Build the Next Big Online Education Portal – Script Feature Analysis

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“Knowledge increases by sharing but not by saving”. This must be the core principle behind the inception of MOOC (massive open online course) platforms like edX, Coursera and Udemy.

These online education portals allow people across the world to access the best courses offered by the best educational institutions across the globe. For learners, once they come across these sites, it is hard to ever leave them. Consequently, user base of these websites continues to increase at a fast pace.

Impressed by growth of MOOC providers, FATbit’s team of business analysts and internet marketers commenced an in-depth analysis of this industry – website features and business model  – to help entrepreneurs looking forward to build an advanced online education portal.

Business Model

As a MOOC provider, you invite top schools and non-profit organizations from across the globe to offer free online courses (a mix-match of videos, audios, documents, and text series) on your website, so that learners in every corner of the world can access them.

Following course tracks can be offered to learners:

Verified Certificates

You can offer this course track by partnering with educational institutes for career oriented learners. For this, learners would have to make a payment towards the course.

Free Courses

Free to all, this course route will be for those who simply love to learn new things. A certificate program can be organized to award learners who make satisfactory progress.

Revenue Generation Model

From three big players of this market (edX, Coursera, and Udemy), we received three revenue channels idea. Let’s see what they are:

Donation & verified certificates

Being a non-profit organization, edX has no revenue channels except direct contributions made by learners and institutions as donations. The fee paid by learners for verified certificates too is spent solely on class creation and site improvements.

Monthly Subscription & from Employers

With its user base, Udacity primarily targets recruitment market where, according to LinkedIn, over $100 billion are spent annually. Additionally, Udacity sells monthly subscriptions to let users gain access to material for different courses.

Employee Training

Stanford-based Coursera also charges companies a flat fee for finding them candidates with matched skills. Another prominent revenue channel for Coursera is its courses for employee training, which are leveraged by companies worldwide.
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Now that we have given you an adequate idea about how free education portals can be used to make money as well, let’s dive into website feature study.

Website Features

Like its simple business model, the site’s UX design should also be quite simple. The navigation should be intuitive and the information should be easy to understand, so that first-time visitors can use the site better. Let’s begin with describing the homepage layout first.

Homepage

Homepage banner should give a very precise message on what the site is about. There should also be a search tool for course search to allow visitors search for the courses right away. Below the fold area can be used to feature the most popular courses offered by your website. The homepage should also briefly describe how things work on the website and how learners can learn from the advanced courses conveniently at their own pace.

Offered Courses

To improve your growth prospect, you need to offer different types of courses on your website. Here is a list of categories that you must consider:

  • High school
  • Professional courses (college/university)
  • Professional Training Oriented
  • Special courses for research students

Course Search

The search tool should have two input fields. One for choosing the subject category and other for course name. By implementing the auto-complete functionality, you can deliver users a better experience.

The course result page should provide users filtering options like course type (full-time/part-time), availability, topic, high school/ professional, and school. There should also be a filter for the verified certificate & free courses.

Course Page & Enrollment

To access course material and to enroll in a course, a user must get registered on the website. The option should be provided on the course page. Apart from the enrollment option, course page should be loaded with following features:

  • General course info and description
  • Course intro video
  • Course’s prerequisites
  • Student reviews and write a review option
  • How to take the course for free and with fee
  • Course staff

Once users are enrolled in a course, they should be asked to choose a course track, i.e. whether they want to pursue a verified certificate through the course or whether they want to learn for free. With free courses there are no obligations. For verified certificate, users would be required to make a minimum payment as listed with the course, and the certificates should be provided only after a user has completed the course successfully. To receive the certificate, users also need to provide a digital copy of their identity issued by the government of the concerned country.

Taking a Course

Once a user is enrolled in a course, they should be able to access the courseware, participate in the course discussion, and track your progress. Here is brief explanation on all these features:

Courseware

Through the Courseware tab, learners should be able to view the whole structure, content and schedule of the course

Course Info

Under this section everything that a user need to know about a course should be available, for instance:

  • Who can take the course
  • Course’s intro video
  • Events related to the course
  • Resources and tools required for the course
  • Formats the course is available in
Discussion

There should also be a discussion feature that allow learners to discuss the course by connecting with each other on the website. Make sure to implement multiple discussion thread for each course

Progress

Learners should also be able to track their progress by checking their scores in tests & exercises. Show these results with graphics to make the section more engaging.

User Dashboard

All the courses a user is enrolled in should be featured on his profile’s dashboard. Apart from that, user dashboard should also feature following useful options:

  • Connect website account with social media accounts
  • Upgrade a course from free to verified certificate
  • View course, un-enroll from course, and manage email settings for the course

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In addition to these basic features, including following advanced features in your MOOC platform clone script is also important:

Schools

There should be a section that features the list of educational institutions that have been contributing to the website by providing free online courses. This will help those learners who are particular about courses offered by a certain institution. On each school/college page, your website should list all the courses offered  by it.

In addition to that, there should also be a module that allow schools and training institutions to list and manage their courses on the website. Currently, most MOOC platform curate the courses themselves from a selected number partnered education providers. By implementing this script feature in your clone website, you can have an edge over your competitors.

Blog

Apart from educational content, the blog section should also feature posts on different aspects of online education, site’s new offerings, and events.

Donate

If you are planning to follow the edX’s approach of donation as a revenue channel, make sure you have a dedicated section for that in your clone script. Also, create a policy to send the donators a gift as a thank you gesture.

Mobile App

To keep up with the existing players and to address the growing needs of learners, you should also have an high-end mobile app for your online learning platform. The app should come with all the basic functionalities, as well as a seamless connection to the website for components that cannot be integrated in the app.

Final Words

After thoroughly analyzing edx.org, Coursera and Udacity, FATbit team has gathered ample insights to build an advanced MOOC clone platform. Whether you want consultation on your ongoing project, or require a clone script built from the scratch, FATbit can add great value your online education venture.
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