If you are interested in how to create an e-learning platform like Udemy, or a platform similar to Coursera, now is the time to do so while the e-learning market size is in a booming phase and demand is not saturated.
The e-learning industry is booming, especially in after-covid-19 society. According to Orbis Research, this market will reach $ 275 billion by 2022 ($ 165 billion in 2015). Forbes predicts growth to $ 325 billion in 2025 ($ 107 billion in 2015). This impressive progress is driven by several key advantages of e-learning over traditional learning:
1. Availability. The Internet gives access to online courses from any device (computer, laptop, tablet, phone), so the educational process becomes easier and more accessible.
2. Profitability. Online learning websites are more cost-effective as there is no need for buildings, large bureaucratic and teaching staff, or other typical overheads; everything happens on the Internet.
3. Flexibility. E-learning allows you to create personalized courses of any complexity, specialization, and for any audience. You no longer need a ''one-size-fits-all'' approach. Moreover, unlike teaching in schools and universities, online courses are not tied to a specific time or schedule so that people can learn at their own pace.
4. Reaching the audience. Online training material is available to anyone with an internet connection. This is 50% of the total population of the Earth.
In addition, anyone can enter this market. The main thing is to offer people high-quality educational content and get users interested. It can be done even with small start-up capital. So if you are interested in how to create an educational website like Udemy or Coursera, now is the time to do so while the market is in a booming phase and demand is not saturated. In this article, we will answer the question — how to build an online learning platform?
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E-Learning Platforms Types
Before we start to share how to develop your own e-learning website from scratch, you need to decide on its type. Depending on the services offered, such sites are conventionally divided into six different types:
1. MOOC (MASSIVE OPEN ONLINE COURSES)
They offer a variety of courses from various providers: teachers, professors, universities, governments, community organizations, etc. This model is most reminiscent of marketplaces like Amazon or eBay, where anyone can sell their product (training course) to anyone who is willing to buy it. Examples of MOOCs include Coursera, Udacity, edX, and Udemy. Many industries also have their own niche sites.
2.LMS (LEARNING MANAGEMENT SYSTEM)
They offer basic functionality for creating courses, storing them, managing learning profiles, and reporting on progress and achievements. At last count, there are now over 700 LMS platforms on the market, most of which specialize in corporate training. Some of them have advanced features that make repurposing content for an external audience easier.
3.OPEN-SOURCE LMS PLATFORMS
They are the same as regular LMS, and only such sites are developed on the basis of open-source software. That is, anyone can create their platform on their basis or adapt one of its courses to suit their content and needs. Examples: Moodle, Sakai, Litmos, Claroline, DotLRN, BrainCert, and Open edX.
4. MLMS (MODERN LEARNING MANAGEMENT SOLUTIONS)
They focus on the learner experience, using online course platform creation algorithms and learning management tools that maximize the effectiveness of the process (in theory). Some modern LMS sites rely on specific pedagogies. Examples: Motivis, Docebo, NovoEd, and Totara.
5. LMS ECOSYSTEM OR LEARNING MANAGEMENT ECOSYSTEMS
Such projects strive to use the best "point" solutions in distance learning, uniting them into a single ecosystem. Example: Notre Dame's NeXus platform is built on Open edX.
6. CUSTOM-BUILT LEARNING PLATFORM
Learning platforms are fully adapted for specific solutions (courses, training programs). A good example is Harvard Business School Online (HBX), a dedicated platform built for Harvard Business School to deliver very high-end business certifications.
Best E-Learning Platforms
According to research from Finances Online, which prepares reviews of business programs, the number of learning platform providers (LMS) for 2019 exceeded 1000. Before deciding whether your business model should invest in acquiring or developing its own LMS or choosing the right software solution for training, you need to study the ready-made solutions on the market.
