Best Thinkfic Apps for Building an Online Community
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Thinkific is well-known for offering useful integrations that can help course creators deliver better learning experiences. And now, with over 80 different apps (and counting) in its app store, users can find a wide variety of solutions to enhance their online courses.
Among the offerings available to individuals and companies using Thinkific are apps that can be used to build an online community. What are the top Thinkific apps in this category? If you use Thinkific or have ambitions to sell your courses on the platform, this is a question that may visit your mind.
In this article, we will highlight the solutions that fit the description of best Thinkific apps for building an online community. Before heading to the list, let’s talk about why you might need an online community for your course.
Importance of Online Communities in E-Learning
Online communities have been around for a while, but they truly hit mainstream during the COVID-19 pandemic. This was due to more people trying to forge connections as a result of being under lockdown.
Joining an online community allows people to interact with each other in a variety of ways. This includes sharing opinions, answering questions, offering and receiving help, and general participation in discussions.
As it relates to e-learning platforms, course creators can use communities to engage their students in a variety of ways. In particular, the right kind of online community can prevent students from feeling isolated on their learning journey. Studies have found that a whopping 80% of students tend to drop out before completing online courses due to feeling disconnected from the course content.
Course creators on Thinkific know their reputation is at stake if only a small percentage of enrolled students are getting to the end of courses. That’s why the platform has made the move to include community apps in its app store. The only question is, which of the options should you use?
Let’s now go through the list of best Thinkific apps for building an online community.
Best Thinkific Apps for Building an Online Community
PeerBoard is easily one of the most comprehensive and feature-rich community building platforms in the Thinkific app store. The plug and play solution is also among the easiest to set up and use, regardless of the type of course offering or the number of students enrolled.
The app actually allows you to set up all kinds of communities for your online course audience, including Q&A forums, knowledge bases, and social networks. On top of that, PeerBoard is ready to go once installed, and does not require users to have any coding knowledge or technical skills.
You can use the PeerBoard app in a number of ways to suit your learning audience:
- Creating separate member spaces to address the learning needs and preferences of different cohorts that may be enrolled in your online course.
- Supporting students’ efforts with helpful communication channels, tokens of encouragement, and modes of recognition.
- Generating meaningful interaction and engagement between students and course creators, as well as with other students.
- Enhancing the potency and impact of course materials to make it easier for students to learn and grow.
To facilitate these capabilities and more, PeerBoard offers numerous features designed to help students better navigate their learning journey. These features include:
- Direct Thinkific integration for speedy set up and launch
- Comprehensive moderation tools governing student actions and user-generated content
- Access control settings for users and groups
- Intelligent, dynamic and modern (but clutter-free) Facebook-like news feed
- Rich user profiles to include bios, contributions, and more
- Complete white label solution, ensuring your community fits seamlessly into the design of your course website
- Seamless Thinkific account login and student import
- Student reward tools, including badges
- Public and private spaces that are tied to different students, experts, courses, etc.
- Global search functionality to help students find information in posts and comments
- Full-suite editor enabling rich posts and uploading of various media files
- Unlimited user access for number of admins, students, and posts
- Web and mobile responsive
- Zapier support for further integration with other apps outside of Thinkific
- Support for 18 different languages, useful for courses that enroll international students
- Free plan available that can be used to build a comprehensive community; paid options start at $29/month
2. Community Box
With Community Box, you can easily convert your virtual classroom into a basic community for currently enrolled or past students. This is possible by allowing course creators to add member directories to courses.
The Community Box app comes with a wide assortment of tools that enable students to create and edit their own profiles. Students can also upload all kinds of media files and create galleries, as well as network amongst each other and with general website visitors. What’s more, the platform allows course creators to assign different types of rewards to match student progress, and there is even an option for students to refer their friends to courses they have taken.
Some of the main features of Community Box include:
- Easy set up and customization
- Configurable member directories that can be changed to match the appearance of your existing brand design
- Community Box login using existing course credentials
- The ability to show new courses to students as they are launched
- Student-based tools geared towards showcasing achievements and networking
- Tagging function that enables intelligent search via geographical location or by similar interests
- Supports robust user profiles and rich media uploads, including videos, images, and resumes
- Free to use for up to 25 students, with plans starting at $9 per month
Howdy combines a number of modern technologies to help course creators deliver a more engaging, interactive, and social learning journey to their students. It incorporates video conferencing, social networking, gamification, and scheduling features to encourage collaboration and create a supportive atmosphere, in addition to building relationships.
Unlimited video conferencing rooms and sessions means you can connect one on one with students or host webinars with hundreds or thousands of participants at a time. Text chat, file sharing, and the ability to record sessions further allows students to better engage and collaborate while learning. Students can even take part in polls, and there are gamification features that promote healthy competition. According to Howdy, students who used the app have said they feel seven times more engaged with course content.
Some of the main features of Howdy include:
- Directly integrates into your Thinkific courses via a widget
- Easy to set up with just a few clicks
- In-browser video conferencing support (Chrome, Safari, Moxilla browsers) with unlimited admins and participants
- Supports simultaneous live video sessions
- Social networking and gamification tools that promote interaction among students and with instructors
- White label solution that adapts to your brand design and layout
- Single sign-on makes it easy for students to connect their Thinkific account
- Free plan available, with paid options starting at $49 per month.
4. Social Follow Us
While not directly allowing users to build an online community on the Thinkific platform, Social Follow Us is helpful for instructors who want students to be a part of their external social networks. The app allows you to promote your social media profiles on your Thinkific site, thereby upping your follower count.
By gaining social media followers, Social Follow Us helps instructors to not only grow their brand, but also build lasting connections with learners. Students who become followers can, for example, communicate directly with instructors and build a fruitful student-teacher relationship. They are also more likely to complete courses and purchase additional offerings. At the same time, instructors can reach out with tips and advice, and give feedback on course progression through whichever social media platform they prefer.
Social Follow Us supports all the major social platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, TikTok, YouTube, and WeChat. Its top features include:
- Easy, no-code integration with Thinkific websites
- Adapts to your existing brand design
- Simple and user-friendly interface
- Allows customization of social media links
- Free plan available; paid plans start at $5 per month
5. Circle SSO
Circle SSO is for course creators who already have online communities set up on Circle, which is an all-in-one community platform. Circle is already widely used among creators, including people selling online courses.
With Circle SSO, you can make it easy for students to join your Circle community through Thinkific, and participate in forums, threads, Q&A discussions, etc. The main advantage of Circle SSO is the ability to give access to students enrolled in your Thinkific courses without them needing to create another account for Circle.
There are several benefits of using Circle SSO with your Thinkific course. For one, you don’t have to set up another community for your students if you already use the Circle platform, you can simply add Circle SSO to your courses and allow students seamless access. In addition, Circle SSO allows you to grow your existing community while providing a nurturing and supportive environment for your students.
Circle SSO features include:
- Quick and easy no-code setup
- Single sign-on access allowing students to use your Circle community with their existing Thinkific account
- Ability to set up private spaces for students using your Circle community
- User-friendly interface
- Compatible with Circle Pro accounts
- Costs $35 per month or $380/year.
As the Thinkific app store grows, there will likely be more choices for building online communities in the future. At the moment, however, PeerBoard appears to offer the most comprehensive range of features to assist course creators in building a community that helps students fulfill their learning goals. However, it is recommended that you do your own research to see which Thinkific community app best matches the long-term goals of your online course business.