Engagement and Online Learning

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Tim Cooper, host of the Online Course Coaching podcast and founder of eCourseDomination.com, joins Joshua Millage and Chris Badgett for this LMScast. You’ll learn about engagement and online learning tools to help you share your passion for your subject.

Keeping your students engaged is key to your online course success. There are lots of great tools to help you connect with your students, but Tim’s go-to solution is the Blab platform. With Blab you are as close to in-person interaction as you can get online with features like live video for multiple participants, selective interaction, Q&A, and direct feedback. Periscope also offers interactive messaging and dialog, plus privacy features Blab doesn’t have, but it only allows for your own source video, live or pre-recorded.

Direct feedback and video monitoring gets you closer to classroom style advantages like the ability to see reactions and body language. In the global internet community, the English language may not be primary for many of your students, so having that visual feedback is crucial. Students connect in a more personal way by seeing you in action and viewing your reactions to their queries. Plus it’s easier to keep them accountable if you can address them personally.

Blab is a great way to offer an introductory course, because it is an open forum. Viewers can get a feel for your knowledge and teaching style, and they’re more likely to choose more of your courses if they resonate with you. Your Blab sessions can be recorded for viewing after the live session is closed. You can also do a series with one part instruction and another for discussion. Blab is also great for interviews because of its in-person feel and audience participation.

Too many people sign up for online courses and never even finish the first one. Your mission is to increase engagement and make sure your students reach their objectives through your courses. Including supplemental tools like Blab as part of your course design helps you address multiple learning styles and provides refreshing kick-butt motivation that other courses don’t offer.

Our LifterLMS course development platform has content integration built in to let you include these interactive tools for engagement and online learning easily and intuitively. Try a demo of LifterLMS and see for yourself what it can do for you.

Remember that you can post comments and also subscribe to our newsletter for updates, developments, and future episodes of LMScast. Thank you for joining us.

And if you’re an already successful expert, teacher or entrepreneur looking to grow, check out the LifterLMS team’s signature service called Boost. It’s a complete done for you set up service where your learning platform goes live in just 5 days.

Episode Transcript

Joshua Millage: Hey, Everyone, welcome back to another episode of LMScast. This is Joshua Millage, and I’m joined with Christopher Badgett, my co-host. And today we have a special guest, Tim Cooper, who is the host of the Online Course Coaching podcast, and the founder of eCourseDomination.com. Tim thank you so much for joining us today. I’m excited to talk about all of the various things in the eCourse world.

Tim Cooper : Thanks Josh, this is a real pleasure to be on your show. I’ve been enjoying catching up on a few episodes, so it’s gonna be fun.

Christopher Badgett: That’s awesome.

Joshua Millage: That’s fantastic. Chris has been telling me a lot about the engagement that you do with Blab and other platforms. Chris, why don’t you start off with this Q & A format under way, that we’re going to do today?

Christopher Badgett: Absolutely. A big selling proposition with our learning management system plugin is engagement, and that we provide some tools in LifterLMS to make it easy engage and automating engagement, so we’re really focused on that. When I found your podcast, I was like, “Wow, here’s a guy who’s so into this stuff.” Just like us! It was just awesome to come across you. I want to get into your experience and expertise, yourself, and also what you’ve found out from interviewing guests around engagement. And perhaps we can start with just a question around engagement tools, like Periscope, or Blab, or whatever. How do you see increasing engagement with external tools for online courses? What’s working? What are you seeing in the industry?

Tim Cooper : I think for online instructors the platform of choice is Blab. I did discover Periscope before I discovered Blab, because Periscope came into being a couple of months beforehand. The problem with Periscope … Periscope has definitely gotten it’s place as well, Periscope though, it’s only going to be you on camera, and then people can put comments in. So you can do a Q&A or a short tutorial, and that sort of stuff. So it’s quite good, and then you can save that to your camera roll and then upload that as content for you course.

