How to Create an e-Learning Platform: Tips & Tricks
  • 1. 👍 Benefits of Creating Your own e-Learning Platform
  • 2. 📱 e-Learning Platform Development: Website vs Mobile App
  • 3. ⚙️ Top Features of e-Learning Website and App
  • 4. 🤖 Top Technologies You Can Use to Build an e-Learning Platform
  • 5. 💸 How Much Does It Cost to Develop an E-Learning Platform?
  • 6. 💡 Takeaways
  • Cover image by aPurple

    “Gosh, I’m gonna be late for class. It starts in 5 minutes”, says every student nowadays and opens their laptop 1 minute before the lesson. This is the new reality of education.

    According to Bloomberg Businessweek, the COVID-19 pandemic has already forced the $600B higher education industry to switch to an e-learning format. So now it’s easier than ever to build an e-Learning app or website and enter this market with your own product!

    Online education platform like Coursera
    How to make an eLearning platform? Check this guide to find out how to create an education platform! (image by aPurple)

    Want to be the new Coursera or Duolingo, or digitize your offline business and create your own e-learning platform, but don’t know how? No worries, we got your back.

    👍 Benefits of Creating Your own e-Learning Platform

    Before we review how to create an e-Learning platform — either website or app — let’s quickly recall the key benefits you will get from it!

    👨‍🎓 Reach a wider audience

    If you create your own e-Learning website or app, the geolocation of your students isn’t a matter anymore. It works on a few levels:

    • You can have students from all corners of the Earth, including foreigners, expats, or compatriots living in other parts of your country. It dramatically increases the number of people you can reach with your content.
    • Also, you make your courses more accessible for people who just prefer online learning. For example, because they don’t like commuting, limit their offline activity due to the COVID-19, or can study only late in the evening after university or work.
    • Finally, it’ll be easier for you to offer your courses to corporate clients: SMEs, large enterprises, private schools, etc. It also contributes to your personal brand, which is never a bad thing.

    🔄 Reuse your content

    e-Learning website development allows you to get the most out of your content. Once recorded or created, it can be accessed by new students again and again. It means that you can expect a higher return on investment compared to offline lessons.

    Let’s assume that you are a language school owner. How many students can you have during one class? Even if we don’t consider the post-COVID regulations, not as many as online, right?

    To build an education app for e-Learning market, you can take existing platforms as an example
    You can make a new course by complementing the existing content or freshening the info (image by Luke Gdyk)

    Using an e-Learning platform, you can livestream lessons for a wider audience. Alternatively, you can upload a pre-recorded lesson, and therefore make it available to as many students as can watch it simultaneously.

    What is more, you can offer one recorded class multiple times to different students and clients. In this case, don’t forget to improve the course and freshen the content from time to time.

    ✅ Perfectly match your business needs

    Finally, it’s reasonable to create an online learning platform since you can fully customize it according to your business needs. Let’s take a look at a few cases!

    If you have an offline school or courses of any kind (languages, finance, coding, psychology, etc.), you can build an e-Learning app or website to distribute your content online. Thus, you’ll be able to increase your revenue or even build a whole new business model.

    Also, you can build an e-Learning website or app to improve the experience of your existing and new students. For example, to give home tasks, send e-lectures and presentations, or encourage in-group cooperation via closed chats.

    An eLearning website for online education
    You can build e-Learning platforms for any purpose: whether it’s a live online lesson, pre-recorded online course or a management platform for offline learning experience (image by Purrweb UX)

    Thus, you’ll be able to provide extra services and additional value to your customers as well as use your e-Learning platform for marketing purposes.

    Yet, these are just a few examples. You can choose one of the mentioned models, do both or pick your own way — that’s what custom e-Learning app development is for!

    📱 e-Learning Platform Development: Website vs Mobile App

    One of the first questions you can have is whether you should build an e-Learning website or develop an e-Learning app. The truth is that neither option is better or worse — different platforms are more suitable for different cases. Which ones? Let’s find out!

    Websites 🖥

    This type of e-Learning platform is well-suited for big loads of information.

    If you might need your students to deal with time-consuming tasks, a website is a better place to make it. For example, to read an article and then write a detailed answer to a certain question. Or to perform math calculations, solve a problem, etc.

    Moreover, websites are great for watching video lessons since learners usually visit them from their PCs and laptops. That means bigger screens that are better adapted for videos.

    An eLearning website to create a course series or another online content
    Websites are great for playing video online content along with some online course tools, tasks, and info (image by Dmitro Petrenko)

    Besides, e-Learning website development may be a better choice if your courses include many big tests. When learners are studying on a website, they are less likely to get distracted by a message or app notification.

    Some types of learning activities are also better suited for websites. Think of code schools or copywriting courses. In most cases, it’ll be more convenient to type code or text on a website rather than in a mobile app.

