Introduction Best Online Course Platforms
If You’re selling Or even thinking about selling online classes, you do not need to do much hunting to come up with a Thinkific review. There are loads of Thinkific testimonials on the market. The main difference this one offers is It Is written by someone with: Best Online Course Platforms
- Over 20 years expertise in the e-learning industry, with a Particular focus on companies that sell education (compared to, by Way of Example, corporate training departments, That Don’t have to convince their learners to purchase )
- Extensive experience designing, developing, and executing online class platforms (I was the founder and CEO of an e-learning platform and course development company.)
- More than a decade of experience monitoring and researching online course platforms and assisting individuals and organizations pick the Ideal platform for selling courses
I’ve been closely Monitoring Thinkific and other suppliers which have emerged as a new type of online course platforms within the previous years. These are programs that are less costly and more user-friendly or LMSes. They are tiny companies that are looking to enter the course business and a true blessing for solo edupreneurs. As time passes, I think they also have real potential to interrupt the conventional learning management system marketplace.
Having said All that, let us get started.
Construction and Presence Your Online Course Web Site
Any classes you Sell have to”live” somewhere, and that someplace supplies an attractive, user friendly to your students and potential students. Since the debut of its Website Builder capacities Thinkific is up to the project. Best Online Course Platforms
Using Site Builder — which is only part of the admin panel to the platform — you have the capacity to prepare an attractive home page for your course site and create as many custom pages as you need (e.g., to provide information about you and your other solutions ). Despite the fact that you do not have complete control — you can’t, for example, set up your own style sheets (CSS) — you can possess really excellent capabilities for modifying branding components like font and colors styles and you can upload just about any type of pictures or media you would like to use.
Site Builder Comes with three themes to select from, and there are multiple variations for each one of those topics. (The company says more themes are a part of their upcoming development program.) There are also a range of pre-fab”segments” that you are able to add and change on any page to provide for matters like social proof (e.g. customer quotations or”as seen on” logos), calls for action, count down timer, and pricing choices — basically, all the essential tools you need for running a successful path or membership site. There’s also a blank slate”media & Text” section which may be used to create pretty much whatever you desire.
As is the case With more or less any content management system, it took a while to work out how to do some basic things like delete sections (the themes provide a home page pre-populated with sections) and add custom pages to the site menu. But service has been readily available for these. Thinkific has a good support website on which you can search for help, but I often only use a Google search together with the word”Thinkific” to find whatever I want (e.g.,”create custom site pages Thinkific”). I’ve yet to not find good support by doing this, whether on the Thinkific site or from another user.
Some added Features to note:
- Custom URL (under Settings > Website ) — By default, you’re assigned a thinkific.com address — e.g., learningrvolution.thinkific.com. With a paid plan (starting at $49 a month for Fundamental ) you can get a custom URL
- SSL (Under Settings > Website ) — With any strategy you have the option to turn on SSL (secure socket layer), a best practice for any Web site these days. (Google smiles on this)
- White labeling (below Settings > Site)– By jumping up into a Guru Plan ($99 per month) with the Development Add-on ($.10 per active student/per month) you can easily get rid of the”Powered by Thinkific” language on your site and courses.
- Text Changes (below Settings > Learning Content and several other areas) — It is possible to change a great deal of the default language which is used in navigation and other areas. By way of example, Thinkific utilizes”Chapters” because the label for portions of a course. You may prefer to change this to”Lessons” Best Online Course Platforms
Thus, you might be asking,”Could I use Thinkific for the primary Web site?”
For edupreneurs Who are just starting off and do not already have an Internet presence the response is an emphatic”yes.” Utilizing Thinkific is a great way to have a big item from your”to do” list (i.e.,”figure out ways to get an adequate Web site set up”) and focus on creating and launch your courses. It is possible to be concerned about a more sophisticated Web site later.
If you already Have an Internet site, though — especially on a fuller-featured content management system such as WordPress — I wouldn’t recommend relying on Thinkific (or some other course platform) to your primary Internet website. Site Builder is great for what it does — and may create a fantastic course site to match your main site — but finally it’s relatively restricted. Some of the key current constraints include:
- All motifs are column. Therefore, as an example, you can’t put email sign-up types, promotions for class, or other items down the left or right side of your site.
