June 6, 2015  • Arts Orgs

LogoThumb_v3Can you really learn online?  What about all I’ve read about the massive failure of MOOCs?  Will this be a waste of my money — even though it isn’t all that much?  And if it were really good, wouldn’t you be charging more? 

Great questions.  I’m so glad you asked.


Online Benefits

Believe it or not, online learning can be effective.  (Really!)  The benefits are pretty clear:

  • Low cost.  Think of this as the equivalent of a one-credit class in college or a three- or five-hour workshop.  It would be really hard to find an equivalent in-person session for $29 or $49.  Trust me.
  • Flexibility.  Want to work through the materials late at night?  Or first thing in the morning?  Or over the weekend?  You can do that.  In fact, you can save them forever and revisit them again whenever you want.  (Good luck doing that with materials from a live session.)

    Online Course: Budgeting
    Online Course: Budgeting
  • On-demand materials. Did I mention you can save the materials and revisit them whenever you want?  Even over and over again until something clicks?
  • Live chats.  Each Starting SmART course begins with a live call with Elaine and the other participants to review the course goals and the materials.  These calls are a great time to ask any questions you may have as well.
  • Coaching.  The online sessions are perfect segues to one-on-one coaching sessions with the instructor. Setting up Skype or online chatting sessions is a breeze.


Combating the Challenges

The challenges with online learning are also pretty well documented. Here’s how we build our Starting SmART courses to combat those challenges.

  • “Learning” instead of learning.  Sure, you can complete the course without doing much.  You can probably even complete the course without learning anything.  But that would be sad.  In an online learning world, no one is going to force you to learn.  By incorporating the kick-off call and several points within the course to receive feedback on your work, we enable you to feel connected to the group and the material, which we have found increases completion rates.  But really, the learning is up to you.
  • Isolation. Completing the materials on your own time can lead to some isolation. You won’t find yourself in a room full of people navigating the same challenges you face.  However, the Starting SmART courses designed by Minerva Financial Arts are built with the idea of community in mind.  At both the beginning and the end of each course, participants have an opportunity to introduce themselves to classmates and share contact information.  And you’ll be part of the community of learners who regularly connect with Elaine via social media.  There are some great conversations going on out there…
  • Absent instructors. Have you ever completed a course without knowing whether anything you did was reviewed?  This is not that.  Elaine’s approach is hands on.  Prior students say things like, “Elaine is the most valuable part of the course… She is excited to teach others about [these subjects].”  They go on.  “Elaine’s positivity and personality were my favorite part of the learning process.”

    Online Course: Portfolio Careers
    Online Course: Portfolio Careers
  • Motivation.  No one is going to force you to complete the course.  We’ll do all we can to help, but the motivation is entirely up to you.  However, once you get going, we suspect you’ll find your own motivation through the relevance of the materials.
  • Low completion rates.  This one really bothers me.  As of summer 2015, our courses have about a 60% completion rate, which far exceeds that of MOOCs.  (Hooray!)  But our program is very (very) new and I want to see a much larger sample size before we celebrate.  Stay tuned.


Why So cheap?

Great question.  First of all, it isn’t exactly cheap.  It’s affordable.  I don’t believe in gauging those I work with.  But I do incur costs associated with this program (hosting, development, marketing, support), and I want to make sure to cover those, plus earn enough to keep developing more courses and working with more clients.

We base our prices on the length of each course: $10 per hour-ish to complete. (And we end each price with a 9.  Because psychology.)  A course that should take you about three hours to complete will be $29; a five-hour course will be $49.  These courses can accommodate lots of people at once, so the more we “scale” (forgive the entrepreneurial term), the more we can keep our prices low without compromising quality.


Now What?

Now it’s up to you.  Subscribe to the newsletter to have first access to register for each course (we’ll kick off one each month, probably during the third week).  Monitor the Starting SmART page for the latest developments.  And let the learning begin.

Oh, and let us know if you are craving a particular topic… We’d love to build something great with you.  (Both the Pricing course and the Board Governance course were initiated by special request.  I promise, we listen!)


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