online course platforms - image of a computer with a hand holding a certificate and coming out of the screen, and an icon of world education and another one of a test

Digital Marketing

What are online course platforms and why are they useful?

Understand everything about this online teaching tool.


09/05/2018 | By Hotmart

The educational market has already realized that distance education is a trend that is here to stay.

Every day there are new educational institutions and professionals adopting this model, and more and more people turn to the internet to improve themselves or acquire new knowledge.

And do not think that this form of education is sought only by students and teachers. People who want to acquire new knowledge in different areas have also been looking for online courses that can help them learn a little more about a certain subject.

However, in order for these people to have a full experience, classes need to be hosted in a suitable environment, with all the necessary technological resources.

And it is this service, which exists to connect teachers and students, which we call online-course platform.

To better understand the purpose of these platforms, imagine the following situation:

A person wishes to use everything they know about a certain subject to create a product that they can sell on the internet. They prepare themselves, organizes all the content they will share and creates a complete online course with quality, and that has everything to be a success in their niche.

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However, this person knows nothing (or very little) about technology, design, computing, and all the other knowledge required to get the course running and ensure that students are able to access all of the prepared content.

And this is where the online platform comes in.

It provides peace of mind so that entrepreneurs can put their ideas in practice without having to worry about the technical requirements when delivering content to the customer.

Online course platforms are made by specialized companies that provide all the tools that the content Producers or institutions need to deliver something truly valuable to students, convey a professional image and gain credibility in the market.

If you are starting out in the digital market now, or if you already have an online course, it is important to really understand how the platforms work to know which is the best option for you.

In this post, you will find 7 essential features that an online course platform must have:

How an online course platform works

There are several platform options on the market and each model works in a different manner.

Some have more advanced features while others offer only the most basic services. Therefore, it is important to perform a detailed research before choosing the platform to host your online course.

However, when you understand the general operation of this type of service, it is easier to identify if the chosen option has all the tools you need.

Basically, the platform must automate all processes related to the publication, distribution and payment of your digital product.

In other words, your system needs to be able to:

  •    Store the online course in the format in which it was created (video classes, ebooks, podcasts, etc.);
  •    Delivery the content to customers with quality, without failures or interruptions;
  •    Guarantee security and convenience when making purchases, both for the entrepreneur and the student;
  •    Provide a communication channel between the Producer and the customer, for questions, suggestions and additional information;
  •     Connect the Producer with the best sales strategies, such as the Affiliate programs.

The main features of an online course platform

So that all of this can work properly, the chosen service must have certain features.

Below we’ll present the main ones so you can know exactly what to look for when choosing the DE platform for your products.

1. Mobile friendly

We are past the time when people only accessed the internet through their computers. Nowadays, it is common for users to consume all types of content on their smartphones and tablets, due to the mobility and convenience they offer.

Thus, they can watch videos, read texts and listen to content between one activity and the other, in traffic or even while performing some other task.

When you enter the digital market, you need to understand this demand and be ready to meet it.

Therefore, it is important to invest in mobile-friendly online courses, in other words, those that adapt to any type of screen and can be accessed from various mobile devices.

When entrepreneurs invest on a web page with responsive design, they allow students to access your online course from wherever they are and at any time, without this affecting their experience or the quality of the material.

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2. Customizable

We talked earlier that the distance education market is growing, right?

That being so, competition is high and entrepreneurs need to strive to deliver rich content and furthermore, deliver benefits to their students.

A customizable online course platform ensures that your course will have a look that represents your brand, in addition to allowing you to communicate with your students exactly as you wish.

These customizations refer to colors and details of the layout, organization of the content within the page, inclusion of spaces for communication, such as forums and chats, sharing buttons, the possibility of marking completed modules, among other factors.

Search for a platform that allows you to build a visual identity and customize the page according to the audience you wish to reach.

3. Virtual learning environment

As you’ve seen above, online course platforms must be more than just a page for you to host your lessons. It needs to have features that facilitate information management and the relationship between teachers and students.

This service, known as a Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) is what enables all teaching to take place virtually without anyone having to move to attend or teach classes.

The goal is to replicate a classroom environment online, without this affecting the quality of the education.

The VLE must also allow that evaluations be completely performed online, on dates and times defined beforehand or within a period previously stipulated by the teacher.

In addition, all communication must be done within the platform, ensuring that students talk to each other and are able to access the teacher to ask questions or share information.

4. Data security

As much as people are accustomed to using the internet, there is still a lot of mistrust when it comes to providing personal information and making payments.

Therefore, you need to be careful to choose an online platform that provides security and anti-fraud systems.

People need to understand from the outset that you care about them, and have invested in reliable payment methods, good reimbursement policies and maximum convenience when finalizing their purchase.

This feature, in addition to being important for you to stand out in the market and gain the trust of users, is the obligation of every entrepreneur who deals with the money and confidential information of his/her customers.

So, when it is time to choose a platform for your online course, make sure that it follows the parameters required by the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation).

5. Freedom in content format

When it comes to choosing the format of your course’s content, you’re likely to have opted for the one that you think is best and most compatible with your skills and your audience’s preferences.

However, nothing prevents you from producing certain materials in other formats to diversify your classes and offer unique possibilities for your students.

Those who focus on video classes for example, can create an ebook to address a specific topic in more detail or also make the class available in an audio file, so that students can optimize their study time by listening to the content during other activities.

The problem is that not all platforms allow this creation freedom. So, make sure you choose an option where this is possible.

6. Producer, Affiliate and Buyer support

The process of selling an online course involves three key characters:

  • Producer, who uses his/her knowledge to create digital products;
  • Affiliate, who is a sales specialist who will advertise the course in exchange for commissions;
  • Buyer, who in this case is the student who will watch your classes.

The ideal platform for online courses is one that mediates between these people, offering all the necessary support so that everyone has the best experience possible.

Producers need to be able to easily upload the classes and manage all of his/her students’ information.

The Affiliate, on the other hand, needs to recognize the advantages of the commissions being offered and have access to everything they need to promote the product with assertiveness.

Finally, customers need to feel that they are taken care of and have their pains solved, in other words, they need to feel satisfied with what has been delivered.

7. Free to use

You will find paid and free platforms. So after analyzing if the service you have chosen has all the features we’ve shown you, this is the time to think about your financial resources.

Most entrepreneurs who start producing online courses do not have much money to invest or don’t want to take financial risks in a new business.

Therefore, a free platform may be the best choice.

By choosing one that doesn’t charge anything to host the course, Producers can worry only about the expenses with the production of content, which is a great incentive for those who are starting out.

An example of a free online training platform is Hotmart, which receives commissions per sales only, which means that you’ll only have to pay a fee after you’re already getting paid for your work.

Have you noticed how important it is to choose a good online platform to host your material and already know exactly what to look for in this type of service?

If you are thinking about working with online courses and want to know a little more about platforms, check out this post everything about the Hotmart Club, Hotmart’s DE platform.