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How to build an e-Learning Platform

#Custom Software Development

e-Learning industry has expanded greatly in the past couple of years. According to Forbes, in four years’ time the e-learning market will hit USD 325 billion mark. People adjust to the current circumstances and look to invest into start-ups that deliver excellent quality learning. What they should remember though is that building an e-learning platform is not just about the great idea; behind that great idea is a combination of features on a stable platform that can really stand out among competitors.

Creating unique idea is important for your e-learning platform. However, bear in mind that an e-learning platform needs to provide certain functionality to its users, namely: 

– Provide large volumes of educational materials and be user friendly;

– Operate seamlessly and have no bugs;

– Offer real-time progress status for the students.

In this respect, Udemy, Coursera and Udacity earned their reputation as top e-education providers for the convenience and flexibility of taking learning courses based on students’ preferences.

E-learning marketplaces like Udemy, Coursera and Udacity offer a variety of learning formats from textbooks to podcasts and video materials. This is an excellent market response to what young people find interesting and easy in order to digest new information. The materials become available to students gradually, giving them a chance to process the new information and do practical exercises without being daunted by the tonnes of new materials.

Once you have defined your idea, you need to focus on the type of business model that you will use for you e-learning platform.

Coursera, for instance, uses a business model that provides access to online lections coming from the leading world universities. These videos are recorded by university professors and are more or less equally priced as they have the same quality. The students pay a monthly fee that ranges from $39 to $79. Coursera offers over 1150 courses that are free of charge and 2700 paid courses to choose from. The major difference is the certificate. If a student wishes to receive a certificate at the end of the studies, he would need to take a paid course. Coursera cooperates with 148 educational institutions from 28 countries and at the core focuses on quality. 

Udemy, compared to Coursera, focuses on both quality and quantity. They offer an astonishing variety of 130 000 different educational courses, but most of them are short-term and come from individual instructors, rather than university professors. The quality of studies gets reviewed by the platform and each instructor needs to be validated by providing personal details. The price range for Udemy courses varies from $20 to $200 per course.

So if you want to work with well-established educational institutions, consider Coursera’s model. If you want to create your own educational courses, Udemy’s model may be the right choice for you.

Now every e-learning platform, whatever the type of model goes behind it, needs to have the following features.

1. Registration and profile.

While registration and authentication process are similar in terms of providing personal details for both students and tutors, the profile management varies in the number of features depending on whether you are a student or a tutor. 

2. Search option

Considering the large volume of materials, an e-learning platform should have a search tool that will enable users to find information that is relevant to them, be it category, language, price, course duration or similar.

3. Dashboard

This is a sort of summary page where students can see an overall number of courses they take, their progress, completion status and tutors can see a list of courses they offer, number of students on their course and their location, earned fees, ratings etc.

4. Courses page

This page allows students to get detailed information about the course they may want to take. A full description of the course, its structure, available materials, chat option – all these are important elements of the courses page.

5. Payment options

The beauty of e-learning platforms is giving the opportunity to study to as many users from as many locations as possible. Therefore, providing several payment options and possibly accepting payment in instalments may earn you points on your e-learning platform.

6. Courses editing feature

This tool should enable tutors to easily navigate, update and change the courses materials. Now and then, the course structure may alter, and tutors should be able to amend, upload and edit information using different file formats.

7. Notifications

Think about notification frequency for your students, for instance weekly or monthly messages informing them about the new courses, approaching deadlines etc. Make sure they are sent in timely and non-intrusive manner.

8. Admin management page

Admin panel is required to manage the platform, add and delete information, make statistics report, analysis, manage the content etc. 

All this gets you closer to making an e-learning platform that works efficiently for students, tutors and platform managers. 

That is not all. The next steps focus on building the actual e-learning platform. 

1. Define your target audience. 

You need to know your people, their age group, points of interest etc. to make the platform as personalised as possible. Seek inspiration from your competitors, study their strong and weak points and learn from them.

2. Find your developers. 

Finding the team of developers that will put your idea to life is important. Experienced developers will be able to offer you a customised solution that will exactly fit the purpose of your product. For more cost-effective service, consider outsourcing a team from abroad.

Alternatively, use can use ready-made templates for greater cost savings, but in this case, your platform is unlikely to stand out from what is already there on the market.

3. Get your content right.

The content of your platform is key for the success of your platform. Great structure and functionality loses it without engaging content that sparks user’s attention. Think of tutors and educational institutions who you want to cooperate and find the way to approach your students so that they stay.   

The cost of building an e-learning platform depends on the scope, complexity and features and may reach up $100 000. On average, building a custom e-learning platform may require 1500 to 2000 hours. So, the ultimate cost will depend on where your team of developers comes from. Eastern Europe, Western Europe, USA and Australia – the location determines the price level for development services and varies from $50/hour to $150/hour. You should know that this is a rough estimate; the final cost will depend on your particular requirements. 

If you have an idea that you would like to implement, our IT experts at Magnise will be eager to help. We have successful experience in building unique IT products and would be happy to get involved. Get in touch with us to find out more. 

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