Crafting an online course is not just an opportunity to share your expertise; it’s a pathway to elevate your personal brand and scale your income. It’s a venture that can bring immense fulfilment and open doors to new possibilities. However, this venture requires a significant investment of your most precious resource – time. Naturally, you want to ensure that every minute spent translates into impactful learning experiences for your audience.
The digital landscape is brimming with course platforms, each offering unique features and benefits. The sheer number of options can be overwhelming, leaving you wondering where to begin. With subtle yet significant differences between them, choosing the right platform is a crucial decision.
In this article, we dive deep into two of the frontrunners in the online course platform arena: Thinkific and Teachable. We’re also introducing a game-changer in the field – Disciple Media. Our goal is to provide you with a comprehensive comparison, examining each platform’s features, ease-of-use, pricing, and accessibility.
Let’s dive in and help you make an informed decision on where to host your online course.
The value of online course platforms
In the dynamic world of digital education, online course platforms are not just educational tools; they are transformative engines for business growth, especially for creators and educators. These platforms bridge the gap between knowledge providers and eager learners, offering an accessible, versatile, and interactive medium for education.
The role of online course platforms
- Bridging educational gaps: These platforms connect experts and educators with a global audience. They democratize access to education, making it possible for anyone with internet access to learn new skills or deepen existing knowledge.
- Empowering creators and educators: Beyond being teaching tools, these platforms empower individuals to share their expertise, turning their knowledge into a viable business. They provide the infrastructure needed to create, market, and sell courses, streamlining the process from content creation to delivery.
Business growth and opportunities
- Expanding reach and accessibility: Online course platforms enable creators to reach a broader audience beyond geographical limitations, significantly expanding their potential customer base.
- Monetization of expertise: They offer various monetization models, from one-time course sales to subscription-based access, allowing educators to build a sustainable and scalable revenue stream.
- Brand-building and marketing: By offering customization and branding options, the best of these platforms help educators establish their brand, enhancing their market presence and credibility.
Community building and engagement
- Fostering interaction and loyalty: Some online course platforms emphasize community building, creating spaces for students to interact, discuss, and collaborate. This not only enriches the learning experience but also fosters loyalty and a sense of belonging among users.
- Networking and collaboration opportunities: These communities can also be a networking hub, where educators and learners connect, share ideas, and potentially form business collaborations.
Online course platforms are more than educational tools; they are catalysts for business growth in the digital age. For creator educators, they offer a unique opportunity to transform their knowledge and skills into a thriving business. These platforms enable the creation of diverse, engaging, and interactive learning experiences while providing the tools necessary for effective marketing, sales, and community engagement.
Let’s start by introducing Teachable, a platform that has made a significant mark in the digital education landscape.
Origin and evolution of Teachable
Teachable began with a simple yet powerful mission: to make the sharing of knowledge easy and accessible for everyone. Since its inception, it has grown exponentially, becoming a go-to platform for individual educators who want to sell online courses. Teachable’s journey from a modest start-up to a leading online course platform is a testament to its user-centric approach and innovative features.
At its core, Teachable is known for its simplicity and user-friendliness. It’s designed for those who may not have extensive technical skills but are passionate about sharing their knowledge. The platform offers a straightforward, intuitive course builder that allows creators to design, build, and launch their courses with ease. This ease of use has been a key factor in Teachable’s popularity, especially among solo educators and entrepreneurs starting their journey in online education.
Features and capabilities
Teachable’s strength lies in its comprehensive set of tools that cater to the needs of course creators. These include:
- Streamlined course creation: A drag-and-drop interface makes building courses a breeze, whether you’re uploading videos, creating quizzes, or organizing content.
- Monetization and marketing tools: Teachable provides integrated tools for course monetization, including pricing options, promotions, and affiliate marketing programs, allowing educators to effectively sell their courses.
- Customization and branding: Creators can personalize their course pages and maintain their brand identity, enhancing the learner’s experience.
Community and app
As serious drawback of Teachable is the lack of ability to build a community on the platform. You would need to host your community on Circle.so and integrate with Teachable. This adds significant expense as you are having to purchase subscriptions to two platforms rather than one. If building a community around your courses is important to you or you feel this is an area you may explore in the future, we’d advise you to be wary of signing up to a platform without inbuilt community features. Another drawback is that you can’t create your own branded app with Teachable, again you’d need to use another platform or work with a private developer to do this.
In essence, Teachable stands out as a platform that democratizes online education, making it accessible to anyone with knowledge to share. Its blend of user-friendly design, comprehensive features, and strong support system makes it an appealing choice for new educators seeking to make an impact in the world of online learning. The lack of community features and ability to create your own branded app, do mean that Teachable has limitations for more established creators who are looking to scale their businesses.
Now let’s turn the spotlight on Thinkific, a platform that has carved out a significant niche in the e-learning industry.
The genesis and growth of Thinkific
Thinkific’s story begins with a vision to empower educators and entrepreneurs by simplifying the process of creating and delivering online courses. Since its inception, Thinkific has grown into a robust platform, serving a diverse range of users from individual educators to large-scale enterprises. This growth trajectory reflects its commitment to providing a flexible, feature-rich environment tailored to the varied needs of online course creators.
