How do you build an e-learning marketplace like Coursera and how much does it cost?

Driven by digitization, internet penetration, and technological advancements, online education is rapidly growing. Analysts at Facts & Factors predict that the worldwide e-learning market will rise from $144 billion in 2019 to $374.3 billion by 2026, progressing at a CAGR of 14.6% during the indicated period.

Companies are developing custom e-learning platforms like Coursera to connect providers of training services—tutors, schools, universities, etc.—with students. These software solutions allow businesses and institutions to train customers remotely, monitor performance, and boost their engagement.

According to some studies, online education can reduce the time to study by 25%–60% in comparison with traditional methods while 95% of students are likely to recommend it to other people.

With an online education marketplace, an organization doesn’t have to take care of the workplace and equipment, as well as set up a schedule that will be convenient for all participants. Thanks to these factors, the e-learning industry was experiencing a climb during the COVID-19 pandemic while many sectors were sustaining losses.

In this article, we will consider how to create an e-learning platform like Coursera, including the time and budget required to implement basic functionality. Let’s get started.

Table of contents

Design of a custom e-learning platform like Coursera

A design of an online education marketplace has to comply with the following requirements:

  • A seamless UX — When developing custom e-learning software, you should design an intuitive user interface, so that customers can interact with a platform even without thinking. This involves a convenient menu structure and content search.
  • Responsiveness — An e-learning application has to look and work as intended on devices and platforms. Before launching a product, make sure it is compatible with all modern browsers.
  • A unique branding theme — To make the app recognizable and stand out from competitors, an e-learning software development company should create a unique branding style. For this purpose, UI/UX experts should not use a template as there is a risk that other platforms will have similar designs.

The time required for making software design of an e-learning platform like Coursera depends on project size and complexity. At Arateg, we need an average of 180 hours for this e-learning software development stage.

Time: 180 hours

Key 10 features of an e-learning marketplace like Coursera

1. User registration and authorization

When developing an e-learning platform like Coursera, it is crucial to enable users to quickly and easily sign up or sign in to their accounts. To improve user experience, you should provide customers with the possibility to register and authorize in different ways, for example, Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, or/and email.

The more integrations software engineers make, the more time is required for adding these features. The article indicates an average number of hours necessary to implement basic functionality.

Time: 50-60 hours

2. User profile

Depending on its business goals, a company can create various user profiles. A student profile can contain personal data, information about purchases, active and completed courses, earned points, as well as certificates. A teacher profile generally includes contacts, qualifications, and other related data. You should also allow trainers to submit their lessons and courses.

Time: 120 hours

3. Search

During e-learning marketplace development, it is important to add a search feature to provide users with the ability to easily find the necessary courses using filters. There can be numerous filters such as topic, difficulty level, duration, and rating.

Time: 100-120 hours

4. Course page

Each course page of an e-learning marketplace should contain details such as program description, schedule, price, duration, language, and qualification of instructors. You can also provide lecturers with the ability to publish introduction videos to increase student credibility. When developing a platform like Coursera, you should add a review section, so that customers can read user testimonials and take informed decisions.

Time: 120 hours

5. Course creation and editing

To maintain a competitive posture, e-learning software solutions need to allow teachers to create and update their courses. Custom e-learning software should provide course-building tools enabling instructors to develop a course structure, publish tests and exercises, insert links, upload materials, including text, audio, and video files.

Time: 300 hours

6. Payment gateway integration

When building custom e-learning software, it is important to integrate a payment gateway like Stripe, PayPal, Square, Braintree, or Amazon Pay. As a result, you will enable various payment methods, including Visa, Mastercard, American Express, and Union Pay.

All popular providers of payment systems support 3D secure, undertake payment data protection, and contribute to fraud prevention.

Time: 120 hours

7. Dashboard and analytics

A dashboard for instructors and data analytics are among the top-priority features that should be added during the development of a platform like Coursera. Thanks to this functionality, teachers can monitor student performance according to numerous indicators such as evaluation for completed tests and course attendance.

What’s more, you can collect and analyze data, including the number of students, session length, and conversion rate. To facilitate the work of tutors, it is reasonable to provide report generation and data visualization in a custom e-learning platform. As a result, the time required for educators to identify the best trainees will be reduced. This feature will also increase teacher job satisfaction and overall engagement.

To enable data analytics, software developers make the integration with one or several services such as Moxpanel, Kissmetrics, Google Analytics, Zoho Pagesense, or Woopra.

