Why Your Online Course Needs a Private Social Network

Online education has its upsides and downsides. Two upsides: it allows people living in remote areas or who simply can’t commit to being on campus full time to gain tertiary qualifications; industry professionals are able to set up and deliver their own courses, on their own websites, without having to partner with an education provider. A major downside: students can miss out on the social, group learning aspects which make tertiary education such a great experience. Facebook groups are one option, but not everyone is going to want to hand out a link to their personal social networking profile (especially those running the course). Plus, if you’ve worked hard for months or even years to put together an engaging and comprehensive online course, you want to make sure that all your ideas and content are clearly and irrefutably owned by you, with no provisions for anyone else to use your posts or images.

online education

Students learn best when they have the opportunity to work through concepts with their teachers and others in their class; otherwise, they can just memorise answers and information instead of really getting stuck into what they’re learning. Having a private social network attached to the website you’re running your course on is the perfect way to facilitate this. You can set up events to remind them when assignments are due, or to schedule a group discussion. You can post important course updates, as they happen. You can hold digital office hours, chatting with students in real time (rather than resorting to lengthy email threads).

How much you use the social network is up to you; you can essentially run your course through it (delivering content via status updates, testing knowledge through discussion threads) or you can use it to supplement a more traditional mode of online content delivery (modules, readings etc). It’s one of the most flexible education tools on the market.

If you’d like to know more about integrating PeepSo into your online course, leave us a comment below or get in touch with us on Facebook – we’ve got a former university lecturer and online education guru on hand to answer any questions.



Women of WordPress: Karly Nimmo

Karly Nimmo is one of our featured Women of WordPress because she’s not only used WordPress as the foundation for her own incredibly popular podcast; she’s using WordPress to encourage and enable other women to create great podcasts too.

karly nimmo and podcasting

Karly has been using WordPress as the foundation for her online presence for several years, and this April she started podcasting using a combination of WordPress and Libsyn. Within two days, she’d hit number one in her category, and made it into iTunes’ “new and noteworthy” section. Since then, her audience has been growing and growing (currently at over a thousand downloads per episode). As an added bonus, the guests Karly interviewed were getting sales and new clients as a direct result of appearing on the podcast; inbound leads which essentially converted themselves, because they’d already heard the person’s voice and through that established trust.

WordPress has enabled Karly to get a really effective and efficient podcasting system going: create fantastic audio (something Karly had been doing for years as a voiceover artist and radio jock), and then upload each episode to a file hosting service synced with her WordPress site, where WordPress would create a new post and send the audio over to the iTunes store. Thanks to her use of WordPress, she was also able to get people subscribing directly to her RSS feed using other apps; capturing the Android/non-Apple market too.

As her podcast became more and more successful, she was approached by a number of women wanting to know how they could get their own message out there through podcasting; and to meet that need, she set up a six week podcasting course on her WordPress site using OptimizePress. The Radcasters Podcasting S’Cool opened its doors at the start of this month, and the number of students is continuing to increase; alongside modules on how to create great audio and figure out your topic, there’s a wealth of information for beginners wanting to use their existing WordPress site as a podcasting platform (similar to how people are using PeepSo to create a private social network on their own site, rather than paying for a completely new platform).

What we love about this story is that it’s a great example of someone with expertise in a non-Wordpress/information technology field (audio recording and editing) really changing the way people use and think about WordPress. There’s a whole range of things you can use this platform for (from building your own private social network to podcasting) – it just takes one person to make those possibilities transparent and available to others (as Karly’s doing through her podcasting school, and we’re doing through our plugin).

To connect with Karly, visit her Facebook page, check out her podcast, or head to her WordPress site.