Thinkific distinguishes itself with an array of features that cater to course creators:
- Advanced course builder: Its course builder offers extensive options, including support for various multimedia content, quizzes, and surveys, catering to diverse learning styles.
- Marketing and sales integration: With a wide array of integrations and marketing tools available in the Thinkific App Store, creators can enhance their course visibility and sales.
- Scalability and reliability: Ideal for growing businesses and organizations, Thinkific provides scalability options, ensuring that as user needs evolve, the platform can adapt accordingly.
User experience and support
Thinkific is known for its intuitive interface, making it accessible for users regardless of their technical expertise. The platform offers:
- A user-friendly dashboard for easy management of courses and content.
- Resources like tutorials, webinars, and a community forum for continuous learning and support.
- Responsive customer service, ensuring that users receive timely assistance.
Community and app
Thinkific is starting to realise the value of building a community around your online courses inside your own app. They have very recently released new features which should begin to enable you to further develop your business in this way.
Thinkific is a good choice for:
- Businesses and training organizations requiring an online learning platform.
- Educators who value quick and easy course creation.
By balancing advanced features with user-friendly design, Thinkific caters to a wide spectrum of online educators and businesses, making it a good choice for those looking to create impactful and engaging online courses. Thinkific’s community features are somewhat limited, meaning that educators wishing to scale their business may wish to look elsewhere.
Comparing Teachable and Thinkific
Purpose and use
In the realm of online learning platforms, understanding the intended purpose and primary user base is crucial. Teachable and Thinkific, while serving similar markets, have distinct focuses and are tailored to different segments of educators and creators.
- Pros: Ideal for individual creators and new educators. Simplified, intuitive platform for beginners. Streamlines the process of creating and selling courses.
- Cons: Limited in advanced tools and functionalities. Not suitable for larger organizations or experienced educators needing complex features.
- Pros: Caters to a broader audience as it offers comprehensive course creation and management capabilities.
- Cons: Can be overwhelming for beginners due to its extensive feature set, and still lacks the community features more experienced educators require.
Features and characteristics
Features and characteristics are the backbone of any online course platform. They define what educators and creators can achieve and how effectively they can engage with their students. Here, we compare the distinct features and characteristics of Teachable and Thinkific.
- Pros: Focuses on ease and efficiency. Simplified course builder and efficient checkout processes. Handles EU VAT tax, beneficial for creators focused on content.
- Cons: Lacks advanced features like detailed quizzing and comprehensive community engagement tools.
- Pros: Broad spectrum of features including advanced quizzing, assignments, and robust site builder. Native community feature for enhanced student interaction.
- Cons: Extensive features may complicate user experience, especially for simple course setups.
Course creation and community engagement
Course creation capabilities and community engagement are vital aspects that significantly impact the user experience on online course platforms. Here, we explore how Teachable and Thinkific differentiate themselves in these areas.
- Pros: User-friendly and straightforward, suitable for simple courses.
- Cons: Relies mainly on a comments system for student interaction, lacking a dedicated community feature.
- Pros: Deeper customization with tools like live lessons via Zoom. Suitable for more hands-on course customization. Offers basic community features for interactive student engagement.
- Cons: Community features are less advanced than other competitors.
Pricing and payment options
Pricing structures and payment options are crucial factors in choosing an online course platform. They directly impact the profitability and accessibility of your courses. Let’s compare how Teachable and Thinkific stack up in this regard.
- Pros: Low barrier to entry with free and various paid plans. Supports multiple payment gateways.
- Cons: Transaction fees on lower-tier plans (on top of the payment processor fee).
- Pros: No additional transaction fees across all plans (you will pay the fees of the payment processor). Offers a free plan and several paid options.
- Cons: Pricing structure might be complex for new users.
The user experience encompasses the ease of use, accessibility, and overall satisfaction that users derive from a platform. A good user experience is essential for the successful creation and delivery of online courses.
- Pros: Modern, intuitive course player ensuring a seamless learning experience.
- Cons: Limited advanced customization and interactive features. You cannot build your own branded app.
- Pros: Comprehensive user experience, including a new own branded app add-on, with a flexible learning environment and various course creation tools.
- Cons: Thinkifics’s branded mobile app is a very new feature with limited functionality and reviews. As an add-on it will increase your monthly subscription.
Marketing and sales features
Effective marketing and sales features are pivotal for course creators looking to attract and retain students. These features can significantly enhance course visibility and revenue generation.
- Pros: Optimized checkout process and support for popular payment methods like Apple Pay and Google Pay. Straightforward marketing approach.
- Cons: Basic in advanced marketing and sales tools.
- Pros: Extensive range of marketing and sales features, including a broad range of integrations for email automation.
Overall Winner: Teachable vs. Thinkific
Deciding between Teachable and Thinkific comes down to your specific needs as an educator or creator.
