How to Build an E-Learning Platform? [Interview with Alex Dyer, CEO & Founder at TutorHouse]

How to Build an E-Learning Platform? [Interview with Alex Dyer, CEO & Founder at TutorHouse]

E-learning is our new reality, which is here to stay. According to the report presented by Research and Markets, the e-learning market is going to reach $325 Billion by 2025. Though online education has already been popular before, in COVID-19 times, it is going through a new surge in demand. 

When traditional educational institutions close, digital reality remains available no matter what. That’s why schools, colleges, universities, private tutors, professional skills training programs - all try to establish their firm presence online. Building an e-learning platform, therefore, is a promising business opportunity.

In this article, we’re going to look at what makes an e-learning platform successful and how you can build one. We will discover a case of Tutor House - a top tutoring platform in the UK - to find out how online learning can answer the challenges of education now and provide winning solutions for years to come. 

What does education look like in 2020?

During the pandemic, more people are living online than ever before. 

Let’s look at some facts:

  • According to Eric Yuan, the CEO and founder of Zoom Video Communications, the number of daily meeting participants rose from 10 million to more than 200 million in March, 2020. Why has that happened? Usual workshops and conferences, as well as the classrooms, moved online making video conferencing tools soar in popularity. 
  • Looking at the Google trends, we can see that searches for online educational activities, especially online courses, have increased by over 100% globally, just from the middle of March to the middle of April. Not counting this recent spike, searches for online education have already been undergoing steady growth for quite a while.
  • At the beginning of the fall of 2020, 62% of students stayed in the comfort of their homes to have their school classes online. The pandemic forced lots of educational institutions to close their doors completely or partially and go into online mode to keep students safe and sound. 

In times such as these, we can better observe how e-learning works and what we can do to make it better. Lots of those who wouldn’t consider learning online due to a number of reasons are now exploring its countless benefits.

And the benefits are undeniable. 

  • With just an internet connection and a device, students from different backgrounds and locations can easily access high-quality educational resources online. 
  • Teachers can transmit information via video just as well as they can in a traditional classroom. 
  • Students can save lots of time on travelling to classes and employ it elsewhere. 
  • Self-paced and personalized learning is much more effective.
  • Employees can easily upgrade their skills with online professional training courses while keeping other commitments, such as a full-time job or family.

By embracing new technologies in education, learning can reach new heights and solve different problems of traditional education

A great example of  such an innovative approach to education is Tutor House. 

E-learning platform development: Tutor House success case 

How to build an e-learning pratform? Case study of Tutor House and interview with its Founder

Tutor House is an e-learning platform that is trusted by thousands of students and tutors across the UK. It offers private tuition sessions with educators who have extensive experience working with students to provide each of the learners with high-quality support.

Some other services include:

  • Retake courses
  • Revision courses
  • Homeschooling

How does the online learning platform work? 

Using the website, students can search for tutors or post a job to have the right tutors reach them. There is a matching algorithm that connects students with educators based on the fundamentals, such as subject and level, plus personal goals and learning needs. 

Students fill out a personality survey on the platform, find their perfect tutor, book lessons, and study in Tutor House online classrooms with interactive whiteboard, video, and file-sharing abilities. The first 15-minute call is free to make sure the tutor is the best fit for the learner. 

This e-learning platform with online classrooms ensures you get the most out of your educational experience and have efficient lessons for the best results possible.

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Interview with Alex Dyer, Founder & CEO at Tutor House 

1. Alex, Tutor House is now one of the leading tutoring platforms in London. In 2013, you left your position as a psychology teacher to begin a startup in response to the problems you saw in education. Why was private tuition the answer then, and why do people need it now? Have their needs changed over these 8 years while Tutor House exists?

The main problem with education in the UK is that it has not changed in 200 years. The top-down approach where there is 1 teacher to 30 students is unique to our school system. Where in workplaces bosses are taught to focus on collaborating with their employees placing emphasis on teamwork and cohesion, it seems odd that this motive is missing from our classrooms. 

This is not to say that it is the school’s fault, not at all. I would never bad mouth schools or teachers, being an ex-teacher. But the only real way a child/student learns is by building reciprocal bonds with a one-on-one tutor-tutee relationship. The rest (homework, handouts, tests) is just roughage, we don’t really need to worry about that, it’s the ongoing lack of one-one mentor-style tutoring approach that we need to focus on! We are trying to help change this but it’s a long struggle full of bureaucrats, old laws, and paper-pushers - but we’ll get there.

2. So, when you came up with an idea for the project, what were your first steps? How did you attract teachers and students at the beginning of Tutor House?