You can also … one thing I did do with Periscope with my background in working with elite athletes, and I help out at a local AFL football club here, so I took my camera into the change rooms, and I actually had my son hold it while I was strapping up the ankles, and preparing the athletes to go into the field. And so we had people coming in from Turkey and that sort of stuff, and watching me do the strapping in, and we were changing the camera angle, and they’re asking questions. So, for interactive, depending on what you’re teaching, say if you’re a PT, or a yoga instructor, or something like that, and you’ve got to show a technique like cooking, I’ve got a friend who’s a PT who demonstrates cooking over Periscope.

As far as engagement there is concerned, it’s absolute magic, but I think if you’re just going to do talking head type stuff, I think Blab is even a more powerful tool, because then you’re coming into a conversation, and you can bring people on, like I run my podcast episodes, my interviews, around my podcast interviews by Blab as well, and I invite my podcast audience to come along. So what will happen is I’ll put on my website my upcoming interviews and invite them to come along live and type their questions in, so we can actually, yourself guys, when you’re doing a podcast you’re talking out there to the universe, and you don’t really know, you’re getting no direct feedback. You might get some comments after you post, but you’re not getting that, you don’t know whether actually you’re right hitting the nail on the head, so to speak, whereas if you bring that across onto Blab, and you’re interviewing, you can have your audience asking questions in the sidebar that you can actually address as part of the interview, and that’s really, really powerful.

Blab opens up a whole new world for online instructors, we can do hot seat coaching, it’s a free product, you can access it from your phone, but the thing you have got to remember with Blab is that there is no possibility of privacy, so whatever you do on there it’s open to the world. Which isn’t a bad thing either, because then people say, to get known as an instructor, and for people to get a feel for you, you should put out a free course. Well Blab is a free course, so people can come on, they can listen to you speak, they can get a feel for you, they can get a feel for your depth of knowledge, your style, everything else, get to know if they like you or not, and then you can promote your courses, or send them to links that they can then go on and find some more information from you. It’s a great way to engage. Since I put up my Blab for online instructors course, I’ve seen a lot of new to me instructors embracing Blab, and it’s exciting stuff.

Christopher Badgett: That’s awesome, and just to dovetail under that, we’ve been using a service called Zoom for private meetings, it’s kind of like a tool that’s just, in our opinion, a little better than GoToMeeting, so if privacy is your concern, you can use a tool like that to have a closed group. But, I love how you’re saying, we’re all about moving the free line, and if you can do that by having your Blabs be publicly accessible, what a great content marketing effort. And just for people who haven’t used it yet, Blab has four seats, I think, where you can have people’s video feeds on, and you can claim a seat, so you can also, not only, get questions from the audience typed in, but someone can actually come on camera and be there with you and hyper-engage and ask questions like that. I love the idea about the way to do the podcast, so maybe we’ll be shifting how we do LMScast too, so thanks for that tip.

Joshua Millage: What I’m excited about is, I think, that there is lot of opportunity for people to use these tools to just scale that human touch. I mean, we talk about that a lot, Chris, and how we can use gamification and things to make what a teacher would do in a class, like, “Hey, pay attention.” Or, “Get on with this course.” And “Here’s a little gold star.” We can mimic some of that, but one of the challenges in that is always mimicking that back and forth, that spontaneous conversation, that body language. And so what’s exciting to me is to see teachers using that technology to take that aspect of the in-person classroom and bring it online, and I’m really excited. I’ve looked at Blab a little bit, but I guess I didn’t realize that you can actually have this. I’ve done Periscope, and that’s been a lot of fun, and I’ve seen a lot of people, more in the info marketing world, really attached to that. But I love to see and hear from you guys, what Blab is doing for the educator. That’s really huge.

Tim Cooper : I’m almost, I’m still playing with Blab as a format for my podcast. It’s now my podcast is starting to blow out to a year and a half. As Chris said, you can actually then bring somebody into a seat and have a discussion. What I’ll do for the formal part of the interview, just to keep things nice and clean, I’ll have those extra seats locked out, so it’s only me and my guest, so people can then type and be interactive that way, but they can’t sort of just jump in and distract and take us off topic, because we want get our information out. And then at the end we do open up the seat, and we invite people to come in, and they have a chat, and it’s awesome. I’m still waiting, most people say they like the formatting that’s flowing after an hour and a half. I’m asking whether we just keep the interview to one episode, and then, say later on in the week, have the hot seat, coaching and that sort of stuff, as a separate one at the end of the week.

