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What’s in this Guide:

Ruzuku and Thinkific are two options for coaches, authors, bloggers, speakers and other independent experts who are creating online courses.

Thinkific is a course and content delivery platform that is hosted for you at thinkific.com. Thinkific was founded in 2012 by Greg Smith and Matt Smith.

Ruzuku is a course platform that is hosted for you at ruzuku.com. Ruzuku was designed by user experience consultants Rick Cecil and Abe Crystal, Ph.D., and launched in 2011.

Let’s take a look at the similarities and differences between the two platforms.

Last updated: March 17, 2017

Who is Thinkific for? Who uses it?

Thinkific is designed to help create, market and sell online courses. According to the Thinkific website, the product “gives you everything you need to easily create, market, and sell your own online courses”

Thinkific allows you to structure and post the content of your online program (such as videos, audio recordings, articles, and downloadable files.)

Thinkific is commonly used by experts who specialize in internet marketing, blogging, and business creation, among other areas.

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Who is Ruzuku for? Who uses it?

Ruzuku is designed to support online courses or group programs in which many people go through a structured, step-by-step program together.

For example, a blogger who has written popular posts about using LinkedIn to find new career opportunities might create a 6-week course on “Using LinkedIn to Take Your Career to the Next Level.”

Here’s an example of an online course hosted on Ruzuku: 5 Steps to Your Online Course

[This self-study course is free, and you can register to see a live example of how the ruzuku platform can be used in practice].

Ruzuku is commonly used by experts and companies who offer courses in the areas of art & design, crafts, health, creative business, personal development, and professional skills, among other areas.

Course platform capabilities

When considering any online course platform, you’ll want to examine several factors:

  • Ease of setup and ease of use
  • Registration and Payment
  • Scheduling and Content Delivery
  • Audio and Video: Hosting & Streaming Content
  • Learning Community and Discussion Forum
  • Progress Tracking
  • Live Calls or Webinars with Recording

We’ll go over each of these areas in more detail.

Ease of Initial Setup & Use

A key factor in moving forward with your online course is ease of use — how easy it is to set up and manage your online program?

Thinkific emphasizes ease of use for people who want to “create & launch courses on your own site.” Their website states, “[Thinkific has] everything you need to create & launch courses on your own site.”

Ruzuku focuses on ease of use for structured online courses. You set up your first course by registering for a trial account on ruzuku.com, then clicking the “Create a new course” button.

Registration and Payment

Both Ruzuku and Thinkific enable you to set a price for your online program and charge for access.

Ruzuku focuses on registering people into a course. For example, a career coach might create a 6-week course for $499. The course would combine videos, worksheets, and group coaching calls. She might run this course several times throughout the year. Ruzuku would handle registration and payment for people signing up for specific sessions of this course.

For either platform, payment flows through a payment processor or shopping cart of your choice.

Both Ruzuku and Thinkific support Stripe and PayPal as a payment processor. Both platforms support Infusionsoft as a payment processor (note that Infusionsoft is only available on Thinkific’s “Advanced” plan).

In addition, Ruzuku also integrates with:

  • 1shoppingCart

Payment_Settings_-_ruzuku

Scheduling and Content Delivery

Thinkific offers both “immediately available” and scheduled content with start and release dates, with content released over time based on when a participant signs up.

For example, a new participant might get immediate access to a certain set of resources upon signing up, and then receive new content 30 days later, and so on.

Ruzuku is designed to host both “scheduled” and evergreen courses.

A scheduled course starts on a specific date and allows a cohort of participants to go through the course together, on the same schedule. This model facilitates peer-to-peer learning and community for “live” courses and group coaching programs.

Ruzuku’s visual outline tool makes it straightforward to plan out your course, and choose the dates on which lessons are released.

The same visual outline can also be used to structure evergreen courses, as well.

your-best-self-course-overview

Audio and Video: Hosting & Streaming Content

Both Thinkific and Ruzuku include professional audio and video hosting service as part of their course delivery platforms, at no additional cost.

