The technological development gave us an opportunity for the distance learning. Nowadays it doesn’t matter where the users live and how much free time they have: they can start with the education wherever and whenever they want.
And the educational platforms have contributed to this possibility.
As such platforms become very popular today we decided to share our experience in the educational platform development.
In this article we tell about one of the platforms we developed, the challenges we faced and solutions we found.
The educational platform is a set of interactive online services that gives an ability to study and interact online and provides users with tools, information and resources (books, videos etc.) for learning.
Such platforms are being widely used because of the growing demand on the online learning. Interest in e-learning platforms and the revenue from them are growing as quickly as the number of users striving to get the qualitative education. According to Statista research, the size of the e-learning market will grow and reach 243,8 billion U.S. dollars in 2022.
Just look at the statistic:
On the one hand, the demand is growing, on the other hand, there are so many ready platforms that creating a new top-notch project becomes more difficult than before. There is a good chance that the new startup becomes just an ordinary platform. So how to create and launch a unique thing that engages users and keeps them interested?
Steps for building an e-learning platform
If you think that the work begins with coding we have news for you: much work has to be done before starting with the development process. There are tips you should consider when beginning your work on the new educational project:
1 step: Define the goal and research your target audience
How will your platform help the users? Is there unmet demand in this area? What problem do the users have and how will your portal solve this problem? You should learn much information about the users and as consequence, understand what they are interested in and what they dislike.
Analyzing similar platforms, their benefits and drawbacks would help you to answer this question.
Also read our article: Mobile application development: Top 9 steps to build your startup
2 step: Decide the way of the web development of an educational platform
There are several ways of building an e-learning website. There is no right and wrong way, but each of them has pros and cons, and you should be aware of them. Consider the following options and pick one of them:
- Development the platform from scratch
This option means you would find a team which makes a totally new product without using a generic website or a CMS system. Only if you have great coding skills you can do it on your own.
This way is time-consuming but advisable if you want to implement many custom features. It provides the users with the platform which has never existed before and is as customizable as you need it to be. This refers to tracking user behavior on the page, adding such options as you want etc. For example, in our educational platform we made specific ratings for students, progress tracking and its storage, a complicated counting system of this progress that was dependent on many factors.
- Choosing one of the CMS systems: WordPress, Moodle etc.
Developing the website with such a system you don’t need to have any coding skills. A lot of plugins offer customizability of CMS, and it’s free to start. It’s surely more affordable than the previous option. Of course, some costs should be spent if you order a paid theme or additional features. However, such systems have their limits and lack very important features which make the educational platform distinctive.
- Ready to launch generic websites or teaching websites
Such websites can be launched very quickly and you can do it on your own. You would be offered several ready-to-use themes and such built-in features as student management, text and media addition, server, membership access, and database as a functionality.
But the number of themes and many options are limited. You can only pick from features offered on the website.
This would fit you if are trying to launch an educational platform with modest investments and to find out whether the interest from students is increasing.
3 step: Make a relevant content
Think of the relevant content and write down or create valuable information that should be placed on the website, these can be:
- Learning plans,
- Written exercises,
- Tests etc.
Creating the content take into account that it should engage the students and not be boring. Use gamification for motivating students and provoking them to discover the new information.
4 step: Design an attractive UI/UX
There are several rules on how a website should look like and what is unacceptable. UI/UX should be clear, contain colors motivating students to learn and not distracting them. The design should keep them engaged and concentrated. Depending on the target audience and the goals of the educational platform the design should be either serious or entertaining.
We’ll tell much more about the aesthetically appealing UI/UX in one of our coming articles.
5 step: Develop an assessment system
The assessment system can be interesting and motivating, e.g. in form of competition among many students. Divide the long stages into short ones and give rewards for passing each stage. The students should realize when and how their results would be measured.
The tutors need to estimate the progress and achievements of their students, as well, so make a system that informs them about their students’ progress.
6 step: Motivate both tutors and students
As it was already mentioned above, everything on the platform should provoke interest and motivate students for further learning. Gaining knowledge within the game is much more efficient than just learning that’s why consider adding gamification techniques to your educational platform. These can be rewards, mini-tests, and competition among students which increase engagement, awareness and productivity.
Tutors can be motivated with the award system: non-material rewards or even with cash rewards.
7 step: Promote your e-learning platform
Think about how you would market your services. It’s a big part of work, but the most important things are: your courses should be relevant; the constant motivation should be present; setting purposes with timelines for studying which are promoted.
We mentioned the general tips for the educational platform building, but there are many nuances when the development begins and among them, there are definite technical nuances.
Challenges and solutions
Our team develops websites from scratch and this way has its benefits what was already mentioned above.
When we developed an e-learning platform we were able to implement very unusual features and thanks to them the e-learning platform was as customizable as the client wanted.
Of course, we faced challenges but thanks to our experience we were able to deal with them quickly.
All the appearing challenges depend on the difficulty of the platform and skills of developers. Clients often face the situation when an issue isn’t addressed properly, and the code should be refactored then. That’s why much attention should be paid to the quality and professionalism.
As we wanted to deliver a quality platform, our experts not only implemented the functionalities but also analyzed the platform stack and suggested improvements.
The client had some knowledge on the website building and made a proposal to build the backend using Firebase. The reasoning was it would be rather easy and wouldn’t require much code writing.
As the platform was expected to get many tutors and students the Web server should be able to handle many requests. Node.js ensures the performance and speed of the educational platform.
That’s why after having considered all the requirements we chose Node.js to reach a high-performance platform. We opted for Nest.js - the framework of Node.js. It is more appropriate for API building and results in a quicker and more efficient development.
And MongoDB was chosen for storing data.
First, only Stripe was chosen and integrated as a payment system. But after some time we had to add Paypal under the request of the client.
It was a complicated task to write such an algorithm that supports both of the payment systems.
Our team got this job done at the earliest time possible and for now, both payment systems are functioning stably and without issues.
Besides, we suggested an additional option. As the educational platform would be available in many countries, the integration of the system for the tax calculation would be a must, so we gave advice to opt for Taxamo which turned out to be a good solution.
The client needed an email service for sending notifications.
There were two options: a money-saving option - to choose a cost-free mailing or a paid option - to choose one of the paid services.
The free mailing would lead to a new problem. Plenty of notifications coming to the mail would look like a mass e-mail. That’s why they would come to the spam folder and the client wouldn’t get them.
We strive to conserve our customers' resources so we recommended choosing Mailgun as a verified email service. This email service is available at the affordable price. It functions properly and there is spam protection when sending a lot of notifications so the users would surely get their e-mails.
The e-learning platform had a lot of content including the video content for students. Our first priority was to protect it so that the video content couldn’t be stolen if a wrong person got a link to the video.
Nest.js allowed dividing access according to the roles of users. We developed such an access system that only those users who bought these lessons could have access to the videos. Every user - a tutor, a student or an admin - got his role and according to it - his access levels. Other persons couldn’t watch videos when having a link.
Learner’s progress identification
The complexity of this task was due to a very complex structure of the progress calculation. There were several categories with interdependencies; every one of them should contribute to the interim progress. And there was the general progress line. All the achievements should be displayed and influenced by tutors and students.
There should appear such an algorithm that gathers all relationships and returns the current level to the user.
We developed such a calculation algorithm which accommodated all the interdependencies and delivered instant results.
2muchcoffee team helped the client quickly turn his startup idea into a fully functional educational platform that helps students gain knowledge and tutors teach various courses.
We continue to support this e-learning platform.
Would you like to get more detailed information on this project? Leave your contact info and mark “educational platform” in the message line and we will send the detailed info to your e-mail.