cover multiple topics:
- Search Engine Optimization
- Social Media Marketing
- Email Marketing
- Affiliate Marketing
- Mobile Marketing
- Google AdWords
- Analytics Mastery
- Blogging Mastery
Students are required to pay a monthly or yearly recurring fee. This business model has many advantages. It lets you bring diversity in topics. Learners will stay long-term with tutors as there’s a lot to learn. Learners will be excited about the new content. And yes! It’s possible to earn a six-figure income if your courses are informative and insightful.
How to start your own online school – 6 easy steps
#1: Select a business model
Based on the business opportunities, you can select from any of the two business models explained above. If you ask me, the Comprehensive academy model suits best for the online school setup. As you can cover a diversity of topics and create courses with many micromodules in it.
Just like traditional schools, this model will give you recurring earnings as a fee. Moreover, with each micro-module being a stand-alone learning capsule, students will feel more connected to the new concepts being introduced as new modules. Ultimately, a collection of independent modules will make a whole big course without sounding too mammoth.
The Standalone course model is more suitable for tutorials and independent certificate courses. You won’t make much recurring earning from a particular student unless they are interested in more courses afterward.
#2: Select a Learning Management System (LMS)
It’s important to choose the right learning management system that lets you deliver learning content. Learning content can be an online training event, or a professional webinar or a private course.
Running an online academy is an uphill task. It entails tasks like management of multiple systems, documents, content libraries, audio and video galleries, schedules, etc.
LMS helps you keep track of everything. If you have an educational website, LMS lets you integrate your website with your training management system (TMS). It’s easy to pull content from your website. Not only does it save process and time but also eliminates the risk of human error.
And yes, systematic scheduling and assignment of resources such as instructors, course moderators & e-classrooms are paramount. LMS puts your mind at ease in this regard.
LMS has excellent reporting functionalities. It lets you track the progress of your learners. You will be able to identify KPIs as the number of learners enrolled in a course, the average duration spent by learners on every topic, examination results, number of quiz attempts, etc.
Based on the KPIs, you can make improvements in your courses.
#3: Build your website and brand identity
Focus on two things – Building brand identity and customization.
For customization, people generally hire a team of software developers to build the site. If you have expertise in website development, you can customize your own site. However, let us assume, you would hire or outsource a team as everyone does. You need to focus on two more sub-aspects here- Integration of the selected LMS and eCommerce features.
LMS integration means your selected LMS is compatible with your website. However, the main aim is adding eCommerce like features to let learners enroll, buy online courses, pay online for it, and browse the purchase records. So selected a tech stack or eLearning website builder or a CMS or an LCMS that supports your LMS and allows online transactions with payment gateway integration and other eCommerce-like features.
Back to building your brand identity.
To build a brand identity, your website should have multiple themed templates. Hire a professional logo developer and get your website a logo. Remember that great logos create everlasting impressions. There’s a strong correlation between logos and professionalism.
Your primary objective is to help learners master certain skills. Don’t forget the business aspect. Start online campaigns. Be active in forums. Spread the good word on social media. Organize contests. Announce the names of winners, congratulate them and give them free e-books. Repeat. You will be able to reinforce your brand identity.
Customize all your landing pages. Aesthetics cannot be ignored. Your website should have enough navigational and social features. Once a learner purchases your course, he/she should be directed to a Thank You page. Your website should have multiple growth hacking features to let you upsell multiple courses.
#4: Integration of Notifications
It’s a good business practice to send notifications to your audience. Your audience always shows interest in learning more about your upcoming courses, discounts and subscription offers, scheduled contests, etc.
Instructors are interested in communicating informative and interesting content as a research paper or an opinionated article. Email notifications come in handy in such a scenario.
Notifications are of several types:
- Registration emails: When a learner register for the first time in your website/learning portal, send registration emails. Password reset emails also fall in this category
- Enrolment emails: When a leaner enrolls in a course or a bundle of courses, send the enrolment emails.
- Subscription emails: Send subscription emails to keep your audience abreast of new subscription trials, features, benefits and offers, subscription renewal, cancellation and failure
- Learners’ notifications: These are required to notify your audience about their course assignments, tests, badges, grades, etc.
- Support emails: If learners have any doubts or concerns related to course content, they are at liberty to shoot emails to the support desk. If they face any technical issues, they can appraise the technical support team of technical issues.
It’s not feasible to send notifications manually. It’s recommended to automate email notifications. Often, learning management systems come with inbuilt email marketing and automation software. Leverage the power of automation.
#5: Plan and Prepare the course structure
Are you planning on starting a professional development course?
Do you intend to teach personal development skills? The choice is yours. It’s all about creating the right educational path for your learners.
Regardless of the type, of course, you should have expertise, experience & passion.
Define educational goals. For all intents and purposes, educational goals should be SMART – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-bound.
Your courses should aim at solving a problem. Your courses should bridge the intellectual gaps of learners. Let your creative juices flow. Draft a vision. Articulate your mission.
The next step is to have a course outline. Based on subject categories, devise a logical order. There are several pedagogical approaches:
- Integrated learning
- Inquiry learning
- Case studies
- Open-ended instructions
- Differentiated instructions
- Cooperative learning
- Peer teaching
- Experiential learning
- Assessment and evaluation of student learning
You can follow any one of the aforementioned pedagogical approaches. As an alternative, you can come up with your blended technique.
Entrepreneurs often ask me –How to create an online school without following a pedagogical approach?
Well, it’s not recommended to start online schools and academies without incorporating pedagogical techniques. An absence of pedagogical techniques defeats the very purpose of learning.
Apart from e-books, PDFs, documents, presentations, animations, videos & audio tutorials, your courses should have enough gamification techniques such as tests, quizzes, badges, certifications, etc.
Your course content engine should support question banks, discussion forums, blogs, podcasts, live quizzes, mobile access, infographic content and a lot more.
#6: Track Analytics and Grow
Before launching your first course, make sure your website has a couple of payment gateways to accept payments.
No doubt, the first sale is the most special sale.
Keep tracking your progress. Identify new trends and e-learning business opportunities. Address the concerns of your instructors, learners & other stakeholders. Innovate. Focus on building a loyal audience. Be active on social networking platforms. Place advertisements on Facebook and Google. Run campaigns on Twitter.
Expand your portfolio of courses. Forge relationships. Be the custodian of your learners.
Now you know how to start an online academy, now’s the most propitious time to start one. Follow the afore-stated steps to starting an online school and walk your way to success. Do let us know if you have any doubts.