I concluded in my last post that content marketplaces – education and training marketplaces included – should never offer drastic discounts without any regard to the content lifecycle stages. In other words, don’t do discounting the way Udemy or Tareasplus have been doing it.
I once had a conversation with a founder of a leading CFO training company about allowing a known online delivery platform manage his content. He told me that his value proposition was different from that of the platform in question, and didn’t want his content to be “regularly discounted” as he was worried that would lead to erosion of his core customer base and his entire business.
It is quite difficult to expect a discount on music on Apple iTunes or movies on Netflix or Amazon Instant Video. Apple never discounts anything new directly on iTunes, and the only way to get a discount is via gift cards, which can sometimes be discounted at third-party distributors. Just as luxury retailers have a clearly isolated channel for discounted products, so does Apple.
Netflix may occasionally run discounts on annual or monthly membership payments as part of their user acquisition strategy. However this approach never directly affects the price of programming that the service provides. Because Netflix redistributes revenues to content providers based on views, the brands of film studios are well shielded from any pricing incentives Netflix may provide to the consumers.
Amazon Instant Video content streaming service is bundled under the larger Amazon Prime umbrella – an enhanced high-speed delivery service, which provides fast access to both physical goods via fast shipping and video content via fast streaming. Amazon Instant Video approach is a hybrid between Apple iTunes and Netflix models because in addition to providing bundled content for the price of annual membership, Amazon also sells the hottest movies or TV episodes for a set fee. No discounts.
Apple, Netflix and Amazon Instant Video have chosen simple yet brilliant price-discount decoupling strategies that enhance brands and provide value to both content providers and consumers.
To sum up, these corporations push discounts indirectly, in ways that enhance value of their content.
In online education and training, this same approach has been successfully implemented at least twice: Lynda.com is charging consumers a monthly subscription and so is Infinite Skills, Inc. This approach to pricing together with high quality content created a ton of value and both companies have been recently acquired.
On December 4, I had the honor of showing Rukuku’s toolset at Kevin Kelly‘s first ever Cool Tools show and tell. I like to think of Rukuku as a tool for customizing one’s education, and that makes it a Cool Tool as defined by Kevin Kelly in his latest book Cool Tools: A Catalog Of Possibilities “A cool tool is … Anything useful that increases learning, empowers individuals, does work that matters, is either the best, or the cheapest, or the only thing that works.”
And check out the very cool Styrobot, which Kevin Kelly made together with his son.
If you have an hour and a half to kill, here’ s the recording of the Google Hangout broadcast:
How can online learning help to fill the inspiration gap left by our declining education system?
Motivating students to pursue topics that interest them. Shocking fact of the day: students learn much better when they’re interested and engaged. Online education allows individualized learning and experimentation in a way that traditional learning cannot. That means students have the ability to learn what they want to learn. Sure, sometimes you have to learn things that you don’t like – and that’s where the online model offers more advantages…
Providing access to passionate, inspiring teachers. Given that a good online learning system is theoretically able to cast a worldwide net in terms of attracting talent, students benefit from the ability to interact with the best professionals in their desired field. Passionate teachers inspire passion in students.
Creating a structure where grades and examinations are secondary to real learning. At Rukuku, we believe that grades and exams shouldn’t be a purpose in and of themselves. When one takes his own initiative rather than being nudged (read: forced) to take a class for a grade, actual learning becomes the priority.
Another bonus of online learning: none of those inspiration-killing standardized tests!
As we outlined last Wednesday, there are several significant barriers preventing low-income people and other disadvantaged groups from accessing quality education. How can new technology address these deficiencies?
1. Technological advancement will lower the input costs of education. The traditional teacher-classroom education model is no longer the only game in town. With intuitive and flexible online platforms, teachers and learners will be able to meet in a virtual environment, drastically cutting costs. Before, this transaction would have had to incorporate the cost of transportation, a brick-and-mortar location, and materials, but now it only has to address the cost of hiring a great educator. Both the student and the teacher benefit.
2. Online platforms will allow a teacher to interact effectively with a greater number of students. Currently, a major limiting factor in the efficiency of education is class size. Thoughtfully designed online learning platforms can eliminate the constraints of the physical classroom while preserving (and even enhancing) the teacher-student relationship. This will further hack away at the major barrier to entry for many people – cost – while improving quality.
3. Online education technology will also bridge the quality gap by increasing accessibility. The beauty of learning online is that teacher and student can interact from anywhere in the world at any time. People in areas that are remote or lacking in quality teachers will be able to connect with great educators around the world – educational demand and supply will be connected in a dramatically new and more efficient way.
The possibilities are truly exciting.
Please check back with us all next week for more about educational problems and solutions!