The platform was founded by Stanford University computer science professors Andrew Ng and Daphne Koller in 2012. Today Coursera partners are more than 108 universities and organizations in 24 countries of the world, including Canada, Japan, China, France, Great Britain, Denmark, and others. The platform offers 815 courses in 25 knowledge categories in 22 languages, including Ukrainian. It is one of the best online learning solutions for anyone looking to learn about things like STEM and data science. Initially, the service was designed to focus on science, engineering, technology, and mathematics. Now, of course, there are hundreds of courses available in a wide variety of fields.
A distinctive feature of Coursera is the ability to evaluate other students' work, so there is no problem with the objectivity of the academic performance assessment. Communication between students and teachers is established through online forums and within working groups. As of October 2014, the number of Coursera users was over 9.9 million.
Udacity is an excellent example of a specialized platform offering courses from related fields of expertise, united by the general subject of "computer science." The platform was founded in 2012 by Sebastian Thrun, Michael Sokolski, and David Stavens with the support of Stanford University. Today Udacity offers users more than 40 courses covering various aspects of software development, website building, technology start-up development, and more.
A special feature of Udacity is that the courses are divided into four levels of difficulty: "New To Tech," "Beginner," "Intermediate," and "Advanced." The training programs for the platform were developed in collaboration with more than 13 companies, including such giants as Google, Facebook, Nvidia, Salesforce, etc. The course page consists of several video content, each containing a practical task to consolidate the acquired skills.
Upon completion of the courses, students receive free certificates signed by the teachers. The education platform claims that the level and quality of the courses are sufficient to master a new profession and get a job. The only major drawback to Udacity courses is that they are available exclusively in English.
Udemy is an international online platform for educational institutions. On the basis of the service, more than 15 million students from all over the world study 65 thousand various courses annually. Udemy organizes courses in web technology, internet marketing, science, foreign languages, as well as design, cosmetology, psychology, etc. The advantage of the online project is the opportunity to study absolutely free of charge (in each area, there are several dozen free courses), however, paid classes cover more opportunities for obtaining a truly worthwhile profession. You can learn both on the Udemy website and in specially designed mobile applications for iOS and Android.
Courses can be short-term or long-term, high-priced or low-cost, homework-checked, or stand-alone. There are a lot of parameters. To choose the most suitable course, you need to enter the profession, hobby, program, or skill in the search on the Udemy website and go to the page with recommended courses. After that, the choice is based on the feedback from students who have already completed training.
The platform was founded in 2012 at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University initiative. Unlike Udacity, edX is a free platform that offers courses in various subjects, from computer technology to music. EdX partners with over 60 universities and organizations around the world, mainly in the United States and Asia. Today the platform offers over 320 courses in 28 categories of knowledge.
The system of control over the implementation of tasks depends on the course. Typically, each course has a start and end date for registration. Students will lose points for not meeting the homework and test deadlines. EdX courses typically feature a balanced mix of theoretical (lectures) and practical (essays, labs, etc.) assignments. A student who successfully completes the training program receives a certificate confirming the knowledge gained. As of July 2014, the number of platform users approached the 2.5 million mark.
SkillShare is an online learning platform for creative people. The main categories of courses it offers are Arts, Design, Entrepreneurship, Lifestyle, Technology, and others. For those who are about to start or are already working with stock material, the most interesting subsections will be photography, graphic design, illustration, animation, audio, and film production.
It has everything from small tutorials on creating fonts and brushes to developing entire projects. Most of the online courses offered by Skillshare focus not on lecturing but the interaction between the teacher and the students.
Skillshare will be interesting not only for beginners but also for professionals, and this community offers the opportunity for anyone to share their experience with others and become a teacher. Create your e-learning platform and earn money from training. If you believe the tempting advertisements on the site, top teachers can earn up to $40,000 per year!
E-Learning Platform Essential Features
Before answering how to build an e-learning platform like Coursera, you should know the basic features that must be present in your platform. Creating an e-learning platform should include three user roles:
1) an administrator who manages the site and solves problems;
2) an instructor (teacher, tutor) who creates courses and manages training;
3) and a student who learns, receives grades, and a certificate confirming the course.