I think what we’re talking about here, is turning presentation into education, and we find that the, just putting up an online course, my experience is teaching in the workplace, and workshops, classroom, face-to-face type stuff. For me, putting stuff up onto a video, it’s fine. But when you’re face-to-face, and you say something, you can tell straight away whether they get it or not, like if their eyes roll and they’re head, and they start, and they go, well I’ve got to put this another way. This is another thing that we’ve got to think about as online instructors, especially when we know that now we’re online, and our courses are going around the world, and they’re being consumed by people whose, maybe their first language isn’t English, and we make assumptions that people understand what we’re saying, and then even if we, typing into, like if they ask a question by email or whatever else, and we type back again, we’re making assumptions that we’re being understood. And often we’re not. Whereas, we know straight away in a conversational sense, we can really help and guide persons through to their learning objective, which as instructors, that is our job, to provide them the objective that they came to our course to receive.

Joshua Millage: That’s phenomenal, I love that. What are some of the ways that, have you seen should I say, seen people use this in a linear course, where they’re doing different lessons and at some point, they have like, and now it’s time to get on a Blab call. Like are people using it in courses, or are they using it more as a supplement to courses? What are some of the standard formats people are using Blab for?

Tim Cooper : I think basically because due to the privacy issue on Blab, you wouldn’t put your premium material up there, because as I said, anyone can get it, and I think if somebody has paid a premium price for a course, they get a little bit upset if general public can jump into a Blab and get some units for free, so we see it mainly as a coaching tool, as a, a way course, students, so you can say, “Come on, let’s have a Q&A, do an ask me anything session,” or whatever else, so it’s definitely at this stage, supplemental.

In all honesty, I can only ever see Blab as being supplemental. I like the idea, and this is where I want to take my future courses, I’m sort of in this transitional period, where I want to actually, I’m going to talk to you guys later about Lifter, but I want my courses to be sort of webinar/live presentation, so there’s an enrollment, we run a course that goes, say, 6 weeks, it’s a weekly live presentation, obviously they record it, and then people can access the recording. Then the next people who come along can access the recordings from the previous course, but they still have that interaction. That’s the way I want to go now, I don’t just want to put up a video course, and cross my fingers, hope for the best, I really want to sort of engage and be part of the learning experience with my students, and make them accountable, because then they’re on the call, and I can go, “Well have you done it?” Right? C’mon.

