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Focusing On Student Outcomes
My sole focus is working with business owners and entrepreneurs who sell online courses, certification programs, and membership sites. I work with them to get their customer’s results and when they do, usually their businesses explode with growth.The number one thing I’d want to share with all educators is that nothing is more important than your student outcomes. In the traditional brick and mortar education world this is the focus so it shouldn’t be any different online. I define student outcome as “what does a student know prior to buying a course and what do they know after they finish.” Pretty simple!
Measurement and Reporting
Measuring your student outcomes is the only important determining factor for whether or not what you’re putting out there in the world is creating an effect. If your students, clients, and employees aren’t finishing your courses then they won’t have an outcome.
One of the main methodologies to get students to stay engaged and complete your courses or extend the time in your membership site is to reduce friction.
Friction is anything that stands in the way of your student getting that perfect learning outcome. It could be within the course’s content, it could be the technology platform, or even something as simple as the navigation of your site.
How you reward your student’s with badges or milestones along the way also counts to add or reduce friction.With most membership sites they have no concept of student outcome and they simply focus on adding more content. Many membership site owners are in the client replacement business which can feel like treading water. The average time that clients continue to pay for membership sites is about four months and the pressure to continue to add more clients to replace the ones leaving is not fun. Additionally, the profit margins of a client replacement business model are low.
A methodology we deploy with our clients is to recreate the student/client pathway so that the journey encompasses a learner’s outcome and spans time. We shift the experience and focus on outcomes and results. When this is accomplished, folks will stick around longer.
Another methodology we use is to plan out the learner’s journey and create a guided experience to assure results.
The shotgun approach is similar to a Super Walmart store. In a Walmart, everything you need is there, however, your journey can be scattered. Especially if you are not familiar with the store layout.
Ikeas stores, on the other hand, take a radically different approach and create a carefully crafted and monitored client pathway assuring that they reduce friction, create an experience and maximize the shopper’s enjoyment.
When you combine outrageous content with a proven learners pathway and layer in engagement methodologies, you’ve got a winning formula.
This is a large friction point. There are so many devices that learners use to experience your content: iPhones vs Androids, Macs vs PCs, Google Chrome vs Firefox, etc. Additionally, each of these hardware devices is running different operating systems and versions. You must be able to function on each one of these different setups and combinations or you’re going to be jeopardizing the learning outcome for a portion of your students.
Red Carpet Treatment
People don’t follow directions! Even when they are crystal clear. This is why you need to take control of the experience from the moment their credit card is processed. You can do this with automation and you should anticipate the learners first 15 minutes, 24 hours, 3, 5, and 7 days. Be proactive and create a Red Carpet Experience that educates and trains them so that you start them off down a success pathway.
This one can be sneaky. All of us are burdened by way too many logins and passwords. You and your program want to be part of the solution and not the cause for frustration. Imagine a client buys three programs from you…three courses, membership levels, etc. They should have one login and password…period! Enough said.
Intelligent and Automatic Accountability
We might plan for a member to go through one module a week for six weeks, but the reality is that’s not how life works. They may begin a module and then get too busy with work to complete it. They might not remember where they are, and this becomes a friction point. How much backtracking do they need to do after there is a gap in time from the last login?
Your platform should know exactly where every student is at any point in time and allow you to craft a built-in accountability program and a non-active client internal alarm. Additionally, you must offer a one-click push button for the client so that no matter how long it has been since they engaged with your platform, in one-click they are exactly where they left off.
These are just several methodologies we use with our clients to reduce friction to create much better results.
I invite you to go through your digital education experience from the point of view of the learner and note every time something could be improved. Examine your content and decide if this is going to create a learners outcome.
- Make sure your Learning Platform is compatible across devices, tablets, mobile phones, and operating systems.
- Automate your onboarding process and give only one pathway for members to take in beginning your course from the time you take their credit card.
- Use a single login for all your courses. If possible host them all on one site.
- Configure your learning management system to allow for members to just hop right back in where they left off after a break.
Result You Will Achieve
Reduced friction in your online courses with greater completion and retention for your membership site by focusing on your student outcomes.
This article is based on an EHQ interview with the mentor.