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Miranda Kerr and Evan Spiegel Are Buyers of a $30.4 Million Paris Mansion

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They reportedly purchased the property in May, not long after the Snapchat founder was granted honorary French citizenship



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VR Fitness Is a Serious Workout, Seriously

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In the last days of 2020, Oculus quietly rolled out a fitness tracker, called Oculus Move, that lives inside its Quest headsets. Users who download the software can watch the calories they burn in virtual reality, along with their physically active minutes, climb on a ticker floating above or below their field of view. With a deeper dive into the tracker’s dashboard, they can also set goals and track their progress over time.

Move appears to be an acknowledgment from Oculus that fitness is a primary reason for many people to use VR. That’s certainly the case for me. I’m not much of a gamer in general, but for the past couple months, I’ve exercised nearly every day in virtual reality. And despite what you might think about the incompatibility of video games and exercise, these are serious workouts. Some end with me gasping for breath and wringing sweat from my beard.

In that sense, VR has saved me from bodily neglect. It’s helped me grasp the motivation that’s been threatening to slip through my fingers since the start of this godforsaken pandemic.

During the spring, summer, and fall seasons of COVID, I managed a couple 20-mile bike rides each week. On weekends I occasionally found strength for longer rides, and on one hot Saturday, I logged 100 flat miles on Long Island. But it was always a struggle to get moving, and as winter arrived in New York, my rides petered. After a couple inactive weeks, I decided to see what I could accomplish inside a Quest 2 ($299), the entry-level headset Oculus released in October.

Initially my plan was to use VR for a few minutes of movement on particularly cold days. But then I started building a library of games and programs, some of which I considered warm-ups that helped vault me into more serious cardio. Now, every day, I piece together a workout based on my mood and energy level. Video games are part of my daily routine, and I feel lazy without them.

vr games xbox one

The 10 Best Virtual Reality Games You Can Play Right Now

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What does a VR workout look like?

There are dozens of virtual reality programs you can use to burn a few calories, but as of now, there are only a few specifically focused on exercise. By far my favorite is the subscription-based program Supernatural ($19/month, or slightly less for annual memberships).

Workouts typically run 10- to 30-minutes, and they roll out fresh daily. After a quick stretch with a trainer, music kicks on and triangles and targets begin flying toward you. Your job is to squat through the former and smash the latter with the virtual batons in your hands.

Supernatural Hero view

It’s simple enough, but the game moves fast, especially with workouts labeled “hard.” You’ll struggle to hold a squat inside a triangle tunnel that forces you to stay low while swinging your arms. Then you’ll explode upward to swat an overhead target, side-lunge left then right to thread the off-kilter scalene triangles, and then attack a dozen more targets before dropping back down into a squat.

The movements burn, but they don’t immediately register as exercise. Not in the strictest sense, anyway, because Supernatural feels more like a sport than a workout. You run your score up by hitting targets, and with more powerful swings, you amass more points. You can track your progress on a leaderboard, and if you want to jump the person ahead of you, you’ll either have to work harder or longer.

To help break the monotony of exercise, each workout takes you around the world. You might start out on an arctic tundra, move to the edge of an Egyptian pyramid, and then end on the lip of a volcano in Ethiopia.

Supernatural VR fitness game summary screen

And each location pairs with a new song, which dictates the intensity of the workout. Supernatural invests heavily in licensing fees, and its programmers have delightfully diverse tastes. I’ve worked out to hip-hop, Southern rock, top 40. Some particularly motivating tracks have come from the New York Dolls, Violent Femmes, Kendrick Lamar, and one Skrillex track that threatened to detach my arms from my body.

The other program I use often is FitXR ($29.99), which fills my urge for head-to-head competition. With each workout, six other VR users join me. They appear as silhouettes to my left and right, and I do everything I can to make sure I score more points than they do.

FitXR workouts come with less novelty than Supernatural’s—there are only two environments, and the music isn’t anything I recognize. But it does offer workout variety, with either boxing or cardio dance classes. I prefer the former, which much like Supernatural, functions with moving targets set to the beat. Only this time, you’ll have to toggle between jabs, crosses, hooks, and uppercuts, depending on the target.

