Are you a one-person army, blogger, entrepreneur or small business builder who wants to grow your business online by creating online courses?
If so, you may come across terminology and concepts that are a bit confusing. Even if you’re a veteran in the online education world, you might discover that the learning curve can be a bit steep when you marry online education to the world of entrepreneurship.
Creating and selling online courses involves more than just knowing your stuff – you now get tossed into the ever evolving world of educational technology and online marketing.
1 | LMS
A learning management system, or LMS, is the technology that includes functionality for displaying your course offerings, presenting course content, accepting secure payment, registering students, tracking student progress, giving assessments, and so forth.
The LMS, or course platform, that you use depends largely on your budget and the goals you have for your course. They range from free platforms, to DIY options that can be pieced together at low cost, to higher end one-stop-shop solutions.
2 | EMS
Email marketing software is a crucial piece of technology that allows you to see how many people opened your email, clicked on certain links, and forwarded it to others and much more. This is incredibly powerful for anyone who wants to sell online courses.
According to Chet Holmes, world renowned business coach, only 3% of your audience is ready to buy now. Another 6% of them are open to it, and a whopping 60% are not thinking about your product or think they’re not interested.
The EMS is what you use to keep in touch with that 66% who are open or could be persuaded. It is what you use to provide valuable information so that when they start looking, they think of you first. Many uninterested ones have also been persuaded to consider your product because they read something that resonates with a current desire or pain point.
The EMS can be separate from the LMS, integrated into the LMS, or part of the same system.
3 | Drip-Feed
Drip-fed content is basically lessons that are scheduled and delivered at specific times instead of having the entire course available right away.
For example, say you have a 4 week course. You can set the first lesson to be available right after sign-up, and each subsequent lesson to be published a week later for the next 3 weeks.
Or you can have a trigger so that the next lesson is delivered when the previous lesson is marked “complete”.
This method is also useful if you have a set enrollment period and want all students to get the content at the same time, say for example January 1st. The site will auto-drip your content to your students without any more work on your part. Common ways of setting up a drip feed is through the LMS or via the EMS.
4 | Evergreen
The term “evergreen content”, although taken from the content marketing world, has a very specific meaning when used in regards to online courses.
Like evergreen trees, that stay alive year round, an evergreen course is always available for purchase. This type of course does not have an enrollment period, a start date, or a period of time when it is “closed”.
Deciding on whether or not to make your course evergreen or closed depends largely on the content and your goals. Although these type of courses require a lot less time for you as the instructor and may be the holy grail for the “make money while you sleep” community, many long-time course creators have found these to be less profitable than courses that are offered only a few times each year.
Many have also opted to start off a course as closed and then turn it into an evergreen course!
5 | Self-Paced
If you are from the online education world, you are familiar with the terms asynchronous vs. synchronous. Synchronous online courses have some live component to them, whereas asynchronous courses can be done at anytime and are often called “self-paced”.
Courses that have both asynchronous and synchronous components are known as blended courses.
Courses in the educational entrepreneurship arena are generally self-paced, but might have some live components, for example webinars, virtual workshops, live streams, or some sort of live Q&A sessions.
6 | SME vs. Leading Learner
The subject matter expert, or SME, is the person who is an authority in the course topic. For those in an academic setting or big corporation, the person who writes the original content is referred to as the SME.
For many entrepreneurial courses however, the SME is technically not an “expert”. I have come across quite a few courses that are taught by people who are relatively new in the area they are teaching. They are, instead, leading learners – those who are in the process of learning something new or who recently overcame obstacles and reached a new level of understanding. And they want to help others do the same.
Leading learners can often be found interviewing experts, trying out new tools and strategies, and inviting others to follow them on their journey.
7 | Lead Magnet
As you comb the internet for information about online course creation, you will likely to come across the term lead magnet. This is a marketing term for some irresistible free offer that you give to people in exchange for their email address.
Mini email “drip-fed” courses have become one of the most popular lead magnets out there. Checklists, eBooks, templates, reports, and comparison charts are also popular lead magnets.
8 | Learning Analytics
Although I don’t hear this term tossed around very often amongst entrepreneurs who are creating courses, it is certainly something to be considered when choosing how to deliver an online course.
Just as Google analytics allows us to capture who’s visiting our sites, what’s bringing them there, and how engaged they are once they’ve entered, learning analytics allows us to capture how engaged people are with our course content. Learning analytics allows us to use data to improve the learning experience.
Learning analytics are often tracked within the LMS.
Did I miss anything?
Are there online course terms for entrepreneurs that I missed? I’m sure I did… Share in the comments section and let me know what you think about the ones above.