You can upload unlimited audio and video files directly to either platform. You also have the option to embed videos from 3rd-party services.

ruzuku-video-player

All of Ruzuku’s plans include a global Content Delivery Network (CDN), to support students around the world.

Learning Community and Discussion Forum

Ruzuku is designed around the importance of community and peer-to-peer support in online courses.

Participants have profiles with their name, a short biography, and a photo. As they participate in the course, a “learning journal” of all their work is automatically created:

ruzuku-people-page-journal

The Ruzuku online course platform provides integrated discussion forums for each lesson, as well as optional discussion prompts for specific activities. You can pose questions — and give students a space to reflect and share as they move through the course.

ruzuku-prompt

Participants can respond with both text comments, as well as documents, images, or even videos. For example, in an art course, a participant could upload a photo of one of her artworks to share with the community:

ruzuku-post-photo

The “Notifications” stream makes it easy to see what others are posting and contributing in the course:

ruzuku-recent-activity

In addition, automatic email notifications keep participants engaged. For example, if Alice posts a comment and then Bob replies to her, Alice will receive an email notification.

Finally, Ruzuku can send daily and weekly emails to participants with summaries of the most recent posts and comments in the course. These emails help remind people to return and contribute to the course discussion, making for a more vibrant online discussion and community.

Thinkific includes limited support for discussion.  A general discussion board is available for each course, but instructors cannot create structured discussions that are tied to a specific piece of content, such as a video in the course.

Limitations of this model include:

  • inability to organize discussions around specific course activities
  • lack of a “recent activity” page or “news feed” to see what’s new in the community
  • inability to track and view how active different participants are in the community

Progress Tracking

Ruzuku’s “Course Progress” feature gives instructors insight into how students are progressing and interacting in the course.

You can view analytics for the course as a whole, or drill down and view data for a specific step in your course. You can use information found in Course Progress to help determine who is staying on track, and who might need a little more encouragement.

ruzuku-course-progress

You can also download a spreadsheet of video viewing activity in a course, including which participants have viewed specific videos and what percentage of the video they have viewed.

Thinkific includes a “member progress” view which shows what percentage of a course a participant has completed. However, there is no overall view into engagement and progress completion for particular lessons or activities. There is also no way to view participant contributions to the online discussion/community.

Live Calls or Webinars with Recording

Live calls or webinars are a critical component for many online courses.

This is especially true with group coaching programs. The ability to meet in a “live” setting and share progress is what keeps your participants on track and motivated.

Ruzuku offers two forms of live events and interaction:

You can easily create an event and run these live events directly through ruzuku without having to purchase or learn an external service:

ruzuku-teleconference-screenshot-annotated

When someone includes a question mark with their comment, their chat will be highlighted automatically:

ruzuku-chat-question
Your students receive customized email reminders about the event and attend the webinar directly inside their course.

Teleconferences and webinars can be recorded automatically for later access.

Thinkific does not currently offer any conferencing or webinar features.

Pricing

Thinkific offers subscriptions ranging from $49/month to $279/month. Complete Thinkific pricing can be found here: Thinkific Pricing » 

Thinkific’s plans charge transaction fees, based on your account type. For example, on the entry-level “Essentials” tier you would pay 5% of your course revenue in transaction fees. For example — if you had $10,000 in online course revenue, you would pay an additional $500 to Thinkific in transaction fees.

Ruzuku’s plans start at $74/month (pre-paid annually). View Ruzuku’s pricing here: Ruzuku Pricing »

Ruzuku allows unlimited participants and courses with any paid subscription.

How to choose the right platform for you

Use our visual decision guide (below) to help you choose the right platform for your needs. Here are some considerations to take into account…

First, review what types of online courses/programs you plan to offer.

Are you intending to offer “live,” scheduled courses? For example, a 6-week course that starts on a specific date, with a group of people all going through the course together.

Do you also want to offer “On Demand” courses that are always available for registration?