BoxVR fitness boxing game

A streak counter tells you how many consecutive targets you’ve hit, and a power meter gives you a real-time score on each punch. Both metrics—accuracy and power—play into your position on the leaderboard.

The cumulative effect of scorekeeping and instant feedback available in both Supernatural and FitXR amount to what researchers call gamification. “You’re earning awards and leveling up,” says Tumay Tunur, Ph.D., a kinesiologist who studies virtual reality at California State University San Marcos. “It’s very rewarding, and it definitely helps with adherence.”

Consistency, says Tunur, is the most critical component of any workout routine. And that’s what makes gamification potent: It gives you goals that numb the pain, and it keeps you coming back for more.

Tunur’s VR fitness game of choice is the rhythm-based Beat Saber ($29). “When I play, I’ll say, ‘I’m gonna go in for 20 minutes to get a quick workout,’” she says. “Then 40 minutes later, I’m still playing.”

I can relate. When I’m feeling lethargic, I delay my serious workout by playing a first-person shooter like Pistol Whip ($24.99) or scaling cliffs in The Climb ($29.99). Both games get my blood pumping, and after a couple rounds, I’m eager to log in to Supernatural or FitXR.

According to Oculus Move, the built-in tracker, I’m burning 200-400 calories per workout, and in one 49-minute session, I clocked 549. I suspect the numbers are inflated, however. I’ve worn both Garmin and Fitbit trackers during my VR workouts, and they registered 24 percent and 35 percent lower, respectively.

But I don’t particularly care about calories. The more important metric for me is exertion, and the trackers told me I was keeping my average heart rate close to 130, with a peak near 170. Those are legitimate numbers, and they provide context for research on VR fitness.

Last year, kinesiologists at the University of Minnesota reviewed 15 studies on the subject. Among those that looked at physical outcomes such as body composition, fitness level, and muscular strength, two-thirds showed positive results from VR workouts. And that’s despite relatively short study periods and outdated technology. (The oldest study in the analysis is from 2003, which is ancient in tech years.)

But perhaps the more interesting finding comes from the studies that looked at VR’s psychological effects. According to the research, virtual workouts can reduce fatigue and symptoms of depression.

Again, I can relate. Virtual reality isn’t reality, but it does transport me somewhere outside my apartment. That’s valuable given that my local restaurants, bars, and gyms are all inaccessible due to the pandemic. VR is a small bright spot—a healthy one, at that—in what could otherwise feel like a yearlong, pandemic-induced Groundhog Day.

Workouts for Boxers: Fit man boxing

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Virtual workouts and the future

If you’ve been paying attention to VR, then you’ve been hearing for a decade that Oculus was on the verge of making the technology mainstream. So what’s different about now? That’s easy: Accessibility.

Until recently, affordable consoles were just plastic or cardboard holsters that strapped a smartphone to your head. There wasn’t much you could do with them. And even today, high-end goggles require cables to keep you tethered to an expensive gaming computer.

The Oculus Quest, released in 2019, was the first to bridge the divide. It was wireless and had a $399 price tag. It wasn’t cheap, but it wasn’t four-figures expensive, either. And 17 months later, Oculus released the Quest 2, an update that improved significantly on the visuals (frame rate and resolution are both higher), weight (it clocks in at just over one pound), and price ($299). It stands to reason that as the technology continues to improve, so will the fitness applications.

My one overarching complaint of the Quest 2 comes not from Oculus, but from its parent company, Facebook. With the second-generation console, the social-media company began requiring its virtual-reality users to log in using a Facebook profile.

That probably won’t phase the site’s billions of active users, but I deleted my account a couple years ago. Facebook found a way to force me back on, and the strong-arm mandate confirms my suspicion that it cares more about harvesting my data than winning me back as a loyal customer.

Regardless, VR fitness has officially landed, and I’d wager that goggles will soon be as common as treadmills.

Consider Holodia, a company that began making VR workout software in 2018. Originally, Holodia targeted gyms with virtual jungles and rivers that members could accelerate through using rowing machines, ellipticals, and exercise bikes. But in January, Holodia launched a subscription-based program for the Quest 2, presumably to jump on the at-home VR fitness trend.

