One of the business models I focus on in Leading the Learning Revolution is what I call the P2 Community – membership learning communities driven by a combination of passion and purpose.
In the book, I highlight some of the successful learning communities I have participated in – like the A-List Blogger Club (which has since transformed into other offerings) and Alan’s Forums. But given that I do so much work in the association world, I was also eager to find some signs of life for community learning models in the context of membership organizations. My search led me to Dave Will who, at the time, was CEO of Peach New Media and is now CEO of PropFuel.
I’ve known Dave for several years and already had an appreciation for his views on trends in the lifelong learning business. In this podcast interview, we talk trends in the market for lifelong learning and what it takes to create successful learning experiences. Enjoy – and be sure to subscribe on iTunes to get all past and future episodes.
Play the Podcast
00:21 – Be sure to catch the previous episode with Michael Stelzner of Social Media Examiner
01:38 – Introduction of Dave Will
02:53 – Dave’s perspective on the biggest shifts in the past few years in online learning. Dave feels it may be less about what has changed and more about what has been recognized about online learning – and this has less to do with technology and more to do with our understanding of learning. As Dave puts it, “Learning is about associating your personal experiences with the information you are taking in.”
06:12 What are you selling? Are you selling credit, or are you selling a learning program? The buyers for these things are different.
06:54 Deeper discussion of credit vs. learning and the “commoditized” CE (CME, CPE, CLE, etc) market and the bigger business model potential of “learning.” Lifetime CLEs for $799!
09:25 Most association are not out there just to make a buck – they are out there to change the world
10:12 Have new, interesting business models emerged around “learning?” What does it take to create meaningful learning experiences? In most cases, it’s going to cost more – for both consumer and producer, Dave says. You have to deliver a higher quality product.
11:47 – Incorporating social learning as opposed to just social media
12:30 Dave starts talking about “virtual study groups” – Peach’s approach to community-based learning. The aim is to increase value by providing community/social components: on-demand content + asynchronous community + live discussion. If you take these and don’t think about them as a single event, but as an ongoing group interaction….
14:47 – Some clients are getting good attendance at a high ticket price on virtual study groups.
15:10 – There has to be an element of structure to a learning community, though – not just a free-for-all. Dave says this is critical. It has to be pretty buttoned up – and Dave explains “where the buttons go.” Dave give as shout out to the online community consultancy FeverBee.
16:55 – Importance of “facilitation” as opposed to lecturing, preaching.
18:11 – Dave explains how Peach “buttons it up” – i.e., provides some structure and process to help ensure the success of the community.
20:00 – Discussion of purpose and passion in social/collaborative learning. Not everyone is going to show up “all fired up.” So, how do you maintain a certain level of passion? Tends to be a a core group of highly involved, passionate learners – 80/20 rule (or, maybe more like 80/15/5).
22:50 – How to build the “pull” into a community – especially in the world of free. How do you leverage free? How important is “free” as a marketing and relationship tool?
24:20 – Dave notes that profit oriented businesses have been using content marketing forever – it’s second nature. Look at the pharmaceutical market, for example. You have to be doing it to build the brand and get the word out. Associations should be looking at the same model. Dave wonders if this isn’t just a “mentality” – tied up in the whole “associations need to be more like businesses” discussion
25:48 – Seeing more CEO than Executive Director titles lately
26:15 – Dave’s advice to the budding edupreneur. Basically, start with “why?”