Christopher : Yeah, we talk a lot about the little dirty secret of membership sites, being, that there’s all this focus on getting the sale, putting the content behind a pay wall, but the dirty little secret is a lot of people don’t finish courses, or engage with the courses, and we want to attack that problem, I mean you may never get 100% success, but some of the numbers out there are low, like if I login into my Udemy account, and I look at what lesson course people are on, it’s surprising how many people haven’t taken the first lesson, you know, that’s for some paid courses, but it’s definitely worse with the free courses.
Joshua Millage: Yeah, it’s really, really important, I think, to make sure, I always talk about this behavioral art that happen where people, they’re so motivated right away, you have this, like almost, this sometimes not even, 24 hour window, where you can get them to do some things. I don’t think course creators spend enough time there, in getting people to do some things to get that momentum, reward them some badges if you have gameification, to really get them down the road, so that it’s harder for them to leave, because they feel like they’ve already accomplished something. We’re not designing courses in that way.
Some of the old info marketers, actually did that really well. I think Evan Peggen did that really well back in the day. He would always have the long, really long, like 90 minute presentation, right immediately, and it’s like, “Yea, okay.” I just paid 10 grand, or something, of course I’m going to do that. Then it was like back to back to back quick start modules, and then it was like one a week, but that trailed perfectly, this, I have a hyper-engaged, then over the course of the next few weeks, I’m probably not that engaged, but I can still probably get a 20 minute presentation done once a week, his retention and his success rate was insane because he understood that human behavior patterns.
What’s exciting to me, is if you think about organizing a course this way, then supplementing that with a Blab or Periscope to check in, to get that in classroom, you can kind of give people that punch in the ribs, or kick in the butt, to like, “Get back in it.” How many, asking live, how many people hit the heart symbol on Periscope, is, because that’s what I’m familiar with, is like, “Hit the heart symbol if you completed lesson 10 yet.” And no hearts, and it’s like “C’mon!” You can have that kind of coaching mentality and vibe and send that across the air waves, and so, it’s really exciting. I think it’s really cool, I think people need to look at course design but also supplement with these types of really engaging platforms. I’m excited to see you, kind of, pioneering this, Tim. This is really exciting.
Christopher : Yes, we’re really on the bleeding edge when it comes, and it is very, very exciting times, and people think, everybody is on a course on this and that, and I wonder what course I can’t get in, it’s too late, well it’s not, online education is still very much in its infancy, and we can see why the tools that are available, the tools are still very much in development, so we are in a very, very exciting time when it comes to teaching online with what’s coming our way, but I do agree that engagement has to be woven into the fabric of the entire course, and that is from your content, to your delivery, then to your ongoing supplemental stuff, because basically if you’re not teaching something that people want to learn, because the other big mistake people fall into, is they teach what they want to teach, and not what people want to learn, and just to paraphrase a very common statement into a course, a good course will overcome all marketing, but great marketing will never sell a poor course. So right from the very conceptual stages, you got to make sure you’re hitting your marker. Have your avatar, and also make sure, not only are you connecting with your students but can your students connect and relate with you. So it goes through the entire process of design, right from concept.
Christopher : That’s awesome.
Joshua MIllage: That’s so true. So true, and it’s funny, I just experienced that. I take online courses like crazy. I mean, I would say, I don’t have an addictive personality, except when It comes to education, and a recent one that I took was a course by, or I just started it actually last week, and he’s a guy, it’s a personal development course from a guy named [inaudible 00:15:58] whose about meditation, and breathing techniques, and all these things. You’re so right, his marketing was, not really, I mean, it was horrible, pretty much. Even his course structure, he was using the old Kajabi from like two years ago, which is interesting, he must have, I don’t know he found that, because I know Kajabi has a new platform now, but I didn’t care. His delivery, who he was, how he presented things, and the content he was sharing was actually giving results, and every single touch point.
I didn’t care, and I’m someone who generally has no tolerance for really bad design that way, but he was just an incredible teacher, and that’s actually something that, you know, at code box, or, we have some things that we’re planning in the next… I’m sorry, Lifter and CodeBox, both are companies that are looking towards the future of creating some really cool training around how to teach online. Which, just because you can teach in person, doesn’t mean you’re going to come across the same way online. There’s a lot of things to consider. I think it’s something that is often overlooked and underrated. People are just like, I’ll flip on the webcam, and I’ll be fine. It’s and like, no, there’s a lot of other aspects to think about.