- Teachable: Best for beginners and individual creators who value simplicity and ease of use. It’s great for those new to online courses, offering a straightforward platform for course creation and selling.
- Thinkific: Ideal for those needing more advanced features for course delivery. It suits educators and businesses who are looking for more marketing features to further their reach.
- For ease of use and beginner-friendliness, Teachable is the winner.
- For comprehensive features and marketing tools, Thinkific stands out.
Your choice should align with your goals and preferences in online education and course management. You should also be aware that Teachable and Thinkific are by no means the only online course platforms out there. Both of these platforms fall short in terms of building a community around your course content and their mobile offerings.
These gaps present an opportunity to explore other platforms like Disciple Media. Disciple Media offers a unique blend of community-focused features and a customizable environment, potentially making it a better choice for those looking to build a strong, interactive community around their educational content. It’s an ideal platform for creators and educators who prioritize engagement and connectivity in their online courses, addressing some of the key limitations found in Teachable and Thinkific.
Introducing Disciple Media
Disciple Media emerges as a game-changer in the online learning space, where it bridges the gap between content creation and community building.
Success stories from Disciple Media:
- Short & Sweat: Transformed from a side hustle into a community-led business with over 2,000 members, showcasing the power of community-focused growth.
- Bodily: Developed a fitness and wellness community app with an impressive 98% member retention rate, demonstrating the impact of targeted community engagement.
- A Year With My Camera: Helped over 70,000 students unlock their creative potential through their photography course. Moving to Disciple increased their contribution rate by 40%.
Disciple Media’s unique offering
- Community building: Unlike Teachable and Thinkific, Disciple Media emphasizes creating dynamic, interactive communities around educational content, making it a prime choice for creators who value engagement as much as education.
- Platform diversity: Offers branded apps across iOS, Android, and web, ensuring accessibility and convenience for a diverse user base and enabling you to build your brand.
- Monetization options: Supports a variety of monetization strategies, including courses, subscriptions, and exclusive content, providing creators with flexible income opportunities.
Why choose Disciple Media?
Disciple’s courses feature enables you to build beautiful and engaging courses that learners will find easy to navigate. You can sell these courses individually or as part of a subscription.
Disciple stands out for creators seeking to cultivate a community as vibrant as their content. This has serious benefits for online learning:
- Enhances the learning experience through peer support and engagement.
- Fosters a sense of belonging and increases course retention rates.
Adding community to your offering also has huge benefits for your business:
- You can explore subscription options, creating sustainable and recurring revenue.
- Your community is made up of your super-fans who are most likely to purchase any future courses or additional offerings that you create.
What’s more, with Disciple you will get your own, fully-branded mobile app that you own and control. That means that learners can access your courses and content wherever they are. Your brand is sitting right in the palm of their hand and you can send them push notifications to keep them engaged and coming back.
The power of these features cannot be overstated for scaling your business.
In the digital education landscape, Teachable, Thinkific, and Disciple Media each carve out their unique niches. Teachable and Thinkific pave the way for seamless course creation and management, while Disciple Media stands out as a champion of community engagement, offering a more holistic approach to online education. Each platform offers distinct advantages, catering to the diverse needs of digital educators and learners. Ultimately, the choice depends on your specific goals, whether it’s streamlined course creation, comprehensive feature sets, or fostering vibrant learning communities.
What are the key considerations for educators when choosing an online course platform?
Key considerations include the platform’s ease of use, course creation and management tools, community engagement features, monetization options, and the ability to scale as your business grows. It’s also important to consider the platform’s technical support, mobile accessibility, and how well it aligns with your teaching style and course objectives.
How do Disciple Media, Teachable, and Thinkific compare in terms of features and suitability for different types of course creators?
Disciple Media stands out for its strong emphasis on community engagement and social interaction, ideal for creators who prioritize building a tight-knit learner community. Teachable is best suited for individual creators and beginners, offering an intuitive and straightforward platform for course creation and monetization, while Thinkific caters well to those needing more advanced features and customization, including businesses and established educators. The choice depends on whether your focus is on simplicity and ease of use (Teachable), comprehensive features (Thinkific), or community building and interaction (Disciple Media).
How does community building in Disciple Media improve the online learning experience?
Disciple Media’s focus on community building enriches the online learning experience by fostering a supportive and interactive environment. This feature encourages collaboration, networking, and peer-to-peer learning, which can greatly enhance student engagement and course effectiveness.
What advantages does having a mobile app offer for online course participants?
A mobile app, like those provided by Disciple Media, offers learners the convenience of accessing courses anytime and anywhere. This flexibility can lead to higher engagement rates, more consistent learning, and the ability to fit education into a busy lifestyle. Your own branded app also helps to supercharge your brand recognition and give you control over your community’s destiny.
Can using a platform like Disciple Media enhance the success of my online course business?
Absolutely! Disciple Media’s community-focused approach can lead to higher student retention and engagement, creating loyal learners and potentially increasing word-of-mouth referrals. Its monetization and content management tools also support diverse revenue streams and efficient course administration.