    Mobile Apps 📱

    While websites are just the ticket for massive tasks, apps are a real catch for easier and more dynamic tasks. Quizzes, “Fill in the gap”, translation tasks — all of it is about mobile apps. For example, it relates to language learning, math skills practicing, brain training, and other similar types of quick tasks.

    Duolingo online learning software for students who learn French
    Apps like this are great for such online learning tools like quick tasks and test (image by AJ Noh)

    Even though websites are more suitable for video content, it doesn’t mean that creating an e-Learning app is a bad idea. The best proof to that: more than 70% of YouTube watch time comes from mobile devices.

    What’s even more important is that your students have their smartphones almost everywhere. Thus, they can easily access your lessons on their way home from work or in a café which is not so convenient when we’re talking about websites. Add an offline mode — and nothing will stop your students from soaking up knowledge.

    Read Also How to Make a Mobile Coaching or Mentoring App

    To sum up, create your own e-learning website if you want to be able to give your students major tasks. However, for a fast and dynamic type of work you should consider developing an e-learning app. Of course, it’s not a problem to make your idea the way you want on any platform. It’s just that some activities are more convenient to deal with on a specific platform.

    If you can’t decide on what you should choose, contact us with your project details and we’ll help to pick the best option for your case.

    A few words on Learning Management Systems

    A learning management system is a software application for the creating, tracking, automation, administration, reporting, documentation, and delivery of educational courses, training, or learning and development programs. Such systems are used by businesses of all sizes, educational institutions, and even some governmental bodies.

    Yet, in this article we’ll focus on how to make an e-Learning website or mobile application. How is it different from LMS?

    Basically, the difference between these two terms isn’t crucial.

    e-Learning platforms can be considered as a part of LMS but LMS are not equal to e-Learning platforms. In general, LMS can be used for a wider range of purposes: offline classes planning and preparation, placing information for workers, validation of their knowledge and skills, etc.

    Example of an LMS software with an admin panel
    An LMS software usually has a wider scope of features including admin panel that may go beyond eLearning website or app functionality (image by Vivek Sati)

    If you’re interested in LMS development and want to know a bit more on features we don’t cover in this article, drop us a line and we’ll see how we can help with that, too!

    ⚙️ Top Features of e-Learning Website and App

    In this section, we will review the basic features of an e-learning platform. Keep in mind that this functionality can be implemented on both websites and apps.

    # 1: Sign Up & Profiles 🔐

    This feature is useful in a few ways:

    • It helps to save the user data and easily access it when signing in from different devices.
    • If users come back after a break or even delete and reinstall the app, they will be able to continue from the place they stopped.
    • As an owner of a platform, you could increase your revenue by offering personalized offers and discounts in a user’s profile.

    How to create an e-learning app or website with a great Sign Up feature? Do NOT require too much info right at the beginning as it can cause a high bounce rate. The best thing you can do is get rid of any repellent barriers, including requiring personal or credit card details even before they start using the app or website.

    The minimum info you can ask at the beginning is login/email and password. Don’t worry, you’ll be able to ask for all the needed personal information later. For example, offer to fill in the profile for extra gamification points or before making a payment.

    An example of the sign in for e-Learning platforms
    Sign in/up example for e-Learning platforms that you can use during your educational app development (image by Giga Tamarashvili)

    We also recommend adding a Social Login feature. It allows signing up/in with Google, Facebook, Twitter, and other social media accounts. The feature is highly convenient since it allows users to sign in fast and start using a platform right at the moment. In this way, you can get more details about a user, including his or her name, profile photo, age, location, friend list, etc.

    Firstly, it will help you to know your customers better and potentially use these insights while creating new content. Secondly, it enables social interactions within users and their friends: discussions, challenges, leaderboards, etc.

    # 2: Dashboard 📊

    The dashboard is usually the first screen users see after signing in. That’s why you can also refer to it as a Home Screen. It can serve a few key purposes:

    1. Help students track the progress: how many courses they’ve completed, the number of lessons left in the current course, learning streak, and so on. It motivates learners to keep going and don’t give up halfway through.
    2. Provide all the key features at hand: for example, continue an interrupted lesson with 1 tap or start a quick test to refresh your knowledge before the next class.
    3. Boost your sales: promote new & popular courses, introduce seasonal discounts and special offers, etc.

    Thus,we would recommend making the Dashboard the first screen students can see right after they open an app. The group of researchers from the University of Rochester found out that more than 50% of the information we process our brain gets through the eyes. That is why the visibility of progress is so important.

    # 3: Filtering & Sorting 🔎

    Just think of the fact that Coursera has more than 2,400 online classes. It would be almost impossible to find what you need without searching & filtering functionality. If you offer your customers lots of content, these features should be on your must-have list, too.