- As noted, you can not use your own CSS (cascading style sheets), mostly a limitation in the event that you truly want to reflect the branding of an existing Web site.
- There is absolutely no control over search engine optimization settings on Internet pages — e.g., you can’t specify the name tags or meta descriptions. You can, however, do so on course landing pages, which is possibly more significant for the average edupreneur.
- Thinkific lacks the wealth of plug-ins along with the extensive network of experienced contractors who are available to encourage platforms like WordPress.
In spite of those Limits, Site Builder is very likely to perform the job well for most edupreneurs and is a bit better than what many online course platforms supply.
Creating Online Courses with Thinkific
While you Definitely want to have an attractive, user-friendly website to house your classes, the classes themselves are the main attraction. As you might expect, this is a place where Thinkific really shines.
To Begin with, the Platform provides a variety of pre-configured templates that may be very useful to track builders searching for help with how to arrange their content. The templates cover the assortment of standard scenarios you’d be likely to think about for supplying an educational item. These are:
- Blank — Start fresh and construct your course to match your specific program requirements.
- Mini-course — Use a free or low-cost mini-course to create prospects for a complete flagship program or service.
- Flagship Course — Build a complete online class using a robust curriculum outline made using best practices in your mind.
- Pre-sell — Create a pre-sell landing page and get started constructing a waitlist to judge interest in your course.
- Digital Download — Host downloadable documents in an internet course to create earnings or collect email addresses.
- Membership Resource Library — Host downloadable resources to be included in a membership package with this template.
- Webinar Replay — Host your webinar replay video to allow registrants to review your presentation and provide.
All these can Be modified broadly — you can change the content in the segments which are provided, delete segments, or insert new segments to reach the approach that’s ideal for your content. All throughout the process, Thinkific provides”smart mentor course construction tips” to help you. (I found them useful, but they may be easily switched off, should you would like.) Best Online Course Platforms
In Case You Have zero Experience working with Web content, there’ll inevitably be a small learning curve, but my opinion is that Thinkific has done a good job making that curve as manageable as possible. Invest in earning your way up it, and you will reap the benefits.
And you are Comfortable using other Web content systems — such as, by way of another program platform, WordPress or example — I think you will find operating in Thinkific to be a breeze.
Overall Of putting together a course in Thinkific makes sense in my perspective. After choosing”New Course,” choosing your path type, naming it (which you may change at any point), and rescue it, you include”Chapters” (or modify ones already in the template) to produce the structure of the program. As noted above, if you do not like the term”Chapters,” you can change it to whatever you would like.
You fill the Chapters with articles in a way similar to how I described using Website Builder over. There are 11 choices:
- Video lessons — Upload a movie file. (This gets saved in a movie library for re-use in other classes. Videos stored in this library are protected from access by anyone who is not a registered user of your site.)
- Classes — Create a quiz for your students. (More information on quizzes below)
- Multimedia lessons — This is a means to link out to articles not hosted on Thinkific and also make it an integrated part of your course. A Few of the possibilities include:
- Webinar tools (provide the link to some live Zoom session, for example)
- Surveys (e.g. Typeform)
- Appointment booking tools (e.g. Calendly)
- Presentations (e.g. Prezi)
- Google Docs
- Articulate Storyline and Adobe Captivate files (Requires Pro or Enterprise license. More about that below)
- Text lessons — Combine text, pictures, videos, etc. into a single lesson. This is basically the equivalent to”Text & Media” Site Builder alternative mentioned above.
- Research lessons — Gather by building a survey in Thinkific.
- PDF lessons.
- Disqus lessons Disqus discussion boards to your course. (Note: there’s also a discussion option built into Thinkific which you may turn off or on beneath Support Your Students > Discussions.)
- Audio classes — Upload a sound file.
- Downloads — Contain resources to be available for downloading from inside the course participant.
- Presentation lessons — Upload a presentation as record sound and a PDF file for each slide.
- Exam classes — Contain a Brillium examination on your program. (A Brillium permit is distinct from Thinkific and begins at $49 a month. More about that below.)
