What Can Course Creators Learn From Netflix?

If you've ever loved a TV show, you're prepped and ready to dive into today's topic. From Parks and Rec to Lost, The Crown and Mozart in the Jungle, Six Feet Under and Friday Night Lights (but wait, I can't forget Parenthood) they all have three crucial elements that course creators can leverage for maximum engagement and impact.

Character Development: Yours, Theirs, and Everyone Else's

Lots of my clients hold back on creating courses because they don't feel like experts. But did you know that most people love learning from those who are just a few steps ahead of them? So feel confident about sharing both what you've learned and how you've struggled. Answer questions like these for your learners: How did you get to where you are? Who are you? What struggles do you have? 

Likewise, invite your learners to share or reflect upon their own journeys when the enter the course, mid-way through the course, and at the course wrap up with questions like: Where were they at this time last year? Where will they be at this time next year?

Naturally, these stories are perfect for sharing with other members of the course. One of the ways we establish our belief in our abilities is through vicarious experience (which is a fancy word for storytelling). When we hear a story of someone we can relate to achieving success, we begin to believe that we can do it too! And belief is the ultimate predictor of action.

Conflict: Create the Struggle

Have you noticed that when something comes to us too easily, we don't really enjoy it all that much? This is why we play Plants vs. Zombies, Sudoku, and join our friends for FitBit challenges. When it's too easy, we either get bored or feel ambivalent about succeeding.

Many times, the course creators I work with think their job is to provide all the answers. In some cases there are dozens of videos full of answers, laying out each step in the process perfectly from beginning to end. While these creators get big points for being thorough, their participants are probably bored or give up on the class altogether.

You don't have to have all the answers. In fact, what's more engaging for your learners is for you to create the struggle, lay out the problem, point them in a direction, and then be there to guide them to the finish line if they need it.

How much fun would Lost be if we knew what the heck the black smoke was? Or what was in the hatch? 

Our adult brains love problem solving, so set up learning in a safe environment where your learners can fail with confidence knowing that you are there to show them the way when things go wrong. We think we want to be given an answer, but what we really crave is the hint that helps us unlock it for ourselves

Cliffhangers: Not Just for Prime Time

What if you imagined the end of each lesson, module, or class as the end of an episode? The cliffhanger? How would that change your wrap-up?

If you've been in the training world at any point in your career, you've heard this old saying:  "Tell them what you're going to tell them, then tell them, then tell them what you told them."

I almost fell asleep just typing that. How much attention do you think that strategy will get from your learners?

What your learners want is to get awesomely excited about what they are creating in their lives! After all, they've invested (probably pretty big bucks) to learn from you. Ask yourself these questions and get dramatic with your transition:

  • What will they feel next? What can they expect to see happen?
  • Don't hold back. Will it get harder before it gets easier? Tell them!
  • Will they finally have a breakthrough with the next week's content and be able to sell that first product? Entice them!

Lay it all out on the line so that they are begging to come back next week, with a bowl of popcorn and a big glass of wine (Scandal,anyone?) ready to dive into the next episode - oops, module.