The online learning industry has ballooned into a $250 billion industry with no signs of stopping. More and more people have become comfortable with learning online and interacting within online communities.
A key component of the next evolution of online courses is bringing the social aspect back into the classroom. How do you do that? The best way is to couple your online courses with robust online communities where members connect, learn from each other, and accomplish shared goals.
What is social learning?
Social learning is learning from and with other people. It’s a straightforward concept that you probably don’t realize you’re doing almost every day of your life already.
The irony, however, is that when online courses took off, many online course creators failed to translate the most important aspect of the learning process for most people–connecting with others who are also learning the same thing.
For example, in a real-life classroom, the instructor will present a new topic or idea, provide the framework for students to understand it, and then they might group up students to work through problems together.
This collaborative aspect is so powerful because it forms bonds between students that persist even after you’ve moved on to your next course topic.
Why are online communities so effective for selling online courses?
The beauty of social learning is that it connects people together interested in learning the same thing they otherwise wouldn’t meet. That’s an incredibly powerful selling point for online courses.
Far too often, online courses feel like an isolated experience where members pay for a course, go through self-guided modules, and then leave once they’ve completed the course.
An online community enables a social learning space where a group of people to master something interesting together.
At Mighty Pro, we work with course creators who see spectacular results by creating dedicated communities alongside their courses. That way, people can learn together in cohorts, working through the course material, assignments, and insights together.
Plus, once people complete a course, you can also offer them more reasons to stick around with the occasional livestream, new advanced workshops they can purchase, and additional content to help them solve difficult problems.
The dynamic environment that an online community provides to your online courses keeps members sticking around. Because there’s more value to your business than your content. You’re creating a private space where members not only master new skills but also form relationships as well.
In short, you’re creating your own network effect for your business where each new person who joins adds more value to your community.
3 examples of successful online course businesses that emphasize social learning
The TED organization has been a pillar in the revolution for how education, information, and online learning have flourished around the world today by delivering free talks and presentations from industry experts around the globe on topics ranging from science, art, history, philosophy, creativity, tech, business, and more.
The TED Community provides a single digital space for all resources and communication critical to participation in each of TED's initiatives. It's a gathering place for all of TED’s community members to participate in meaningful discussions both within and across their communities.
Within the TED Community, social learning is a key aspect of how they deliver their multiple online courses and experiences. Through utilizing traditional text posts, articles, virtual events that bring members together, and polls, they’ve found that their member engagement has increased greatly.
M5 Ranch School
A great example of a business that is leveraging social learning to deliver stellar online courses is Five Mary Farms’ M5 Ranch School.
M5 Ranch School launched in 2020 and features online lessons for kids and a community for parents who are looking to enhance and expand their children’s learning. Lessons span a variety of topics such as animal husbandry, ranch life, outdoor living, vocational skills, and much more.
And members can participate in live events, groups, chats, and more.
Through their branded mobile apps built on Mighty Pro, Five Mary Farms has been able to expand its offerings into mastermind groups, inner circles, and online courses that connect families from all over like never before. Through these social learning offerings, they’ve added an additional $175k a year to their income.
Jon and Missy Butcher are the founders of the transformational program, Lifebook, which helps people envision, plan, and execute on a 12-category lifestyle design system to attain the life they want for themselves.
With Lifebook, Jon and Missy saw an opportunity to connect people together in person to learn something they couldn’t on their own. As their business grew, Lifebook was adapted into an online module that people could take digitally. But after completing the modules, Jon and Missy sought out a solution that could solve how they re-engaged their alumni once they completed the course.
Through Mighty Pro, they built branded apps for iOS and Android devices to house their community, the Lifebook Mastery Membership. Alumni of the Lifebook program come together to put their Lifebook learnings into practice alongside in-depth coaching with Jon and Mussy Butcher, as well as other Lifebook guides, in a growing network of Lifebook practitioners.
They harnessed the power of online community to create a learning environment that is social and connect some of their most passionate students together in new and exciting ways. This online social learning space propelled over $900k in sales for Lifebook last year.
In 2023, online courses need to be more than just self-guided modules that students complete in isolation. Creating an online community for your course content opens up the possibility of a social learning experience that will create a sense of camaraderie with your members and keep people around after they’ve finished your course content.
In addition, creating a community for your courses means you’ll spend less time trying to gain your member's attention by creating an endless well of content, and instead, your members will fill in the silence with their own unique expertise. In turn, making your business more valuable with each new people that joins.