For this to be possible when creating the platform, you should implement the following features:
App For Administrator
The mobile version of the site allows users to work with several versions of the site — for desktop and mobile devices. In online learning platform development, our team often uses an adaptive approach — with flexible front-end settings for convenient display on different screens.
The admin panel for the site allows you to manage project settings, add new pages and delete old ones, change the external design of the resource, and edit content.
Set Up of Payment Gateways
A payment gateway is a service that authorizes and processes debit/credit card payments for users of your platform. The payment gateway facilitates the smooth flow of such transactions by encrypting sensitive data and transferring it between the payment options (website or mobile device) and the bank/payment processor.
PCI-DSS Compatible Gateways
In order to guarantee the safety of keeping their customers' money, international payment systems, such as VISA and MasterCard, require merchants and various service providers that accept payments through these payment systems to comply with the PCI DSS standard. Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard is a set of requirements for ensuring the security of data about payment card holders that are stored, transmitted, and processed in the organizations' information systems.
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Course Categories / Course Category Management
The correct structure of the course catalog is important for both the user and the search engines. Simple and convenient navigation allows the user to quickly find the information he needs. The correct structure of the course catalog will avoid a large number of duplicate pages, which will save time and money for promotion.
A good search on the site is especially important for large online training portals with a huge amount of content: without a search, it is much more difficult for a user to get to the information of interest. A visitor who visits the site for the first time does not have the desire and time to delve into the structure of menus and submenus, navigation bars, and other similar elements — they will immediately go to look for a familiar search line. If there is no search or it does not return pages upon request, the user will most likely leave the resource.
Multilingual Content & Support
Multilingual content and support is a website that is tailored for users from different countries. The presence of high-quality translated versions of the site speaks of the high level and purposefulness of the company and its concern for users and also allows you to tell a wide audience about its advantages, technologies, courses, and services.
Commission management helps you shape the behaviors you need and increase your bottom line while ensuring transparency, accuracy, and maximum return on commission payments.
User account management and administration systems are a combination of administration and analytics technologies that provide an effective framework for authentication and authorization in your online learning platform. Thus, user management is a fundamental part of the overall IAM (Identity and Access Management) strategy and solutions.
Instructor Management is a software application for administering distance learning courses. Course leaders are free to determine how content is delivered, what the materials look like, and how they are evaluated.
Complaint Management System
Competent reception of complaints and their technical processing is now even rarer. Although complaint management starts not in computers but in the minds of people, the most important prerequisite for well-structured complaint management is the integration of modern technology into all production processes.
To manage returns effectively, businesses should view this activity as an integral part of overall management rather than a last resort in an isolated business process.
App For Student
Smart Search System
In most cases, when a user visits your e-learning site for the first time in search of something important, he will not understand navigation bars, drop-down menus, and other navigation elements, but in a hurry, will try to find something similar to a search bar. And if this luxury is not on the site or does not cope with the search query, then the visitor will simply close the tab.
Listing of Courses by Category
Both categories and sections in the structure of an online education site are simply necessary because they will do important work: they group your materials and courses according to different criteria. You can sort the categories of ads as you like — by creation time or by name, update time, by ratings of impressions on the site, or in any order.
Course Summary is a section of the platform that contains a brief description of the future course: which sections it consists of, what will be taught after the end of the course, how long the course takes, briefly about the course author, etc.
Ability to Leave Feedback About the Course
More than 70% of users read reviews of other people before making a purchase of a course. User reviews positively effect conversion rates and are simply a must for any modern online learning platform. If you want to take a leading position in the market and build a good reputation for yourself, you should invite your customers to leave reviews on your online learning site.