    An eLearning website to build online content or courses for students on it
    Implement searching & filtering functionality into an eLearning website might be a good idea for diverse content (image by Excellent WebWorld)

    A few ideas on how you can organize the Search & Filtering Systems in your platform:

    • Search bars
    • Categories on the main page
    • Filters (by price, duration, level, etc.)

    For an app, it is reasonable to add such an opportunity to a user’s profile so as not to overload a user with too many subsections.

    # 4: Online Courses 📖

    In this paragraph we’re going to talk about a set of screens you need to enable a convenient e-Learning process on your platform.

    So, these are:

    • Titles Screen

    In case you offer a bunch of different courses, your user will be able to see the whole list of your courses and services. It helps users to navigate through the list of courses and get the initial idea of what course is about.

    Course online learning website for students
    An example of online learning website titles screen example that you can use to during the website development (image by Brucira Design)
    • Course Screen

    Every course screen should have a course program and description, info about its creator and their background, the list of topics and material, the “Purchase” button (if needed), average course duration, etc. The point of this screen is to give a full picture of the course and opportunities it provides to the potential student.

    Example to use to build an online learning app with a course set for students (don’t forget to add an admin panel)
    Make sure you provide students with all the necessary info about the course on your online learning website or app (image by simantOo)
    • Lesson Screen

    We don’t recommend creating a complex system with dozens of different screens. But if you offer different materials within one lesson, let’s say you ask to watch a video, take a test right after and then give a record of video feedback or task, it can be necessary.

    Adding a “Next lesson” button allows students to quickly start a new lesson right after they finish the current one.

    Online learning platforms with unique courses for students like this offer users additional value
    Lesson screen on online learning platforms are important to describe each course lesson for students in detail (image by Lena Brusenska)

    # 5: Special Learning Features 🎓

    Obviously, we can’t know the details of your idea in advance. But what we can do is to describe the most used features of e-Learning apps and websites!

    Video Player

    As many courses have video lessons , the Video Player feature is quite a popular one.

    By adding this feature, platforms’ users can get additional value
    Example of a video lesson in a course on an eLearning website for students, business owners, etc. (image by Ariuka)

    How to create an e-Learning website or app with a great Video Player? Add some special features that will improve user experience:

    • Rewind and fast forward 10 seconds.
    • Continue watching from the moment you stopped last time.
    • Change playback speed (1.25x; 1.5x; 1.75x; 2x).
    • Subtitles that are automatically translated when you click on them (especially great for language courses).

    One-on-one and Group Video Calls

    This feature is a must-have if you want to develop an e-Learning app with live online lessons. Calls the study process more vibrant and efficient.

    eLearning website for students, business owners, etc.
    You may enhance video calls on your eLearning website or app with features like screen sharing or built-in polls to give users additional value (image by Eugene Olefir)

    Some additional features for calls such as “Share Screen”, chats for group calls, mute/unmute microphone, and camera wouldn't be excess here.

    Quizzes and Tests

    According to scientific research, the most effective way to learn and memorize something is by applying the testing effect to user experience.

    By adding tests and quizzes you implement the testing effect and help your students learn more efficiently.

    Right after they finish the lesson, ask them a few questions about what they’ve learned. Reproducing information from the memory is the best way to memorize it.

    eLearning platforms like this are convenient for many students to complete quick tests and quizzes
    Quizzes and test are great to keep users engaged on such platforms (image by Erdem)

    You may implement this piece of functionality in different forms. For example:

    • True or false
    • Add a missing word
    • Pick the right answer
    • Put in a correct order
    • and others.

    File uploading

    The studying process often includes sharing and sending files by both tutor/professor and learner/student. For the most part, you might need this feature:

    • to upload files to the group chat that is used during a live lesson;
    • to send files to a specific user (in case you practice 1-on-1 learning);
    • let users upload files and share them with a tutor/teacher or group.

    If you are going to make a lot of live sessions, it often includes sharing text files, images, videos, and audios. So think about adding this feature if this is fair for you.

    # 6: In-app Purchases 💸

    If your platform is designed for selling courses or has some extra paid services, a well-developed Payment Gateway is necessary. By well-developed we mean:

    1. It’s consistent with all your products: a website and iOS and Android apps.
    2. Available payment options should include credit card payments, Google & Apple Pay, PayPal, etc.
    3. Works fast.
    4. User’s personal data is highly protected.
    e-Learning market needs good payment systems to users can pay securely
    Payment Gateway example business owners can implement into their platforms so users can pay securely (image by Ofspace Digital Agency)

    # 7: Gamification 🕹

    Gamification is not a new thing in the field of e-Learning.

    Studies prove games increase the level of motivation and interaction in learning, which helps better structure new knowledge and optimize the studying process.