The above Choices Will get the job done for all but the edupreneurs. The main places they fall short is in
- Providing for branching scenarios — i.e., enabling learners to move down different paths based on their performances from the course or data you gather about them — and
- Like studying games, Adding interactive components.
If those are Choices you genuinely need, you would be better off using a full size course authoring tool like iSpring or Articulate Storyline (see more about these kinds of programs here). Best Online Course Platforms
Use of Articulate and Captivate in Thinkific
Many course Creators will be content with using the resources in Thinkific to make courses, but some may prefer the option of creating their classes with third-party e-learning class creation software like Articulate Storyline or even Adobe Captivate.
Fundamentally, using a Third-party tool is an option to seriously consider if you (a) already have a significant number of courses built out in these applications (in which you probably do not want to need to re-create them using Thinkific course production tools), and/or (b) you anticipate developing a substantial catalog of courses with a relatively long”shelf life” — in which case you might not wish to have your classes locked into a specific delivery stage.
You can use these Types of tools with Thinkific — Articulate Storyline and Captivate are encouraged — however there are some limitations you should be aware of if you go this route.
First, Thinkific (like all other platforms in its own course ) hasn’t implemented SCORM, which stands for the Shareable Content Object Reference Model. There’s a lot to SCORM, but the principal thing for edupreneurs to know is that it provides standards for how an online course can communicate using a learning platform to send it data like how much time a student has spent in a course, or whether particular parts of the course have been completed successfully. Thinkific tracks this type of data with its own procedures. (More about SCORM here.)
You Can’t Import an Captivate or Articulate route into Thinkific on your own. These courses are made up of over a single file (like, as an instance, a video file), and to get them into the platform, you need to zip the files up and send them to Thinkific customer support.
The Best Features and How They Benefit You
An excellent Online course construction platform offers the features you need from start to finish to you. This includes the promotion, the marketing, the course construction, and also the management.
Systems like Thinkific don’t host classes . Your articles is actually hosted with Thinkific (so you don’t have to go out and find your personal hosting,) but it gives you total control over what your website looks like.
In comparison to Systems like Udemy, Thinkific certainly provides control that is branding and more liberty. Let’s explore some of the standout features.
Excellent Student Management and Communication Modules
Within my Thinkific review, I noticed the smoothness of the student communication tools. It’s a visual student management area, with images of your pupils, names, contact information, and details for how far they’re in your course.
You have the Option to send emails to each of those students or create a dialogue with the community. Best Online Course Platforms
Incentives are Also part of the learning environment because Thinkific offers conclusion certificates, report cards, and of course, the emails for sending out just about anything you want throughout classes.
Along with Replays of speech controllers, course material, students, and cellular optimization working with the Thinkific platform ought to feel.
A Mostly Drag and Drop Editor for Quick Course Design
Section of the Motive Thinkific looks great compared to the competition is that of its class designer. You don’t have to mess with any code if you don’t need to.
In fact, all of Your content is coordinated with a simple drag and drop editor, in which you move it about and stack the class content.
Talking of Content, Thinkific supports uploads of all media forms. From PDFs to sound files, and polls to quizzes, the platform is great for offering up a wide range of learning resources for the students.
As we mentioned Before, all of these files are hosted on the Thinkific servers. You shouldn’t have to worry about a file being too big or running slowly on your own servers that are shared.
When you customize Your course site it features some useful editing tools to the beginners out there. As an example, you can adjust items like banners, color schemes, and logos without touching any code.
The further, however Developers have complete control over the HTML and CSS. Consequently, if you want to make your site unique, the option is there for you.
Promotions on Autopilot
Some online course Platforms fail from the promotions arena. As there’s no way to begin earning money unless people know that your course 19, this is unfortunate.
Thinkific does It the right way, with promotional and marketing tools built into the app. A lot of this is automated. Consequently, if you want to drip articles to your students Thinkific has this operation. Best Online Course Platforms
Furthermore, you Have the ability to target the ideal people and send out automated emails based on a schedule. Pricing is done through Thinkific, along with the option to become paid immediately when someone signs up for your program.
