Borrow this University Business Model to Sell Certification Programs

You, dear reader, can obtain an education from the most prestigious universities in the world, all for free. It makes no difference whether you received straight `A’s in high school or whether you spent your high school years sitting in your friend’s basement learning to play the opening to Stairway to Heaven on a Gibson Flying V guitar instead of studying for final exams. Your past educational performance has no impact on your ability to study at the world’s best universities.

Gibson Flying V

Your choice of institutions includes many of the status rock stars of the higher-ed world:

  • California Institute of Technology (Caltech)
  • Columbia University
  • Harvard University
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • McGill University
  • The University of Queensland
  • The University of Tokyo
  • And many more

You won’t even need to move to the U.S., Canada, Australia, Japan, or elsewhere to attend classes. These institutions have all generously put their courses online, accessible through sites such as EdX and Open Education Consortium.

Imagine how great it will be to apply for your next job by submitting a resume showing off your Harvard education! Your starting salary will easily pay for your Fifth-Avenue lifestyle with a bit left over for a yacht.

Reality check

Although you will have successfully completed courses provided by these institutions, you won’t actually be a graduate. These universities (and potential employers) get a little touchy about people saying that they studied there unless they have an actual signed diploma hanging on their wall.

There was a time when people paid university tuition fees to access great content. Increasingly, that content is available for free to anyone with Internet access. Tuition now pays for the certification. In the education section of your resume, it’s not what you know that opens career doors. Rather, what many employers want to see is that a respected university has vetted you, certifying that you truly know what you say you know.

Commercial course providers agonize over how much content to provide for free as marketing teasers, and how much to make available only to paying customers. If you provide a certification program that is highly respected and desired by learners, you may want to consider adopting a business model similar to the academic one discussed above:

  • Make courses available for free
  • Charge for the certificate

This is an easy model to replicate in a learning management system:

  • Create a curriculum containing the courses and learning activities the learner must complete to meet the requirements of certification.
  • Create a course separate from this curriculum that issues the certificate. A prerequisite for accessing this certificate course must be the successful completion of the curriculum.

Absorb LMS: prerequisites

  • Configure this certificate course with the necessary pricing details.

Absorb LMS: Shopping Cart

Although learners will be able to purchase the certificate course prior to completing the curriculum, the actual certificate will only be issued once they complete the necessary courses.

Managing this type of model manually is time-consuming and expensive. A learning management system can automate the process, freeing you up to focus on creating great content for your learners.