In Start Your Own eLearning or Training Business, the Staff of Entrepreneur Media, Inc. explain how to create a successful distance learning business from the ground up. In this book, you'll find information on all the steps you need to start and run a distance learning business. In this edited excerpt, the authors offer a quick, four-step guide to developing courses your audience will be interested in.
The first step in developing the courses for your eLearning business is to create stimulating lessons for memory retention. These quick tips can help:
When analyzing your audience, find out what they already know and set your stage for that. There’s no reason to teach under their level, and doing so can make attention stray or create irritation.
Make material relevant to the students by working in a context that's specific to their lives and goals. For example, if you're teaching teens, make sure you're up on the latest tech gadgets, movies, and pop-culture icons, and work those in.
Use humor as an equalizer and de-stressor. Use it too much, and you’ll detract from the material, but use it just enough and with great timing and it will help learners associate and retain key learning principles.
Stories or unusual analogies help illustrate points, engage the learner, and plant roots in stages (or chapters of the story) that can help memory retention. Keeping things fun is always a good thing.
Try to inject a human element to the most digital or virtual parts of your classes by using photographs, illustrations, or recorded human voices.
Use multimedia sources selectively to texture your message and breathe freshness into your delivery. Some students resonate more with reading text, others by viewing a video, and some are most stimulated by group discussion. Use all these elements appropriately, and you'll increase your chances of a strong connection.
Research college texts and send away for a few that support your material, then read them yourself. It’s time consuming but necessary. You can request copies for review from publishing companies. They're usually happy to oblige after confirming that you are indeed a teacher.
Use short burst of learning and give learners a chance to test their knowledge, which then reinforces it each time they realize they can use it in context, or answer questions correctly. This is called “chunking.”
Next, you’ll need to get started building a showcase of your own work: your portfolio. You can use work you’ve built on a team with others or create some samples with online tools. Think of your goal as creating a few very strong pieces that show the world what you can do without giving away all your knowledge. The work should represent your potential and the unique ideas you bring to the table.
Building sample work in the beginning to show potential clients is a little simpler than later on when you’ll need a lot of technical assistance. Several of the trainers we interviewed suggested doing projects with non-profits to build your portfolio. This way your work is almost always shared and it is sometimes easier to get these jobs (for a lower hire rate) because nonprofit budgets aren’t usually big and after all, you’re new, so your rates are probably well matched.
Your third step is to choose a learning management system (LMS) that can keep up with the way learners want to learn and your continual product development. The best ideas in the world can seem invisible if their presentation isn’t understood or is wrought with glitches.
The LMS is a software platform that delivers, manages and tracks results and generates reports for online courses and training programs that can be hosted in the cloud, remotely, or on local servers. There are many LMSs to choose from as online learning explodes, but here are some popular ones:
Try using one of the free LMSs that will allow you to build courses, utilize mobile interface design techniques, create games and quizzes, design and control your own private LMS, and allow for usability with popular course management systems such as Blackboard Eliademy andCourse Sites by Blackboard are just two of many.
Finally, it helps to choose one course to develop completely and sell in order to help fund parts of your business growth. In a recent Forbesarticle, instructors that were surveyed on Udemy, a popular teaching platform, made an average of $7,000 annually with their courses, which often only run 30 minutes. A recent sampling of courses showed a cost range from $47 to $197. Udemy also offers free courses and has a lot of traffic.
You can sell your courses through third-party platforms, sell eLearning materials to teachers, or sell them from your own site. Here are some examples of places to sell your work.