Before conceptualizing an online learning program, it's important to define your organization’s goals and to conduct significant market research. Understanding which kinds of learning content your competitors offer—and how they deliver it—will help you differentiate your product and learning offering.
Be better than free: In the research stage, make sure you know what customers can find for free on YouTube. Then, make sure you are adding value compared to that free content.
Ensure course differentiation: Make sure your courses are differentiated in the marketplace and build on your core expertise. Also remember, you have brand equity in your community that will help sell your classes—don’t forget that. Ask these questions to get the conversation started:
What is our organization good at?
What sets us apart from our competitors?
What can we offer that our competitors can’t offer?
Encourage instructor participation: Take advantage of instructor participation where you can—and make sure those expectations are clear in the original instructor agreement. Encourage instructors to keep an eye on message boards, open themselves up to “office hours” if appropriate, or agree to one-on-one student-teacher interactions via email, chat, video calls, etc.
Offer certifications: Offering certificates or other recognition for completing online learning is a powerful incentive. Even if your organization is not an accredited organization with an official certification program, a certificate could be something you make up. Students appreciate validation.
According to Daecher, there are a number of ways to make sure your learning content stands out. Start by conducting market research to ensure that your organization’s offering is better than what competitors are offering—free or paid. Next, incorporate aspects like instructor participation and certificates to make the learning experience as special as possible.