Distance learning became a necessity during the pandemic. But distance learning is an opportunity for teachers who want to simplify their schedules, boost their incomes, and focus on helping the students who appreciate them the most.
Globe News Wire estimates that the distance learning market, not counting the value of distance learning activities still going on in schools, was $30.6 billion in 2021. The projection of future growth brings the market to $198.9 billion in 2030. Online earning opportunities for teachers of all kinds are growing at 23% each year. All this is possible due to the development of all-in-one online education platforms that allow teachers to do what they do best.
If you have ever considered starting your own online academy, there is no better time to do it than now. The edtech world welcomes teachers with fresh content and a passion for reaching learners with opportunities unimagined a decade ago.
There are many advantages of distance learning that were obvious even before the pandemic struck.
For learners, distance learning gives them access to new learning opportunities that aren’t bound to any particular schedule or location. It allows them to find instruction that is better matched to their needs, and lets them take in the bigger picture of the topic that interests them. Distance learning also helps learners gain skills just by using twenty-first century technology. It enables them to make global connections. It also allows them to learn about subjects that inspire them the most.
For teachers, distance learning opens up opportunities to work a second job or continue teaching even if they need to stay home with a spouse, child, or parent. It gives them the opportunity to specialize, sharing their unique skill set.
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It frees them from the bureaucracy around public school work, and it gives them the chance to greatly increase their incomes.
But couldn’t a teacher do all of this just by signing up to teach on an existing online platform?
There are benefits to creating your own online academy:
- You develop your own following. As your online presence grows, students seek you out for specialized instruction. You can offer your best work to students who appreciate you.
- You earn profits, not a salary. You keep the portion of the student fees that otherwise would go to the anonymous owner of a site.
- Your courses can be as long or as short as you wish. You can come into your student’s home an hour a day for years on end (some exercise and language instructors do), or you can sell a short-course on topics you love to teach and your students are eager to learn about.
With Hotmart, you don’t have to set up your online platform from scratch. Hotmart takes care of the technical side of running a learning platform, so you can focus on teaching. But there are still certain areas you must take care of before you start earning online.
Teaching online isn’t quite as simple as sitting in front of the webcam on your computer and teaching your class. There are certain pieces of equipment that can make or break your success. You will need to make sure you have them before you do anything else.
Your hardware requirements include:
- A stable Internet connection. You can’t keep students in your classes if you have a problem with your Internet going in and out! You will need both a stable Internet connection and a backup ISP before you start teaching.
- A quiet, well-lit place to teach your lessons. Your online classroom should be free of distractions (children, pets, roommates, spouses, traffic noise, etc.) and secure from interruptions during your teaching time.
- Desktop computer with a freestanding big screen. Sure, you could do your classes with a smartphone. But a computer with a big screen allows you to multitask and adds legitimacy and professionalism to your lessons.
- Headphones and microphones. Classroom communications run both ways. Headphones allow you to hear your students’ questions and comments. Avoid headphones with mics hanging down that can scratch against your clothes.
- Webcam. The webcam that comes with your computer may be adequate, but test it from multiple angles and in multiple lighting scenarios to make sure it will work for your needs.
- Mouse and keyboard. These aren’t essential, but they can help you avoid errors and save time.
- CD/DVD drive. If you plan to use relatively old supplemental materials, you will probably need to supplement your computer to be able to play CDs and DVDs.
- Video camera. If you plan to record lessons or a promo for your course, a conventional video camera will give you better results than the webcam on your computer.
- Lighting. Good lighting is essential for online teachers. Your students need to see your mouth movements, facial expressions, and gestures to get the full meaning of what you are telling them. Even if your room has good natural lighting, consider adding some ring lights behind your desktop so the light falls on your face.
- Background. An electronic blackboard behind you is a great way to display notes. Or you could project your logo with the name of your online teaching business to reinforce your ID with your students.
- Desks and stands. Make sure your computer is at a comfortable height. You will spend hours every day sitting behind your computer. You want to prevent back and neck strain.
