The pandemic has impacted education, and many projects have had to go online to stay afloat. Therefore, every online school owner tries to get the most out of the distance format.
To launch an e-course, you must select a learning management system (LMS). It allows students to acquire new knowledge from any computer, smartphone, or tablet PC. At the same time, the creators of educational content themselves can track students' progress and improve the course.
However, choosing an online learning management system is quite tricky as dozens of all-in-one platforms on the market have similar characteristics. At the same time, choosing the wrong solution can cost time and money.
Let's review common mistakes beginners make when choosing an educational platform and ways to avoid them.
Unrealistic Budget for a Learning Management System
Many online course creators assume that connecting an LMS is the only cost associated with launching an online course. However, there are many more fees. For example, you may be charged for system setup, ongoing maintenance, and timely updates. And these costs add up as your online school grows. Therefore, you need to clearly understand how much you are willing to spend on an educational platform now and in the future.
In addition, you should set a realistic budget for the monthly or yearly maintenance of the learning management system. If this fails, contact the eLearning system provider for pricing information. It is crucial to ensure that the provider distinguishes between mandatory fees and additional costs. For example, LMS creators may offer advanced reporting or service packages. Read the offer and decide what you need and what things you should refuse.
How To Plan a Budget for an Educational Platform
During cost planning, it is worth determining the total cost of your project. It depends on such factors:
- Buying or renting an online learning management system.
- LMS integration with other solutions for your school.
- Refinement of the learning management system (for example, a unique design, custom architecture, and a mobile application).
- Server installation and maintenance fee (if you wish to store student and course data internally).
- Creation of dashboards through third-party solutions (for example, Power BI).
- Course builder (if the platform itself does not provide it).
- Tools for learning design (if not provided in the LMS).
- Equipment for shooting training videos (you need a camera, a microphone, and studio lighting).
- Salary costs for employees (project manager, distance learning system administrator, and content manager).
- Payment for technical support.
If your employees work remotely, they must have enough powerful computers to work on online courses.
It is also essential how quickly you need to complete work on the educational platform and launch an online course. If you're chasing deadlines, the total cost can be simply multiplied by 2.
Underestimating the Importance of an Integrated API
Of course, you have other data processing systems besides the learning management system. You exploit them to upload and store data about employees and students and distribute access to this information.
However, is it convenient for you to bulk transfer data from external systems to LMS? What if the existing format is unsuitable for the standard transfer of information between tables?
It results in additional effort and time spent providing access to data on all e-platforms. Agree, this is a problem. And the huge one.
So make sure your educational platform has an integrated and fully documented API. Creating a fully functional solution may be missing something, but an LMS with a built-in API guarantees flawless operation and fast access to data. Moreover, you will save a lot of time, effort, and money.
Choice of Platform with Limited Functions
Most LMS developers offer a license or subscription on an annual basis. Often, a contract is signed between an online school and LMS developers for at least 2 years.
This approach has significant advantages. Thus, a long-term contract provides a more incredible payback for the project, and you will take this into account when analyzing business processes. First, however, you must be sure that the eLearning solution provider will provide quality support in the future.
The number of students in your courses changes constantly. But it doesn't have to make your education business harder or break your bank because you're outperforming or underperforming vital metrics.
In addition, you need an educational platform that will evolve with you. Yes, it may meet your needs now, but what about next year or 5 years?
Students and businesses are constantly evolving. Therefore, it is imperative to find a solution that will adapt to your needs and develop independently.
We recommend paying attention to all-in-one platforms. They have everything you need to create and manage online courses:
- course builder;
- tools for recording webinars / automatic webinars;
- functionality for creating tests, tasks, polls;
- tools for launching a chain of letters with a built-in constructor;
- a fully functional CRM system designed to connect the sales department;
- simplified landing page builder to quickly build a site dedicated to your course;
- the ability to connect a chatbot.
These advantages allow you to create and launch the first online course in just 30 minutes.
Choosing a System for Teachers, Not Students
Another common mistake is choosing a learning management system for teachers to control the learning process (add users, create and add modules, work with reports, etc.). The logic of such reflections is elementary: if the teacher is comfortable, the platform is suitable. At this moment, no one thinks about the students, but they shouldn't be.
Five seconds is precisely how long a person needs to consider the convenience and usefulness of the website. If they find the page too difficult, they leave it. Already on the main page of the online school, students should see how much they benefit from learning.
In addition, students must quickly understand the LMS. For example, where to enter the username and password, watch educational videos, find out the grade for homework, and the place in the overall rating. If users do not find all this, they will stop learning.
Here is a basic example: Sergei opened an email with an invitation to an introductory web design course. He followed the link and landed on a page with dozens of folders. He will understand where to click to get to the desired course. There are two possible scenarios:
- Sergei will write to support and ask for help.
- Sergei will close the tab and will never revisit this page.
Remember: if the user cannot open the video tutorial in a few clicks, you will lose it. And a project that you have spent a lot of time, effort, and money on will never pay off. Therefore, do your best to ensure that students spend a minimum of time accessing educational materials.
Neglect of Analytics Tools
And now, let's move on to the fifth and final mistake. Many e-course founders underestimate the importance of analytics tools. Most educational platforms offer a built-in analysis panel, and here you can track student progress and identify course problems in a matter of moments.
However, different learning management systems offer different types of reports. Some provide convenient data visualization in graphs and charts, while others are much more limited. It can be a problem for online schools that set high goals and constantly monitor all indicators.
Ideally, analytics tools should be fully aligned with your business goals and tasks. So, they should measure critical indicators related to the productivity and profitability of the eLearning course. Therefore, decide what data you need and how the educational platform should display it - visually or using standard tables. If the LMS developers do not provide clear information about the analytics features, request a detailed report. It will help test all the options and choose the best one qualitatively.
Aspects To Look For When Choosing a Learning Management System
But how to choose the right educational platform so as not to fail? Here are our tips!
- Determine the requirements of your target audience. A detailed analysis of students' needs will help understand their goals. Based on the data obtained, you can create a course structure, develop a mission, and create learning content that will resonate with students. It's also worth analyzing how an LMS will help you achieve your goals as an online learning creator.
- Look for an open and flexible learning management system. Ideally, it should have as many useful features as possible. You can then add other features, depending on your needs. Forget about complex LMS; it won't do you any good. But if you have already spent money on such a system, ask the system developer for help. It will tailor the educational platform to your needs.
- Check out opportunities to test run and collect feedback from the first edition of an online course. These reviews are precious for further development. With their help, you will find weaknesses in marketing, content, and the LMS itself. Therefore, pay due attention to this, as well as to analytics tools.
- Check if connecting additional technical support employees to the CRM is possible. We recommend hiring one or two well-versed employees in the educational platform who can provide frontline assistance (solving technical issues, registering new students, uploading progress reports, etc.). Yes, this will require additional costs. However, these employees will help have steady nerves for the students and keep their desire to pass e-courses.
You will choose the perfect platform to launch an online learning course if you follow these guidelines.
Let's sum it up. You can not choose an educational platform at random. Before choosing an LMS, decide on your needs and skills. You should also carefully consider your current eLearning strategy and goals. All this allows you to significantly limit the list of required functions to reduce the cost of creating courses and not be distracted by excessive functionality. In addition, there is no point in evaluating an online learning management system until you understand its primary value and ways to use it.
We hope you found our article helpful. If you have any questions about working with educational platforms, leave them in the comments below. We will answer your questions and analyze the top ones in the following articles.