Ideas and Validation January 17, 2020

Have Online Courses Reached Their Tipping Point?

Patrice Williams Marks @PatriceWilliamsMarks

I have an online course which is for a very specific small niche. Students trickle in. It's for authors and avid readers who want to work from home and "read" for a living.

I'm wondering if people are getting sick of online courses, and what the % is of people who actually complete them.

My NEW idea is to teach filmmakers how to create/host their own film festivals (as I have done several times; from scratch). But instead of a course, I am thinking of creating a video portal where they simply watch a series of videos on each aspect of launching a film fest; where they can pick and choose which videos they want to watch. I will also have pdf downloads with all the details. (Will be paid service).

Does this sound better than a course? What are your thoughts?

PS I already validated the idea through filmmaker facebook groups. (Website under construction: )

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    Bryan Harris talked about his change in approach to courses in a recent episode of the fizzle podcast

    It’s worth listening to.

    Generally the % of people who complete them is low. In his experience 5%. And only 2% achieving the goal of the course. So he’s working a different angle to ensure success.

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      Listening right now. Love his idea about just conducting an online class. Much easier to launch.

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        Yeah, best course I’ve taken (and I’ve bought a lot over the years) was online class and slack for ongoing access to the course creator and discussion with other students.

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          How did he conduct the course? Call in? Zoom? I'm thinking of going this route as well to get going quickly instead of having to produce many videos.

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            She used

            Guess it’s no real difference to a webinar. Text chat from the participants.

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              Thanks. I'm taking a look.

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          How do you find online classes? Never heard of them before :)

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            They are everywhere. Just search under your area of interest. Unfortunately, there is no reliable database of courses. You can take a look at my other one at

            Teachable is the #1 platform of courses. So is Udemy.

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            Just happened that a person I followed launched their first course and did it live instead of pre-recorded. I didn’t go looking for it.

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              How live? I'm over conducting webinars. Was it a call in? I would love to go back to basics. But still need a way to read live comments during call in.

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      I'll have a listen. Thanks!

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    I'm wondering if people are getting sick of online courses, and what the % is of people who actually complete them.

    People will always want to learn, and education will always be one of the biggest industries around. It doesn't necessarily have to come in the form of a course—people also like podcasts, talks, conferences, blogs, newsletters, videos, meetups, communities, books, white papers, tweets, IG posts and stories, Facebook pages, etc.— but education isn't going anywhere.

    And of course the Internet isn't going anywhere either. So no, I don't think online education is dying, and I'd also be surprised to see online courses dying.

    That said, I do think it's a great idea to educate in a non-generic way. You want to stand out from other educators, and do so in a way that resonates with the particular niche audience you're teaching.

    It's hard to say if teaching through videos is right for your niche. Sounds like you've already validated, but if you're still uncertain, try an MVP. A teaser video and PDF or something.

    There are also lightweight ways to teach, e.g. IRL classes, conference calls, Twitter. I particular recommend anything where you can actually see people's faces or at least community bidirectionally in real-time. What's good about that is it informs you very quickly when people are following along vs when they're lost, and you get lots of questions back, too. It's a great way to learn exactly what should be in your course before you put the time into making it.

    Two examples come to mind:

    • Adam Wathan and Steve Schoger spent a year tweeting various tidbits of their upcoming book to see what resonated with people, at the same time they were writing their book.

    • Tommy Griffith taught in-person first: he started with SEO classes at his company, before creating an SEO meetup in San Francsico, before finally creating his online course Clickminded.

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      Very good info. Thank you. I have decided that I'll teach through a series of episodes. (Episode 1, episode 2, etc.).

      There will be 3 series, each with separate episodes. One series will be creating a LIVE fest, the other, an ONLINE fest, and the last, adding panel discussions and screenplay competitions.

      They will come in phases. Too much to do all at once.

      I've conducted about 5 webinars for my other course. Perhaps I'll do that for this as well to teach basics before leading them to the video series.

      Filmmakers are visual and I think teaching this way (without workbooks or quizzes) will work best.

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    Nice relevent domain name. Good that it was available for you.

    Regarding your question

    You can start with the individual videos on a particular topic. This helps people to go to the topic which they like or think they have to improve on.

    However for absolute beginner you should create a learning Path like Lynda does. This make the beginner to fell that he is on the right track.

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      Thanks! I think putting the videos in chron order and suggesting newbies/beginners follow the videos in order should do it. :o)

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        You should create a multiple learning Path based on their goal.

        For example

        Become Excellent Script Writer

        Under this put 2-3 Videos

        Become Best Graphic Editor

        Under this put 3-4 videos

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          Thank you for your comment.

          There is only one goal of the site; teach filmmakers how to run their own film festival; from idea/conception to launch.

          I'm beginning to think I may have to do the course thing instead of just a series of videos.

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            Are you going to stay narrow forever? Don't you expand to the other needs of the same audiance ?

            If Film Festival Management Course is your paid product ... Then you will be motivated to come up with more other kind of products for similar audiance..

            Think of it..

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              Very true. Thanks for bringing that up.

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            Why do you think that? I liked your vision. If the videos have to be viewed in a specific order, I can understand why you'd want to make it into a course.

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              I've decided against the course and will create a video "series" with episodes (and pdf downloads) for each topic I need to cover.

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                Cool! Rock on!

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                  Changed my mind again. :o)

                  I'm making it easier on myself. I will do call-in audio classes; 2 a week for 4 weeks. I'll record the audio and monetize. Will also set up chatting window for q&a during sessions.

                  No videos, no webinar, just audio. I'll put links in the chat box where they can download handouts, see examples, etc.

                  Because there is a ton of info, I'll be charging $1500 for the 4-week course to run a LIVE film fest. That will be the first series. The second series will be on running an online/Roku film fest. That will cost around $750.

                  I'm starting out with a free 1-hour call with handouts to give basic information on the process and give free downloads.