Ultimate Course Creation Framework Series: Step 5 – Designing Your Digital Classroom

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Today’s LMScast with Joshua Millage and Chris Badgett covers the final step of the Ultimate Course Creation Framework series. Step 5 – Designing Your Digital Classroom brings the previous 4 steps together into a complete approach to online course success.

So far you’ve made a Rapid Enrollment list, found the Magical Education Intersection, pre-sold a Collaborative Course, and learned How To Teach Online. Now as you complete this mini-course you’ll find a variety of options available to you. The tendency is to over complicate by focusing on technology, but in reality your classroom is essentially an email inbox.

No matter how far you take your online course development it’s best to seek the simplest solution possible. Technology is always secondary to content and instruction. Your primary task is to be the best teacher you can be. Start with simple lessons sent via email, then expand into Skype sessions, a Facebook group, or a Google Hangout forum. It’s all about the conversation between you and your students.

You’ll progress through 3 stages of growth beginning with your collaborative course, followed by the email mini-course, which leads to the evergreen course. The mini-course option offers the opportunity to further test your content and generate new leads. It’s a great way to build rapport and encourage students to progress into your complete evergreen course, as they know exactly what they’re getting before they buy.

An evergreen course is a complete eLearning experience supported by a learning management system. The key is to make it easy for you to manage. That’s where the LifterLMS development platform plugin for WordPress excels. You can build a polished, professional, scalable course, market it, sell it, deliver it, and track your students’ progress all within a centralized system.

You can’t deliver your best instruction if you try to appeal to everyone. Your teaching style and personality are your greatest assets, so strive to attract the right students and actively discourage the rest. Target your niche and direct all your energy to them. Be yourself all the way. You’ll end up with a loyal group of learners who resonate with you and with each other.

The capacity for meaningful interaction through the internet is proven. With Step 5 – Designing Your Digital Classroom you’ll learn to create an online learning experience that’s real. Sign up for the Ultimate Course Creation Framework series at CourseClinic.com, or text the word “courseclinic” to 33444 and we’ll send you Step 1 – Rapid Enrollment. And try a demo of LifterLMS to see how our course development platform works.

Post comments and 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: All right. Hello, Everyone, welcome back to another episode of LMScast. Today is the final video in our Ultimate Course Creation Framework series. If you’re jumping in on video 5, that’s awesome, we’re so glad to have you, but make sure that you jump into the course itself, which can be found at lifterlms.com/courseclinic … or if you’re listening to us on your iPhone or Android device, you can just text us the word, “courseclinic” to #33444, and we’ll get you enrolled in that course right away. It’s a very simple, five-part, email delivered, mini-course around how to build a online course that people actually want to take. It helps you mitigate all risk around creating a course that no one wants to take, ’cause no one likes that.

Today is video 5, and it’s kind of tying everything together, and it’s called: Designing Your Digital Classroom.

Let me walk through where we’re at and kind of the progression so far. We started out by focusing in on developing a potential student interest list of 100 people or more. Then we went through and found the magical education intersection point, where our expertise and what we can teach has matched what our students want to learn. We found that sweet spot. Then we’ve jumped into the collaborative course process and pre-sold a high-leverage, high-interaction kind of coaching program with between 5-10 people … and we’ve worked with those people.

