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Friday, February 10, 2006

Affiliate Programs and E-Learning: How Can I Get Started?


Becoming a member of affiliate programs can lead to new revenue for e-learning programs, and getting started can be as simple or as complex as you choose. A well-planned approach will succeed, whether complicated or delightfully simple. New revenue occurs via increased traffic to your web site, deeper understanding of your programs, more effective student behaviors, enhanced student loyalty, better student performance, and the opportunity to establish productive alliances with currently enrolled students and alumni.

Step 1: Initial Planning. Develop a clear vision of what you are, who your clients are now and who they are likely to be in the future. List their goals, needs, and their desired outcomes. Start thinking of how your e-learning products and services may help them in more than one way. If your e-learning programs are not object-oriented, start thinking of ways to break down or "unbundle" your courses, e-products so that the images, text files, mp3s, mpegs, etc. are available separately. For example, you may have instructional materials as Powerpoint presentations which contain embedded jpegs, .wav files, and text. Unbundle the elements and create html files, jpegs, and mp3s.

Step 2: Identify the affiliate program that is right for you. I recommend starting with an easy-to-use affiliate program that functions as an aggregator. You'll earn commissions at a lower rate than if you affiliate directly with each individual entity, but your life will be simplified. After you test the waters and find which products and services perform best for you, you can explore embarking on a one-on-one relationship with an affiliate.

Step 3: Technology products needed for student success. Link to ideal configurations, and provide explanations of how each technology product can be used in conjunction with your e-learning product. The best idea here is to show how to play your unbundled content. By buying the most appropriate player, you'll be able to guide the student in aligning their real-life conditions with the content delivery system that works in an optimal way.

text files: simple browsers (for html files) can be read on laptops, smartphones (Nokia, Blackberry, Treo), PDAs

graphics: laptops, smartphones (Nokia, Motorola, RIM Blackberry, Treo, Nokia), PDAs (Dell, HP, Toshiba), desktops, Creative Zen media players, tablets, T-Mobile Sidekick

mp3 files: mp3 players (Rio, iPod, Creative Zen), smartphones with mp3 storage (Nokia, etc.), PDAs, XBox 360

media / mpeg files: laptops, media players (Creative Zen), XBox 360, iPod

Again, be sure to provide guidance and indicate how best to use the products.

Step 4: Information and Support Services. Databases, library resources, e-journals, texts, tutoring services, plagiarism software, etc. Think of how students will obtain the journal articles they need and then think of how you can save them a few steps, a few clicks, a few dollars. Be sure to thoroughly check out the products and services recommend.

Step 5. Career Planning and Placement. and other placement services are useful, but one must interject a word of warning. This could be quite disappointing for everyone involved if you do not accompany this with a number of supporting guides, such as links to writing resumes, engaging in an effective job search, etc.

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