7 secrets: how to sky rocket an online course

Learn from the best, discover their secrets. Make your own course sky rocket. How to make a great on-line course? Scholars in pedagogy try to help out. But here is a better idea: In this post I benchmark an unusually great course we all have access to. 7 important secrets revealed. Put them in use.

Great rockets knows why.

Science of Everyday thinking at Edx is an unusually great online course, more than 1 million people enrolled. In this post I reveal the secrets behind its success.

You actually don’t have to pay for it – without a certificate it’s free, here. Experience this benchmark with your own eyes.

1. The Title

This is actually a course in…Neuroscience, Cognitive science, Psychology. It´s named…Science of Everyday Thinking.

But hey, what does that even mean? There is no scientific field called “Everyday thinking”. Exactly. Combining “science” and “everyday” stretches the mind. Not a combination we are used to. That´s the point.

Still, the title include “science”. A flavor of serious knowledge, which this course also is full off. Isn’t there something common within us all, at the same time deep, therefore interesting, to discover? Smart.

A course can be named with the help of it’s academic discipline, even its content. But no-one thinks about knowledge in the same way as the ones providing it. People would never enroll if they did.

In the digital space the attention-span is seconds.

A course-title matter..
“The really big nuts come from America”. Old Swedish advertising, for peanuts. Nixon, the pict, was the US-president at that point in time.

Name a digital course in a way that makes people react and become curious.

2. The logo

The course-logo is just a close-up of a face, eyes looking right at us. Who is she? What does she want? What is she thinking?

When we scroll digital courses there is a picture, a logo, besides the title. That logo is just as important as the title, perhaps even more – a digital device has a small surface.

Our brain always search for meaning.

The sum of a picture and a text achieves something.

When using a course-logo, that picture shall tell something that the title not already tell. Even a randomly chosen picture, is problematic – slows our brain down, nothing happens.

Use pictures that jointly with the title triggers the audience.

This picture would be better without this text. This text would be better without this picture. No mystery left.

3. A taste of things to come

Providing a taste of things to come is exactly what the first course-video in this course does – even named that way.

Analytics made on e-learning explain: people that enroll at digital courses often try the last, not the first, section, first…unless there is a really good reason for the first section.

When we begin, we scroll around in the digital space in order to get an overview. What´s going on here? That is what this video help out with.

Analytics on e-learning also explain: there is a huge drop-out after the first week of a course – the first video matter.

The agenda is always set during the first 3 minutes.

It goes for a party, a physical meeting, also a digital course.

Spend time on the first video. It can matter more than all the other videos put together.

4. The story

The course Science of Everyday Thinking is built around a story we recognize: a young student following a knowledgeable person and during that road becomes wiser.

This overall classical story-line have been successful so many times before in history. But we never seem to get bored of it. It’s close to eternal.

The Name of the Rose: a well-known book, also a best-seller movie. It follows the same classical basic story-line.

Do we continue to love this story because…is it actually ”about us”?
Why we become hooked on digital products.

There seems to be two dominating ways to make learners hooked on digital courses…

One way is with a smorgasboard. Ideas, concepts, whatever, bites to be eaten in exactly the order one prefer oneself. Each bite have to be tasty, the big bite becomes the sum of them.

The other way is with a story. It starts of somewhere, then a cliffhanger to make people curious in what will happen next. The big bite have to be tasty, each bite becomes a part of it.

How I met your mother: a TV-series of this first kind. Watch any episode you like, they are independent of each other. House of Cards: a TV-series of the other kind. Watch an episode because you saw the previous episode.

Either an interesting overall story for the course, or really tasty pieces at a smorgasboard. Avoid ending up in between. If going for a story; try the classical, eternal, dramas.

5. The mix

This course include videos with everything from the young student to the Nobel Prize Winner Daniel Kahneman and the TV-show-people MythBusters. How cool isn’t it to put them together as a team?

MythBusters make us interested in Kahneman that makes us interested in the young student. The young student make us interested in MythBusters etc. This mix goes around and around, endless combinations possible.

When everything becomes the same we stop caring, even about good stuff.

Things we do easily get tired-some after a while, also education. Been there, done that, before.

Long sessions mixed with short sessions. Text mixed with Quizzes, whatever. Different kinds of people. Academics, practitioners. Well-known, un-known. Mix.

6. Interaction

The course Science of Everyday Thinking have built in lot of opportunities for interaction, even with an IRL-course.

We easily stumble on productions that are mind blowingly good, well-funded movie-productions. But there are, at least should be, reasons that goes beyond watching a video to take an on-line course. Interaction could be one of them.

We already have YouTube, and great documentary sites, History Channel.

Others testing their words, us doing the same, is not only communication.

Interacting with others equals learning.

-> How to make online-education gazillion times more social, interactive and live than off-line-education ever can be

We can do better than putting an empty chat-channel in the corner of a course.

7. The drive

No engine, no petrol, still moves.

Take a look at the energy-level the people providing this course have – clearly visible in several ways, for instance the videos. They really seem to enjoy running this course. That energy drives this car.

In a computer game, what makes us continue to play, is the “gaming engine”. A good engine neither makes it to easy for us, then we leave, nor to difficult for us, then we also leave. It´s a balance act between what we as players feel that we want, and what we actually should want, that makes us continue.

The drive a dedicated educator has ”within” works like a gaming engine. Motivation is contagious.

-> Pez, the candy, is the mother of all great E-learning

Spray your own energy-level over the course. Curious people will follow.

Courses like Science of Everyday Thinking have already raised the bar for how great E-learning should look.

Steal from the best.

Benchmarking successful E-learning is useful, and cost nothing. It can reveal insights that people well trained in “pedagogy” doesn’t seem to be able to help out with, secrets they don´t seem to see. Secrets that can be used when launching your next digital course.

Share this clip with someone that wants to sky rocket a great on-line course.

Actually; avoid pedagogy…bench-mark great E-learning instead.

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