We’ve thought about ways that we can teach online better and make sure that we’re addressing the needs of our audio learners versus our visual learners versus our kinesthetic learners. Then today we’re going to wrap it all together and talk about the classroom, the actual place where the education happens. This looks a lot differently depending on your goal.
Chris, in your mind, what are the different levels of classroom and when do we enact them?
Chris: Well, we’re going to get into the technology and a lot of it … some if it depends on your resources, but there’s definitely … you don’t have to over complicate it. There’s definitely, at various steps, there’s various types of things you need. In the very beginning, when you’re just building your email list, you’re just, essentially, you need a place to collect that email to start getting to that 100 people, which might just be your inbox. We’re starting with your inbox as where the conversation or the classroom starts, if you will.
It’s going to slowly graduate up through the layers of technology and as people progress up, I always advise people to always go with the simplest solution possible. Content and education first, technology second. Keep the technology lightweight. Try not to over complicate things. Then as we move up … as we get into … we’ve got our 100 people, we want to start with the Facebook group and the Google Hangout.
You’ve seen that before, what’s that all about?
Joshua: Absolutely, well I’ll break it down. I think we’re going to talk about 3 different buckets of classrooms. There’s the bucket of collaborative course, which is like … there’s no real course created yet, you’ve got this instinct around, like, I know that students want to learn this, they’ve paid me for it. The question then is how do I deliver it? People get really tripped out, man, they’re like, “Ah, I’ve got to get all this crazy technology.” It’s like, “No you don’t. You actually … when you’re …”
Chris: You need a conversation.
Joshua: You need a conversation. You need to have a couple … you need to deliver that coaching over the course of a month or two months or whatever you decide. You don’t need more than, maybe, Google Hangouts or Skype and a Facebook group. You want to place for interaction to happen one-on-one or one to a group. A place to house a continuing conversation that’s not based on time or whatever … just an archival place. You don’t need much more than that. People trip out and they stress out and they go, “I need a WordPress site.” “I need this! I need that! I need this and that!” No, no, you don’t.
I think when you’re starting out and you’re really in those early stages of developing that course, I tell people, “Forget about technology,” actually, which is funny for me to say … funny for us to say, cause we develop and sell the technology for the people at the upper echelon. At the beginning stages, you don’t need it. I mean, you think back to the great teachers, like, Plato, Aristotle, Jesus Christ … you go down the line, Buddha, whatever … they didn’t have a classroom. It was them in front of their student on a rock, or wherever.
You’re at that level, it doesn’t … if you don’t have the technology it doesn’t mean you can’t be an amazing teacher. You just need to have that real intention and focus on learning.
Chris: For learning to happen, you just need a teacher and a student. That’s where it starts.
Joshua: Right, absolutely. Don’t lose track of that in the early stages. Make sure you focus on that, hit it home, have a great experience, decompress the experience with your students, and use those learnings to move into the next stages.
The next stage, to me, is … there’s kind of an in-between stage, it would be an email mini-course. You can use that to continue to test content or you can use it as lead generation. I think it’s really important to have an email mini-courses if you’re teaching online, because someone who just found you on the web, found you through something … a Tweet or whatever … they don’t know you, they don’t have a relationship, so to move them into the purchasing phase, is a pretty big jump. If I met you in a coffee shop and you go, “I teach online Internet Marketing, you want to join my course? It’s $500.” I’d be like, “Dude, I don’t know you … no.” Chris Badgett … that doesn’t mean anything to me. There’s nothing … you’re just a dude.
Chris: We don’t have a relationship.
Joshua: Yeah, it feels shady. I don’t know you, I don’t like you, I don’t trust you. You need to provide some value. It’s very worn out to say “provide value and make sure that you’re focusing on value,” but it’s … I just look at it like, let’s take that off the table … how would you create a relationship with someone. I think a really … 3-parter … 5-part email course … let’s your student see you as a teacher. They get to experience your teaching. They get to experience your vibe, your personality. Don’t hold back on your personality either. You want your personality to repel as many people away from you as it attracts to you.
Chris: Your course is not for everyone.
Joshua: It’s not.
Chris: It needs to … I mean, it’s not like you have to make somebody upset, but your message should resonate, like a magnet, and then also deflect people. A really good example of that would just be … let’s say you’re doing a Vegan Cooking Show. That’s going to repel all the more meat-focused, omnivore people, or whatever. That’s okay. It doesn’t mean you don’t like meat eaters, you’re going for the vegans.
