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September 5, 2021

Part 1 - Seth Godin on Transformative Learning Experiences

Seth Godin is the OG of the cohort-based course and an online learning pioneer - founder of altMBA, one of the first online live cohort based courses - renowned for delivering a 97% completion rate. Seth is also a 5x TED speaker and 20x bestselling author.


Last week Seth  joined our Disco Creator Sessions for a conversation on designing transformative learning experiences. The session was filled with profound insights and useful practical tools and tips for our Disco community.


This is Part 1 of 2 on our biggest takeaways from the chat. We share some of our favourite ideas Seth generously gifted us on creating transformative learning.


Seth Godin On Transformative Learning Experiences:


1. There is a massive difference between education, entertainment and learning:

"If the question is “will this be on the test?”, it is education, not learning.  If you’re passively consuming hours of your favourite creator teaching things - that is entertainment, not learning.  Riding a bike, learning to juggle now that IS learning. Why? Because it’s when people are eager to experience discomfort on the way to getting better at something. Hint: it's voluntary. We want to learn it.”


2. Voluntary enrollment is all that matters in online learning:


Online pre-recorded courses have a 97% dropout rate.  Learning solo is extremely hard and so when material becomes difficult (which it always does) people leave.

There's this huge drop off, because as soon as it's not funny, and since it's not easy, people are like oh, I'll go watch YouTube instead.” “[But with voluntary enrollment,] ...the eager student says, I know this is going to be hard. Please don't tell me the fast and easy way because it's not fast. And it's not easy. Please help me experience things. So on the other side, I come out transformed.”


3. Pricing Is really about a story:


Pricing a course is about more than revenue - it creates emotional enrollment that tells a story about your course and can be used to drive higher completion rates.  For instance when learners pay tuition per course versus a flat fee it leads to greater enrollment and higher completion.

“What I discovered was that I was the number one instructor on Skillshare for a while and you had to pay to take a Skillshare workshop and completion was very high. Then they switched to flat rate pricing and a lot more people started and very few people finished, the workshop was exactly the same. What had changed was, what did you feel like you had at stake.”


4. Actively learning with something at stake:


Seth and I share our love for a special place called Arowhon Camp where Seth credits he found his love of learning and teaching. It’s also where he refined his thesis on emotional enrollment and the power of building a community and cohort where learners matter to each other and feel accountable to the group.

"This would have been my 43rd summer up there, I have missed almost none. Everything that I am, at some level is a result of where I learned to teach and that's where I learned to teach.If you say to a 12 year old, this boat that's bigger than you, you're afraid of it, you can get in it and make it do what you want it to do. You can see the fear in their eyes. And you can see the moment. And if they enroll in the journey, two hours later, I will be able to help that person sit up straight, learn to breathe, control this thing and move it under their own power to a place and it changes people's lives.


5. Learning is about building community:

And the reason they continue is, because they're in community, the purpose of community is to create possibility when we confront the things that we are afraid of. “
“Because learning online is not how do I get someone to pay the tuition? It's how do I create a community so that there's social pressure and status rewards and affiliation for people who enroll.”


6. Sufficiency vs. infinity:

“There's a difference between infinity and sufficiency. And the internet tends to be about infinity. When sufficiency is actually what you need.Sufficiency is that 100 students would be enough. And I'm going to be really picky about who the 100 students are, that I'm going to be really clear that this isn't for everybody, but it might be for you. And one of the challenges of doing this for money or raising money from investors is they have an infinity mindset, you might have an infinity mindset if you're a course creator. And what I'm trying to pitch people on is, sufficiency is the best way, even to get to infinity. Because if you say it's enough, then you'll get there.”


7. Referral is the key to growth — it is built from trust

"If you can build a workshop that changes the lives of five people. Will they tell the others? And if they don't, then your workshops are not good enough. And if they do, then the trust will spread. The wrong question is how do I make my funnel big at the top. Rather think how do 10 people take it and tell 10 more people. For example, a friend wants to teach something about real estate development. I said get 100 students for the course. You're going to need more than a million people to watch your video on YouTube. The funnel is too steep. You need instead to say if I could change 10 people, would they each tell 10 people.”


Tomorrow, I will share our Part II: Top 10 "must haves" on how to create truly transformative cohort based courses that Seth so generously shared with us.


Watch our full session with Seth here 👇 and join us every Thursday for our Creator Sessions with creators, thought leaders and pioneers of learning.