Users can run the program, called Holofit ($10.75/month, less for longer memberships), using smart rowing machines or bikes and ellipticals with cadence sensors attached. But more tellingly, they can now also run it by doing crunches or jogging in place—no heavy equipment required.

That seems to provide a clue to where VR fitness is headed. While it began as a novelty, it’s now capable of serving as the centerpiece to your home gym. It costs less, takes up less space, and incentives you with game-like elements and daily updates.

Truth is, I don’t always feel like working out. But these days, I’m always down for a break from reality. It’s wonderful that VR can offer both.

 

Man working out with virtual reality headset

In the Gym of the Future, You’ll Get Ripped in Virtual Reality

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Daily Crunch: Alphabet shuts down Loon

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Alphabet pulls the plug on its internet balloon company, Apple is reportedly developing a new MacBook Air and Google threatens to pull out of Australia. This is your Daily Crunch for January 22, 2021.

The big story: Alphabet shuts down Loon

Alphabet announced that it’s shutting down Loon, the project that used balloons to bring high-speed internet to more remote parts of the world.

Loon started out under Alphabet’s experimental projects group X, before spinning out as a separate company in 2018. Despite some successful deployments, it seems that Loon was never able to find a sustainable business model.

“While we’ve found a number of willing partners along the way, we haven’t found a way to get the costs low enough to build a long-term, sustainable business,” Loon CEO Alastair Westgarth wrote in a blog post. “Developing radical new technology is inherently risky, but that doesn’t make breaking this news any easier.”

The tech giants

Apple reportedly planning thinner and lighter MacBook Air with MagSafe charging — The plan is reportedly to release the new MacBook Air as early as late 2021 or 2022.

Google threatens to close its search engine in Australia as it lobbies against digital news code — Google is dialing up its lobbying against draft legislation intended to force it to pay news publishers.

Cloudflare introduces free digital waiting rooms for any organizations distributing COVID-19 vaccines — The goal is to help health agencies and organizations tasked with rolling out COVID-19 vaccines to maintain a fair, equitable and transparent digital queue.

Startups, funding and venture capital

‘Slow dating’ app Once is acquired by Dating Group for $18M as it seeks to expand its portfolio — Once has 9 million users on its platform, with an additional 1 million users from a spin-out app called Pickable.

MotoRefi raises $10M to keep pedal on auto refinancing growth — CEO Kevin Bennett sees the opportunity to service Americans who collectively hold $1.2 trillion in auto loans.

Backed by Vint Cerf, Emortal wants to protect your digital legacy from ‘bit-rot’ —  Emortal is a startup that wants to help you organize, protect, preserve and pass on your “digital legacy” and protect it from becoming unreadable.

Advice and analysis from Extra Crunch

How VCs invested in Asia and Europe in 2020 — The unicorns are feasting.

End-to-end operators are the next generation of consumer business — VC firm Battery has tracked seismic shifts in how consumer purchasing behavior has changed over the years.

Drupal’s journey from dorm-room project to billion-dollar exit — Twenty years ago, Drupal and Acquia founder Dries Buytaert was a college student at the University of Antwerp.

(Extra Crunch is our membership program, which helps founders and startup teams get ahead. You can sign up here.)

Everything else

UK resumes privacy oversight of adtech, warns platform audits are coming — The U.K.’s data watchdog has restarted an investigation of adtech practices that, since 2018, have been subject to scores of complaints under GDPR.

Boston Globe will consider people’s requests to have articles about them anonymized — It’s reminiscent of the EU’s “right to be forgotten,” though potentially less controversial.

The Daily Crunch is TechCrunch’s roundup of our biggest and most important stories. If you’d like to get this delivered to your inbox every day at around 3pm Pacific, you can subscribe here.



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Kobayashi & Action Express Fastest At The Roar

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – It wasn’t as much about driving fast as it was about familiar territory.

Two-time defending Rolex 24 At Daytona winner Kamui Kobayashi opened the 2021 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season with the fastest lap Friday during the first day of testing at the Roar Before the Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway.

His lap of 1 minute, 35.312 seconds (134.463 mph) around the 12-turn, 3.56-mile DIS road course in the No. 48 Action Express Racing Ally Cadillac DPi V.R was .385 seconds faster than the closest competitor.