Joshua: That’s important. Here’s the thing … quick caveat … Red Bull is the most successful drink company, energy beverage company, I don’t think they’re more successful than Coke or Pepsi, but then again they’ve been around for a fraction of the time, but when they created their flavor profile, they wanted a flavor profile that 50% of people hated and 50% of people liked. Where, opposed to Rock Star and Monster, they wanted 70%/80% to like it and 20% to hate it, or whatever. They wanted the majority. What was brilliant about that is if you look at the size of a can, the price per ounce of Red Bull is astronomically more than Rock Star and Monster. The reason is they have a really focused group of people that love them and that kind of war against the people that hate them. That interaction created a lot of free buzz and got them out into the world.
Chris: That’s kind of like the Apple versus …
Joshua: Mac versus PC. Totally. You want to have this polarization effect. It’s not that you want to go out and create controversy, but you want to make sure that you’re you and that you’re not afraid to be you.
So, we’re digressing back into teaching, which I think is you’re huge passion …
Chris: I’ve got a good segue to bring it back. When we think about our digital classroom, we want people to show up and look around the room and be like, “Oh, these are my people.”
Joshua: These are my people. That’s a great point. Absolutely, so the email mini-course is important when you, I think, for the longevity of a course or training business, but after your … I added that in there as an in-between, maybe I actually will retract the statement in-between and say “optional,” because after you have the course created from the collaborative course process and you move into the Evergreen course … that in-between piece or the optional piece is more important for the longevity of selling that course, than it is right out of the gate. Say you have 100 people on your interest list, you launch to a handful, like a small portion of that group is going to join you for the … to co-create and then your Evergreen course, you can go back to that list and launch it and you’ll have more people buy then.
Then when you get into Evergreen course sales, then the email mini-course is important.
Let’s actually switch gears and really focus on what we know so much about, which is the Evergreen course.
Chris, I’m going to … you’ve done so many of these. What is an Evergreen course, first and foremost, and what are the essential things that you need to create one?
Chris: Now you’ve done your market research, you’ve done your early stage stuff with your early people, and you’ve got it. Now you’re ready for a platform. When we say “Evergreen,” it can be passive or it can be active. Just because we’re using the word “Evergreen,” it doesn’t mean you couldn’t like open it and then shut it down and then move through people one step at at time. Or you could just have this continuous passive income kind of thing going on based on the content and your systems, but that’s up to you. You can blend that stuff together.
In order to do all of that, you need to make it easy with a web property to power that engine … to power that classroom. That’s why we created LifterLMS, which his a WordPress LMS plugin that you can interface into a WordPress site and have your classroom. WordPress is an amazing eco system so you can extend it, you can keep it really simple, you can use third party stuff and maintain groups elsewhere. For example, we recommend a service called Zoom to use for video chat rooms and live group meetings and stuff like that. It could be integrated with your learning management system. Now we’re dealing with a more professional, polished, sustainable classroom that has a foundation under it to allow you to sell your courses, deliver your material, keep students organized.
Then we have other integrations that come off of that to … like our MailChimp integration for email marketing or our Strivent integration so you can collect credit cards directly on your website for access to your classroom. Now you’re kind of at the pro level, you have something, you want to grow that classroom, whether its all built around one class, which could be your area of expertise, down to a finite point … nothing wrong with that … or you could have multiple classes, multiple teachers, and get into a bigger model.
That’s that learning management system. That’s what that’s all about. You’ve graduated up to that.
Joshua: Yeah, and I would say that … I’ll break down a few things that I would really want to talk to and address. I go through these in more detail in the course, so make sure you go and enroll in that if you haven’t already, but make sure that you own your content, because your content is your business. Regardless of what platform you’re on, and this is why I’m biased and I love WordPress, is that I own it all. I own every single thing in that site. If you’re going to another platform, you might not have that experience.
