The impending e-learning disaster

Aug 15, 2021 | By John Scotcher

There's an e-learning disaster on the horizon. What is it? And, if you are involved with e-learning, how can you avoid it?

2021 and 2022 are going to be golden years for e-learning.  The Covid and (soon hopefully) post-Covid worlds have changed business forever.  What started with online networking quickly evolved into online training.  Businesses realised that they could still get out there with the power of Zoom, Teams, WhatsApp and many more that allow face-to-face video conferencing and live training. 

Likewise, many businesses turned their eye to creating video courses, taken by students remotely, learning at their own pace.  For the business providing, when delivered effectively, such courses generate a passive source of ‘one to many’ income.  A host of existing online training platforms are growing exponentially as more and more courses are added.  A further host of new training platforms (my own included) have appeared allowing huge swathes of choice for the fledgeling course creator.   It has never been easier to get a course online before.

So where is the disaster that I see coming?  Well to answer that, let me take off my e-learning platform creator hat and slip on my web developer hat (it’s a little old, being the same age as the company, but even after 22 years it looks ‘experienced’ rather than ‘shabby’).

In all the years that I have been building websites (over 1000), the most reliably risky website types have been online shops.  I can’t count the number of times that I have advised a potential client that they need to rethink what they are doing with their online shop and that I am afraid I cannot, in good conscience take their money.  The most common scenario is a real shop deciding that adding an online shop to their ways to reach customers will have extra sales flooding through the gates.

Of course, they are wrong.  An online shop is much a full-time job as a real shop and without the same initial dedication to it, it won’t get off the ground.  Likewise, a lack of uniqueness is a knife to the gut of an online shop.  Most people will get what they need from Amazon.  It’s a sweeping statement I know, but just have a nose at Amazon’s profits, then tell me I am wrong.  And if it isn’t Amazon it’s a huge well known established brand – Moonpig anyone? 

Fortunately, in very recent years, I’ve seen a change.  Online sellers have become more sophisticated, realising that to sell effectively they should niche.  The shops I have taken on and helped drive to success have always been selling products that cannot be purchased elsewhere, or have been attached to charities where there is increased motivation to buy.  The simple fact is that to sell online both the product, the brand and giving the customer real motivation are all essential if there’s any chance of success. 

So how does this equate to E-learning? Well, as part of getting the word out there about Tovi, my e-learning platform I have spoken to lots and lots of businesses.  At the widest end of my funnel, I’ve encountered many businesses with a skillset to share and an idea to turn that skillset into an online course.  Sometimes they are coaching businesses or training companies, just as often they are businesses looking for an extra string to their bow, who believe that the skills they have will translate into an online course.  In all cases, their sights are firmly set on the holy grail of that one to many passive income generating course that will add more to their bottom line each month. 

Now, let’s add another fact into the mix.  The vast majority of e-learning platforms out there are entirely ambivalent as to the success of your course.  They don’t mind how many bums on seats you virtually get.  What they do care about is that for a while you are a bum on their seat – generating their passive income for a few months whilst you see if the course you have created gets any traction.  They expect a huge amount of turnover in customers as courses are born, flounder about for a while then die, or take off.  That’s fine – nurturing, beyond some basics, is not their job or indeed their business model. 

But, what that does mean for the new course creator, is that whilst it is easy to create a course, it is, unfortunately, easy to create a bad course, with no one advising you on the pitfalls.  And the post-Covid world is going to be a world full of bad courses getting drowned in a sea of one another on huge platforms that don’t care.  The e-learning disaster isn’t going to be the industry, it’s going to be the businesses that get it wrong. 

And finally, any course has a huge free rival – YouTube.  I personally use YouTube Instructionals on a day-to-day basis.  If I need to learn something quickly, I’ll search YouTube.  At the very least there will be some basic education available for free, often there will be experts telling you everything you need to know entirely for free as a part of their marketing to sell something else.  For example, I recently started using ClickUp to handle all my project management and CRM needs in one place.  I was able to fast track my ability to use it by watching the fantastic videos from Layla at Process Driven – I’ll put the link below.  The videos are brilliant and cost me nothing.

Now, this impending disaster isn’t the end of the world.  Hopefully, at worst, there’ll be more ‘well I tried to create an online course and it never got any punters’ stories.  Hopefully, no businesses will lose their shirt – just some time and perhaps some enthusiasm.  And personally speaking, I am not concerned that it will affect Tovi, because it’s a platform that is really for the next step, for existing trainers, coaches and experts who have a number of courses to run on their own dedicated branded platform, it isn’t for the first-time attempts.  But I am still keen to help because for me today’s fledgeling creators are tomorrow’s potential Tovi clients.

So, the purpose of this blog and corresponding vlog is to help avoid disaster.  I’ll be bringing in experts from all the aspects of course creation.  Some of the blogs will be pitched for the beginner, starting their journey, others will be pitched for the potential Tovi client considering the most powerful ways that courses can be tweaked to really deliver.

So, to sign off, let’s start with something free that any fledgeling course creator or experienced trainer should check out if they haven’t already.  And for that, once more, we are talking YouTube.  Specifically, YouTube Creator Academy. 

Now, YouTube’s main business model is advertising.  To that end, the better the videos on it, the more viewers, hence the greater advertising revenue.  Because of that YouTube does care about how good its videos are.  Further to that, it wants to help – for free.  The way it does that is through the YouTube Creator Academy.  Now whilst the content of the free online courses there are geared to creating a YouTube channel, the information therein is incredible quality and a huge benefit to anyone who wants to get in front of a video in order to build their own online course.  Without telling you everything, I’ll just say there are multiple courses on content, on production, on postproduction, and more.  It is a great free resource. Not to mention, seeing how YouTube delivers an online course in itself is a great education.   All you need to do is head over to https://creatoracademy.youtube.com. 

Next time, my first guest expert, Kevin Robinson from 13 Media Group, will be discussing why online learning and face to face learning need an entirely different approach.  See you then!

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