Weekly Wave #5

Weekly Wave #5

I read an article about MasterClass.

As one of the new “EdTech” companies, MasterClass is doing extremely well – with a 9-figure revenue.

And a growing library of classes with celebrities and other masters within their field.

But why is MasterClass working so well, when many other EdTech companies struggle?

The article I read had a proposed analysis:

MasterClass don’t sell mastery. They sell inspiration.

When a young kid wants to be a basketball player and play in the NBA, he might look up to LeBron James.

This kid will only become as good as LeBron if he practices every day, shoots hoops, works out, goes to training camps, puts in a dedicated effort.

Day in and day out.

But the thing that fuels this drive, to push through all the hard training, is the dream of playing in the NBA. Just like LeBron James.

And that motivation could come from a MasterClass with the man himself. Not really providing the skills to play in the NBA, but the inspiration and motivation to train towards that goal.

So when Massive Open Online Courses, and online courses in general, only have a 5% completion rate, it might be because they are seeking to educate – to really make the viewer acquire new skills. That’s hard.

The entertaining and inspiring element of online courses have been neglected. And while MasterClass is nailing it, producing high-quality, super entertaining courses, the rest of the platforms are betting on the transfer of knowledge.

Unfortunately, we don’t live in the Matrix (or do we?). We don’t have the same ability to just plug a tube into our necks and download whatever knowledge we want. We need to work for it. Through hands-on practice.

In my own courses, this is exactly what I aim at; providing an entertaining overview of a subject that quickly gives the viewer a course of direction. And, that inspires the viewer to get their hands dirty in order to learn the skill in question.

I don’t believe that online courses are the best way to actually learn something. But they can give you an overview and a direction that lets you save a lot of time in the beginning of your learning process.

The 4 main points I learned from MasterClass and the article analysing them is the following:

  • Entertainment is everything. Online courses need to be engaging enough to be worth the time watching them.
  • Real learning doesn’t happen passively. Watching something is just the beginning. Actual practice is the real work.
  • High production value courses are the future. The days of a shaky iPhone talking head plus a lamp in an over-lit face is over.
  • Social capital counts. The celebrity-value is priceless in MasterClass’ setup. Positioning the teacher is as important as the lessons.

Imitation Learning

I am also in a learning process. I’m learning about teaching everyday. And I think that ‘imitation’ is one of the best ways to learn.

What’s Imitation Learning?

Imitation Learning Steps

It’s an idea I’m working on. A concept for learning. Non-theoretical, based on experience.

I’ll be imitating MasterClass’ traits and using them to shape my own company around online courses.

I urge you to find the masters within your field, identify what they excel at – and imitate that to succeed with your own project.

It’s the fastest way forward.

Have a great week,


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