You want to make sure you own your content and you have control over it. You want to make sure that you have some sort of way of seamlessly integrating an email auto respond-er. It’s a big no-no if you’re not … if your course isn’t helping build your list and you don’t … you can’t build … get those emails, just don’t even go there. That’s why I’m really against the Udemy’s and other platforms out there. I think after that you want to make sure that you have a great user experience and this is one of the things I think the people who are tracking us over at Lifter LMS are going to be really excited about is the themes that we are producing that run on top of Lifter, are really going to create a one of a kind learner experience that I haven’t seen on the web. In any platform, regardless of whether it’s hosted or not. That’s really important and I think we haven’t done the best that we could do yet. We’ve really focused on the engine to the car and now we’re creating the body of the car. Stay tuned on that.
I think assessment, if assessment is important, you want to make sure that you have tools that help you gauge student progress. This is less important when it comes to the soft touch courses. What I mean by that is maybe a dieting course. I don’t think that it’s … student success in a dieting course isn’t whether or not they scored well on the quiz, it’s whether or not they lost weight. You really got to be … I leave assessment lower on the list because it depends on what you’re teaching. It could be important, but you definitely want to have a way of, how am I going to track whether or not my student is successful. That needs to be a part of your classroom.
Then you want to make sure that whatever platform that you use has just all the multi-media stuff ready to go so that you can create video, that you can create audio, so you have the audio/visual kinesthetic. There’s other niche things that we can talk about, like drip content … I do think is important. Prerequistes, I do think is important. Just to be completely honest, all the things that I’m talking about, Lifter LMS does. If you’re looking for a platform and you’re interested in using WordPress to power your site, just head over to hhtps://www.LifterLMS.com, we’ve got a bunch of great information over there.
Those are the things that I would consider. Again, I go into a different level in the Ultimate Course Creation Framework, if you want to see what a really rock solid course looks like, that’s built on Lifter, you can just head over to https://www.demo.lifter.lms.com. Chris has put a demo together where he’s building a course using Lifter LMS and the course is around .. that’s very meta … it’s stacked … but it shows the power of the platform. I’m excited about that. There’s some huge names that use our plug in, like Yoast, over at Yoast SEO, has used it and a number of others.
Those are some of the things that I would really focus on when designing the digital classroom.
Chris: Let me just add … there’s a really big opportunity here, because if you think about how learning happens, it’s not always just maybe how you learned in a classroom with concrete walls and a teacher in front. Learning can happen any way.
If I was teaching cooking classes, I’d be with you in the kitchen and I would be talking about explaining what I’m doing … you’d be looking at it, you’d be seeing it, you might be doing it beside me. Maybe you’re doing it and I’m telling you what to do, but you can teach cooking over the internet. You’re going to have a different set of challenges, so think about how can you get the same benefits or as close to the experience as possible from being with me in the kitchen to being with me through a website, through the internet, and get that same kind of experience from a results level, from an emotional level, from a connection level, from the “it’s okay to make mistakes” level … all that kind of stuff. The closer you think about how to marry that in-person interaction and make it real, sort of like how Facebook is kind of like friends, but on the internet. The medium comes with it’s challenges, so think about that. That’s where the real brilliance is, is how do you take that one-on-one experience and then make it huge.
Joshua: Absolutely. That sums up the Ultimate Course Creation Framework. Thank you for taking … joining us through this series, the LMScast version, where we kind of wrap over everything. If you haven’t signed up for the course and you’d like to take it, it’s completely free. Just head over to https://www.lifterlms.com/courseclinic or just text us the word, “courseclinic” to #33444 and we’ll get you signed up and you can take that free training.
I know if you use it, too, you’re going to save yourself a lot of time, a lot of money, and a lot of frustration because you’re not going to build a course that you’ll hear the crickets chirp when you launch it. It’s actually going to have some gusto to it, because of the steps that I walk you through.
Chris, do you have any final thoughts for people who are going out there and going to teach the world?
Chris: I would just say there’s never been a better time with the technology and the opportunity and the demand for people to get the wisdom outside of you or for you to build a business around some kind of learning. Now is the time. That’s what we’re passionate about at Lifter LMS.
Come find us, come explore this podcast. If you’re new to the podcast, we’ve got a lot of great conversations around these types of things.
Joshua: Absolutely. Well, thank you so much for joining us. We will talk to you soon!

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