Strange topic? I don’t think so. At all.

With everyone on the planet scrambling to regain their footing in the rocky soil of a sick and uncertain world, many of us hunkered down in anxiety (but not together), taking a course these days looks like an act of pure heroism.

Not to mention commerce.

As someone who’s taken more of these than I can count, I can tell you it’s really good to know how to know if an online course is right for you, and once chosen, how to flow through it like Master Po.

In other words, let’s find some calm in the storm.

    14 replies to "How to Choose and Take an Online Course"

    • Tammy Kabell

      Great tips this week, Steve! As a consummate consumer of online courses (I could buy a second home with the investments I’ve made in my business, but I wouldn’t have it any other way), I think those tips are priceless and essential for the decision-making process when you’re considering online learning.

      I might suggest a 7th tip, and that’s this; if you’re going to invest, oh, $2,000 or more of your own money into a course, check out the testimonials or reviews OUTSIDE of the sales page. It’s all too easy to get wooed by the sales page testimonials, but we can’t verify if those are true or not. And with that price point, it’s unreasonable to ask for a personal reference to find out other customer experiences.

      So I always look for any kind of reviews from a google search about the program or about the individual behind the product. I never take into account a single testimonial, but instead, I look for trends of people saying same thing – what aspect of the course was most valuable? Who is the course best for? What was the experience of most of the other customers?

      I mean, I wouldn’t buy a $9.95 book on Amazon without reading the reviews, so why would I invest an exponential amount without checking the reviews of other customers?

      • Steven Washer

        Great point, Tammy. It’s funny. I actually cut the testimonial section of the script for this video, because I had to make a decision between talking about testimonials or feedback, and feedback won.

        You make an excellent point here, but the whole topic of testimonials can be controversial because, as you rightly pointed out, the ones on the sales page can easily be seen as more self-serving than helpful.

        But that doesn’t mean the ones off the sales page are that much more helpful. They may make you feel better about a decision you’ve already made, but it’s unlikely they would sway you in the opposite direction.

        And today there is a whole new way of thinking among some course creators that goes NO testimonials can be believed and that if you push it, the FDC will push back. So in the end I decided that the whole topic of testimonials is really more helpful for people creating courses and not so much for those taking them.

        So expect some craziness around testimonials in the near future. 🙂

    • Mia Sherwood Landau

      I laughed right out loud more than once… this was a particularly significant message and you delivered it so well! Forgive my comparison, but attracting customers is like dating. Some are just looking for the free stuff, and there are a LOT of those people! Positioning ourselves to attract dates/customers who are serious is the challenge. I am watching this video again.

      • Steven Washer

        Good analogy. It doesn’t work with everyone though. I once worked with a pretty hard-driving entrepreneur, trying to explain the difference between marketing and sales, and I think I said: “Would you just walk up to some girl and ask her to marry you?” He said “Yes. In fact I did. And she married me.” Ah, well…

    • Mia Sherwood Landau

      Ok, I listened to it again and realized my previous comment was made from the perspective of a course creator who wants to attract customers. I, too, have spent thousands on courses. This video has made me ask myself why I chose those courses, which is useful in fathoming why someone might choose my course. Your own $3000 investment with only one question answered is mind-boggling. I want to be that valuable to a person as smart as you. Steven! I am going to watch this video again!

      • Steven Washer

        The 1 question thing only came up after we were well into the course. Word to the wise…

    • Ken Pike

      Hi Steve,
      Great advice as always! Oftentimes, just deciding which of two/three… similar courses might be just the right one for you is another factor. Different tutors can have similar levels of expertise and experience – but how and what they teach can be surprisingly also different.

    • Leslie Covington

      Another great video! Thanks again, Steve.

    • Jay Creighton

      Thanks, Steve, for this nicely done video (I would expect nothing less). I also, like the others who have commented, appreciate the points you make. Those points stand the test of time, no doubt. Nothing worthwhile is EVER free, in terms of either $$ or time. Also, I enjoyed your new background and noted, like your most recent video, that the space between the top of your head and the top edge of the screen is just a bit more narrow, which looks great. I will adjust my camera accordingly. Of course, I have to spend some time taming my hair during these days of pandemic. I’m finally getting a haircut but not until next week. In the meantime, this squirrel’s nest of mine needs more work every day! But back to your video: thanks again for this very useful advice, Steve. Jay

      • Steven Washer

        And thank you for keeping me on my toes. 🙂

    • Dr Jason Price

      Another great video Steve, with plenty of good advice for both consumers of courses and those producing them. The credibility (let’s say “visible authority” to use a catchphrase even! 😉 ) of the course creator says so much about what to expect to help the customer filter out what’s good and what they need to invest in.

      Resources like EdX, as an example, have some great free content available if you’re looking to consume and learn that style of education so free isn’t always bad. But I do like to know if my EdX course is offered from Harvard or MIT, or the University of the Middle of Nowhere.

      Same principle for business credibility and the more interactive style. I’ll definitely be looking to ‘up my game’ through the choice of online learning platform. Giving the opportunity for students to interact with the instructor and gain feedback is so important to their development and learning.

      • Steven Washer

        Great point about the MOOC trend!

        There is a point to be made in there somewhere about earned vs. assumed credibility. The Harvards of the world come with pre-shined credibility. But that locks them into a paradigm. And that says little about the quality you’ll actually get from the course.

        The scrappy professor teaching at the U of Hard Knocks has to work harder to establish his visible authority. And that’s a good thing. And by work harder, I mean know his students and their problems inside and out, and be willing to be taught if his assumptions are wrong.

    • Craig Turczynski, Ph.D.

      Steve, thanks for this video. I was interested from the perspective of attending but also presenting an online course. I recently attended a course where the presenter got up from her webcam and stood next to her PowerPoint slides like a weatherman presents. My audience and content is medical/scientific and I had thought that this would be an interesting way to present. I have already taken your advice on the green screen and audio equipment. What do I need to be able to stand next to my slides? Do you recommend this or is there a better alternative?

      • Steven Washer

        I assume this is a live presentation? If so, and if you wish to stand up next to a monitor showing your PPT slides, I would use a real video camera with an interface that allows you to show up live. You need some extra hardware for that, but it’s not too much. I would check out our Udemy course and watch Chris’s section on live streaming to assess your options. Good luck!

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