Ruzuku supports both models.

Next, review what types of live events and interaction you’d like to have within your programs.

Do you want to offer group conference calls or video webinars as part of a course? Ruzuku integrates these types of live events directly into your courses. With Thinkific, you would research and purchase a separate conferencing and/or webinar system.

Finally, test out each platform by participating in a sample program and creating a test program of your own.

Ruzuku provides free, sample courses you can join:

… as well as a 14-day free trial (no credit card required for sign up).

Thinkific also offers a free trial to evaluate the platform.

Your Next Step: Start a Free Trial

We hope this comparison guide has been helpful to you so far!

Now it’s your turn.

To sign up for your free, zero-risk trial (no credit card required), just click here.

Start your 14-day unlimited-use free trial of Ruzuku

Give Ruzuku a spin. And let us know what questions you have – we love to help!

Ruzuku vs. Thinkific: Complete Feature Comparison

Category / Feature Thinkific Ruzuku
Platform category Managed (cloud) service, hosted on Thinkific.com. Managed (cloud) service, hosted on ruzuku.com.
Technical knowledge required No specific technical knowledge is assumed. No specific technical knowledge is assumed.
Registration & Payment
Charge for course access (single payment)
Charge for subscriptions to course access (recurring/continuous payments)
Create free ($0) courses
Invite or remove participants from courses
Coupon codes/discounts
Supported payment processors Direct integration: Stripe, PayPal, InfusionSoft (on “Advanced” plan only). Other processors supported via link/redirect. Direct integration: PayPal, Stripe, InfusionSoft, 1ShoppingCart. Other processors supported via link/redirect.
Supported email marketing providers MailChimp, InfusionSoft, 1ShoppingCart, and others. MailChimp, InfusionSoft, and 1ShoppingCart.
Scheduling and Content Delivery
Live (scheduled calendar-based) courses with automatic email notifications
Copy a previous course and run it again on a new schedule
Self-study courses
Self-study courses with drip content
Audio and Video: Hosting & Streaming Content
Host and stream video
Host and stream audio
Global Content Delivery Network (CDN) for fast audio & video delivery
Word documents ✔ (as a link/attachment) ✔ (can be displayed directly in the web browser for students to view easily)
PDF documents ✔ (as a link/attachment) ✔ (can be displayed directly in the web browser for students to view easily)
PowerPoint slides ✔ (as a link/attachment) ✔ (can be displayed directly in the web browser for students to view easily)
Learning Community and Discussion Forum
Students have social profiles, bios, and photos in the course community
Discussion questions/prompts for specific activities/content
Students can post images, PDFs, and videos in their responses
General course-wide Q&A and forum
Receive email notifications when a student posts a question
Send email announcements to all participants in course
Participants receive daily/weekly email updates to keep them engaged
Progress Tracking
Students can mark each activity as complete, and track their own progress
Course Progress feature shows students’ activity completion and comment rates, with data for the whole course or by lesson
Live Calls or Webinars with Recording
Host teleconferences with slides, group chat, and automatic recording
Host video broadcasts with slides, group chat, and automatic recording
Customer Service & Support
Instructor support (supporting you as you create and run your courses)
Phone/Skype
Email
Private Facebook group
Searchable FAQ/knowledge base
“101” online training course
Tutorial videos
Student/participant support (supporting your participants as they register, pay, and access your courses)
Phone/Skype
Email
Searchable FAQ/knowledge base
Tutorial videos
Pricing
Free trial (no credit card required to sign up & try the platform) available (with limited features) 14 days free
Initial setup fee free free
Ongoing hosting/support fee $49 – $279/month Starts at $74/month (pre-paid annually)

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Ready to try Ruzuku?

We hope this comparison guide was useful to you.

Now it’s your turn.

To sign up for your free, no-risk trial (no credit card required), just click here.

Start your 14 day unlimited-use free trial of Ruzuku

Give Ruzuku a spin. And let us know what questions you have – we love to help!