Five Questions to Ask Before You Invest in Online Learning

Photo by  Olu Eletu  on  Unsplash

Photo by Olu Eletu on Unsplash

Remember when kids got textbooks? Or maybe your kids still get textbooks that get lost under beds until the end of the year, like my son's do. Whether you're a kid or an adult, there's something we need to get clear on about learning - it has nothing to do with information anymore.

Back when I started my instructional design career, we spent lots of time creating binders full of procedures and guidelines. My boss called it the "heft factor." If you give a training participant a big huge manual when they come to class, it will have been worth it. 

At school now, teachers use a "flipped classroom" approach and assign their students a video (maybe a TED Talk) to watch before coming to class. Then, in the classroom they apply the information using a case study or lab experiment.

Information does not equal learning.

Most adults, when asked when was the last time they active sought out learning on purpose, respond that it was in response to an immediate problem. A quick search online will find you at least 13 answers to any problem you need to solve - from fixing the sink to coding an app. Our challenge these days is not "where can I get more information." The challenge facing learners is a brand new one: "where can I find only the information I need to take the next step."

The perfect amount of information plus guided application equals learning.

If you're about to purchase an online learning program that promises to turn you into rock star (or something even more glamorous) in less than 30 days, I'm advising you to ask some questions first to see what you're actually going to get.

Here are just a few questions I recommend asking:

  • Will I have access to an instructor to ask questions when I get stuck?
  • Is the information provided in a step-by-step format with recommended action steps?
  • Am I part of an online community where I can share successes and failures with like-minded people on a similar mission?
  • How will I know if I'm making progress or improving?
  • Will I get feedback along the way?

If you are opting in to a course that doesn't provide you with access to an instructor, step-by-step application, community, progress checks, and feedback - it's probably not worth your money. Too often, experts are selling online learning programs that are simply multimedia versions of their books. And, unlikely that information alone create the transformation you've been promised.

Are you an expert interested in designing a learning experience that delivers on transformation as part of your revenue plan next year? If so, you might consider my mastermind, Luminaries. Applications are being accepted now for 2018.