But the thrill for Kobayashi wasn’t being atop the speed chart. It was being in a familiar car on a familiar track again. The former Formula One driver returned to a Cadillac DPi, in which he won the Rolex 24 the past two seasons with Wayne Taylor Racing.

“I’m very happy to be returning to the Daytona 24 again,” Kobayashi said. “Being back in the same car and same engine but a different team, I still feel the car is great. I fit quite well with this package. When I got in the car, I felt really comfortable.”

Kobayashi will share the car with Jimmie Johnson, Simon Pagenaud and Mike Rockenfeller for the 59th Rolex 24 on Jan. 30-31. The team will attempt to put the car on the pole position in Sunday’s Motul Pole Award 100, a 100-minute race that will determine the starting lineup for the Rolex 24.

Ricky Taylor was second fastest in the Daytona Prototype international (DPi) class, recording a lap of 1:35.697 (133.922 mph) in the No. 10 Wayne Taylor Racing Acura ARX-05. Felipe Nasr was third in the No. 31 Action Express Racing Whelen Engineering Cadillac.

Nicolas Lapierre recorded the fastest lap in the Le Mans Prototype 2 (LMP2) class at 1:37.741 in the No. 52 PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports ORECA LMP2 07. James Calado was quickest in the GT Le Mans (GTLM) class with a lap of 1:43.680 in the No. 62 Risi Competizione Ferrari 488 GTE.

Moritz Kranz had the fastest lap of the day in the new Le Mans Prototype 3 (LMP3) class at 1:43.500 in the No. 6 Muehlner Motorsports America Duqueine M30-D08. Christina Nielsen was fastest in GT Daytona (GTD) at 1:46.194 in the No. 88 Team Hardpoint EBM Porsche 911 GT3R.

The new-look IMSA Prototype Challenge debuted with practice Friday ahead of the season-opening race, the Scouts of America 145, on Saturday. Nineteen entries split between two classes participated in a pair of 45-minute practices for the Le Mans Prototype 3 (LMP3) entries, with Steven McAleer topping the combined-session time chart.

Driving the No. 43 Robillard Racing Duqueine M30-D08 he shared with Joe Robillard, McAleer put in a best lap of 1 minute, 42.986 seconds (124.444 mph) around the 3.56-mile Daytona road course during the morning practice. McAleer and Robillard teamed to finish 10th last year in the Prototype Challenge championship standings, despite missing one race. Their entry is among 16 in the LMP3-1 class for new-generation cars.

Tonis Kasemets, in the No. 60 Wulver Racing Ligier JS P3, was quick among the LMP3-2 competitors with a lap of 1:45.930 (120.985 mph) during the afternoon session.

Spencer Pumpelly put the No. 38 BGB Motorsports Porsche Cayman GT4 atop the time chart following the opening day of IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge testing at Daytona Int’l Speedway. The veteran IMSA racer turned a lap of 1:54.130 (112.293 mph) in the first of two sessions, edging Bill Auberlen in the No. 95 Turner Motorsport BMW M4 GT4 by 0.337 seconds in the Grand Sport (GS) class.

Jon Morley set the pace in the Touring Car (TCR) division, posting a best lap of 2:00.194 (106.627 mph), also in the opening session, in the No. 61 Road Shagger Racing Audi RS3 LMS DSG. It was a scant 0.023 seconds better than Tim Lewis in the No. 5 KMW Motorsports with TMR Engineering Alfa Romeo Giulietta Veloce TCR.

Pilot Challenge teams and drivers have three more test sessions this weekend, two on Saturday and another on Sunday.

The post Kobayashi & Action Express Fastest At The Roar appeared first on SPEED SPORT.



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iPhone 12, Other iPhone Models Available at Up to Rs. 16,000 Discount at Maple Online and Offline Stores

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iPhone 12 series, iPhone 11 series, and other iPhone models are available at discounted prices at Maple stores in India. Customers can expect up to Rs. 16,000 off depending on the iPhone model they go for.



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The 10 best platforms to create and sell online courses in 2021

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Today, more and more businesses and individuals are launching online courses—whether as a means to market a small business, build a niche brand, or just share know-how. Online courses offer the opportunity to build a community and even earn some additional income.

