Tools for Building Social Online Course Communities
Creating an online course is more than just delivering content. If you are smart, you will build a community!
As you grow your customer-base it often makes sense to allow learners to interact with one another. This isn’t applicable to all course content but surprisingly it does apply to a variety of niches.
In general we people prefer social opportunities which is probably why social networking platforms are so popular. The internet is a place of interacting, be it in comments, sharing photos, tweeting, or videos.
Given the way people are already used to online social settings it makes implementing a social aspect to your courses that much easier. It is common place.
Creating social aspects to your online learning program isn’t difficult. Here are some tools you can use:
- Closed Facebook Group – Everyone knows how to use it already so no learning curve. Plus, no need for additional username & password. Be careful though because you don’t own the platform so policy changes may have unwanted impacts.
- Forums – The original way people interacted online. Forums are easy to set-up and give you the opportunity to give people credits/clout for continual activity.
- Social Profiles – Easy to do with WordPress, you can use BuddyPress to create social profiles similar to Facebook, although the advantage being that you own the platform.
- Slack – Growing in popularity by the minute, Slack makes it easy to create chat rooms for your learners to interact. It is a little less organized than the above options but still great for interacting.
If you have yet to launch your course then you may be worried that your social components will be kind of empty. That will definitely be the case initially. Some people get around this by holding off on launching these until later. That can work as long as you don’t wait too long.
Better though is to set-up an automated email (after purchase or signing up) that gives your customers a link or instructions for the social components of your course. Maybe even reward them with points for introducing themselves.
If you already have a course (or multiple courses) and don’t have a way for learners to interact then I would strongly recommend one of the options above. If you are yet to release your course, then make sure you map out how you want learners to engage with one another and the content.