In Blog Form

March 23, 2020
Event Tips
by
Ben Myers

What Virtual Events Should Learn From Online Education Platforms

Learn lessons from the top online education platforms about how to promote and price your virtual events.

Conferences and in-person events deliver amazing value for the people in attendance. The ability to interact with speakers, network with other attendees and develop relationships outside of the office is invaluable.

With modern day uncertainty about travel and in-person interaction, more and more events are adding an online learning or live streaming complement to their in-person events.

In addition to making events more accessible and environmentally friendly, virtual events allow an event to more effectively deliver its core value, educational content, to more people in more ways than ever before.

Event Management Platforms are becoming the way that in-person events are taking their content online and turning their events into always-on learning platforms. These kinds of platforms have existed online for years, teaching all kinds of skills from the athletic to the professional realms.

Virtual Events As Learning Platforms

The path that lies ahead for conferences and events is clear: become an online learning platform and make your educational content available regardless of schedule or location. 

There are many online learning platforms that use a variety of methods and pricing techniques to promote their content. While professional skills like coding and computer software are the most common, these platforms have recently gone beyond those realms. 

The variety of platforms run the gamut in terms of their pricing and promotional styles. Your virtual event and its content may fit better with one style or another depending on the length of your sessions, the technicality or specialization of the skills being discussed, and the celebrity level of your speakers. 

In other words, what are you really promoting: Your speakers, your brand or the skills you’re offering?

5 Key Takeaways

  1. Lean into your strengths - If your virtual event is going to be academic, market it that way! Use the jargon and style that your attendees should expect.
  2. Pricing can be easy - Not all pricing models will work for your virtual event but a per-session price makes the value of your session obvious.
  3. Production values matter - You may not have the fancy lenses, but using the right camera angles (close ups!) and lighting (lots!) helps show off your speakers.
  4. Build your speakers’ credentials - Show that your speakers are experts in their field with more than their job titles. Tell the world why they really matter at the start of your session.
  5. Promote with video - Session descriptions can sell a conference, but to sell a virtual event, you’ll have to demonstrate what people can expect to see once they pay.

Read on for the full analysis!

Masterclass 

Beware the box-and-one.

Appeal: Learn from celebrities

Pricing: $240 CAD / year

Access: All access pass

Learning method: Videos of experts in the field, interview style or hands-on

The one with all the celebrity videos! If you want to learn how to shoot a 3-pointer properly (watch out for that box-and-one!), Steph Curry is ready to show you using Masterclass. If basketball isn’t your thing, Gordon Ramsay can teach you to cook in twenty 10-minute lessons or learn photography in 15 lessons from Annie Leibovitz.

As you might have guessed from the celebrity endorsements, Masterclass is the upscale online learning platform with gorgeous production values and a $240 CAD annual price tag for an all-access-pass.

What can virtual events learn? Know what (or who!) you’re promoting. You could learn how to shoot a basketball from anyone, but they paid for Steph Curry to be the teacher, so they put him in all the ads front and centre.

MOOC

Free online courses from MOOC, certified by Harvard.

Appeal: Academic courses for free

Pricing: Free + $200 for certifications

Access: All access

Learning method: Classroom

MOOC stands for massive open online courses. You can find all sorts of university-style courses, with a definitive start date or learn at your own pace. Their site has courses for all types of education including career development, changing careers, college preparations, supplemental learning, lifelong learning, corporate eLearning & training, and more.

It’s free to sign-up and complete courses. Certifications for the different courses that you complete cost extra (around $200). Real online university degrees are available on the platform and cost the usual tuition rate, around $250 per course.

What can virtual events learn? If your event is academic, lean in. It’s not the most stylish website but it feels very substantive. The pricing model is surprisingly simple and persuasive. If you get done the course, you might as well pay $250 and get the certification.


Udemy 

Udemy's clear, low prices for each course is a main selling point.

Appeal / Pricing: Simple a-la-carte pricing starting at $13.99

Access: Per course pricing

Learning method: Classroom

Udemy takes a different pricing ctructure than the other online learning platforms, charging per course. Udemy focuses on business, technology and coding with videos, downloadable resources and much more.

The simple check-out process lets you add courses to your cart and build yourself a cheap and easy cirriculum.

What can virtual events learn? Don’t be afraid to slice up your content and put the cost front-and-centre. Show what people will get and deliver it!

Skillshare 

Skillshare offers a wide variety of course topics for one monthly price.

Appeal: Variety of courses, one price

Pricing: $11.75 CAD / month premium, basic free

Access: Premium opens 23,000 courses; 1,600 introductory videos (free)

Learning method: Classroom lessons and in-the-field teachings

Thanks to some choice youtube video ads, Skillshare might be the best known of the online learning platforms. Like Masterclass, Skillshare goes well beyond coding skills, with courses about photography, music, marketing and lifestyle topics.

Skillshare includes both free and premium tiers, and offers your first video as a promotion without even signing up.

What can virtual events learn? Virtual events won’t be able to offer the breadth of content that Skillshare offers, so this business model may not work. Skillshare doesn’t employ celebrity like Masterclass, but it does present its instrutors as experts and uses high production values.

Code Academy 

Code Academy offers interactive lessons to teach coding skills.

Appeal: Accessible, free coding courses

Pricing: Free

Access: Open

Learning method: Interactive lessons

Code Academy, as the name indicates, specializes in helping people brush up on their coding skills. Rather than have a person teach you in a classroom setting, Code Academy uses a series of interactive lessons to teach. Students receive a handy certificate after completing a course and badges in users’ profiles encourage them to keep going on to the next lesson.

What can virtual events learn? It’s hard to beat free. Its website is playful and simple. It even offers a quiz to find out what you want to learn and point users in the right direction.

Conclusion

There's lots for virtual events to learn from online education platforms including pricing, promotion and production values. The most important lesson is to create content that people want and put it out in an accessible format.

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