While the concept and reasoning behind building an online course is simple, the process often isn't. It's more than just uploading a video: it requires you to build out a course curriculum, develop assignments (if you want), design the course pages, and more.

Online course platforms streamline the process. These platforms offer all the tools you need to develop, launch, teach, and manage an online course—so you can focus on your content.

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The 10 best platforms to create and sell online courses

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  • Skillshare for teaching creative skills

  • Teachable for creating an online school with advanced marketing

  • Podia for selling digital products and memberships

  • Thinkific for building a course from scratch

  • Kajabi for marketing a course on autopilot

  • LearnWorlds for creating an online school

  • Mighty Networks for building a paid community

  • Pathwright for building action-oriented courses

  • Xperiencify for gamifying your online course

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Once you've decided on the app you'll use, you can do even more with Zapier. Here are three ways you can automate your online course registration and follow-up. Cut out the marketing busywork so you can focus on creating great course content.

What makes a great online course platform?

For this piece, we only considered platforms for building and selling an online course, which means we did not consider learning management systems (LMS). While the terms are often used interchangeably, LMSs are generally used either in a school setting or to help companies train their customers and employees. The platforms covered below, on the other hand, are designed for individual creators to earn money by selling their courses.

Online course creation platforms can be broadly divided into two categories:

  • Course marketplaces

  • Course creation software

In a marketplace, your course is a part of a catalog, and you have the option to customize your course landing page but not much else aside from the course content. Most marketplaces let you publish a course for free but take a share of course sales. The major advantage: Course marketplaces provide you with an existing student base, so if you don't have much of an online presence yet, you might want to dabble with these first.

Course creation software, on the other hand, offers many more customization options. You can create branded landing pages, choose from multiple content formats when building your course, and get the necessary tools to market your course. These usually charge a fixed monthly fee, and some platforms also charge a transaction fee.

Unsurprisingly, there's no one-size-fits-all solution for creating a profitable course. Your ideal course creation platform is unique to your needs and goals. Are online courses your bread and butter? Then you need a platform that helps you reach the maximum number of students. Does teaching and engaging with students excite you? Then a course creator with interactive tools would work well. Are you creating a course to engage your existing audience? Then you'll want a tool with robust marketing features.

While every platform has its own unique selling point, we've judged the platforms below based on certain criteria:

  • Content formats supported, including video, audio, PDFs, and images

  • Editing features and customization options

  • Whether or not they're realistically affordable for small businesses

  • Support for assessments: quizzes, exams, certifications, etc.

  • Marketing and payment features

Ready to share your trade secrets online? Take a look at the best platforms to help you get the job done.


Online course marketplaces

Best online course marketplace for launching your first course

Udemy (Web, Android, iOS)

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While the earliest massive open online courses (MOOCs) made learning accessible, Udemy took it a step further: It made teaching online possible. Today, the platform has over 40 million students enrolled in its courses and an instructor base of 50,000.

To create a paid course on Udemy, you first have to apply to become a premium instructor. Once approved, you'll see a series of easy-to-follow steps to help you create your first course. As you plan course content, keep in mind that all courses need at least 30 minutes of video and five lectures. You're also welcome to add quizzes, assignments, coding exercises, and discussion prompts.

Why launch your first course on Udemy? Because the platform offers loads of support for creating and marketing a course. For example, if you're not sure if your video lessons are up to snuff, you can submit a sample for review and get feedback on video and audio, along with suggestions for equipment. And for tutorials on planning a course, filming your first video, and related topics, Udemy offers the Teach Hub with tips and tricks.

If you're struggling to make your first few sales, Udemy's tailor-made marketing programs will offer support. Get your course featured in their email blasts, be a part of site-wide discounts, or opt for Udemy's affiliate marketing program. All of these programs are optional, and depending on the promotional channel you choose, Udemy takes a share of course sales.

Finally, Udemy's marketplace insights help you select the perfect course topic and see how it stacks up against other courses on the platform—which is important because of the size of the marketplace you're competing with. Similar to Google Analytics, this feature tells you how popular a topic is on Udemy, its search volume, and related keywords. You can also see the number of existing courses for a topic, top-earning courses in the category, monthly revenue earned, and best promotion channels (Udemy discovery, Udemy search, external sources, paid ads).

