With Thanksgiving upon us, we thought it would be a great time to compile a complete list of all the things we’re thankful for, including online learning tools, resources and, of course, our customers.
This post serves as an educational resource for anyone looking for tools, sites and tips for online course design, engagement and distribution. If you haven’t heard of some of the resources on this list, go check them out!
1. Personal Learning Networks
We can’t stop talking about the power of personal learning networks or PLNs. We’re thankful for the people and resources that allow us to learn so much so casually.
An individual’s personal learning network can be described as an informal and personally curated community of professionals, industry thought-leaders or organizations that consistently create and/or share valuable information with the goal of educating their community. It’s a casual approach to meaningful professional development.
The three main pillars of a great PLN are:
A Personal Learning Environment (PLE) - PLEs are systems that help learners take control of and manage their own learning. They often live on social networking sites like Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and Linkedin.
Industry Thought Leaders - Thought leaders are the well-informed opinion leaders of any given industry. They can be found hanging out in various PLEs across the web. Some eLearning, online learning or education thought leaders we’re thankful for are:
The Community and Its Wealth of Resources - A PLN cannot survive without active members who feed their networks with informed and relevant content. Some publications or blogs that consistently serve up fresh content in our industry are:
- eLearning Feeds
- eLearning Tags
- The Online Learning Consortium
- eLearning Guild
- eLearning Industry
- Inside Online Learning
2. Tools and Sites That Simplify Design for Educators
Turning your online course or school into an inspiring work of art isn’t as difficult as it seems. With the right tools and a little know-how you can take your project from sloppy to shiny in no time. Check out the design tools and sites we’re thankful for this holiday season:
Color - Choosing the right color is a crucial part of designing a great school. Humans instinctively react to colors differently, so selecting a color palette that reinforces your message while appealing to a broad audience is no easy feat. With that said, these tools will help you get the job done:
Infographics - According to the Sage Handbook of Political Communication, the brain processes visual information 60,000 times faster than the time it takes the brain to decode text. So, get your infographic on with these great (and free) tools:
3. Tools and Sites That Improve Learner Engagement
Learner engagement should be at the top of your priority list, seeing as engaged learners give rave reviews and boost word-of-mouth marketing for your course. Check out our list of engagement tools we’re thankful to have:
Storify - Storify is a great way for you and your students to tell compelling stories about any topic by finding, collecting and sharing what people say all over the web.
Disqus - Disqus is a comment hosting service for websites and online communities that uses a networked platform. Some online learning platforms integrate with Disqus, enabling educators to include discussion and collaboration on specific course activities.
Hangouts On Air - Need to live stream a lesson or host interactive conversations with students around the world? Hangouts on air makes it easy!
Wistia - Two words: video analytics. We’re big fans of data here at SchoolKeep and that’s why we’re super thankful for Wistia’s hosting service. By hosting videos with Wistia, educators can see exactly which parts of a video lesson a viewer watched, skipped and rewatched
4. Tools and Sites to Distribute Online Courses
For entrepreneurial educators in the business of both creating and selling online courses, distribution and marketing are two very important arenas. Check out the list of tools below to make raising awareness and attracting students easy:
Course Talk - Course talk is an online course library that pulls courses from platforms across the web. Students visit their site to find and purchase courses in various subject areas. As an educator, getting your courses listed in a library like Course Talk could result in several hundred enrollments.
Youtube - Attract students to your course by uploading “teasers” to Youtube. Teasers can take the form of a few brief tutorial videos ending in a call-to-action that drives students to your course page or catalog.
MailChimp - MailChimp allows educators to create and manage a school newsletter. Newsletters can be used to promote new courses, provide prospecting students with discounts, coupons and incentives, as well as keep your community up to date.
Hootsuite - Hootsuite is a social media management system for brand management across popular social networking sites like Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter and Google+. The easy-to-navigate user interface takes the form of a dashboard, which gives you immediate visibility into all of your accounts.
Unbounce - Many online educators begin the process of marketing by building an email list with a landing page. These are targeted pages that break down what your online school teaches and how potential students will benefit.
Landing pages include a form, which consists of fields such as name, email, phone number, etc. Having a beautiful landing page will help you attract a long list of student “leads.” Unbounce helps coding-deficient marketers create these beautiful landing pages for free.
5. A Bright Future for us All
To finish this list of thanks, we wanted to wrap up by pointing out just how thankful we are for being a part of an innovative industry with such a bright future!
According to market research firm Global Industry Analysts, the online learning market will reach $107 billion in 2015. That’s astounding! In 2011, it was estimated at around 35.6 billion and in 2013, 56.2 billion! A growing market means new technology and better solutions to the eLearning problems of the past. That’s what we’re working on at SchoolKeep, and we’re very thankful to be a part of it all.
More than anything else, we’re thankful for our customers. You guys create amazing courses, help us improve our product and support us as we put in the necessary work to make SchoolKeep the best online learning platform in the world! We’ll always need your help and you’ll always be the most valuable SchoolKeep team member.
We were recently selected to be a part of Boost, a program where fast-growing startups exhibit their products at The Next Web’s USA conference on December 10th in New York City. The startups demoing on stage, however, will be decided by a public voting contest that begins today (11/26/2014).
It’s a one-step voting process – no login or signup necessary. Will you help get us on stage?
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!
For a longer list of eLearning resources, check out this awesome list compiled by Harry Kalantzis.