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“In 1948, the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights called for human rights to be taught in every school on earth. More than seventy years later, we’re nowhere near that goal.”

The above statement sums up why Isabelle Vladoiu founded the US Institute of Diplomacy and Human Rights. USIDHR is committed to helping people learn about human rights through various initiatives, including training programs. 

Initially, the institute facilitated on-site training sessions. However, when Covid restrictions put an end to in-person classes in 2019, Isabelle and her team turned to online courses to keep delivering human rights training to professionals. 

Five years later, USIDHR boasts 24,000 students in 136 countries and nearly two million dollars in annual revenue. Keep reading to learn how Isabelle achieved this and the role Thinkific played.

Skip ahead:

  1. She understood her audience’s pain points

Having worked in the human rights profession for over a decade, Isabelle knew that the most significant barrier to human rights education was a lack of instructors. And it’s not like people weren’t interested in becoming instructors. Instead, the problem was that there were no courses dedicated to training professional human rights consultants.

“Many of my students initially spent time on Google searching for how to become human rights consultants or how to start working in human rights, and they couldn’t find any practical answers. Instead, they got generic suggestions like: go to law school, Isabelle explains. 

As someone who actually went to law school, Isabelle understood that it wasn’t what people were looking for. Specialization is the only way to learn about human rights in law school. But people were looking for a quicker and more straightforward path to becoming human rights consultants. 

And that’s what she gave them. In Isabelle’s words, “I created this training program to equip people with the necessary materials and tools for teaching their own human rights classes and making a career out of it.” 

Related: How to find your niche in four simple steps

  1. She brought in-person experiences to her online classroom

Isabelle spent a lot of time searching for an online course platform that could deliver interactive learning experiences similar to her in-person classes.

“My classes are very interactive, so I needed a platform with discussion boards, quizzes, and videos — at the very least. I also had to issue accredited certificates to students upon completion,” Isabelle explains.

Eventually, she found Thinkific. “I did a lot of research and testing before bringing my brand to Thinkific. It was exactly what I was looking for.

One Thinkific feature that stands out for her is Progress Reports, which shows how students engage with the course content in real time. 

“I can see how much time they spent on each video and whether or not they interacted with the content. It is really important as I need to be sure that the students completed every course module before certifying them as human rights consultants,” Isabelle explains.

She’s also a big fan of Thinkific’s integration capabilities that allow her to issue digital credentials via Accredible — plus the platform’s seamless user experience. 

Learn more: How to make your online class more interactive and engaging

  1. She repurposed content 

Instead of creating online course content from scratch, Isabelle simply adapted the existing curriculums for in-person classes. This saved the time and resources she would have spent creating course content from the ground up. She used feedback from the onsite classes to improve the online course content before going live.

She also experimented with several content delivery methods to cater to different types of learners. Some of her courses are self-paced, meaning that students can learn at their own pace — just like you’re watching a series on Netflix. Others consist of content modules released weekly. Isabelle integrated weekly courses with her drip marketing funnel to engage students consistently throughout the learning period. 

  1. She embraced collaboration 

Isabelle leveraged diverse experiences and knowledge in her courses through collaboration. Collaborating with other experts helped her combine different strengths and ideas to create something truly unique for her students. In her words, “I might be a human rights expert, but I don’t know it all.”

Speaking on what makes her collaborations successful, Isabelle says it comes down to trusting the other person as the expert.

“I never restrict the experts I work with. Instead, I give them full creative freedom to design the course curriculum based on their knowledge and experiences. That way, we can bring diverse perspectives to our courses.” 

  1. She created different pricing packages

Isabelle wanted her online courses to be affordable so that more people could access them. At the same time, she needed to make enough money to fund the institute’s philanthropy efforts. According to her,

“All the money from course sales goes to helping children in developing countries. We provide scholarships and educational supplies for kids to go to school for an entire year.”

To achieve both goals, she uses tiered pricing. She offers beginner courses that only cost a few dollars, and the prices increase as you opt for more advanced or specialized courses. 

Isabelle also uses free courses as tripwire products to attract students. According to her, “It’s a chance for prospective students to see that we’re a real organization and there’s a real person behind the camera offering real value before making any financial commitments.”

Learn more: How to price your online course

  1. She diversified her digital products 

To cater to a more diverse student base, Isabelle created other types of digital products, including handbooks, mentorships, and coaching programs. 

These resources complement the information already covered in her courses. Some of them are part of the course packages, while others are offered as standalone digital products. 

Thinkfic makes it easy for Isabelle to organize and manage these digital products. “Everything we do is pretty much on Thinkific. Thinkfic is our website backend, so we can manage everything from one place,” she says.

Learn more: 21 types of digital products and where to sell them

  1. She simplified payments 

With TCommerce, Isabelle was able to receive payments from students around the world in multiple currencies. But what she enjoys the most is its flexibility. 

“TCommerce has been a real game-changer. I can offer subscriptions for students who can’t afford the one-time fee for our courses — thereby reaching more people.”

Upselling is easier, too. For example, Isabelle added “physical certificates” as an additional payment category for her course. Students who want physical certificates simply click and pay for them as they purchase any course.

Overall, TCommerce allows Isabelle to offer flexible pricing and easily upsell customers, generating more revenue. 

  1. She listened to her students 

For Isabelle, learning is incomplete without feedback. Each course module ends with an opportunity for students to share their thoughts about a class — that is, what worked well, what didn’t, and what needs to be improved. 

It’s one thing to collect feedback and another to act on it. Isabelle always reviews students’ feedback and updates the course content and delivery based on what’s shared. In her words, “I always improve these classes based on the feedback that the students leave at the end of each module. This helps me meet learner expectations at all times.”

Wrapping up: She stayed true to her “why”

Much of Isabelle and USIDHR’s success comes from committing to a clear mission. Ultimately, what matters most to Isabelle is spreading the human rights gospel to as many people as possible. 

“I would rather have 17,000 certified human rights consultants than just a few people paying us thousands of dollars because 17,000 people will create more change in our communities.”

Inspired by Isabelle’s story? Sign up for a free Thinkific trial to start creating impactful online courses. Or check out how other creators are using Thinkific to drive change in their communities.