To put it simply, with Udemy, you're in good hands.

Udemy Price: Free for selling a premium course. Udemy charges 3% revenue share on course sales made by instructor coupons, 50% revenue share on courses found through organic search on Udemy or through a Udemy promotion, and 75% revenue share on course sales through Udemy's paid user acquisition channels. (Note: Revenue share does not include processing fees charged by PayPal or Payoneer, or mobile platform fees for mobile course sales.)

Best online course marketplace for teaching creative skills

Skillshare (Web, Android, iOS)

Skillshare course creation interface

If you're an entrepreneur, designer, writer, photographer, or blogger looking to teach your craft online, Skillshare is great for teaching creative skills. You'll find courses on all kinds of topics, both popular and niche: marketing, photography, cooking, hand painting, doodling, and even wall hanging.

The platform offers a membership plan for students that gives them access to all of its 22,000+ premium courses. As for creators, it's free to sign up and publish a course, but if you want to get paid, it must be a part of Skillshare's premium catalog.

Free or premium, Skillshare classes have three major moving parts: video lessons, a project, and community discussion. Each class includes 20-60 minutes of video, broken down into 2-5-minute lessons. The practical project then ensures hands-on experience. For instance, a social media class project might require students to promote their Instagram account, or a writing class might require students to draft a pitch. Finally, the community portion of a class allows students to post their work.

Instead of favoring final outcomes, Skillshare encourages students to share their progress, garner feedback, and tweak their work accordingly—which is perfect for the creative topics you'll be teaching.

Skillshare Price: Free for creating a premium class. Skillshare pays instructors $10 for premium membership referrals and royalties for minutes watched in a premium class each month.

Online course creation software

Best online course creation software for building an online school with advanced marketing

Teachable (Web, iOS)

Teachable interface

Teachable helps savvy course creators grow and nurture an online audience. To begin with, the platform offers various options to customize the look and feel of your course. Build a website that reflects your brand, create sales pages for launching your course, and if you happen to be tech-savvy, use the Power Editor to tinker with the code. If not, edit the templates available. Teachable's course builder accepts files from Dropbox, Google Drive, and OneDrive, among other content formats.

There's flexibility when pricing your course too: Offer courses on their own or in bundles, and choose between a one-time fee, a payment plan, or a subscription. When you're ready to launch, create coupon codes to see a quick boost in course sales. To build a sales team for your course, use the platform's built-in affiliate marketing option: Simply add affiliates and they will get a percentage of course sales. No third-party integration required.

Teachable's native email marketing tool lets you filter and message students when they enroll in a course, redeem a coupon, or complete a course. The platform also helps you collect student feedback and uncover insights about your course using Google Forms and surveys. If you'd like to keep in touch with students after they've completed your course, add them to your email list with Teachable's integrations. As they say, the money is in the list.

You can do more with Teachable when you connect it to your favorite apps through Zapier's automated workflows. Automatically add your students to your marketing campaign, track them in a Google Sheet, and more with one of these pre-made workflows.

Teachable Price: From $29/month for the Basic plan, which includes custom domain, email marketing, coupon codes, drip course content, and a 5% transaction fee.

Best online course creation software for selling digital products and memberships

Podia (Web)

Podia course creation interface

Podia lets you build an online store for your digital content. Create online courses, digital downloads, and even membership sites, all as part of one digital storefront.

All Podia storefronts have a similar template, which is helpful if you find too many options overwhelming. Each store's landing page includes an overview, a "What's included" section, a content section, FAQs, and creator bios. And all courses, memberships, and digital downloads have a separate landing page.

Once you create an online course, you can publish it immediately or pre-launch it to collect emails. If you have additional resources to supplement your course—cheat sheets, eBooks, videos, audio, text, checklists—sell them as a digital download. You can also bundle and sell the two together.

Online content creators often try to nurture an online community on platforms such as Facebook and LinkedIn. This can work, but you're often at the mercy of algorithmic changes and the rules of the platform you choose. Podia allows you to create your own private membership site, with different membership plans, perks, and content for members. Share updates with your community, notify them about new products, and watch your business grow.