As for getting People outside of your website try it out, Thinkific includes an online affiliate marketing program to benefit bloggers and men and women who advocate your course. Coupons are provided through Thinkific, giving a chance convince newcomers your class is well worth investing in and to create ads with specials to you.
Everything from Vouchers to affiliates is tracked in the dashboard, and you can link your Adwords, Facebook, and other social reports to determine where students are coming from.
Handling, Engaging, and Supporting Students
Aside from Allowing you to produce your classes, one of the reasons for using a online course platform is that it creates managing and monitoring your users and their data a lot easier.
Communicating with Learners
In addition to Helping you organize your students, Thinkific also enables a number of ways for you and your learners to communicate and also for them to give feedback. Best Online Course Platforms
As noted, For example, you can empower discussion for your classes and then manage your students contributions under Service Your Students Discussions, where you can sort discussions by course, respond to pupils, and — if desired –“Disapprove” gifts that you don’t wish to appear in the program. (Note: Letting talks is now an all or nothing choice in Thinkific — i.e., either all courses have no or it courses have it. The workaround for this would be to utilize the Disqus alternative on a course-by-course foundation )
You can also Allow your student. You then have the ability to approve these testimonials (they aren’t published automatically) and use them as social proof on your earnings page for your course. Unlike discussions, this attribute can be enabled on a course-by-course basis.
There are A number of notifications which can be disabled or enabled in the Thinkific platform, a few of which can be customized. You can send a message if they register for your website to pupils, enroll in a specific course, or finish a course. It is also possible to send out weekly reminder messages. (Note: Reminders are site-wide, not course-specific.)
Managing and Organizing Learners
To start with, When a user signs up in your website, Thinkific captures all of their key contact data (e.g., first name, last name, e-mail) and utilizing custom log-in fields (under Preferences > Programs & accounts) you can easily add areas to capture whatever specific information you want from the own users. (Notice that, unlike platforms like Udemy, you get complete access to the user information you accumulate.)
You can also Organize users into groups. This simple feature may have a large impact on your business model by making it feasible for you to market courses in bulk one of the greatest ways for course sellers to drive major revenue development , in my experience.
Using classes Can also arrange your students by cohort, time, enrollment, job-type, or business, or other factors, which makes it possible to enhance your marketing going forward and to monitor the efficacy of your offerings. (Note: Use of the Groups feature requires a Guru plan license with the Development Add-on.) Find out more about the Thinkific Groups performance Best Online Course Platforms
Tracking and Reporting
A motive to Have a specialized online course platform — as opposed to posting content supporting a password on a Web site — is it will monitor quiz and survey information in addition to things like course progress and completion.
Thinkific’s Advancement tracking (under Support Your Students > Progress) allows you to select a specific student and monitor numerous factors for each course in which the pupil is registered. For each class you will see:
- Percentage of Course of Viewed
- Percentage of Course Completed
- Student Name
- Student Email
- Course Completed at (date)
- Course Started at (date)
- Course Activated at (date)
- Last sign in (date)
I enjoy that you If you’re adding new classes can also choose to reset a student’s completion percentage for instance,, at any time.
Overall, the Course reporting is rather basic, but I suspect it will serve the demands of the majority of course entrepreneurs.
Unlike the Program Reporting, the quiz and survey reporting is exported into a .CSV document (rather than displayed on display ) and emailed to you. The .csv document includes the answers from all students who’ve obtained a questionnaire a quiz email address, together with their title, and if it was taken by them. For quizzes, in addition, it supplies the number and percent of questions the student got right.
Overall, reporting For both quizzes/surveys and courses is one of the regions in which the Thinkific system could be more powerful. In fairness, this has a tendency to be true for much the platforms of the all within this category of platforms. Ideally, over time, it might be possible to access course completion and quiz/survey data through a Web interface. Even better, it might be good to be able to view a student transcript that shows hours associated with a program, any credit earned (not currently captured at all at Thinkific), and a URL to obtain the certificate related to the program. Best Online Course Platforms
What Thinkific is currently Missing
Anyone who has Been working in the e-learning industry for the past couple of decades (as I have) will understand that Thinkific offers a remarkable selection of features at a really reasonable price. It was not that long ago that a system with those capabilities may have easily cost thousands of dollars a year.