Communication With the Administrator and Instructor
For a successful business on the Internet, creating a website and promoting it is not enough. In a highly competitive environment, potential buyers prefer online training platforms, which have the ability to communicate with the administrator and the instructor; they can ask any question of interest. That is why the resource needs a feature that will allow you to contact the administrator and instructions (for example, the video calls feature), guaranteeing the site's operability and availability.
Asynchronous Learning: Full Course or Module Only
Asynchronous distance learning is a format in which contact between a student and a teacher is carried out with a time delay. Usually, the teacher prepares and structures the materials for study in advance, and the students access and study them, as a rule, on a free schedule.
Student Dashboard and Analytics
Student dashboards and analytics are needed to make it easier for students to track their progress. In this section, the user sees the purchased courses, the level of progress of the course, the time spent on the course, statistics on the learning rate, etc.
Purchase History is a list of all courses that the user has ordered in the past. It includes the specific courses that were purchased, their cost, and information about when the purchase was made. Order history allows you to find trends and maximally personalize marketing activities aimed at a particular customer.
Ability to Apply for a Refund
There are situations when a user first buys a course, then decides that they do not need it or that the course does not correspond to their idea, and then contacts you with the aim of refunding. According to the legislation of different countries, a consumer can make a return of his purchase within 7-14 days. You must consider this fact.
App For Instructor
In the teacher dashboard, you can customize the metrics you want to track. Standard metrics are users and new users, income, income per user, number of purchases, average bill, number of courses taken, best-selling courses, etc.
In this section, instructors have the opportunity to create their courses. The software allows you to collect a certain knowledge base in the system, structure it and conduct full-fledged distance learning online. Lesson topics can be very diverse, including theoretical and practical parts, texts and videos, testing and certification, game elements and homework, progress control, and statistics.
Price Management: Retail Price and Discounts
In this section, you can change prices at any time and create promotional offers or discounts.
Communication With Students and the Administrator
As we mentioned above, the teacher should also be able to contact the students and the admin to be able to ask the necessary questions and solve any arising problems.
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Seeing Course Reviews and Ratings
In this section, instructors have the opportunity to create their own course. The software allows you to collect a certain knowledge base in the system, structure it and conduct full-fledged distance learning online. Lesson topics can be very diverse, including theoretical and practical parts, texts and videos, testing and certification, game elements and homework, progress control and statistics.
This section is important so that every instructor can read and analyze feedback on the course and improve it.
The listed functions are enough for your site to fulfill its main tasks. But if you want to stand out from the competition and get closer to the market leaders, you will also need a unique user experience that can be implemented with the following features:
Gamification. It's about creating websites like Udemy that stimulate the dopamine reward systems in the student's brain. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter responsible for feelings of pleasure and anticipation of pleasure in learning, gaining new knowledge, achieving goals, and many other activities. To maximize the effectiveness of learning (dopamine response), you need to build an e-learning website in the form of a game. How dopamine reward systems work can be found in the Kelly McGonigal book "Willpower. How to develop and strengthen.''
Artificial Intelligence. In addition to gamification features, we also use deep neural networks to optimize learning. And they are not the only ones. For example, the other day in China, a large experiment that will help understand how AI can improve teaching and learning was launched. Initially, Chinese AI will test students and suggest learning models according to their current knowledge. Next, scientists want to tune AI to develop personalized courses.
Virtual reality and AR technologies. Virtual and/or additional reality is the best way to show how mechanisms work, buildings are built, what is inside the human body, etc. In addition, these technologies allow the creation of muscle memory, which is very important for many professions — from the military to medical professionals.
How To Build An E-Learning Website?
Building an e-learning platform should be started by defining your target audience and analyzing your competitors. A website owner needs to understand their target audience, their needs, and their pains. Then he will be able to adapt his site to their interests and get his benefit from this. It is worth finding answers to the questions:
Who is the e-learning platform for?
What are the preferences of your potential customers?
What information will be useful and interesting for them?
What communication channels do they use?
Review your direct competitors, study their solutions, and find advantages and disadvantages. And then use it for your purposes. Define your advantages and zest, which will distinguish you and show you in a favorable light.