Connect Podia to the other apps you use most through Zapier's automated workflows. Automatically add your students to your marketing campaign, enroll new purchasers in your course, and more with one of these pre-made workflows.

Podia Price: From $39/month for the Mover plan for online courses, digital downloads, email marketing, and zero transaction fees.

Best online course creation software for building a course from scratch

Thinkific (Web)

Thinkific template options

Putting together your first online course can be daunting. How many lessons should you include? Where should you add assignments and quizzes? What other file types should you include? Thinkific takes the guesswork out of course creation with its simple and ready-to-use templates.

There are two parts to creating a course on Thinkific: course material and landing page. To get started, choose from the following templates: pre-sell, mini-course, flagship course, membership resource library, and webinar replay. Unlike other course builders, where you start with a blank slate, Thinkific templates provide helpful cues and tips to build a valuable course. Apart from video lessons, the templates are pre-populated with sample quizzes, downloads, surveys, and instructor messages, at regular intervals throughout the course. Add or remove content as you see fit, or follow the template as is.

Thinkific's website builder is one of the easiest to use. Choose the pages you want to include, add your copy, pick a theme, and you're done.

Want to include testimonials on your website? Here's a neat trick to collect them on Thinkific: Turn on student reviews for your course and add the ones you like directly to your landing page.

And by connecting Thinkific with Zapier, you can do things like automatically add your students to your marketing campaign, get an SMS message when a course is purchased, and more with one of these pre-made workflows.

Thinkific Price: Free for 1 course and unlimited students, course upsells, payment gateway, and no transaction fees; from $39/month for the Basic plan, which offers most features, including unlimited courses and students, marketing and email integrations via Zapier, and drip content.

Best online course creation software for marketing a course on autopilot

Kajabi (Web, iOS, Android)

Kajabi marketing automation page

Kajabi gives marketing superpowers to busy course creators. Its marketing blueprints, called Pipelines, help you create an entire marketing funnel—from landing page and opt-ins to emails to offers and course checkout—with just a few clicks.

Here's an example: The freebie pipeline consists of three touchpoints. The first is a landing page where you collect emails in exchange for a free downloadable, such as an eBook or cheatsheet. When a visitor enters their email, they're subscribed to your freebie email sequence, where you can thank them for signing up and upsell your course. If they choose to purchase, they're taken to a thank-you page. And that's it.

You can also choose what to do with the emails you collect. Add them to an email sequence, remind them about your special offer, or send them a thank-you note after they purchase. Kajabi has templates for all kinds of pages. Select a Pipeline, add your content, and your marketing machine is all set.

Templates can be handy, but if you want to create your own automations, Kajabi offers a number of if-then scenarios to choose from. When a student completes an assessment, fills a form, cancels a subscription, or has been inactive for a while, you can send them an email, register them for an event, or unsubscribe them from an email list. Given that email is at the core of all its features, Kajabi also has a native email provider that helps you track how many of your emails are opened.

You can do more with Kajabi when you connect it to your favorite apps through Zapier's automated workflows. Automatically get email notifications for new purchases, give new purchasers access to your product, and more with one of these pre-made workflows.

Kajabi Price: From $119/month for the Basic plan for one site, three products, three pipelines, and unlimited marketing emails and landing pages.

Best online course creation software for creating an online school

LearnWorlds (Web, Android, iOS)

Learnworlds social interface

Ever dreamt of starting your own school? Now you can. LearnWorlds helps you set up an online school website with multiple teachers and a course catalog. Add instructors and select the courses you want them to teach. While instructors can author courses, they cannot publish a new course or change general settings. As admin of your school, offer as many courses as you like, with various pricing options. For an added fee, you can even get a branded app for your school.

LearnWorlds' course builder has a number of unique tools. When adding content to your course, upload videos from your computer or Vimeo. Then, choose from a range of editing options such as adding text, images, pointers, logo, titles, and interactive buttons to your video. You can also add course content from SoundCloud and YouTube, among other formats.

LearnWorlds enables connections with students and teachers via an online community that accompanies every school. Most discussion forums focus on reviewing course-related material, but LearnWorlds' communities are designed for social interaction. While students are free to post questions about coursework, the idea is to foster engagement and exchange of ideas. To help students build their network, each student has a public profile that showcases their courses and achievements.

