How much does it cost to develop an online course in 2021?

E-learning has never been so in-demand as it is now in 2021. Suddenly, online courses became better and more informative than in-door studies. More and more users engage in online courses to acquire, accumulate and enhance professional skills. Statista claims that 50% of students in the world took at least 1 online course throughout the last years. For instance, in 2019 the size of the global e-learning market was lower. At present, the world experiences a massive transition towards learning computerization. And, it is predicted to grow, and reach $370 billion U.S. by 2026. Demand for e-learning is skyrocketing indeed.

Courses for various purposes and covering different directions are released in packs. The Open University found out that the e-learning course development takes 90% less energy if compare with traditional offline courses. To add, e-learning increases learning retention rates by 25% — 60%. And, what’s more, according to IBM that switched to e-learning recently, it is cost-efficient up to $200 million of savings.

Thus, the benefits of online courses are bigger than those of traditional education. But, how much does it cost to develop an online course? How much do online courses cost?

What stands behind an Online Course?

According to a glossary, online courses are conducted over the Internet learning management system. The system allows students to view course details such as syllabus and course instructions as well as their academic progress. The benefit of LMS is in the online communication between the peers and course teachers and flexibility in watching online material or carrying out tasks at your own pace. Online courses are divided into MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses). These courses are produced by large organizations such as edX, Prometheus, Coursera, Udemy. And traditional courses by universities like Purdue, Stanford, Harvard, etc., are more private and only for specific audiences.

Here’s an example of the major differences between MOOCs and traditional courses.

How to develop an Online Course?

Step 1. If you have a niche, conduct solid research on the topic. Do not target broad knowledge sharing. It is best to narrow your topic to a certain point and produce valuable information that the course listeners will consider relevant, up to the point, and goal-focused.

Step 2. Content Planning is essential. You are a guide and your course is a map. With the help of your course, learners should be able to get from point A to point B by a straight line. Every piece of information or video lesson should lead your audience closer to the goal of the course.

Step 3. What the format of the course will be? Be sure to make research, gather questionnaire data about the most preferred format to consume information. The way you’re going to interact and communicate with your audience from behind the screen can motivate them to engage further or they will start looking for a new course. Always try to make information interactive as it adds valuable points to user satisfaction.

Step 4. Branding and Promotion. Your social reputation matters as well as the reputation of your course. Try to build a strong brand and promote it among the others.

Step 5. Create a page that sells. To sell your course to the students, it is best to make them truly interested. So, create a page with the basic info about you, your source, bull point the main questions your course answers and don’t forget to wrap your seamless content with catchy design. This way you’ll be able to build an online audience.

Step 6. Create content for the course. When you know your audience, the format of your course, have a strong brand, it’s time to think about the correct course content. What style it would be: formal or informal? Would it be filled with complex terms or easy explanations? Think outside the box and create something smart enough for users to ask for its sequels.

Step 7. Your course should have a price. Pick wisely and chose the one that will justify all your time, efforts, and investments.

Step 8. Test your course and speak about it. Beta-launch is obligatory to understand whether the course you offer is flawless and meets user demands. If it’s ok, start talking about the course on social media to gather attention.

How much does it cost to create an online course?

To start counting the cost of e-learning development, it is essential to make up a list of the most needed things that will assist you in course creation. So, the list will include:

1. A webcam and a microphone. A few years ago, these recording tools were considered expensive, but today both will cost you around $100. Of course, it depends on the devices you’ll choose. The more your cam or mic have additional features, the costlier they will be.

2. Good lighting. To make sure your video is filled with the much-needed light, you can invest in a lighting kit, which is also around $100. For instance, just a lamp for cameos might cost you $30, and a bigger softbox lighting kit will cost about 70$.

3. Text, video, and image recording/editing tools. To save costs, your number one text editing platforms are Google Docs and Google Drive. The first is used to ensure you produce quality content and transform it into the most favorable format, e.g. PDF. Google Drive is the best and secure place to keep all your lectures together.

To record your video, you can find the free-of-charge software on the Internet. For instance, TechRadar made a list of completely free video recording programs: OSB Studio, FlashBack Express, Apowersoft Free Online Screen Recorder, Debut Video Capture, and ShareX. Here are the first five, but if you need more options, you can always visit TechRadar for that purpose.

To edit the video you’ve created, choose a tool like Lightworks. If you are a beginner, this is exactly what you need to cut and shape your video accordingly. To edit images within the video try Canva — one of the easiest, and most creative image editors today.

4. Course hosting. It depends on the platform you’re considering uploading your course to. For instance, YouTube is free, but there are some privacy concerns to think about if your course should be for a specific audience. If to consider Vimeo, it will be quite cheap if to use it the whole year round, e.g. $7 per month for a small course and up to $50 for a larger one.

5. Web hosting. What if you want to create your website and stream your course there? Consider such spending as $10 for the domain. This price is not final as it includes only basic website features. If you need more features to be there, expect higher pricing packages.

6. An existing popular platform to host your course. This option might be a 2-in-1 solution for course video hosting and web hosting domain. But, it will be costlier as well. Every platform has its paid plans, which vary from $250 to $350 per year, and more. Of course, you can choose the one that suits your course idea and budget the most. Let’s take Udemy as an example. Udemy allows becoming a teacher on the platform and gives guidance on how to develop your course. But also, any software development company might help you with creating your own custom e-learning course development platform.

7. Marketing and advertisement. To make everything simple for you here, use Google Adwords, Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms to make your course known to the public. What’s more, these are completely free. If to engage in a more profound advertising campaign by the following social platforms, it’ll take up some budget.

Traditional Courses and MOOCs Cost Comparison

Based on the given budget, how much do online classes cost? Let’s take Coursera — the #1 e-learning platform worldwide. How much do Coursera courses cost? The cost of each course varies from $29 to $99 based on course complexity and popularity. What about Udemy? Here, any course can cost as low as $11.99 and reach $129.99 or even more. It depends on the initial e-learning development cost.

To compare online courses and traditional ones, let’s investigate how much does an online degree cost? The BA degree at Arden University (UK) will be no less than £14.500. At the University of the People, a BA degree will be around $4.800. The GSBS Global Business School has a tuition fee for one academic year of €8,750. So, the cost of online course development and the course itself after it is released looks unbelievably low.

Wrapping up

Online courses are a good way to make an impact and their curriculum development costs, as well as costs for additional features and devices, are relatively low. If you have a digital course, but still wonder how to develop online training courses with the help of your own LMS, contact us. We have expertise in building LMS solutions.

Originally published at on February 18, 2021.

We are an international software company of experts driven by the desire to add value using the latest technology and business approaches >

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