Tim Cooper : That’s so true. I’ve experienced that, transitioning from live, face to face, is totally different, and it doesn’t matter how well you know your material and everything else, getting in front of a camera, and not having, and imagining you’re talking to that one student is totally different then standing up in front of a classroom, and just sitting with your, like you soon know in a classroom whether you’ve got their attention, you soon know in a classroom whether you are explaining the subject that they can understand.
It’s immediate, now online training is very, very different, and there are people who have a fantastic knowledge of something, but when it comes to getting in front of the camera, they can not relate it, and I just actually sent a message to Udemy instructor yesterday because I was on the couch yesterday with a bit of bronchitis, I was catching up on some courses and I chewed through this course in… I had it on, one and a half, or two times speed, but I just chewed through it and I sent him a message back, after leaving him a five star review, and I said, “Mate, you know there are courses that are a real struggle to get through, regardless of how good the information is, as a student, it’s a job, it’s a chore to actually get through it. Then there’s courses where you just jump from lecture to lecture to lecture, and the instructor is giving something of himself, and he’s just dragging you along with his excitement, and his passion, and you’re on a journey and then you hit that last lecture, and you’re actually dissapointed. You’re going, “What… It’s over.” And that’s what his course was like, and then there’s other courses where you think, “Oh my god, look I really need to learn this but… ugh”
Joshua MIllage: Can’t get through it, yeah, you struggle. It’s really cool, it’s a good point. So what else on your hot list Chris, I know that you’ve got your… Chris is like the best Q&A guy in the world, he’s got mad interviewing skills.
Christopher : I guess, what’s a gem you can bring from your Podcasting experience from one of the people you’ve interviewed that really, you thought was real good nugget of wisdom around engagement?
Tim Cooper : Well, you know, that’s interesting, because I’ve probably spoken to a lot of people on my Podcast that they’re engagement, and there’s been so many gems. That’s a good question. We’ll have to put the video on pause. I think the …
Christopher : Or a theme, if it’s just everybody’s just talking about engagement, like what kind of theme, from many people…
Tim Cooper : Well let’s be civil, now engagement works at every level of the course, you know right from concepts through to caring for you students, and the Q&A afterwards, I did interview Alexa Fisher who is a actually an actress, she was on quite a few popular TV shows and everything else, and now she teaches people how to present, and how to speak, and I suppose, now, it was presence on camera, and engagement, one thing, is when you, see, I’m doing it all wrong here, because I’m actually looking at you guys, but I should be looking straight into that camera, and talking to the camera, and that’s one thing; and so a really, really, good tip, is if you’re using your iPhone to do your courses, because these days the camera’s on these phones are amazing, and I actually use my Samsung S6 to film a lot of stuff, to remind yourself to look into the camera and smile.
Get one of those little sticky notes, and get a hole punch, and punch a hole through it, and then put the hole sort of over the camera, and draw a smiley face. Just so that you know where the camera is on the, because once the camera is set back a bit, you’re going, “Where is that little, that tiny, tiny, little hole where the camera is again?” That’s obviously if you’re using the front camera so you can frame yourself, and then that small thing so that when you’re talking to, talk into the camera, and also don’t script, but prepare, there is a difference, like people say that it’s not to script, and that’s true, it’s not good to script, but have an opening, a closing, and three of four points that you want to discuss within, and know what you want to say before you say it, and maybe even practice a little bit. But don’t prepare a script, so on engagement, speak clearly, slowly, and remember that for a lot of your audience, English isn’t their first language.
Christopher : Mm-hmm (affirmative) Yeah that is… really good point, really good point, well is there, I know it’s hard, it’s like picking your favorite children or whatever, but if an LMS cast listener is going to come over, what is a good episode to start with on your Podcast, and could you say the name of it again?
Tim Cooper : Yeah, okay, the Podcast is called the Online Course Coaching Podcast, formerly known as the E-Course Domination Podcast, and you can find all the episodes at the Ecoursedomination.com website, look, yeah, there’s been so many great guests, it’s very, very difficult. I think starting out though the last interview I did was with a gentleman called Rob Cubbon, and it was more a general getting started, and sort of building your audience and, because he’s very, very successful, but he already had a large audience before he went onto YoutoMe and he said having his list was really a big help, and really a big put up when it came to becoming successful with his online courses. Also, to come back to where [inaudible 00:23:09] and in this Podcast, it’s an old Podcast, but it’s like an author writing a book, and so he writes a book, and then he publishes it, and then he starts smashing everywhere [inaudible 00:23:21] and social media saying, “Buy my book.” And people say, we don’t even know, why should I buy your book?
