You know all of those great online courses you’ve taken from creators you admire?
You can create your own ecourse and profit, too.
And no, you don’t need any special degrees, certifications, or multi-thousand dollar equipment to produce one, either.
Just consider Masiel (Massi) Encarnación’s example.
In 2012, Masiel was coping with a bad breakup. She knew she had to do something to snap out of it and take back control.
She fell in love with Zumba, became a licensed instructor, and now works as a personal trainer and fitness educator in New York City.
However, you don't need to visit the Big Apple to take lessons with Massi, as her fun fitness training classes are also available as an ecourse on Podia.
Yours could be, too.
In this post, we'll look at ecourses just like Massi's products. We'll examine:
- What ecourses are and the many forms they take
- Why ecourses have become so popular in recent years
- The benefits of taking ecourses
- How ecourses differ from traditional education
There's a lot to cover, but don't worry - we're here for you every step of the way, Let’s start with the basics.
What is an ecourse?
Ecourses, also known as online courses, are simply courses taught online instead of in-person.
Ecourses are often prerecorded, but they can include live class sessions, mastermind groups, projects and assignments, and many other components to give students a near-identical experience to in-person courses.
Although many popular online courses come from major universities, ecourses can be offered by any person, business, or school.
With a working definition of what an ecourse is, let’s explore the different forms they can take.
Ecourses by content creators
Content creators are simply everyday people and small businesses who create online courses to help students achieve their goals.
Many of the courses through Podia, for example, are designed by content creators, such as this “Tailwind for Pinterest Bootcamp” course by The Purple Teacup Co and “Music Production Mastery” by Full Circle Music Academy.
For some content creators, creating an online course is a side-hustle or passion project.
For others, creating and selling online courses is their full-time job.
If you’re interested in earning extra income from your experiences and expertise, here’s a guide to coming up with ideas for your online course.
Otherwise, let’s go over some online course types that mimic in-person learning.
Online learning in blended curricula and “flipped” classrooms
Blended curricula and “flipped” classroom courses are typically taught by universities and other large organizations.
Blended curricula classrooms offer both in-person and online sessions for students with unconventional schedules, such as students who work full-time or who live far from campus.
As an example, this Master of Nutrition Science and Policy degree from Tufts University offers a completely online experience, although students gather for a one-week in-person session in Boston each semester.
The University of Michigan, on the other hand, allows students to complete 12 credits online and 18 in-person for their blended Master of Arts in Educational Studies program.
Similar to a blended curricula course, “flipped” classrooms encourage students to learn the material on their own time and complete homework and course projects during class time.
Because blended and flipped courses require so much discipline from students, they’re typically best offered when students have a strong financial or professional reason to attend.
Blended and flipped courses are also often components of a much larger online degree program, which is the third type of online course we’ll cover.
Online degree programs
Given the popularity of online courses, more and more universities are offering fully-online degree programs for students who value flexibility and more autonomy in their education.
As an example, the University of Saint Joseph’s M.S. in Chemistry offers online courses and flexible tracks for working professionals.
Though online degrees and certificates were once offered exclusively by universities, many businesses are now launching their own programs, too.
IBM, for example, offers a Professional Data Science Certificate on Coursera that over 64,000 students have enrolled in.
Students who are looking to better themselves professionally and personally don’t always need to enroll in accredited online programs, however. Self-paced online courses and ecourses work just as well.
Self-paced online courses and ecourses
“Self-paced online courses” is a kind of catch-all term for any online course not part of a formal program.
From these examples you can see that ecourses can be offered by any type of creator -- a content creator, small business, large business, or university -- and address any topic under the sun.
But why are there so many online courses offered in the first place, and what makes them such a hit? Read on to find out.
Why are ecourses so popular?
Online courses are quite popular because of their low barrier to entry, affordability, convenience, and overall topic variety.
In fact, the number of students taking at least some online courses grew by over 350,000 between 2016 and 2017 -- an increase of 5.7%.
Online courses are suitable for both traditional academic subjects like literature and philosophy to hands-on, skills-based lessons on crafting, programming, and everything in-between.
But before delving further into what online courses can be about, let’s address why they’re such a hit with students across the world.
Reduced barrier to entry in skilled professions
With ecourses, students can learn from professionals who’ve been in their position before and who have a mix of theoretical and hands-on knowledge.
This is in contrast to standard classrooms, where professors may predominantly have theoretical knowledge and little real-world experience.
He uses this background to offer information-packed courses and a membership program to teach professionals and digital agencies about SEO.
Taking online courses from teachers who are not only extremely experienced but also who’ve been in their students’ position before is definitely a win for online courses over many formal academic courses.
As an added bonus, online courses typically have few-to-no entry requirements for students.
For most online courses, as long as a student can pay for the course, they can enroll in it.
If there’s a hole in a student’s knowledge, the more elastic pace of online courses means students can take time to review modules or find supplementary resources.
Another benefit of online courses is that this expertise often comes at a much lower cost than your average academic program.
Just how much more affordable? Check out the cost breakdown in the next section to find out.
Significantly more affordable than traditional education
From 2017 to 2018, the average cost of tuition at a public university was $9,970.
That number climbed to $25,620 for out-of-state students at the same public university and $34,740 for students at private schools.
Those prices can often climb higher, too, if your school doesn’t include things like technology fees, gym fees, and other extraneous costs in your tuition price.
One of the main reasons why tuition is so steep is because tuition needs to cover hundreds of expenses, from the salaries of university staff to campus renovations and maintenance.
With online courses, costs are typically much lower because there are fewer expenses associated with offering them.
In a study of 133,000 course sales from Podia creators, our research found the average course price was $182.59 -- much more palatable than paying thousands for one college course, wouldn’t you agree?
However, you’ll find online courses at all price points.
Furthermore, online courses offer much more financial flexibility.
For university programs, students must submit pages of paperwork in order to receive a scholarship or financial aid potentially.
With online courses, creators can offer payment plans and discounts to students for whatever reasons they deem fit, whether that’s to help lower-income students or reward long-time students for their loyalty.
If you want to offer more generous payment terms and perks for your students, you’ll enjoy Podia’s storefront platform.
As a Podia creator, you can offer your students payment plans, coupons, and run sales so you can both grow your business and reach more students.