decade ago, most people agreed that formal education required a school, a teacher, and printed textbooks. As you might expect, in 2024, the definition has evolved to reflect the state of affairs.
Online environments are now part of the learning environment, and e-learning, a.k.a. “virtual learning,” “webinars,” and “virtual classrooms,” is now a household term. Just imagine, according to reports, a potential growth difference for the online education market between 2020 and 2025 is USD 121.85 billion.
Isn’t it a clear signal that starting an online school is a good idea? For sure, any educators contemplating a move into online education can rest assured that they are already on the right track.
Ready to take a bite out of the online learning market? This guide will show how to start an online school, cover essential questions related to the online school concept, and share some management tips.
What is an Online School? Difference from an Academy
An online school is an organization or institution that teaches students via the Internet, using virtual classes and technological solutions.
In many respects, it is identical to a conventional one, except that it does not require physical classrooms or is restricted by students' locations. This is the same as enrolling in a traditional school, but students can study from home or entirely online. The online school is responsible for providing the student with a course of study, certified instructors, and a schedule of classes.
Is it different from an academy?
From the business point of view, many edupreneurs use this term for branding and marketing strategies when starting an e-learning business or providing learning experiences.
That’s why some people confuse it with the academy. And we want to bring some clarity here.
The word “School,” when used in names, often gives more value to the brands, especially if they offer knowledge within reskilling or young audiences having little of the skills they are about to learn.
There, a school can be a small or medium institution, offering programs and a stable student flow. At the same time, it may refer to the single creator offering several courses but having a solid brand. Compared to an academy, it may have a less business focus and is much smaller in size and operation.
Note. If you want to start an academy, a more complex organization, check out our other article on “How to Create an Academy?”
How Do Online Schools Work?
To create your own online school, you should focus on three essential processes, playing a crucial role in how online schools operate and affecting the learning experience:
Think about the means and expertise to make the learning happen. Much will depend on the learning needs and goals. From there, you can opt for various learning styles, like synchronous or asynchronous ones.
Moreover, an online learning environment or platform will be crucial for the school’s operation. It is used to administer the course or module's instructional materials. For instance, depending on the chosen program, the learning platform may be a centralized desktop application or a mobile-friendly website.
In online education, students have 24/7 access to course materials and can submit assignments whenever they are ready.
We all have daily face-to-face conversations with our loved ones, friends, and coworkers. Unlike face-to-face interactions, leading a discussion calls for a different set of skills from the leader. Discussions in an online school setup are intended to encourage students to put their analytical skills to work in light of the course material.
There, your interaction and immersion matter, pushing you to use various sets of apps to create online school infrastructure. Thus, one of the school's objectives is that students can comprehend the material rather than merely take it in.
The experiences within online courses are more practical, efficient, and user-friendly than their traditional counterparts. Yet, they often lack interaction, as a student can study wherever and whenever he pleases. The learners have the luxury of studying whenever and wherever they please. And often, it results in setbacks or underperformance.
Thus, for an instructor or creator, creating engaging, relevant, and thought-provoking experiences is crucial. They may refer to lectures, live sessions, pre-recorded videos, quizzes, and assignments. Yet, to create online school experiences that are useful, you should focus on interaction and immersion.
Lastly, two-way communication between instructor and student is a must, allowing for evaluating both learning and incorporating feedback.
Why Are Online Schools Popular?
You probably already know there is a great demand for online courses, but did you know that nearly 7 million college students have taken online classes? 🤔 Plus, that was before a worldwide pandemic hit! A few trends should compel you to start your own online school.
Reskilling and upskilling in the future
Providing people with easy access to high-caliber online education is crucial to ensuring their preparedness for the future and expanding their potential for advancement. Retraining, or upskilling, has become a focal point for many businesses and individuals to address this problem. 📈 81% of businesses polled in a report by World Economic Forum consider investing in learning on the job as the primary workforce strategy for the upcoming years (2023-2027). Whereas, an online school is likely to be one of the institutions to provide different levels of training and courses.
Accessibility and flexibility of online schools
The switch to learning online offered significant opportunities for both students and learning providers.
For instance, significant providers like LinkedIn Learning and Google, both of which offer online certificate programs, saw massive growth in user numbers.
On the one hand, students need to learn new skills; on the other hand, the online format offers flexibility and a variety of courses. A learner does not need to be physically present in the classroom. They can watch a recorded lecture or select the right time to start a module. Sure, it does not refer to live sessions or discussions during a lesson. Yet, students have 24/7 access to course materials and can submit assignments whenever they are ready.
Even though we learned to maintain a safe distance from others in the real world, collaborative learning has emerged as a central feature of the digital realm. Although there is no universally agreed-upon definition of "social learning," we define it here as any form of knowledge acquisition involving interaction with a community of other learners, whether in person or online.
