Digitally Literate Courses: Identifying a pricing plan

Digitally Literate Courses: Identifying a pricing plan

This is the second project update for my project “Digitally Literate Courses” as part of the One Side Project challenge. In my first update, I identified the focus and goals of this work. In this post I will discuss my work and thinking over the last month.

I’m writing and sharing this in public on these posts as a means to document my thinking over time, and obtain feedback on decisions as I make them. Please feel free to push back, and identify possible options.

Framing my thinking

This project provides affordable, premium guidance and professional development materials for individuals and educators. Over the past couple of years, I’ve had the opportunity to act as a digital identity coach and help guide colleagues and students as they develop their own digital presence. In these classes I’ll draw on research and continually update and revise the content to make it easier to act on the presented information.

In this I’m also guided by two other mindsets that guide my work. First, I’m an educator and am cognizant of the challenges that face educators in Pre-K up through higher ed. Second, I’m also a researcher. My work often focuses on examining the reliability and validity of online resources and information. At the intersection of these two perspectives is the notion of open, and open educational resources.

I’m a believer and advocate of open in my work. As a result I blog and share my work with others online. I have questions about the perceived value of materials in an open, online space. I’m also trying to (possibly) carve out a space to give others fine-tuned, actionable mentoring online.

Identification of deliverables

There are multiple factors in the development of a pricing plan for these classes. In this I think about the way I plan and price work at keynotes or workshops. For these face-to-face experiences I have an established day rate that, and an understanding of deliverables for the experience.

In these classes, I’d like to develop something that is a bit more streamlined and granular than the typical MOOC, or online class. I’d also like this product to be a bit more extensive and provide more support for the learner as needed.

My current thinking about the structure and deliverables of the class includes the following:

  • each class will include 5 to 10 hours of content.
  • each class will require learners to complete 10 to 20 hours of work asynchronously.
  • online coaching and support meetings may be built in to the course structure, or add on elements.
  • first class would focus on starting digital identity and a website. Additional classes will be built up to extend the depth and breadth of this first class.
  • classes will be built in Teachable, Teachery at the start. I may move to building my own space after test driving these options.
  • classes will most likely include digital badges to serve as credentials for work completed.

Pricing plan possibilities

Over the past couple of months, I’ve come across possibilities for pricing the courses.

Freemium

One of the possible options includes keeping the initial course on building up your digital identity and starting a webspace free and open online to attract an audience. This class is required as learners start up the other classes. It would also give the audience an opportunity to see what is included in the other classes.

Micropayments

After my initial post about this project, I had an awesome chat with Christian Friedrich about possible pricing plans. Christian indicated that I might want to examine micropayments in the model.

This would mean that most (if not all) of the course content would be available for free online. Learners would be able to donate on the site for whatever value they find in the content and courses. I would also build in small amounts for F2F or online guidance. I’m not sure if this is an option in Teachable or Teachery.

One set price per class

In researching online classes through webinars with Teachable, they usually give the advice that you should be charging more for your courses. This would mean that I would identify the number of hours per class, and calculate this against my identified day rate.

In this plan I would enter the price per class into Teachable or Teachery, and keep the format and time of the classes consistent. I would be able to offer coupons for the courses and send them out through my newsletter and other channels.

Alternative Online Workshop

The most intriguing model for pricing comes from the altMBA program designed by Seth Godin. Seth describes it in the video on the application as “not a book, not an online course…an agent of change.”

The altMBA is framed as the antithesis of most online classes, and MOOCs. You need to apply to get in to the program. It’s not free…it’s actually pretty expensive ($3,000). You can reserve sessions for your organization. There is a community and healthy regimen of work built in to the curriculum.

Nothing is free on the site, or in the course. You can review the info sheet to learn about the program. From there you have to decide if you want to apply for the four week program…and if you have what it takes.

What should I choose?

In reviewing the possible options, I think they each have a lot to offer. I like the consideration of offering an initial set of free content that provides a glimpse of what is available..and needed to complete the remainder of the courses.

I’m also intrigued by the option to include (and research) micropayments. I have to state that I’m usually annoyed by this in practice when I come across it in publications or gaming. it seems to be a compelling business model that is working for online.

Of all of these options, I’m the most intrigued by the model detailed by the altMBA program. I have considered teaming up with a couple colleagues in the field to help build content in the courses. This would add to the cache of individuals they indicate on the altMBA program info pages. I have also considered including a private Slack channel for learners to help support, scaffold…and connect them to each other. My only other question is about making the program available at one time-point each year.

Towards a pricing plan

As I’ve indicated up above, the plan that is resonating with me the most is the one detailed by the altMBA program. To move to this model, I would need to raise the level of perceived value in the program, and find ways to document this to learners. Additionally, I would need to build this all on my site. I do not know if this could live on the two sites I indicated up above.

I could still offer an initial free mini-course to get learners started. From there I would include a series of courses or modules each with their own price point that would lead up to a complete program. Learners could apply to get in to the program and connect with the content and each other. In the pricing of the individual courses, learners would be investing in those resources, but also buying their own time as they level up.

What do you think? What option would you recommend as you consider the possible futures of monetizing online content and mentoring?

 

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Also published on Medium.

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