Time: 300 hours

8. Notifications

An online course marketplace should inform customers about course updates, lesson start, etc. via emails or messages coming to smartphones. You can also enable browser notifications to deliver a superior user experience. To add this feature, software engineers integrate an API, for example, Firebase.

Time: 160-200 hours

9. Admin panel (app inside a platform)

An admin panel is an essential feature of online education marketplaces. With this module, it is possible to manage content, verify new courses, add and remove users. Furthermore, administrators can assign access permissions and change subscription plans.

Before creating an e-learning platform like Coursera, you should consider a range of issues to deliver the best quality and meet the expectations of end users.

Time: 2000-2500 hours

10. Multi-language support

Aiming to serve millions of users worldwide, an online education marketplace like Coursera has to provide support for numerous languages. This will help you reach a wider audience, expand influence in the market, and increase profit.

Time: 160 hours

How much time do you need to make an e-learning marketplace?

How much does it cost to build an e-learning marketplace?

The final cost of creating an e-learning platform like Coursera is based on the number of hours required to implement the basic functionality of an e-learning platform, as well as the salaries of designers and developers. However, the wages of IT specialists significantly vary from region to region while their skills and knowledge can be the same.

The hourly rates of designers and engineers:

  • USA — $50-$150 per hour
  • Western Europe — $40-$100 per hour
  • Eastern Europe — $20-$50 per hour (including our e-learning software development company headquartered in Belarus)

Minimum and maximum costs of implementing basic functionality of an online education marketplace:

  • USA — $180,500-$627,000
  • Western Europe — $144,400-$418,000
  • Eastern Europe — $72,200-$209,000

Therefore, the cost of creating an e-learning platform like Coursera is significantly lower in Eastern Europe compared to the USA and Western Europe. Countries such as Belarus are known for their experienced software experts and a high level of responsibility. To learn more about the advantages of outsourcing software development to Belarus, read an interview with Andrew Volchek , CEO and Co-founder at Arateg.

Take an online education marketplace to the next level

1. Gamification

Gamification is one of the key e-learning software development trends for 2021 and years to come. By training students with games, a company can motivate them to learn while improving engagement. Gamification comprises a wide range of features, involving competition between users, quiz tours, daily challenges, bonuses, in-app currency, as well as rewards like gifts, coins, and badges.

2. Personalized recommendations

To provide users with personalized content recommendations, an e-learning software development company enables data analytics, for example, by deploying machine learning algorithms. The platform analyzes data such as watch, purchase, and activity histories to identify the needs and preferences of each student. Delivering this functionality, you will boost user satisfaction and increase customer retention rate.

3. Reviews and ratings

This feature of an online course marketplace is vital for enabling students to choose courses based on testimonials. Thanks to this, they will be able to make more informed, better decisions. In addition, lecturers can analyze user reviews and ratings, identify the strong and weak sides of provided materials, as well as explore how to improve them.

To collect user feedback, moderate comments, and ban users for offensive content, an e-learning marketplace development company can integrate a product with a platform such as Disqus or Discord. Using a market-ready service, engineers will save you time and money.

Issues you should consider when building an e-learning marketplace

1. Platforms

Before making a custom e-learning platform like Coursera, an organization needs to decide what operating system—web or mobile—to choose. We recommend that you analyze the target audience to find out what devices they will prefer to use for online education.

If you aim to launch an online course marketplace for training employees or providing education to acquire a profession, creating a web solution is likely to be the best choice. In case you want to provide kids and college students with access to distant education in a gaming form, mobile application development will align with your project needs.

Another option you should consider is making a progressive web app (PWA). Combining features of the web and mobile worlds, a PWA is downloaded from a website to a smartphone. As a result, users don’t have to install a product from stores or search for a site every time they need to access its content. Explore the main advantages of PWA technology.

2. Monetization strategy

It is crucial to choose a monetization strategy before building an e-learning marketplace. A business model defines how you will generate profit. By making the right call, it is easier to attract customers and increase revenue.

