Troy discusses how he’s built online courses with WordPress with great success in this engaging presentation from 2016 WordCamp Sydney.
If you’re not already sold on why you need to be playing on the online education field, let me dazzle you with some crazy stats.
In 2015, the online education space was worth a whopping US$107 Billion!
Compare that to the Box Office market in the same year, which was worth a piddly US$38.3 Billion. That means for about every $1 that was spent going to the movies, around $3 was spent on online education. Crazy stuff!
Why I think online education is the bee’s knees
- As a consultant it allows you to go from a one-to-one relationship to a one-to-many; allowing you to leverage both your impact and revenue at the same time.
- It’s great for premium positioning – an ideal way to position yourself as an authority in your field with minimal outlay and fuss.
Who can you teach with online courses?
There are basically two different audiences you can build a course for:
- The DIY crowd – people who want to know how to do what you do, so they can do it too
- Your Peers – eg. RockStar Empires teaches creative entrepreneurs how to make and sell courses
The Problem with MOOCS
The problem with MOOCS (Massive Online Open Courses) is undoubtedly the low completion rates. A study by Katy Jordan found that most MOOCS result in completion rates of just 2 – 10 percent.
We are proud to say that our online course completion rates are 65% plus.
How do we do it?
1) More Carrot, Less Stick
We invite our students into a conversation. The first thing we do is walk them through an onboarding wizard and match them with an Accountability Partner. From there they are sent straight to the dashboard where they are welcomed and invited into a conversation with other members. They get to see what other people are saying which doubles as social proof and reinforces the fact that they are not doing the course alone, but are part of an active community.
The next key factor is making sure that we don’t overwhelm them with too much information at once. Students shouldn’t get lost in a sea of course information and should clearly be able to find where to start first. We drip feed each module weekly for 6 weeks, then offer bonuses as each module is completed (to prevent overwhelm).
2) Most courses teach abstract frameworks
Our courses are simple to follow and intuitively laid out.
We aim to give students a positive and engaging learning experience. Short, punchy lessons that get right to the point; slides (with minimal text); direct to camera teaching and well produced, engaging graphics. In short, keep it dynamic, informative and entertaining.
We use psychological hooks to keep members engaged. For example, we begin each new lesson by outlining, “Why this is important right now?”
4) Most courses are just video
This is no good if you are annoyed by the teacher’s voice! We aim to cater for all the learning preferences – visual, aural, kinesthetic, reading and writing. We use video, audio, text, dynamic quizzes and graphics. By mixing things up and offering several ways to engage with the lessons, learners feel looked after and can learn at their optimum capacity.
5) Most courses deliver static content
We use gamification to keep students engaged. Just like watching an uber approach on your phone, we invite learners to be part of the product and end result. We achieve this in other ways as well, such as informing students about the duration of each lesson or module before they begin. Nothing worse than being half way through a lesson when you’re favorite show is about to start!
6) Most courses email you when new content is released
We send students emails based on their actions and behaviour. ie. We use behaviour based triggers to send emails and messages only when they’ve completed a unit. We reward them for taking action by offering dashboard badges and bonus content for finishing modules. Finally, when they finish the course we offer a downloadable course badge and printable certificate to acknowledge the work they’ve done. Very cool!
Finally, when they finish the course we offer a downloadable course badge and printable certificate to acknowledge the work they’ve done. It's lots of fun.
What’s the technology we use to do all of this?
Here's the technology low-down…
- WordPress (of course!)
- LearnDash: to upload courses, content, quizzes
- BuddyPress: for social networking and community
- BadgeOS: to unlock badges
- Social Learner for LearnDash: a solution that holds this all together (a theme and series of plugins)
- InfusionSoft: for the email campaigns
- Stripe: to collect payments
- Memberium: to connect WordPress to InfusionSoft
- Intercom: for in-app messages
- Twillio: for SMS messages to remind students about Coaching Calls
- Vimeo Business: for hosting all of our videos
- Amazon S3: to host our downloadable assets
- Slack: for internal communications (love it!)
- Grytics: to monitor and reward engagement in our Facebook group
- Asana: for the team to manage all of the moving parts
So there you have it. An overview of how we set up our online courses in WordPress and why the completion rates are consistently high.
If you're involved in online learning in any shape or form, I'd love to hear about your experiences, both good and bad. The more we share, the more we can all learn the most effective ways to learn in today's internet dominated world.