What he should have done is he should have had his blog, he should have been building his relationships, and he probably could have got some information from his book from his blog and everything else, but the point is he that you want to build you audience, and it’s very important to build you audience, and so, in this last interview with Rob Cubbon, we go through the starting point, from starting your blog, building your list, and then your content, whether you’re going to start accrediting your video courses [inaudible 00:23:58] or whether you’re going to start writing Kindle books, Rob did it the other way around, Rob actually wrote Kindle books, and then he wrote, then he did his courses. We’re talking about re-purposing the material, so our slideshows, and presentations, and how we can weigh it, and how we can repurpose everything, so as a general [inaudible 00:24:17] that’s a probably a really good place to start. It’s my latest interview with Rob Cubbon.
Joshua Millage: That’s great.
Christopher : I actually just listened to that one yesterday, and another cool thing about that episode, is he has cataloged his income reports over time, and I went and I looked at his, you can see this is how much he makes in Udemy over the past, I think he started in 2012. You need to see the journey from a financial perspective, because we’re big believers that it’s about creating impact and engagement, but it’s also about creating income, you got to build a real smart business because it’s a lot of work to put together and maintain courses and attract new customers, and so on. So that was cool to see Rob’s journey over time.
Joshua MIllage: Absolutely. One thing, I have a question actually about that, so he wrote Kindle books to build his email list? Then he pushed them to a course, that was kind of his progression?
Tim Cooper : I believe so, I didn’t actually ask that question but, yeah, the books came first, and he did say it was to build his list. He’s got quite a large list, yeah, and then the question was asked, I can’t remember a question about his income reports and what he publishes, and a question was asked, where does he get the most, his most income from, and he said, “Well, undoubtedly, Udemy.” Then we had to look back and go, backtrack a bit and have a look at Kindle, and in that first 10% of the Kindle book you’ve got a link back to your Udemy courses, so Kindle a big traffic driver to the courses, so even though he’s probably even, or making a loss on Kindle, it’s driving the audience over to his courses, so it’s a given type.
Joshua MIllage: That’s wonderful. That’s cool, well we’re kind of coming to the end of the interview, and I’m curious, Tim, what is something you have as a success ritual, or mantra, or mindset, or maybe a quote that motivates you as an online educator. Is there any thing like that that inspires you?
Tim Cooper : Whatever it takes is my mantra.
Joshua MIllage: That’s good, that’s really good.
Tim Cooper : Do whatever it takes.
Joshua MIllage: That’s good.
Christopher : That’s awesome. I want to pull one more out of you Tim. That I heard on, I’m going to butcher it, then if you could tell me what you said, on this episode, of it might have been awhile ago, but you said, you addressed the question of someone wondering why they’re not making money online from products. Do you know the quote I’m talking about? It had something to do with not having enough products online? You referenced a famous internet marketer, you were addressing the issue, people get frustrated sometimes and wonder why it’s not working, or getting started. Do you remember that quote?
Tim Cooper : I do remember the quote, but I’m just trying to think, that was awhile ago, but yeah, it was coming down to that to succeed you’ve got to have more than one product, if you’re not making enough money, then you don’t have enough products. It was a long time ago.
Christopher : It was awhile ago. It just stuck with me because it was like, yeah you’re right, a lot of people, it’s easy to have the dream, I’m going to get my course out there, but sometimes you got to make a lot of courses, or you got to make that first course that maybe isn’t great. But you have to start.
Tim Cooper : A lot of the times, our first courses aren’t great, I’m not saying they’re horrible, I just said the other day, I looked back at course I did 12 months ago, the audio in it is absolutely horrific, and that was using a microphone recommended by Udemy at the time, and obviously so technology has come a long way as well. You just got to get out there, and every time it’s like everything, the more you do something the better you’re going to get, it is a progression. If you’re not making enough money, you don’t have enough courses, you don’t have enough products, you’ve just got to keep on producing. It’s very, very rare that someone produces the ultimate course, and then goes away and makes a seven figure income from it.
Joshua MIllage: So true, that’s so true. Well, Tim, if people want to get in contact with you, what’s the best way for them to do that?
Tim Cooper : Well the best way is obviously by email, and my email address is [email protected] or they can just go across to ecoursedomination.com there is a big purple button at the top right of that website they can go across to my [inaudible 00:29:01] they can actually follow that through to find my Blab profile, and follow me there, and then on that page we also have what’s coming up as far as the next upcoming interviews, and I’ve got a very exciting interview coming up in a weeks time, with a lady who went from being homeless to a seven figure earner, and she’s now understanding, she’s in the front runner to win some Tilstra, with Tilstra being the Telecom communication, she’s going to win some award for female entrepreneurship and that sort of stuff, so that’s an interview coming up next week.
Joshua MIllage: Wow, that’s really exciting. Well, Tim, thank you so much for coming on the show, I encourage everyone to go and check ecoursedomination.com now and your Podcasts and everything that you’re doing. We really appreciate you coming on the show here and chatting with our audience, and yeah, thanks again.
Christopher : Thanks Tim!
Tim Cooper: Thanks guys, been absolute pleasure. I love it. Yeah, thanks for having me on.

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