There was a significant increase in the social sharing of courses. The number of times a course was shared on social media, Twitter, Microsoft Teams, and professional networking sites like LinkedIn increased by 67% in 2020.
A 5-Step Guide on How to Start an Online School
- Step #1. Define your audience
- Step #2. Choose the right LMS
- Step #3. Set up a dedicated space
- Step #4. Set goals and make plans
- Step #5. Ensure easy feedback and communication
Even though it might seem hard to figure out how to start an online school, teaching from home is a cheap way to start a career in education. Here’s a list of the most important things you’ll need to do to start a successful teaching business.
Step #1. Define Who Your Audience Is
The first step to starting an online school is extensive research on potential students. The findings from this research should inform the decisions you make about structure and content. The level of expertise of the target audience, for instance, will have an impact on the exercises used in training. Here are four strategies for identifying who will be interested in your online learning course:
- Recognize the difficulties they face, the hopes they have, and the necessities they require
- Find out how your online school can help them with these issues.
- It's important to know if your solutions are relieving your customers' problems, so make sure there's a way for them to give feedback.
Step #2. Decide Which Learning Management System Is Right for You
How to open an online school if you have no infrastructure? It can be pretty hard, not all tools would work together smoothly. There, you need a proper learning management platform to create learning environments. The LMS must manage and deliver training and education programs and document and track student progress.
Learning management systems also facilitate real-time feedback and offer tools for webinars, online forums, and student evaluations. Some learning management systems (LMS) are designed to perform only one task; however, using a system that can perform all of your training's essential tasks is preferable. Some of the most crucial features of a learning management system are:
- Integrations, such as video conferencing, calendars, emails, chats, recording
- Data monitoring.
- Intuitive and unique service for each user.
- Performance tracking
- Notifications and alerts will be sent out automatically.
- All the study resources are in one place.
- Adjustable data analysis and reporting.
Step #3. Prepare Your Home Office for Productivity
Establishing a dedicated workspace at home is preferable to any other option. Teaching from home allows you to set your schedule and manage your classroom. Getting rid of clutter, keeping your workstation tidy daily, and sitting in a chair supporting your back are all good places to start. The more at home you feel, the easier it is to get work done and concentrate. To get started as an online tutor, you don't need a ton of fancy tools. Technology-wise, only the following is required:
- A digital machine
- connection to the web that is both quick and reliable
- a program for video calls
However, before launching your online school, ensure all the technology has been tested and is functioning properly.
Step #4. Create Objectives, Standards, and Procedures for Your Classroom
Another vital step in how to start online school programs is to set goals. Students will be better prepared mentally and academically if you post class materials and lesson plans on a digital learning management system well before the first day of class. Just as in a regular classroom setting, it's important to remember that not all students will benefit from the same lesson. The flexibility of one's schedule can be better accommodated by enrolling in private lessons. Having only one student can tailor your teaching to their specific needs.
Step #5. Open Up Lines of Communication
It's crucial to create online school environments that are warm and welcoming for your students. The personal connection between teacher and pupil may be diminished when working in a remote, digital setting. Three approaches to fostering communication are outlined below.
- Inform your students of your availability and how they can reach you.
- Foster the utilization of collaborative, communication, and project management software. You can expect these features to be built into your LMS.
- Normalize feedback and evaluation.
How Can Instructors Manage Their Online Schools
Here are some tips for how virtual educators can run their virtual classrooms efficiently.
- Limit the number of students in each class. Students should be organized into cohorts as a means to this end.
- Assist students in regaining credits in a nontraditional setting.
- Give students the chance to learn at their own pace and with their tools. This cannot be overstated, as research has shown that student performance improves when teachers tailor their lessons to each individual.
- Encourage collaborative learning and interactions among students. They will learn more and faster in a group setting than in one that encourages individual study.
How Do You Keep Students Engaged in a Virtual Classroom
Engaging students during a lecture and keeping their attention throughout the semester requires great content, communication, and interactivity. However, beyond that, educators should:
- Put their best foot forward.
- Put the tools of modern technology to good use.
- Find the source of their students' motivation.
- Motivate students to achieve their goals with the aid of a clear plan.
- Make the lesson manageable by dividing it into smaller chunks.
- Give your students a sense of worth.
- Be patient with their students.
Students today no longer require a traditional classroom environment to succeed. Proof of this can be found in the popularity of online education during and after the pandemic. It's a chance for educators to stretch their limited resources since there's no need to lease classroom or office space. Obviously, this is a cost- and time-saver. Most importantly, educators who want to start online school businesses must leverage a digital platform effectively. LMS greatly simplifies the process of providing a digital learning environment.