With that in mind, It’s hard to assert that Thinkific is”missing” much. There are gaps which can rule out it and all of these tend to be. The main ones I see are:
No support for SCORM or xAPI/TinCan
As mentioned previously, While Thinkific can host and deliver courses created in shared authoring tools such as Articulate and Captivate, it does not really take advantage of the SCORM (or even xAPI/TInCan) packaging capacities of these applications. In case you’ve got a reason for using one of the major e-learning criteria, then Thinkific would not be the way to go.
As I Are areas that are not served well by additional programs which are in Thinkific’s class. To get a platform that supports all three means a price point than Thinkific — and it can go a lot from that point up. Thus, be sure these are gaps for you before ruling out Thinkific.
No continuing education credit capacities
While you can Indicate the estimated number of hours for finishing a class in Thinkific, you can’t define the total amount of education available for a program. While There Might Be work-arounds, for many course providers that focus on providing continuing education credit, this will be a Substantial barrier to utilizing Thinkific, Best Online Course Platforms
No multi-tenancy alternative
Multi-tenancy Means that you manage and can make multiple instances of a stage. This can be really useful if you’re a training company with many corporate clients and those clients want their very own branded instance of the platform for managing and serving their customers. While the Group functionality in Thinkific gets you part of the way there, it is not the same matter as multi-tenancy.
Although I have yet To discover an online course platform which has hidden charges, Thinkific advertises that it also has no hidden fees or contracts. That’s good to know, however, nothing special.
However, Thinkific Does provide a program that is free for people who wish to test out the platform but not get bogged down by limitations. In theory, it helps you begin building a pupil base and launch your store. There’s also a free trial if you give a whirl to one of those more advanced plans.
The pricing is Divided into four simple plans:
Starter — $0 to all core Thinkific capabilities. This plan has a high 10% transaction fee, everything you want to make, market, and market unlimited courses, your classes, class upsells, content hosting integrations support, and instant access to all funds.
Essentials — For $49 a month you receive all center and newcomer features, along with a 5 percent transaction fee, promotions and coupons, monthly subscriptions, course bundles, intermediate integrations, basic Zapier, trickle articles, affiliate reporting, a majority student emailer, custom domainname, and extra course rates. Best Online Course Platforms
Business — For $99 per month you receive the attributes from all previous plans, no transaction fees, completion certificates, private and hidden classes, site white labeling, a host storyline, intermediate Zapier, webhooks, three-course admin accounts, innovative HTML/CSS editing, priority service, teacher payout coverage, an onboarding telephone, payment strategies, along with a direct Infusionsoft integration.
Advanced — For $279 per month you get all features from previous programs, no transaction fees, a single sign-on (SSO), three website admin accounts, 10-course admin accounts, an onboarding specialist, onboarding package, public API, advanced integrations, and innovative Zapier.
Thinkific has some Benefits to its pricing design. Not only can you start your course for free (something that is not offered with competitions such as Teachable,) however, the additional three programs are broken down into a logical manner.
After all, you Most probably do not need API access until you really start becoming advanced with your course selling.
I wouldn’t mind Seeing the HTML editing and the completion certificates however $99 per month still is not that bad.
As you can see, The transaction fees are 10% to the free plan. That’s high, but it creates an excellent atmosphere for those who have low volume or individuals who do not have the funds. Once you get started earning money you can cut that transaction fee down.
Finally, you can By paying on an annual basis, save money. So, the Essentials plan goes to $39 a month if you cover it all upfront. The Business plan is $79 a month and also the Advanced program is 219. This makes the pricing programs rather much like Teachable.
I’ll end this Thinkific review at which I started: this really is. Hopefully it’s clear by now that it supplies a full range of the essential features to encourage your ordinary edupreneur.
I think it is also Important to replicate as I wrap up that Thinkific is a business with a great deal of momentum. This is not a trivial point: the marketplace for online course platforms like Thinkific is now noisy and crowded. You can be certain that a lot of the programs which are here now will be gone tomorrow. I feel convinced that Thinkific will be about, and the organization is clearly growing and continually investing to improve its platform. Best Online Course Platforms