    What methods of gamification can you use? Take a look:

    • Platform currency that can be earned through a variety of activities.
    • Points systems & Leaderboards.
    • Different votation and competition (the best translation, for instance).
    • A sound when the task/round/level is completed.
    • Badges and awards to praise users and keep them motivated.
    e-Learning market is getting modified with similar gamification features on platforms so users get additional value
    e-Learning market is getting modified with similar gamification features on platforms so users get additional value (image by Niclas Ernst)

    # 8 Push-notifications (mobile-only) 🔔

    We would recommend implementing the Push Notifications feature to increase sales, retarget customers, and make personalized offers. Here are some thoughts on why you should implement them during your e-Learning platform development:

    • To remind customers to return to a course or to do their daily tasks.
    • To inform users about new courses, price changes, special offers, etc.
    • To improve the customer experience by sending personalized notifications.

    They help you stay connected with your users and retain the ones that otherwise would forget about your app.

    🤖 Top Technologies You Can Use to Build an e-Learning Platform

    If you are planning on building your e-learning platform, there will be a tough competition. Modern technologies could help you stand out and be one of a kind.

    Let’s have a closer look.

    # 1: Augmented Reality (AR)

    AR is helpful to catch student’s attention and keep them engaged during classes. Interactive tools are proven to be one of the most effective ways to deal with distractions while studying. The visualization makes it easier to understand complex concepts and topics.

    Example of AR technologies in education

    AR technology is well-suited for e-learning app development purposes. Augmented Reality Development Lab, New Horizon, FETCH! Lunch Rush and many other apps are helping students all over the world right now.

    By the way, 8th Wall developed a new Inline AR technology which helps developers integrate AR into their websites!

    # 2: Artificial Intelligence (AI)

    We all know this guy right here. At the moment it is one of the most discussed topics in the educational industry.

    You can use AI to provide users with deep analytics (image by Halo Web)

    AI can really help with personalizing the studying process and almost replaced the old-fashioned approach with a more student-centered one.

    It can track overall performance by determining the strength and weaknesses of every learner. AI is also able to give real-time suggestions to improve performance and studying. Keeping track and reporting all the details is one of AI’s functions as well.

    # 3: Virtual Reality (VR)

    VR is another well-known technology in the e-Learning industry. VR education can change the way information is delivered. What’s important, it allows not only to see but to interact.

    Such immersive technology motivates students to fully understand the material and allows them to do it practically.

    Example of eLearning platforms (website or app)
    Online learning platforms (like an app or website) can use gamification features (image by Anthony)

    With VR it is possible to feel a place, to arrange something which is not as safe in real life. For instance, surgery.

    Nowadays VR is used for doing internships, medical and military operations, trips, group distance learning, etc.

    Online learning app or website
    VR technologies can be used in different fields of eLearning platforms (app or website), including sports education (image by RD UX/UI)

    A very good example of VR use is the following case. Harvard partnered with Zhejiang University in China to conduct an anthropological lesson, with the help of rumii, a social VR software. Half of the students were studying at Harvard, half at Zhejiang University, and were working together as avatars in a VR-equipped classroom to study ancient Egyptian characters along a tomb. Both were using the Oculus Go headset and worked together to identify certain hieroglyphics.

    Using avatars and mapped facial expressions, the students on opposite sides of the world could come together to discuss, synthesize, and learn from one another.

    💸 How Much Does It Cost to Develop an E-Learning Platform?

    In this paragraph we’re going to give you an idea of the average costs for aneducational website development.

    However, keep in mind that the development of your app can cost more or less since it can have another structure, special design needs, additional services and integrations.

    It is also important to take an hourly rate of your development team into account. This estimation is based on a rate of $40/hour which is average for Eastern Europe. Here it is:

    Nevertheless, remember that this is a rough estimation and your development costs may vary depending on these factors:

    • hourly rate of your development team;
    • features you want to add to your app;
    • different technologies and integrations.

    With the mentioned set of features and $40/hourly rate, the e-Learning App Development costs are between $16,800-26,000. Yet, for a detailed estimate of your own idea, please, reach out to us with project details!

    💡 Takeaways

    As you can see, e-Learning platform development opens up new possibilities — an access to a wider audience with no geo limits, an ability to reuse your content and scale it for bigger groups. Also, custom development allows you to build a platform that will perfectly match your business needs and include only the features you need

    Depending on activities and tasks you aim at and your type of business, you can either create an e-Learning app or website, develop an e-Learning website, or do both.

    Why don’t we briefly summarize the main e-Learning platform development steps?

    1. Think of the goals you want to achieve by creating an e-Learning platform.
    2. Decide on whether it should be an app, a website, or both.
    3. Choose the features you want to see in your platform.
    4. Find a Tech Partner and develop your platform!

    Any questions left? Drop us a line — we’re here to help you and become your Partner in Crime for e-Learning platform development!

    Build Your e-Learning Platform!
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