Starting an e-learning website/institute

I have a basic question about starting an e-learning institute/website:

As an English educator and passionate autodidact, I'm interested in starting a free online institute for the study of a variety of subjects through self-paced courses in a style similar to what may be found at This would likely begin with a free TESOL foundation course and expand into further areas as interest/participation grows.

My question is regarding the legality of the endeavour. I wouldn't be charging money for anything as this would be entirely an effort of passion for the benefit of others who would like to make the most of the resources offered. Can one found an "institute" or "school" without the need for some kind of official registration? I tried to find an answer online but did not have much luck. As this would be an entirely online and not-for-profit endeavour, I'm quite unsure of any legal requirements I may need to consider before founding such an institute.

Thank you for any assistance!

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  1. astland


    Do you want to start the institute, the website, or just offer the education? The first two will take a lot of time, talent, and funding. Figure out what you want to do first. If you’re not charging anything, you can call it whatever you want. It’s probably worth noting your country of inquiry though as I’m sure there might be local laws around this. “Online” and “free” in my mind, pretty much means that you can do what you want. I would highly recommend looking at what else is out there, do a competitive analysis. What are you going to offer that is unique / better. Between Alison / Khan Academy there is a lot of polished solutions to what you are offering…..

  2. Pr0veIt


    If you’re just planning on sharing resources and lessons, that’s not any different, legally, than starting a blog. If you’re trying to offer certifications, continuing education credits, badges, or degrees, that would be another story.

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