And by connecting LearnWorlds with Zapier, you can do things like automatically track new course purchases in a Google Sheet, send an email when a course is completed, and more, with one of these pre-made workflows.

LearnWorlds Price: From $24/month for the Starter plan for custom domain, unlimited paid courses, built-in community, coupons, 4 payment gateways, and $5 fee per course sale.

Best online course creation software for building a paid community

Mighty Networks (Web, Android, iOS)

Mighty Networks screenshot

Looking to build a vibrant, active paid community around your online course? Look no further than Mighty Networks. The app focuses broadly on community-building, which includes paid groups, events, and—you guessed it—online courses.

Users can sell individual courses, community membership, or bundle a combination of the two. Memberships can be priced as a one-time payment or subscription, and pricing is 100% custom. Each course can be priced separately or offered for free to paying members.

Every course comes with an Activity Feed built in that works to foster engagement and conversation as members complete your course. Members can share all kinds of content, too—from quick text posts to images and links. As the instructor, you can set topics to drive the conversation and build live events (both online and IRL) into your courses. Add icebreaker questions to get the ball rolling, and create polls to engage your audience and gather feedback.

Uniquely, the app offers a small but mighty feature (pun intended) that enables instructors to change the verbiage used in their community. For example, your table of contents can alternatively be called syllabus, course material, or any custom label you choose. Instructors can be professor, TA, teacher, or another custom name.

You can do more with Mighty Networks when you connect your favorite apps using the Zapier integration. Bring conversations across channels, automate new member invitations, sync events to your calendar, and more with these (and other) pre-made workflows.

Mighty Networks price: A free plan that does not include online courses is available; paid plans that include online courses start at $81/month for over 2,000 Zapier integrations and premium analytics.

Best online course creation software for building action-oriented courses

Pathwright (Web)

Pathwright screenshot

With Pathwright, you can launch an online course that's designed to be 100% actionable for learners. The app's course creator is one of the most fluid and intuitive of the software we tested—that action-oriented approach to course curriculum is no exception.

Start by building out the outline of your course syllabus, then add specific actions for students to complete. When you add each step, Pathwright enables you to choose the action students need to perform from a dropdown menu: watch, read, take, submit, attend, listen, or to-do. The result is a clear path (their term) that leads learners through the course material.

Once your syllabus and actions are outlined, Pathwright helpfully adds a "Needs content" note to each step. Another bonus: While quick design customization is limited, the sky's the limit for CSS-savvy users who want to code a completely customized look and feel for their courses.

And by connecting Pathwright with Zapier, you can do things like automatically add new students to your email list, send course invitations to new customers, notify students about new grades, and more.

Pathwright price: The Starter plan runs $99/month for up to 1,000 members, unlimited paid courses, and free course design classes.

Best online course creator for gamifying your online courses

Xperiencify (Web)

Xperiencify screenshot

Online courses have a notoriously low completion rate across the board, with many learners abandoning the course long before they finish. That's what Xperiencify aims to remedy. By allowing instructors to gamify courses and turn learning into a more engaging experience, the app promises to boost your completion rates by as much as 10-30%.

For each module students complete, they earn experience points (called XPs). Instructors can set the XP value of each module and elements within it during the course creation process.

In addition to points, instructors can design their own celebrations marking key milestones in each course. A new beta feature also lets instructors automate course experience flows with event-triggered emails, SMS, and more.

While video content is Xperiencify's bread and butter, you can also add supporting resources to your lessons, which can include everything from PDFs to slides to MP3 files and more. And you can do even more with Xperiencify by connecting it with your favorite software using Zapier

Xperiencify pricing: Launch plan is $49/month for unlimited courses and students, 4.9% transaction fee, and Zapier integration.

Ready, set, teach

Whether you're passionate about teaching, want to grow your audience, or are just looking to earn an income from your courses, there's a platform to help you achieve your goals.

When picking a tool to launch your course, consider your budget, time constraints, current online following, and earning potential. If you're simply testing the waters, start with a course marketplace. Once you've validated your course topic and content, only then proceed to launch your own course website. Don't worry about migrating content from one platform to another. Most platforms support this, whether for free or for an added fee.

This article was originally published in September 2018 by Farheen Gani.



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