Circle.so is one of the top online community builders. It’s easy to use and has all the features you need to build a thriving online community.
And if courses are your thing, Circle lets you add them to your community as well.
In this guide, we’ll explain the Circle.so Courses feature and everything it has to offer. And to help you build a course on the platform, we’ve prepared a step-by-step tutorial.
Let’s jump right in, shall we?
What Is Circle Courses?
Circle Courses allows you to create and share an online course.
With this feature, you can host your course material, organize them into modules and lessons, and deliver them through the web course player or Circle’s mobile apps.
However, you must keep in mind that Circle isn’t your typical course platform, and the experience is quite different from something like Thinkific.
It takes a community-first approach, which puts your online community at the front and center of the member experience. So when someone enrolls in your course, they first join your community and can then access the course from there.
So, Circle may not be the best option if you’re looking for a course platform that’s geared solely toward selling courses. However, it can work perfectly in certain scenarios:
- Courses to engage your community members
- Courses for your membership site
- Live cohort courses where the members take the course together
Now that we’ve given you an overview of the Courses feature, let’s explore in more detail what it has to offer.
A Closer Look at Circle Courses
Circle has a range of features to help you create, host, and deliver online courses.
Circle’s course builder is incredibly easy to use, allowing you to quickly set up your course structure with Sections and Lessons.
You can divide your course material into different sections and nest lessons under each of them.
The course builder supports drag-and-drop functionality, which makes it easy to move lessons and sections and change their position in the curriculum.
Circle also makes it easy to add content to your lessons. The content editor allows you to add formatted text content, images, video, audio, PDFs, and even embeds.
Moreover, it takes care of all content hosting so you can upload videos (and other content) directly to Circle.
When it comes to learning and engagement tools, Circle misses out on a few important features:
- It doesn’t allow you to drip-feed your content.
- You can’t create assignments and quizzes.
- It doesn’t support certificates.
On the plus side, you can integrate Circle’s community features into your course.
So you can attach a separate discussion space, an event space, or a group chat area to your course, making it more interactive.
Regarding end-user experience, the course player is intuitive, allowing students to easily watch lessons and navigate the course.
Additionally, your clients can watch courses on Circle’s mobile app, which translates to higher engagement and course completion rates. Circle also allows you to track student progress, even though the reporting tools are very basic.
One feature worth mentioning here is Circle Workflows, although its main purpose isn’t directly connected to creating courses. Still, you can use it to drive engagement by creating workflows to send a welcome message or congratulate them on completing a course.
Overall, Circle has a decent set of features for creating courses and engaging your members, and it’s ideal for creating community-powered courses.
The Courses feature is available on Circle’s Professional plan ($99/month) and above. While there’s no direct limit on the number of courses you can create, it’s still subject to the plan’s Spaces limit.
Finally, the platform doesn’t restrict you to its own course builder. You can also integrate the platform with popular course builders, such as Thinkific and Teachable, thanks to its SSO integration.
Steps to Create an Online Course in Circle
Now, let’s create a course on Circle.
To get started, first create a community space where you’ll add your course. To do that, hover over the space group where you want to add a space, click the Plus icon, and select Add Space.
This will open a pop-up window where you can select the type of space you want to create. And in this case, you should select Course.
Add an icon and name to the space, then Create Space, and you’ll be taken straight into the course area.
From the top of the page, click on the name of your course and select Lessons from the drop-down menu.
Here you can add sections and lessons to your course.
Before you can add lessons, create a section that you’ll use to group your lessons. After that, you can create a lesson and enter the lesson editor by hovering over the lesson and clicking on Edit Lesson.
Now, let’s add some content to our first lesson.
The Lesson editor has two sections: the Featured Media box and the HTML editor.
- In the Featured Media section, you can upload audio and video files or even embed one. To upload your video, just drag it from your local device and drop it into the media box.
- The HTML editor allows you to add text-based content, images, embeds, and files to your lessons. Just type the forward slash in the editor to access all content types and formatting options.
Once you’re done adding content to your lesson, you can also enable or disable comments and attach lesson files from the menu on the left.
Click Save, and repeat this process until you’ve added all your course material.
You can stop here, configure the course access settings, and publish it. Or you can add engagement-focused features to your course. And while they can’t be turned on and off with a click of a button, the process is straightforward.
To add a discussion feed to your course, hover over the space group where your course is, click on the Plus sign, then Add Space. On the next screen, select Post as the type of space you want to create.
Repeat the same steps to create a space for group chats, members, and events.
At this point, your course is still in draft, so let’s go through some settings you need to configure before you can publish it.
From the left-side menu, click on the name of your course, and then, from the top of the page, click on it again.
This will open available course settings, including customization options, paywalls, and lock screens, among other options.
As far as payments go, Circle allows you to receive payments via Stripe, so before you can create a paywall, you should connect your Stripe account.
To do that, go to Paywall → Connect with Stripe, and follow the instructions.
Once you complete this step, you can create your first Paywall by entering the paywall settings and then clicking New Paywall.
Each time you create a paywall, you’re adding a pricing plan to your online courses.
On the next screen, you’ll have the following options:
- Add pricing plan details: Add a plan name and description, and set a currency.
- Set pricing details: Select the pricing type (one-time payment, subscription, free plan), billing cycle (monthly, yearly, quarterly, etc.), and the price amount.
- Allow access to a space: Select the spaces you want to include in your pricing plan.
Apart from these settings, you can also customize and send a post-purchase email and redirect students to a thank you page.
Now, let’s customize your Lock Screen page, which will be shown to all non-paying members.
From the course settings, select Lock Screen, and you’ll enter the page builder.
It includes the following elements:
- Banner: Add an image
- Description: Describe what a course is about and how to access it
- Lessons: An overview of course lessons
- Call to action: Add a clickable button to redirect users to the checkout page
You can customize each of these elements and decide which will be visible and which you want to hide.
You’re now ready to share your course with your audience.
All in all, Circle.so Courses is a flexible tool for adding a learning component to your online community and boosting engagement. The platform’s community-first approach makes its course builder an excellent fit for cohort courses.
Check out some Circle course examples to see how other creators are using the Courses feature.
If you don’t have a Circle account yet, sign up for a 14-day free trial by clicking the button below.
We hope you enjoyed this guide on Circle Courses. If you have any questions, leave a comment below and let us know.