My wife (also my business partner) and I recently ran a four-week online course on how to select a learning platform. This was designed mainly for trade and professional associations. We’ve run it before and were doing it this time mainly to pilot some new approaches in advance of making it into an on-demand course. It went well, but …
…it was obvious at times that we had not really figured out how best to teach our students some of the deeper, procedural knowledge we possess about platform selection. That meant we really weren’t being as effective as we wanted to be or delivering the value we wanted to. We’re back to the drawing board on that aspect of the course and, among other resources, will be digging back into Harold Stolovitch and Erica Keeps’ excellent Telling Ain’t Training for guidance. Addressing this issue won’t be easy.
On other fronts, we’re now planning for our annual virtual conference. Last year we re-structured it from an event that took place over three consecutive days to one that took place over a few weeks (with a few sessions each week). Everything we know about learning tells us a “spaced” approach is more effective, but – no surprise – it was also an attendance killer. We’re now wrestling with how to strike the balance – i.e., grow registration while also applying principles that ensure we deliver great learning results.
Again, it won’t be easy.
I’m sharing these stories for a couple of reasons. The first is that there are plenty of people and companies out there who will try to sell us on the idea that creating and selling online education is a piece of cake. Just stick your content into the right online platform, turn on e-commerce, and watch the money roll in.
Don’t believe it. (But if you are determined to believe it, be sure to give me a call about some land in Florida I’d like to sell you 😉
The second reason I share these stories is because I know a lot of edupreneurs – whether new or seasoned – struggle with pulling their content together and getting it out into the world. It takes time, and many of us worry it simply won’t be good enough – whether “good” applies to learning effectiveness, driving enrollments, or both.
That’s a valid worry: it probably won’t be good enough. At least not at first. It certainly wasn’t for us.
The thing is, you don’t know until you are out there doing it. You can’t really course correct, so to speak, until you’ve got a course to correct. No matter how it sounds when we hear about the successes of others, no one is succeeding in this business (or any business) unless they are trying things, making mistakes, and staying motivated enough to keep trying and growing.
You can’t really course correct until you’ve got a course to correct.
Sometimes it helps to know that others are facing similar challenges. I definitely am. Even with decades of experiences, I’ve still got plenty to learn. This is a key reason I am a big fan of piloting whenever it’s time to create a new offering. I’m also a fan of continually returning to the 3M Model for setting strategy.
Even with those approaches, though, I don’t have pat answers to the issues I’ve highlighted here, and the answers I come up with won’t necessarily work for you. The main thing is to get going. In many ways, that’s the hardest part of all, but it’s also the part we all have the most control over.
In fact, as hard as it may seem, it’s something you could do right now. Check out the following for a little help: