How to Avoid DIY Learning Products that Flop

course creator learning consulting learning development Nov 09, 2021

Real talk: we've all seen Pinterest fails or recipe flops and nearly died of laughter. Why? Because DIY projects are often much harder than they look.

The same goes for learning products. Just like it's easy to scroll through Pinterest and be overly confident in your abilities, it's easy to look at a learning product and think 'I can totally do that.'

But the difference between a failed Pinterest tutorial and a flopped learning product is massive. If your DIY Pinterest project fails, you have an entertaining story and photo.

But if your DIY learning product flops, you have a product that doesn't actually help your learners.

I see this as the core problem with most learning products in the market (& on the internet) today. They're all DIY projects without expert advice — and it shows. Let's break this down: what's the issue, why does it matter, and what should you do to avoid it.

Before I dive too deep, let me take a moment to stress that I'm not critical of all DIY learning products. I'm critical of the DIY learning products that aren't effective, don't work for audiences, & undermine the reputation of whoever created the product & eventually undermine the reputation of our entire market.

Wait, what is a learning product?

Learning products come in more shapes & sizes than women's clothing which claim to be a size "12." Unlike in the fashion industry, there are very valid reasons for the variety of forms of learning products. Everyone creates — and should create! — learning products with their own format based on the content and in the context of the student's needs.

Typically, learning products can be online digital courses, memberships, coaching programs, live training delivered by a coach or a consultant, executive training sessions, corporate workshops, etc, etc, etc, — the list goes on. Basically, if you're creating something to teach people something, you're likely working on a learning product.

So how do you create a learning product? Is it really that hard?

Definitions aside, the real core of learning products is their development process. And yes, it's a process! We've developed the BOOST Method of learning design for exactly this purpose. The BOOST Method is a rigorous process based on background research on the needs of the learner in the areas of skill, knowledge, confidence, and mindset.

First, you have to clearly define the outcomes of your learning product. You have to ensure that learners experience a clear journey from point A to point B — & that this journey fits your learning model.

Then you have to realize that not every learner has the same desired outcome and that your learning can't be one-size-fits-all. After all, every learner approaches a common outcome from a different skillset, experience base, confidence level, and mindset.

And of course, as you're doing all this, you have to create a system of accountability & measurable success that has celebration moments & gamification to keep students motivated, enjoying your program, and recognizing their progress. Without these pieces, you can't ensure the success of your learning product.

Oh yes, within this, your learning product needs to use adult learning principles and appropriate learning activities to support the intended learning.

As you're figuring out these learning activities, you also have to figure out which technology to use. Various education technologies — known as Learning Management Systems or Content Management Systems — are widely available & rapidly expanding. Each technology has its own buffet of bells and whistles that may or may not be necessary for you.

Did I mention you also have to test this all out & iterate? And don't forget, while you're piloting your learning product, you need to intentionally collect feedback & testimonial. If you let this feedback opportunity go to waste, you'll regret it. Pilots are a special time for solidifying the success of your learning product going forward.

And that's just a brief overview of the full process. In summary, creating a high-quality learning product is hard.

Why is hiring out your learning product design beneficial?

Designing a learning product with a thorough method takes a ton of time. However long you're thinking it takes, yeah, double that. For every 1 hour of finished learning, expect to spend 40 hours on the research, design, editing, revising, testing, & delivery.

That's a lot, my friend. I don't know a single CEO who has that time to build a learning product for themselves. But I know a lot of CEOs who think they have the time for this. For entrepreneurs, this becomes a gray area — you're putting so much effort into exploring or creating a learning product that the rest of your work begins to waver.

And if you're thinking that this doesn't apply to you because you have a team of people working on your learning product, think again. Your team may be absolutely wonderful, but they're probably not skilled in adult learning theory. Your team probably isn't a group of learning experience designers or instructional designers or education developers.

Collaborating on the learning product strategy with an expert can be immensely beneficial for developing a high-quality learning product while saving you time, money, & effort.

To put it differently, you wouldn't try to code a new DIY SAAS product or manufacture a DIY electronic device without being trained or skilled in that area. The same goes for learning products. DIY isn't always the best path to success.

Hiring a skilled, trained learning strategist will take the guesswork out of everything. They can guide the project, provide effective designs, connect you with skilled developers, and work with your team to gather the intellectual property that’s the bedrock of your new product. You provide the students and they will help you create and test the learning and tweak it based on feedback.

How do you think big companies do it? They hire learning designers.

If you're a CEO, you know that you need to spend money to make money in the business world. If you're considering developing a learning product, it's time to consult with a learning specialist.

That's where Boost LD comes in. We would love to work with you & help you bring your idea to life in an effective, engaging way.

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