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Online teaching just isn’t going to happen without the right hardware and software. That is why you need to get it first. But before you are ready to go online, you need to choose a niche.
What’s a niche?
A niche is a specific target in the online education market. Choosing your niche is about targeting specific people with specific needs. These are the people you need to keep in mind as you create your courses. Match your knowledge and skills to the prospective students in your niche.
Why do you need to choose a niche?
There is a simple reason you need to choose a niche for your online teaching platform. Students pay more to learn from experts.
Niche expertise helps you stand out in the market of online courses. When you teach a niche, students assume that you know more. They will be more inclined to seek out your courses on other topics.
Choosing your niche requires striking a balance among
- What is in demand
- What you are prepared to teach, and
- What you are passionate about.
As you consider these three factors, you will identify patterns and trends in online education. These will point you to gaps in online offerings that you can fill and other teachers cannot.
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Once you have your hardware and software, you have chosen your niche, and you have your LMS, it is time to create your course. Some of the most successful online teachers create their courses in 10 steps.
1. Choose your course topic
This step is more time-consuming than it might seem. Unless you have an encyclopedic knowledge of your subject, you should commit to creating a plan for every lesson in your entire course at the time you choose your topic. This way, you can focus your energies on persuading students to take your next course, too, instead of frantically catching up with your syllabus.
If you have never taught online before, run some keywords that describe your course through Google Trends to make sure there are people “out there” who want to know more about your topic. Consider reframing your course to capture interests for which Google Trends predicts explosive growth.
Then decide how deep you want to wade into your topic. Simple, introductory courses are best when you are first getting started with your LMS.
2. Use Facebook Insights to learn more about potential learners
Facebook collects a tremendous amount of data on its 2.85 billion members. You can access their data to identify your ideal students by age, gender, location, income, education, and connections. Even if you are aiming for the corporate market, Facebook can help you identify executives who are working through issues with their companies.
3. Organize your subject knowledge
It is not enough to be an expert in your field. You must organize your knowledge, so your learners can master it while they are taking your class. Make interconnections between your classes and give your students mnemonic tools.
4. Outline your course
Give your students objectives for the course and for each lesson. Create a checklist of skills to be gained in the course, and give students a tool for measuring their accomplishments in each module. Give your students lots of opportunities to reassure themselves that they are on track, so they will stay with your course. Consider the learning materials you will provide, how you will test progress, and how your course should end.
5. Choose the right delivery platform
For most online teachers, the right delivery platform is Hotmart. Hotmart is a complete, intuitive, self-contained solution for teachers and creators who aspire to become entrepreneurs.
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6. Create course content
Now that you have identified potential learners, outlined your course, and chosen your learning management system, it is time to create course content.
You start with a catchy title. The title of your course will be the first thing prospective students see when they are looking for courses. Take your time with this.
Then create content in the form of:
- Text, such as books, ebooks, assigned readings, and PDFs.
- Videos and images, including PowerPoint, video snippets, and illustrations.
- Screencasting, which involves you teaching on the screen, and
- Other written communications with students such as announcements, reminders, and tests.
It is always best to create a complete course before you offer your course online. You don’t just need to know where you are going when you offer your course online–you need to have already gone there.
7. Make sure your course content is engaging
Provide your learners with a return on investment from the very start. Make sure they are aware that they are gaining useful knowledge and skills from your course in every lesson. Gather information from many sources so your students are never entirely sure what is coming next.
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8. Build a community for your course
Create a forum or a social media group for your students. This can be a place where students share their frustrations and their successes. It can also serve as a way for you to rectify your mistakes before they cause you to get bad reviews.
9. Get feedback
Show your course to trusted colleagues. Get them to review your course for online recommendations. Then collect feedback from your students throughout your course to make sure they are both challenged and satisfied.
10. Adapt and repeat
You will always need to make course corrections as you go along. This is normal. Then, after you have achieved success with your first course, develop another!
Now that you know more about distance learning and how to get started, learn more about Hotmart: it’s secure, customizable, and intuitive for everyday use, i.e., the perfect solution for online teachers.