Let's face it, most online courses are a horrible experience for the student. Sign up, log in and you're faced with static pages of long, boring presentations and a teacher droning on and on about how clever they are. My buddy Justin Ferriman and I are here to help you increase your online course completion rates.
Considering the online education industry was estimated to be worth US$107BN in 2015, this is kind of a big problem that needs to be solved.
Online Course Completion Rates
I recently wrote a post about how most online courses achieve terrible completion rates and what we've been doing to reach 65%+ completion rates. Seth Godin even stopped by and left a comment on that post!
As did my friend Justin Ferriman who is the founder of Learndash, the best learning management solution for WordPress, which I believe is the best way to deliver your online course.
I pinged Justin and asked him if he'd take some time and have a chat with me about why online courses struggle to keep students inspired and motivated and some of the things we can do to improve.
Massive Open Online Courses research data shows that the vast majority of online course completion rates sit somewhere between 2% and 10% – with the exception of those courses where only a handful of people are enrolled, in which case the completion rates are much higher.
Here are just a few things we mention in the interview that you can do to improve completion rates in your online course.
Let your students know they're not alone. Bringing a sense of community to the online classroom motivates students and keeps them accountable to their fellow classmates. You can achieve this through an interactive forum or Facebook group as well as encourage students to pair up with an accountability partner.
We took this sense of community to a whole new level in our WordPress consultants course and showed all of our members on a world map (with their permission of course).
We use a Leaderboard to show student progress and engagement throughout the course as well as a Facebook-style “Wall” to show students what they're classmates are up to. The leaderboard breeds a bit of healthy competition and we all know that FOMO (fear of missing out) is a huge motivating factor that gets people to take action. I know we have had students complete modules because they want to win a prize.
Oh yeah, reward your students for taking action with prizes. They don't have to be physical prizes. You can use bonus trainings, digital content or Amazon vouchers to dangle a carrot for students to chase. Badges also work very well and if you use WordPress to deliver your course, you should definitely check out BadgeOS – an awesome badge and achievements plugin for WordPress.
Certificates may seem a bit cheesy to some (like my wife when I first suggested the idea), but they are a huge incentive for students. Coursera began charging for certificates and revenue estimates suggest that Coursera certificates generated between $8M and $12M in 2014.
You don't have to be a registered training organization to offer certificates. Just be honest and transparent with your students. None of our students care that we are not an RTO, but they love the sense of completion they get when they print their certificates.
Creating and selling courses online is fun and can be extremely lucrative. The best outcome is a happy student who completes the course, gets all the benefits of the learning and tells their friends how amazing it was.
Apply some of the simple things we've spoken about here to improve the student experience of your online course and share your ideas and thoughts with us in the comments.
It's your turn to rock!