CREATION OF TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS
An extremely important step. Errors are unacceptable here since they can appear at any stage and, as a result, throw the project far back. The TK prescribes the main requirements of the project, its capabilities, and its way of working, taking into account the analysis of the target audience and competitors, goals, and strategy. In fact, the previous stage is carried out in order to draw up a high-quality technical specification and transfer it to specialists.
Basic requirements for the terms of reference:
Detail. Everything that a specialist must do must be indicated in the TOR. Even if it's a required part of the job, even if the developer has done it hundreds of times and doesn't need a reminder, every requirement, every aspect of the work should be prescribed.
No inaccuracies. Any ambiguous wording or subjectivity has no place in the terms of reference. This is an instruction that says what and how to do, but the concepts: of ''good,'' ''beautiful,'' and ''catchy'' are different for everyone.
Understandable language. Correction: understandable for a specialist. This means a specialist does not have to decipher and ask again what exactly they want from them.
For clarity, a prototype is created with a detailed layout and navigation. The latter requires special attention. Too many sites are built without regard to ease of navigation. The user, at the first contact with the product, must understand how to use it.
The designer primarily provides the usability of the interface. All elements on the page should be positioned in such a way that the user can easily find and use them. With the help of the arrangement of information blocks, the designer controls the visitor's attention, demonstrating to him what he should or wants to see at the moment.
EFFECTIVE User Experience / User Interface DESIGN
The UI/UX design of the eLearning website should be simple and contain colors that motivate learners to learn, keep them focused, and not distract them from anything (ads, other courses, pop-ups, etc.). For design development, it is best to hire a specialized agency, but if you want to do everything yourself, then remember the following things:
Hick's Law: The more options there are, the more time it takes to make a decision. Good designers keep this in mind and therefore don't give the user a lot of options to choose from. When you can't do without it, the choice comes down to several stages with 5-7 options.
Miller's Law: a person can store up to 7 information entities in memory. Following this law, designers began to group lists into groups of 5-7 units.
Gestalt theory: The human brain tends to recognize structure, logic, and patterns in what it sees and tends to combine many small objects into a large group. It helps process information, build a visual hierarchy, and enhances the crawlability of content. The main features by which the brain groups objects are as follows:
Von Restorff Effect / Isolation Effect: When there are several similar objects, the one that is different from the others is more likely to be remembered. In UX design, this effect is useful for highlighting important information, as well as for enticing users to take a specific action.
Psychology of Colors: People tend to associate colors with certain emotions and actions. So, blue is associated with trust, red — aggression and importance, green — harmony and nature, orange — friendliness and kindness, pink — sensitivity and hope, and purple — power and superiority. White and black have many meanings depending on the context.
After completing the work, the designer sends the layout for approval to the customer and only then sends it to the adaptive layout. It involves translating sketches into HTML, that is, adapting the site image for any browser and device (PC, tablet, smartphone, and other gadgets).
This is exactly the case when "measure seven times, cut one." It is better to draw the design of the site seven times and once — to make it up in HTML than to send the first version for the layout and then endlessly make edits and retype. And here, the customer must be attentive first of all. It is he who approves the concept of the site. The more actively the customer participates in the design discussion, the more likely they will receive a platform like Khan Academy that meets his expectations.
Why Programming? It seems that the designers have already drawn everything; the layout designers have translated the sketches into HTML — they have adapted the site layout for the World Wide Web. What's next? And then, a programmer enters the scene and brings the pictures to life. It is better to explain here using the example of the call button. The designer made it rectangular and green and placed an inviting slogan on it. All this is good. But you need to make the button active! So that the visitor immediately gets to the cherished ticket booking page and does not fight in hysterics, seeing that a miracle does not happen from a mouse click.
Sometimes the stage of layout and programming is performed simultaneously. If, of course, the scale of the project allows it.
