Summary: Learning communities are everywhere! It’s where online academies thrive and flourish. Should you build one for your business? Today, I will talk about the basic yet helpful guidelines to build your learning community from scratch, and how you can make it sustainable.
Are you experiencing a demand for your digital service and products? People are messaging you non-stop to ask you consulting questions, tips & tricks on how you do things successfully. They are asking you to connect with the right people, platforms, services, etc.
Or maybe, you’re just planning to start your online course and you want it to make transformational as possible. What can you do to deliver all these demands by giving more value to your audience while not sacrificing so much of your time?
The best way to do it is by building an online learning community.
Although building one requires time & effort to manage, sustain and lead your members. But once you get the right recipe for a sustainable learning community, you can grow it without your full control.
Let’s discover how you can do this. But first, let’s break down why it matters.
Why do Learning Communities Matter?
Enhances learner engagement and collaboration.
The main reason why most courses are building a learning community is it enhances learner engagement and collaboration.
Actually, once you create an open discussion, forums, or any kind of group chat where members can share opinions, ask questions, and help each other—it’s already a form of a learning community. Why? Because you empower them to learn through each other.
There are endless possibilities of what learning communities can do for your students. From creating projects, forming ideas, and building friendships to getting jobs.
Community-based courses are highly transformational compared to courses that don’t build learning communities. It allows members to be lifelong learners and grow their knowledge even after the course.
Space to create products and services.
Learning communities don’t only benefit the learners, they also benefited the instructors. How? Every discussion and sharing can generate feedback about their experience with your course.
You would immediately know if something is off, something isn’t working, and needs iteration. You can give birth to different ideas to grow your business from the data.
What makes a Learning Community?
Nowadays, there are several features of a learning community. From channels, courses, live meetings, own servers, chat rooms, direct messaging, group messaging, etc.
In addition, some of these evolve into spatial chats with a huge chat room with lots of people in it. Like in real life, you can only hear and talk to people who are close to you.
It’s getting more complicated. Building a learning community should be simple. You can start with simple tools, platforms, and content that allow your members to:
- Learn together and collaborate. Give them a space where they can learn with each other, they can form ideas, and build a genuine connection. This is the power of community. It connects us with others.
Simple discussion boards, forums, channels, and even group chats may work on this with proper moderation.
- Learn through your course, community resources & live events. Give them a space to learn your courses and other materials. Also, a space where they can join live events, meetups, and workshops.
An all-in-one learning platform will allow you to start with these two important yet simple ways to build your learning community.
Here are 5 Guidelines for Build Your Own
You might be in these two scenarios: Either you have an audience and you want a concrete community that you can call your own to connect all of them. Or, you created your course, whether self-paced or cohort-based, and you want it to have a learning community.
Or maybe you’re just curious about how learning communities online are built nowadays. Moreover, whatever scenario you have right now, here are the basic yet helpful guidelines to build a learning community.
1. Clarify the whys.
Several communities failed because their goals of creating a community weren’t clear. Get clarity on your personal why on why you want a learning community for your course, for your business, or your audience.
2. Determine the whats.
- What topic & industry discussions do you want your community to have? This should be something you know, you are an expert at. As you start, community members need caring, leading, and moderation to grow.
- Another thing is, what value and contribution can your community give to its members? Use the concept of the virtuous cycle. It’s where someone should give to get value.
- Lastly, what is your promise as a community leader to your members? What is the success path of your members in the community?
If you already have a small group where you can brainstorm these questions, feel free to get their ideas, feedback, and opinions on how you can start formulating your why's and what's in building your learning community.
3. Recognize the whos.
Who are your members? Do you already have an audience for your community? What are their identities, and personas? What kind of relationships do you want them to build?
4. Know the hows.
How will they learn? Will you provide courses, workshops, events, and resources? How often should your members connect? What are the rituals you want to build?
5. Identify the where.
Where will you host your learning community? Should you use several tools and platforms? Or would you go into an all-in-one where every feature is there? Will you make it a private or public community?
Identifying your learning platform will affect how your members will interact with each other. So choose something that will give them the best user experience.
Also, think about how you can save your time by managing all the tools especially if you’re a one-man team in building your learning community.
Teachfloor is an all-in-one learning platform that is designed for community-based cohort-based courses and lets you scale your course in real-time.
Try it for free in 14 days. Its basic plan allows 4 instructors to navigate your entire learning community plus unlimited community members.
Yes! there are no additional costs once you grow your community. Scale your learning community without worrying about expensive platform fees!
How to make it sustainable?
Sustainability goes beyond profits. It is both growing your members while growing your profits.
Growing Your Members.
You can do this by constant promotion and creating your marketing funnel. There are three different funnels where the learning community takes place:
- Paid Learning Communities. In marketing, you put your learning community at the bottom of your funnel where it’s the last conversion indicator. Once a member decided to join and pay for your community, you count them as a conversion rate.
By building a learning community, thought leaders monetize their existing audience.
- Learning Communities are used to generate leads. Instead of putting your communities at the bottom, you use them at the top of the funnel to generate leads. Most products are using these approaches to give more value to their potential buyers.
- Community as Part of the Package. It means learning communities are additional perks once you buy a course or join a cohort-based course. You integrate the learning community into your course package.
Growing Your Profits.
How will you generate income from your community? Here are creative ways to do that:
- Membership-based course. This is very popular when it comes to retaining students to take your courses and other educational products. It’s where members will have access to all your courses, resources, and learning community for a specific time as long as they are subscribed.
- Coaching & Mentoring sessions. If you haven’t added coaching or mentoring to your course package, you can make it as an additional revenue in your learning community.
You can promote yourself as a coach, or you can create a list of community members who can coach other community members. Then in exchange, you can charge the coaches a small amount of shared revenue.
- Advertisement, Sponsorships & Affiliations. This means you will partner with brands and offer them ads placement or you will let them sponsor your event. In exchange, you will promote their products in your community.
On the other hand, affiliation is quite different; you get a commission once members buy their products or services.