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September 5, 2021

Start Backwards To Build A Truly Transformative Course

"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.”  - Seth Godin

Learning to ride a bike or juggle is a clear transformational journey - a person goes from the state of not being able to achieve an outcome to a place of being able to do so.

In the Disco Accelerator, we guide our participants as they map out a transformation map to help them see how they will move their learners into this place of a changed state. And the framework we use is that we start with the end state in mind and design backwards. We help our creators explore different ways they can reverse engineer the outcome they want to provide and then decide how they can best get their learners there within the confines of their course parameters and the range of tools and levers.  

Among these are the Build Project, the community feedback loop, cultivating (and not stealing!) the Aha moment, the signals your course sends, and the tactics and the templates on pre-work and post work that help operationalize the day to day of the transformational journey.

The Build Project

The architecture of the Disco Accelerator's transformational journey is profoundly influenced by Seth Godin who, as the founder of altMBA (the first online live cohort based courses to delivering a 97% completion rate), we think of as the “the OG of the cohort-based course and an online learning pioneer.” He’s a powerful advocate for the principle “...that we become what we do. And that means do things. Do things. Do things.” 

The Build Project is the anchor component of this principle. It means building micro-milestones and projects throughout the experience that are designed to reinforce the skill by immersing and engaging the learner in practicing.  As the course creator, the objective is to create the conditions that lead to this doing. When this happens and how all varies. In some sessions the doing happens before class and the live class time is spend in sharing and discussing. In others the doing happens during the session. 

The Community Feedback Loop

One reason pre-recorded online learning classes fail to deliver the promised transformation (they have a 97% drop out rate) is that there’s no community to either provide accountability or feedback. 

In contrast, what makes the online cohort based course so effective and exciting is the ability to leverage direct live expert input and peer to peer feedback. For course creators, it becomes incredibly powerful to understand when and how to best foster these connections. There are numerous ways to integrate live feedback into the course design including: pre-course work, post course follow up, peer review work sessions, shared build projects, presentations .  

Cultivating The Aha Moment

A transformational journey isn’t about conveying information, it’s about helping other people uncover what they need to see so they can go on a transformative journey.

As the creator, the goal is to create the conditions for the revelation and then we let the student discover the revelation and have the fulfillment of connecting the dots themselves.  As Seth Godin reminds us, “if we let the student discover the revelation, they will never forget it.” He compares the transformational journey to the Wizard of Oz.

"The story starts with this person from out of town coming down and killing a woman and then eventually killing the witch. That's not really what it's about, right? It's about a young woman who first ends up in a cohort, the first 10, 20 minutes of the movie are nothing about her joining a cohort. And then it becomes about her learning to see, about her learning to see relationships and only at the end, she discovers that all along, she had the ruby slippers. That's what we're doing here."

Signal The Transformation Ahead

The length of the course, the price, and the size of the cohort - all of these are signals to your target audience about the level of transformation that is being offered and helps them frame their thinking on the experience ahead.

A higher price point signals a more significant transformative experience and generally correlates to an expectation of increased access and expert creator access. Signals are essential to attracting the kinds of learners looking for the transformation that you are offering. 

The Transformation Is In The Details

By starting backwards and focusing on the end point, creators can build the roadmap to take their learners on this journey. This includes all of the daily details that need to be considered for this transformation to happen.

Our Accelerator program uses Disco templates and frameworks to help facilitate this process and to build out the optimal experience for their course. 

Building a course alone is difficult - if you are struggling with any of these issues or questions, come join us at Disco