Although after each stage of development, the resource is checked for "works — does not work," you cannot do it without final testing. What if a broken link is lost somewhere, information is displayed incorrectly, or a pop-up window does not pop up on the screen? Various flaws are revealed during testing, and the team immediately eliminates them. As a rule, for testing and demonstration, the site is placed on a special site. Later, when all the errors have been eliminated, the project with all the files is transferred to its permanent place of registration on the Internet - hosting. But that's not all. After migration, the resource is tested again.
While transferring finished platforms similar to Udemy, specialists teach how to work with the administration panel, as well as with statistics collection services. After that, the owner can completely independently publish new content, create pages, post products, collect data for analytics of behavioral indicators and use the rest of the resource's functionality. If you have any questions, the development team is always ready to help you figure them out. The same applies to bugs; if they suddenly appear after the release of the site — the technical support team will immediately fix them.
E-Learning Platform Development Costs
It's one of the most frequently asked questions — how much does it cost? In 2022, given the high competition in elearning apps, it will take a lot of time and money to develop a high-quality e-learning website like edX. Usually, not everyone needs e-learning website development for all the world with different learning streams. Often you just need platforms for training your own employees or a group of people in one or another narrow direction. How you plan to use the online platform will show you the cost ofdeveloping an application.
E-learning web development costs such as Udemy or Coursera depend on many factors, including tech stack. You can calculate the approximate cost and time you need for development in an Online Calculator by selecting all the features you need.
Geniusee education software development services allow you to achieve the maximum learning outcomes from your EdTech products. Form your digital educative environment with the help of a personalized approach, big data and effective analytical tools, new models of collaboration, and an excessive range of strategies for learning and engagement.
We have some successful educational projects that we want to share with you.
Pause – Mobile App For Meditation
Our challenge was to develop an App that will allow users to reduce stress, establish more focus and calm in their lives, find resources to help manage stress and improve mental outlook.Meet our project
Our challenge was to develop an App that will allow users to reduce stress, establish more focus and calm in their lives, find resources to help manage stress and improve mental outlook, and add more healthy habits to daily life. What's more, the tool was aimed at helping to keep tracking users' healthy habits and serve as a reminder to practice them to incorporate them into the daily routine.
The client wanted to communicate with the audience, manage and conduct online events for users, share some feed and handy information and build a strong community of Breathwork practitioners.
Key challenges in the Pause project included:
Popularizing Breathwork and creating a tool to communicate with the audience.
Developing an app that will allow the client to monetize Breathwork.
Creating the ability to conduct live online sessions and to notify the audience about various sessions and news.
Our main goal was to develop a digital platform for healthy habits called EinkaufsCHECK. We aimed to create a hybrid app for iOS and Android for the easiest and most accurate diet tracking and food selection.Look what we created!
Our main goal was to develop a digital platform for healthy habits called EinkaufsCHECK. We aimed to create a hybrid app for iOS and Android for the easiest and most accurate diet tracking and food selection. Based on personal nutrition recommendations, users can maintain, gain or lose weight. Based on users' body measurements and the results of comprehensive scientific studies(e.g., of the World Health Organization / WHO), the app EinkaufsCHECK acts as customers' everyday personal nutritionist and calculates personal nutrition recommendations. The app we are building is intuitive and personalized. Users can choose specific diets, track food and calorie intake, order the set of recommended products, personalize suitable food recipes, and filter and sort their lists.
Key challenges in this project included:
Rethink and update an application design, make it more intuitive and functional
Create a complex hybrid app for iOS and Android for the most accurate diet tracking and food selection
Develop a fast and well-performing web application capable of working with a large amount of data
E-learning becomes more and more popular every year, so your site will grow and acquire a new audience. Don't waste your time. If you have something to tell people, look for a domain, create an e-learning website and share your knowledge with the whole world.
And Geniusee eastern europe software development partner, which already has experience in developing such platforms, will help you with this. Fill out the form, and let's develop an e-learning platform together :)