Crossing the online course chasm

The path to becoming a creator in the future of learning can be fraught with pain. Luckily, there’s a place to visit along the way.

Earlier this week I spoke with a new friend who’s taking a look at what’s next in his career journey.

He had a pretty good idea of his plan: taking his existing skill set and previous work experiences and synthesizing them into learning materials that could help others become better in their field.

The obvious next step was to build an online course.

However, there was something missing. He felt overwhelmed, uncertain. There was a challenge to overcome. And it felt a like a huge weight on his back.

I was a little surprised; he worked at one of the world’s well known companies, writes regularly about his field, and has already taught some classes (with his students creating a wonderful testimonial website for him).

The challenge he faced? Crossing the chasm of the online course.

The yawning gap

Despite the myriad tools now available, and all the signals pointing to others’ success stories, producing something that was a true reflection of what he wanted to bring to the world felt… elusive, out of reach. Frustrating. Overwhelming.

There were so many elements involved:

  • Breaking down the content in the right way
  • Making the lessons compelling
  • Standing out from the crowd
  • Teasing out his unique style and angles
  • Figuring out how to best prepare, record, and edit
  • Shipping the finished product
  • Marketing and communicating it in the right way
  • Iterating, adjusting, building, and rebuilding

I wasn’t surprised he felt this way.

Once we look closely, the chasm is wider than we think.

The place beyond the pines

Luckily, there’s a place we can visit along the way. It’s a little tucked away, just off the main drag.

In this place we can practice all the key skills of building a course: preparation, distillation, designing, structuring, explanations, articulating, performing, energizing.

It gives us the opportunity to get feedback. It makes it easier for us to make our work better. The work done in this place isn’t one and done; it’s instead allowed to be a work in progress. In fact, it’s supposed to be a work in progress.

Once we spend some time in this place, we may decide to continue on and cross the chasm. Or we may choose to take a different path; this place has many paths leading from it.

This place is the workshop.

A one-color Sharpie sketch. It’s not perfect, but the mistakes are where the learning happens.

A place where we can choose

It lets us choose how small we want to start.

It lets us test out our ideas, and receive feedback and input without having to worry about the big launch moment. We don’t need it to be perfect. In fact, the mistakes are where the most valuable learnings happen.

In this place we’re showing up with something we’re passionate about, and encouraging others to explore it with us. 

In this place, things aren’t complete. We don’t know all the answers. We can be proud that we don’t. Not knowing is a feature, not a bug.

We can easily arrive here from wherever we’re at:

  • A tweet or a blog
  • A full time role or a freelance gig
  • A life’s work or a new vocation
  • A side hustle or a passion project
  • A instinctive hunch or a proven scientific method

The workshop helps us cross the chasm, if we want to. And if we don’t, there are plenty of paths in and out.

The workshop is where we can take on fuel for the journey – whether we’re crossing the chasm, or taking another path to somewhere new.

The secret skillset

However, it’s not all plain sailing. 

We’ll need to develop some new skills to bring it all to life. These skills – and the energy and confidence and generosity they support.- used to be overlooked, elusive, niche, and inaccessible.

Today, it’s different. 

The secret skillset of workshop skills are transferrable, scalable, and valuable. 

And they’re easier than ever to build – whichever chasm you’re crossing, or path you’re taking.

Alongside a team of collaborators I’ve been building a place to practice – a place where you can build the skills you need to create workshops of any size, shape or flavor.

The next initiative we’re running is our 1-month Workshop Creator workshop. It’s open for enrollment now.

Hope to see you there.

Leave A Comment

Your email address will not be published.