PLEASE NOTE: This is the transcript from our 30 minute podcast entitled HOW TO HIRE TEACHERS FOR YOUR ONLINE COURSE. Please click here to listen to the full podcast.

Teaching Cost Per Student Metric


Part 2: Previous Page

Part 3: Teaching Cost Per Student Metric

This puts you in an interesting position. A little bit of a dilemma in fact, but in a good way. One of the reasons why you shouldn’t be teaching your course, even though you’re probably a great teacher, is because as the course owner you have a huge vested interest in the success of the course, which means that you’ll often tend to overextend yourself towards students. Which is great from a student’s perspective, but not great from your perspective. At least not in the long run.

Let’s take our game design course for $200 again for example. Let’s say there are 4 assignments that need to be submitted and 4 live lectures. Let’s say that each submitted assignment takes you 2 hours to grade and each live lecture takes you 3 hours to teach. This is even though students would have been happy with you spending an hour grading their assignment, and you were only scheduled to teach the class for 2 hours, but student questions just kept rolling in so you kept answering. This is because you want them to like and you ensure they are happy with their experience in your online course. In the short term, this isn’t really a bad thing. In fact, in the beginning,stages it’s important to be there on the front-lines as a teacher because it gives you an understanding of how long things take and what your students expect.

And I don’t mean this to come across as negative… but, many times, students will take as much as they can get. If you offer students a 2-hour class, but offer them an extra hour of Q&A.. they’ll take it. If you offer them 2 extra hours… they’ll probably take that too.



As the online course owner, you’re so caught up in making your students happy that you forget about the concept of fairness for yourself. Remember, your course costs $200 to order. For simplicity’s sake Let’s say you only have one student. Remember, in this case, we made 4 assignments and two lectures.

Let’s say you grade each assignment over 3 hours. That’s 12 hours of work.
Each live lecture was supposed to be two hours. But each ended up being three hours. And you’ll probably do a bit of extra email work back and forth researching the student’s questions for them and so on. So in total let’s just say you’re looking at roughly 25 hours of teaching time for this one student.  This means at your course cost of $200 you’re only making about $10 / hour. This doesn’t take into consideration your business costs, the cost of developing anything else. The real number is much lower.

This is an unsustainable way to run an online course. Your student is thrilled as they can’t believe how much value they got for their money, but you’re going to burn out by the second week, and if you’re spending all of your time on grading you are also not focusing on growing your site and to top it all off… you’re probably really broke.

So we need to find balance in here that respects all parties involved. And in my opinion, you need to step away from the teaching so you can focus on the growth of your course and the bigger picture. You need to hire teachers who students admire and who will learn a lot from… but who will set up better student boundaries … because they have to.


Hiring teachers is great because it forces you to look at the real costs associated with growing your online course. It forces you to set up boundaries and make better and more sustainable financial and educational decisions. And the good news is that this doesn’t come at the expense of the student experience.

That being said, this ends up being a very delicate… sometimes awkward dance. Let me explain.

You’re thinking about this from 3 different yet similar perspectives. Your students will want good value for money. And rightly so. The teacher will want to work in an inspiring environment with interesting students and at the same time be compensated fairly for their time.

And let’s not forget about you, the course vendor. At the end of the day, you too need to make a profit and be rewarded for both your work and risk. So within this dynamic, you need to search for an equation that will satisfy everyone.

It generally involves:

  • Defining boundaries. For everybody.
  • Possibly retooling your course content. For example, if you had 4 live lectures…. could you pre-record 2 so that a teacher doesn’t’ need to be present for the other 2?
  • You might also have to increase the price of your course. Sure you wanted your course to be accessible without prohibitive enrollment fees but your $200 fee was a bit of a guess and it conflicts with the realities of your educational goals. If you’re not willing to toss out your interactive teaching tools then you need to charge the right fee for them. And your students need to be willing to pay for them.

This is why we encourage our clients at Academy Of Mine to take a tiered pricing approach. That way everybody wins. For example, you could have two pricing options. For $200 students get access to everything in your course except the one on one grading center. For $400 they get access to everything.

These are the types of things you need to start thinking about.

Because for a $200 course you couldn’t have 20 teacher-reviewed projects and 10 live lectures. This would be unfair for your teacher and you’d probably lose money in the end. You’d have happy students for sure….. but you’d be bankrupt in a month. So what’s the point.

The other idea which has been popular with our clients is a pay per use policy. So let’s take our game design course again. Remember in this course the students could submit 4 assignments. But let’s say one student wants an additional self-directed assignment graded by a teacher. In this case, you could set up a “pay for use” policy where students pay for any additional grading or one-on-one support. This caters to these students’ specific needs without making your course prohibitively high for everyone.


Part 1: Why you are and aren’t the best teacher for your online course
Part 2: Where to find teachers for your online course
Part 3: Measuring the teaching cost per student
Part 4: Incentive-based payments for online teachers