You Can Win on Both Sides of the Chalkboard
Not even ten years ago, all that came to mind when I thought about online courses was dodgy internet degrees from exotic places and online licenses from churches you’d never heard of so you could officiate at a friend’s wedding in the mountains. Now Edtech is booming. A huge $2.51 billion was invested into edtech companies in the first half of 2015. The long list of education startups at Web Summit 2015 was testament to a thriving industry.
Shock was my response when my sister announced she would be teaching all of her classes online this semester. My sister did not own a computer until two years ago when I moved out of the country and she had no other way to keep in touch. The delivery and installation of this computer was a carefully coordinated mission between my techie brother and I. Something close to a Martian landing. Now her college had offered this solution so she could work from home and recover from health conditions, since she only had one year to go until retirement. Online education had arrived and officially impacted every demographic.
According to a 2015 Babson Research report one out of three U.S. college students is taking at least one course entirely online.
Digital classrooms are reshaping more than colleges and universities. Just as technology has blown open the music and publishing industries, learning is now an open source experience.
Digital Learning Goes Open Source
Companies like Khan Academy launched a movement for free, world-class education for anyone, anywhere. Khan Academy, founded by Salman Khan is funded by donations, now with significant contributions from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Google.
Online programs like Khan Academy are known as MOOCs, massive open online courses. These are generally free and available to anyone with an internet connection. Itunes University is a good example of a MOOC. You will find thousands of courses on a broad range of topics. Of course, because its free, you may study by yourself, usually without any feedback or accreditation.
Some Freelancers find it helpful to demonstrate their skills. Sites like Upworth and Freelancer.com offer free online tests with scores.
Two high-profile companies have pursued a badge-based future: Coursera and Udacity. Both began their lives as providers of MOOCs. Coursera has bet on content and brands from top universities. The launched “Specializations” in 2014 and now offer 75 different programs, the vast majority from a single U.S. university.
Coursera CEO Rick Levin – former President of Yale came onboard last year, in part due to his unparalleled connections in China and throughout Asia – and has said that the Specializations/certificate model is “financially sturdy enough that it should pave the way for Coursera to become cash-flow positive in the foreseeable future.”
Udacity pivoted in 2013, when it announced “Nanodegrees” developed in partnership with top technology companies like Google’s involvement in the Android Developer Nanodegree. Udacity has done the same with iOS (Apple) and Tech Entrepreneur (Google). Back in September, Udacity revealed it had 10,000 students enrolled in Nanodegrees – a number growing by 30% every month.
There’s Money in that Knowledge in Your Head
There are other online education marketplaces like CreativeLive, General Assembly, Treehouse, and Skillshare that offer freelancers the opportunity to get paid for what they know. Bloggers and “thoughtleaders” make money with online courses on these platforms. See “Why Top Entrepreneurs Will be Teaching Online in 2016.”
In the heavy weight division are emergent online providers like Udemy and PluralSight. Like the Uber of education, certain platforms, like Udemy, allow global teachers to create and benefit from their course content.
Udemy is a website that enables anyone to teach and learn online. Launched in 2010, Udemy tries to democratize online education by making it fast, easy and free to create online courses. Like Amazon with eBook publishers you keep 70% of the revenue from your courses (or 85% if you directly refer the customer to the course). How 10 Instructors Earned $1.6 Million on Udemy in One Year. If you are a visual learner go to Slideshare – 16 Tips to Make Passive Income on Udemy.
Former high school math teacher Rob Percival, the company’s top instructor, has made more than $2 million since 2014. And Percival’s friend and tennis partner, Ben Tristem, says he earns in the high six figures teaching game development.Not everyone gets to Malta, though: Average Udemy teacher take-home pay is $8,000.
Read More in Fortune.
Another online teacher success story is Kunal Desai, founder and CEO of Bulls on Wall Street, a company that teaches people to trade stocks online. Desai came to his idea to launch Bulls on Wall Street while working as a successful stock trader. Read more at Why Online Education is a Popular Path for Entrepreneurs in 2016
Pluralsight began as a provider of online technology training, and recently acquired the Orlando, Fla.-based Code School, which offered dozens of instructional courses and videos for developers. The $36 million deal was Pluralsight’s sixth acquisition in the past 18 months, as it continues its strategy to buy up smaller companies to expand its footprint in the online learning industry, and strengthened its position against companies like Skillsoft, and new competitor, LinkedIn.
With LinkedIn’s acquisition of Lynda.com, Pluralsight is geared up for an online education fight. In early April, professional social network LinkedIn shelled out $1.5 billion to acquire Lynda.com, one of the largest and oldest online learning marketplaces; their goal to become the professional enrichment destination of choice.
Pluralsight surpassed $85 million in revenue last year and roughly doubled its revenue every year. The company is prepared to IPO early this year. While LinkedIn’s shares recently fell 42% on news of larger than expected losses. If you are curious about how LinkedIn tries to make money see more at LinkedIn Financial.
So freelancers can both feast and be feasted upon in the online learning market. If you are in the market to upgrade your skills take a look at The 10 most popular free online courses for professionals.
If you think you have something to offer here are a list of additional resources.
MORE RESOURCES TO TEACH ONLINE AND EARN MONEY
- 7 PLACES TO MAKE MONEY TEACHING A CLASS ONLINE
- Another way to earn money teaching online is YouTube. And, of course there is a YouTube Video to tell you how. “How to Make Money Teaching Online Courses on Udemy, Skillshare, Skillfeed”
- You can use Addons, like ZippyCourses, on a personal website to power you online course. ZippyCourses provides simple setup and hosts your class content, and allows you to include videos.
- Webinara guides you through posting a webinar and shows you ways to get more, better qualified attendees.
- Teachable nurtures course creators
- 6 WordPress Plugins to Make Money With Online Courses