While most of us weren't paying attention, Facebook subtly created something that could change how creators share their online courses forever. They created something called "Social Learning Groups" which allow creators to make Facebook groups that can be organized like traditional online courses.
How Facebook Social Learning Groups Work
Social learning groups are managed just like regular Facebook groups except you can create organized "units" inside of them for members to complete.
Inside of each unit, you can add lessons. which can be in the form of...
- Quizzes (my favorite feature)
- 3rd party links
Anything you could put in a traditional post, you can use as a lesson.
Students can then mark units as done as they proceed through them.
They can also comment on the lessons (if you allow comments) and get help from the instructors of the community
Any course that could be created in a paid service like Thinkific or Kajabi could now be created for free on Facebook.
Sounds awesome, right?!?
Well, there are a couple of things to consider before you dive in and make a course in Facebook.
Pros and Cons of Facebook Courses
I recently created a 21 day blogging challenge (fundamentally the same layout as a course). I made it available in both Facebook and Thinkific (my online course platform of choice).
I asked my members what they thought about the Facebook social learning units.
No one loved it and one person hated it. Most people were relatively indifferent.
It's pretty clear that it is far from perfect, but is it good enough?
Facebook is an amazing free option for hosting a course, but the drawback of knowing you could lose the entire thing is unsettling and it's far from a perfect solution for students.
For these reasons, I will always create a backup version of my courses in another software that I actually own (for me it's Thinkific). As long as you save your content off Facebook somewhere else, you can hedge this risk and it would be just a mild inconvenience rather than a total collapse of your program.
If you're sold on the idea of using a social learning group for your course, let's get into it!
How to Create a Free Course on Facebook
1. Navigate to the Facebook Groups Page
You can do that by clicking here, or typing in facebook.com/groups to your browser. It is also available on the left sidebar of the Facebook homepage. You will, of course, need to be logged in for this process.
2. Select "Create Group"
3. Name Your Group, Invite a Member and Choose "Private"
Pick a name. Don't worry, you can change this later if you want.
Unless you want the world to take your course for free (which actually could be lucrative but there's no time to cover that now) you'll want to make the group private.
You have to invite a member to proceed so just pick anyone that won't be weirded out by it.
4. Choose Visibility Preference
I recommend making the group hidden unless you want people who didn't buy requesting access. This could be a way to make sales (messaging people who want in with a link to buy) but that's something you can decide for yourself/
5. Click "More" and Navigate to "Edit Group Settings"
6. Change Group Type to "Social Learning"
7. Toggle Landing Tab to "Units" (Optional)
8. Navigate Down to "Sections" and Add "Social Learning Units"
9. Further Customize Group
There are a number of additional things you'll want to do to finalize your group that I'm not going to go into here for the sake of brevity.
You'll want to ...
- Edit your group custom URL
- Add a group header image
- Edit group description
- Create onboarding questions (typically "what email did you use to purchase)
- Link existing groups/pages
Ok, let's move on to how to add your first units!
How to Add Learning Units
1. Navigate to "Units" and Select "Create Unit"
2. Describe Your Unit
Think of units as the containers for lessons. Give a good title and description.
3. Create a Lesson
Lessons will appear like basic posts. Anything you could make in a post (and then some) can be turned into a lesson.
Repeat the process until you've filled your course!
If you want to change the order that your units and lessons are displayed, you can easily do that as well.
How to Charge for Facebook Group Access
The last piece to the puzzle is collecting payments for your courses.
You can get creative with this. There are endless possibilities here.
The easiest way to do it will be to provide a link to your Facebook group with instructions for joining it on your thank you page and in a confirmation email.
Any service that allows you to sell virtual goods and deliver confirmation emails will suffice here.
For example, you could use a service like Gumroad and have buyers redirected to your Facebook group when they purchase.
I suggest simply asking your students for the email that they used when they purchased the course and approving them manually. If your fortunate enough that you have so many to approve that it becomes time consuming, you can likely afford to hire and train a virtual assstant to verify them for you.
There you have it! A free but imperfect way to host your online courses.
Questions? Hit me up in the comments!