We started small, onboarding teachers and tutors that I knew. Making sure that we had quality over quantity- we still insist on this, even today. We focused on the customer, listening to them and working out what they needed. We then started to offer packages for customers to join us, 10 lessons for the price of 8, that sort of thing.  We also called each customer and checked progress and made sure children were reaching their goals. It was hard work, but well worth it. In 2016 we moved to an online automated platform. We still offer customer support to all tutors and students though. 

3. Alex, Tutor House has already been 8 years on the market. You’ve come a long way from being a startup. Did you face any challenges along the way that made you change your roadmap? What innovations did you bring into your product?

Did we face any challenges as a start-up?? Just a few! 

We’ve tried and of course, sometimes failed to innovate and improve our product. But the product is hard, you are more or less walking in the woods in the dark if you are not a tech person. Make sure you have a good team or a good company in place that understands your product and sees your vision. We changed our roadmap so many times, and this year, with Covid, we are changing every month. It's harder now but you have to adapt. The biggest innovation was personality matching, matching tutors with the same personality as tutors. Diving into their traits and how tutors teach and how learners learn. No one else did it...Interestingly we found that 60% of tutors who booked lessons with us were introverts, so thanks to the ‘quiet ones!’

There is so much about starting your own company out there. The biggest thing that I learned is that hope is not a strategy. If you love what you do, that’s amazing, if you have an idea, that’s great, if you start a business you are very brave, but if you have a well-thought-out and logical plan when you start your company, you are a god! We could be bigger and better and quicker and more able, everyone could, but it’s key to focus and not give up. Every day is learning learning learning, enjoy it now as you will hate the alternative. 

4. Now that Tutor House is up and running, in your opinion, what makes the platform different from its competitors? 

The tutors

Personality matching

Customer support and our team

Goal tracking and progress reporting

5. In light of recent events, can you tell us a little bit about how Covid-19 has affected the education industry? What challenges and opportunities have you noticed, and what effect do they have on Tutor House? How are you adapting to the new reality?

It’s affected everything. Hopefully for the better. I would not like to be a teacher now, hats off to them, they have been outstanding and receive very little praise. Schools long term may not change that much, but it’s good that tutoring is getting more recognition. There is a new government-backed scheme to help those children on free school meals from disadvantaged backgrounds. But we have seen this all before, and I doubt the right children will get the right support. Which is a shame and more needs to be done. 

With families not traveling or going on holiday and with restaurants and pubs closed, people are focusing on other things and education is and should be one of them. The holidays can wait until 2021, education should be for the now. We have also moved more into B2B as well, helping schools and universities, both online and face-face. 

6. Why did you choose to outsource your software development needs? What do you value in cooperation with an outsourcing vendor and does Apiko meet your requirements? 

We employed 4 full-time developers for almost two years, but it’s very hard to manage the roadmap and development and changes and people time. We find that it’s better to outsource to a development company, like Apiko, that way you have highly experienced and professional people doing the complicated parts. The odds are against us, English vs Ukrainian language, based in London, based in Tallinn, time difference, etc, but it’s worked very well. They have a well-structured and organized team. They are hard-working and also think about business solutions. So overall we would recommend this as being the best way to cover all your development needs.     

Recap: how do you build an e-learning platform and succeed?

Following the thriving case of Tutor House, how can you succeed in building an e-learning platform that brings innovation to traditional education methods and enhances the studying process?

We can distinguish 5 main steps on how to create an online learning platform:

    1. Discover pain points and choose your niche. Seeing the problems in the field can help you find your direction. Keep looking to find out more about challenges and opportunities that you can use in order to create a winning online learning platform.
    2. Outline your solution. Develop a concept of your future e-learning platform and how it can solve those pain points. Choose the type of platform and features you want your target audience to use and make the most of. 
    3. Choose the right software development partner. When your idea is ready, it’s time to bring it to life. Find an experienced software development agency that you can trust with building your e-learning platform. Drop us a line to learn more about Apiko and how we can help you in making your project a reality.
    4. Gather your first audience to test and provide feedback. Involve and ask your target market for feedback. That way you’ll know what works well and what needs to be changed. Your customers are the best judges of your product. To increase the visibility of your brand, work hard on your marketing campaigns.
    5. Improve.  As the world changes, so should your platform. The needs of your audience may vary with time, so always try to keep up with the latest events. Upgrade your e-learning platform to meet those changing needs and provide the most relevant solutions to learners.

Good luck with your e-learning project! If you need any technical help along the way, just let us know.

Read also Educational App Development: How to Create a User-Friendly E-learning Process