4 Ways to Improve Your Business' Online Learning Experience

Online education is blowing up. We have everything from higher-level classes with platforms like Coursera and 2u (formerly 2tor), to mid-level education like Lynda, TreeHouse, Udemy and Skillshare, all the way to basic how to’s from platforms like SnapGuide, Instructables, and the millions of videos and guides already on the Web.

In short, it’s clear that the consumer is becoming more comfortable with the concept of learning online.

But while all of these platforms do many things really well, what about skills that require a physical, hands-on experience? As adults, many of us want to learn how to cook, how to build, how to paint, how to fix things ... hands-on skills that would improve our lives forever.  But sometimes, just watching a video isn't enough.

The challenge with teaching real-world skills

For businesses that want to offer learning experiences for their customers or consumers, overcoming the video barrier is the biggest challenge of all.

Yet the real reason people don’t learn new skills isn’t always because it’s hard.  There’s a simple way to start almost anything, especially with someone showing you.  The reason people don’t learn new skills is because it’s intimidating and inconvenient, especially when it's something hands-on, like cooking or DIYing an upholstery project (as just two examples).

There are a lot of intimidation factors and concerns that the "teacher" must address, such as:

  1. What tools or ingredients do you need?
  2. Where do you get them?
  3. What if you get the wrong thing?
  4. How much money should you spend?
  5. How do you know if you did it right? What if you have a question?

How to remove the barriers, one by one

If you want to teach your customers or audience online in a way that sticks, try to remove those barriers one by one.

  1. Provide or explain the tools. Remove the need to figure out what tools to buy by giving your audience everything they need -- or by making sure it’s extremely clear what to get and how to get it.  (I believe this is the most important barrier to overcome for hands-on skills, and it's one we were concerned about when we launched Feast.)
  2. Avoid jargon. Viewers are coming to your online course, webinar or training session not to hear jargon, but to hear jargon explained. Remember that, and remove the confusion caused by jargon by explaining things plainly.
  3. Use a voice and brand that people can relate to. Everything in your video doesn't have to look perfectly polished.  Use your apartment kitchen instead of a commercial kitchen to record that cooking video, or your real home office.
  4. Be relatable, on and off video. The teacher shouldn't just be a prerecorded video.  The teacher should be a person that they can trust, and turn to.  Too many students for the teacher to handle?  That's where building a community (through a private forum, group, email list, etc.) becomes vital in creating a positive and personal online education experience.  Your students can and will help each other.

Finally, don’t just tell your audience what to do.  Help them understand why they’re doing it, so that they can take those concepts and apply them to their next experience with the skill.

Once you remove these barriers, all that's left is doing. And I believe you’ll find that when someone is motivated to learn and nothing is in their way, there’s very little you can do to stop them. 

Have you ever taught a course or webinar in your business? What did you do to make the information more accessible?

David Spinks is a community builder and entrepreneur. CoFounder and CEO at Feast. Co-Founder of TheCommunityManager.com.

The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only nonprofit organization comprised of the world's most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, the YEC recently launched #StartupLab, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses via live video chats, an expert content library and email lessons.

About David Spinks

David Spinks is the Cofounder of Feast: Helping busy people build a habit of cooking at home. He's also founded CMX Summit, TheCommunityManager and writes about building startups and life experiments at WhatSpinksThinks.

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