When influencers become teachers

I recently heard something that I can’t stop thinking about, “I don’t attempt to predict the future. I’m just trying to understand the present first.”

When thinking about trends, what are the things happening today that very few people are paying attention to?

After thinking about this for some time I realized that some of the top influencers are more like teachers than whatever their actual profession is.

I haven’t heard anyone frame the rise of influencers from this angle yet. Over the past few years, we’ve seen a surge in informational products as the barrier to create and monetize them has went down.

There’s a course for almost everything you can think of:

  • Traditional college courses on: Khan Acadamey, Udemy, Coursera, etc…
  • Technical courses to learn specific skill sets: design, programming, excel, financial modeling, marketing, etc…
  • Courses for learning hobby based skills on Skillshare: how to paint, play the piano, sew, cook, fitness, etc…

One of the biggest problems that online courses face is retention and completion. Which makes sense because there’s very little social pressure for someone to actually finish a course they start.

The other problem that the first generation of “e-learning” was purely a copy of what happened in the classroom. Some teacher or professor recording themselves in front of whiteboard or speaking over slides. There’s very little engagement built in to the model.

On the other hand, we’ve seen a dramatic rise in the amount of people viewing content created by “influencers” on youtube and instagram. The content is typically the complete opposite of v1 e-learning. It’s engaging, colorful, and creative.

What if we enabled “teachers” to create content that looks and feels like something an influencer would make? These lectures would have interactive visuals, visible community chats, and actors that talk or demonstrate the technical material.

Would people be more likely to consume content and learn?

I believe the answer would be yes.

If we blend education with entertainment in ways people don’t recognize they’ll be more likely to learn new things.

We’ve already seen it in the past with shows like Sesame Street and Cyberchase. There were compelling stories about the characters in the show and they all managed to teach me something in the process.

I can’t wait for a future where edutainment is the norm.

Addition 12/17/19:

The future is already here, just not evenly distributed.”

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