“Online learning is broken.”
I’ve been building and marketing online courses since 2008, and I launched CXL Institute in 2016. Over the last four years, I’ve learned many things about online education—how people use it, where e-learning is failing.
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Some of my observations:
- Most people who start an online course never finish it. They want to learn, they want knowledge, but gravity pulls them away. Why?
– Lack of accountability. In a formal school setting, people expect something from you—parents, professors, peers. Nobody cares if you finish an online course.
– Other things are always more urgent than learning. Your boss asks you if you completed core tasks, not if you did your learning.
– People don’t set time aside for learning. How many hours a week on your calendar are scheduled for learning? If it’s more than zero, you’re a rarity.
– If you have a family, it’s very difficult to make time for learning, even after work. Kids and partners need attention, too (and rightfully so).
The end result is that online course completion rates are abysmal. Depending on the studies you look at, global averages range from 5% to 12%.
- If you’re a mid- to senior-level practitioner, you already know half the stuff in any course. Almost every course is produced in a one-size-fits-all manner. That means the courses are perfect for total beginners.
However, if you have 5+ years of experience under your belt on a subject, you’re out of luck. Experienced folks quickly disengage since it’s a lot of, “Yup, this is basic.”
Also, skimming content in a video course is super hard, and when clicking around on the video timeline, you’re never sure if you missed anything new. A lot of people just read transcripts, but that’s not a nice learning experience.
- People feel anxiety about committing to long courses. In my interviews with people, folks used emotionally charged language when describing training programs that are 20, 50, or 100 hours long. Sure, you can’t get advanced-level skills without serious effort, but the anxiety is real.
- Learning and doing are often misaligned. Folks take an online course on something while they’re not working on that very project. So, when they eventually get around to implementation, they’ve forgotten a bunch—and need to revisit almost everything. Most people learn best by doing.
I’ve been thinking about this a lot. I’ve talked to a lot of people and conducted relevant research. We’ve imagined a way to address these issues—to fix online learning for so, so many.
We’re building a new kind of knowledge platform, one that’s focused on doing. There will be no courses. No certificates. Not even video. It’s about taking action, and the best ways to go about it. Learn for 10 minutes, implement in the next 10 minutes.
Launching Spring 2021.
— Peep Laja, founder and CEO of CXL
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