WHY DON’T PEOPLE FINISH ONLINE COURSES AND “DO THE WORK”?
Whether you’ve created successful courses, or plan to create a course, or wondering why that course you bought isn’t successful, it’s helpful to know what doesn’t work. Here are the most common fail points that I’m seeing.
1. EARLY SPEED BUMPS
The course starts with things that are too hard. If the level of challenge is too high at the outset, you’ll lose a lot of people. Video game designers have something called a “reward schedule” where they build confidence with early, easy wins. Learn from this!
2. CLIENTS DON’T KNOW WHAT TO EXPECT
There’s no clear “syllabus” that indicates how long to plan to work on the course, or what other resources are needed in order to finish the class. Without clear expectations of how much time it takes to complete the course, and a list of anything the client will need to be successful, she is likely to start in a disorganized manner.
3. TOO MUCH FOR A BEGINNER
The material is not a good fit for the learner. This is so easy to do because your client can frequently only absorb a fraction of what you want to teach. You think you’re adding value by being comprehensive, but you’re actually creating overwhelm.
4. PROJECTS ARE LISTED AS TASKS
Projects are more complex collections of tasks that usually involve some higher level thinking where there’s no one right way to do it. Building a website is a project. Choosing an email service from various options is a project. People get lost in projects, because you can’t execute on a project until you break it down.
5. BEGINNERS ARE GIVEN TOO MANY CHOICES
Beginners are overwhelmed learning new content. People, by their nature, don’t like to make decisions, especially when they are overwhelmed. You’d think that giving choices would be a great way to allow for clients to find the right options, but instead it usually overwhelms. When they don’t know what to do, they stall out.
6. PLANNING SKILLS ARE SECRETLY REQUIRED
The course assumes that the learner has the planning skills to execute on the content. For courses that extend over several weeks, many of your clients will not be inherent planners who create a routine and schedule to execute on the course. Without a plan, they will likely not finish the course.
7. EXTRA RESOURCES ARE SECRETLY REQUIRED
Additional resources (usually other services they need to buy) are needed that weren’t mentioned before the client signed up. This
is even more true when the course itself is expensive, and springing additional purchases on a client can cause a lot of frustration.
8. MARKETING IS NOT ALIGNED WITH CONTENT
Clients buy because they believe that a) a thing is doable and b) they buy into the idea that they can be successful with the help of the course. Often, the marketing message creates hope that anyone can be successful, but in reality, the course only works for some people. The client stops believing that they can be successful and likely quits.
9. MOTIVATION IS NOT ADDRESSED
In longer courses especially, everyone fades in motivation over time. Our brains are wired for novelty and our attention wanes as things become predictable. Returning to video games designers, however, there are ways to “spike” your course with surprises to keep clients engaged for “epic wins.”
10. LACK OF PERFORMANCE OBJECTIVES
And finally, the big winner… the course didn’t establish clear learning AND performance objectives. An objective is the desired outcome for the learner. A course that designs around performance outcomes has a strategic plan to get clients to do the work to see the results. The average class is going to provide information and let the client figure out how to apply it.
Clients buy because they believe that a) a thing is doable and b) they buy into the idea that they can be successful with the help of the course. Often the marketing message creates hope that anyone can be successful, but the course only works for some people. The client stops believing that they can be successful and likely quits.