Did you know that there will soon be as many podcasts as U.S. citizens? OK, that’s not true, but it seems like everyone wants to get on the podcast train. Everyone else is doing it, everyone loves podcasts, so why not you?
While podcasts are great—we even have some team members who love to share their latest podcast find in our Slack channels which the rest of us appreciate…most of the time—this “keeping up with the neighbors” approach to disseminating and marketing your content never proves satisfying or effective.
Polymath, along with Bookmark and Givington’s fulfillment which make up the Givington’s suite of services, partners with content creators to provide creative and marketing solutions to interact with their respective audiences effectively.
We have often, though not always, recommended podcasts and have had the honor to help produce some wonderful work like the Jerusalem Podcast series.
An alternative to podcasts
Another great medium we’ve encouraged, however, is eCourses. Not only do they provide revenue-generating possibilities, eCourses create a level of engagement that is deeper and more expansive than podcasts, blog posts, and even books to some degree. While each method has its role—and we work carefully with our partners to craft a comprehensive strategy—content creators should seriously consider adding eCourses to their portfolio of offerings.
While podcasts are great for the gym, walks or drives where you can feel more productive by multitasking, eCourses, like reading a book, demand more of your attention. And there are times when your audiences crave that level of engagement; they are willing to invest their money, their time, and, really the most valuable asset, their attention because they want to learn.
Ecourses do allow you to display your personality in a way books simply cannot.
ECourses are actually a nice compliment for books. The arguments you make in a book and try to explain more fully through printed illustrations, can now come alive through animations with voice overs. And, while not truly a conversation, eCourses do allow you to display your personality in a way books simply cannot.
It’s a great medium, and if done well, can prove a great way to inform and teach your audiences.
No medium can make up for bad content
Despite its promise, how many of us have signed up for an eCourse only to find the content delivered in an utterly uninspired manner and struggled to finish the course? Coursera, the mothership of eCourse platforms, has had well documented struggles to up its completion rates.
Just as organizations want to jump into the podcast game without doing the research, so many content creators develop eCourses without doing their homework.
One of the more pervasive problems so many eCourses have is their assumption about the audience. It’s easy to assume that everyone who takes the course is a tabula rasa, a clean slate, ready to absorb the content without distortion, misunderstanding, or misconceptions. Any teacher, presenter, or preacher knows that just isn’t the case.
I myself have preached a few times and, when talking after the service with those who had to suffer through my well-crafted, clear-as-can-be sermon, I was always struck by how many different interpretations there were. I was often left wondering if they actually heard a different sermon—and, in a way, they did.
People bring themselves to your work, all their experiences, all their notions about life and your subject. They are anything but clean slates.
Thinking that your content will prove successful so long as it’s presented in a clear, orderly way is a fallacy.
That’s why we at Polymath are big fans of the work by L. Dee Fink. Fink created an “integrated approach” to designing courses that explicitly grapples with student contextual factors. In addition to aligning learning objectives with teaching methods and assessments, Fink shows how to appreciate and account for the situational factors that influence how students take in and process your content. We feel so strongly about this that our eCourse development process begins with a client survey specifically designed around Fink’s philosophy.
Craft your eCourse in a way that allows for personal discovery.
After accounting for contextual factors, another important step is to craft your eCourse in a way that allows for personal discovery. Too often, teachers focus on clarity and comprehension—which are important—but, if the material is presented in a way that makes it just a data-dump, there’s no room for students to wrestle with the material and gain insight on their own.
A better way of developing your curriculum is to create a narrative arc for the course, where you set off on a journey with your students. You, as the guide, lead the students through a series of issues and tough questions that may create some dissonance—some struggle—initially but ultimately leaves room for personal discovery. That’s great teaching, and a great way to see growth in your audience.
So, if you really want to have an impact, to have your ideas and insight truly make a difference, consider developing eCourses…the right way.