There are multiple monetization strategies that include:

  • Paid certificates — Students attend a course free of charge or for a small fee but have to pay for a certificate.
  • Paid courses — This is one of the most popular monetization models for custom e-learning software. Students purchase a course while instructors receive revenue. A product owner generally charges a commission from each payment.
  • Subscription — An online education marketplace can offer several plans to provide users with an extended access period to content, online consultations with experts, access to different courses, and other features.
  • Premium — Another strategy is to provide users with limited access to an online course marketplace. To receive extra possibilities, students have to pay for upgrading to a premium account.
  • Affiliate model — You can integrate affiliate links to educational materials and equipment, charging a fee for their promotion.
  • Donations — If you are the owner of a non-profit company, you should consider this model. While an e-learning marketplace offers courses and materials for free, an organization receives donations from users and institutions. For example, Google donated Khan Academy $2 million for developing new courses and translating content into multiple languages.

Coursera is a popular online course marketplace that serves millions of users across the globe. For years of its evolution, the system has integrated multiple business models that involve paid certificates, monthly subscription, and affiliate programs.

If you have doubts about implementing a monetization strategy, contact our team . We will analyze project requirements and help you choose the best model for your e-learning marketplace.

3. Data security

Online education marketplaces generally contain a lot of sensitive data, for instance, payment details and personal user information. To prevent cybersecurity threats, an e-learning software development company has to implement SSL encryption, role-based access control, data encryption, and two-factor authentication.

3D secure is another feature that should be added to a custom e-learning platform. By requiring users to complete an additional verification step when paying, it contributes to fraud prevention. Popular payment gateways like Stripe and Braintree provide this feature out of the box. With the view of protecting copyrights, engineers should enable geo-blocking and screenshot ban.

4. Scalability and high availability

Ensuring scalability is essential to handle a growing amount of work and prevent downtime, especially when the goal is to develop an e-learning platform like Coursera serving millions of users worldwide. When a software system cannot elastically scale up or down depending on the load, this may result in decreased performance and even service unavailability.

As a consequence, it becomes much more difficult for a company to retain customers. What’s more, when an e-learning application is not scalable, it is difficult to implement new functionality. That is why you should create an online education marketplace with scalability and high availability in mind. For this purpose, you can build a microservices or serverless architecture, as well as employ proper technologies.

Technologies to build an e-learning marketplace

First and foremost, you should outline the key business needs that may include system capability to withstand heavy loads, deliver stable, uninterrupted performance, and be scalable up or down depending on the load. In addition, you should take into account the project timeline and budget.

To create a custom e-learning platform like Coursera, you can employ the following technologies:

  • Frontend: JavaScript, TypeScript, HTML5, CSS3, React, Angular, Vuex, Vue.js, Redux, Redux-Saga, Storybook, etc.
  • Backend: Go, Python, Django, Flask, Node.js, Express, PostgreSQL, etc.
  • Mobile: Swift (iOS), Java, Kotlin (Android), React Native (Cross-platform)
  • DevOps: Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform, Docker, Kubernetes

Technologies used also involve APIs. For example, to enable online payments, it is reasonable to connect a custom e-learning platform with a payment gateway, for example, PayPal or Stripe.

By using APIs instead of building the necessary functionality from scratch, you can significantly reduce costs and time-to-market. Take a look at the list of integrations that may be useful for your project.

If you want to choose the technology stack that will perfectly suit your project, drop us a message to get a consultation.

Our experience in e-learning marketplace development

At Arateg, we have successfully delivered many e-learning software solutions to customers from the USA and Europe. For instance, our team created an online education platform for an American startup that provides customers with personalized recommendations and information search by keywords across video content. Following Agile best practices, our engineers were able to deliver new functionality every 2-3 weeks.

Another e-learning platform that we developed is a training management system for a programming school. The app allows teachers to create tests, monitor student performance, visualize data, and communicate with students in chats. We also integrated an e-learning app with a CRM—also made by Arateg—so that the organization was able to track the sales process from the first interaction with a potential client to course purchase.

Final thoughts

To create a custom e-learning platform like Coursera that meets end-user needs, it is crucial to choose a proper monetization strategy and provide a seamless user experience across all devices. With the view of handling heavy loads and a growing number of users, you should hire a custom software engineering company that will ensure scalability, high availability, and fault tolerance of your product.

In order to cut down expenses while saving quality, you should hire a trusted IT partner located in Eastern Europe. Thanks to IT outsourcing, it is possible to reduce costs by more than 60%.

At Arateg, we have been delivering full-cycle e-learning software development services since 2014. With extensive expertise in this field, we assist our clients in preparing a project roadmap, prioritizing features, and choosing the technology stack.

If you aim to build an online education marketplace or extend the existing solution, you are welcome to contact our team. We will get back to you within 24 hours and help address all issues. Project consultation is for free.

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