Discover more from America 2.0 (by Gary Sheng)
Why Revolutionaries Should Create Online Courses
If you want to quickly get allies up to speed on what they should know and do to advance the cause you all care about, creating a self-paced online course is the way to go
I am constantly talking with innovators and change-makers who are wondering how they can grow their startups or take their cause-based movements to the next level.
A common question is:
"How can we elevate our work to the next level?"
I’ve been increasingly advising them to look into an underutilized tool: self-paced online courses.
Let me explain why:
Why Creating An Online Course Can Be So Valuable For Movement Builders ⭐️
The general perception is that online courses are a way to make money, and people buy these courses to enhance their career prospects. But this is a rather limited view of what self-paced online courses can be. They don't necessarily need to come with a price tag; they can be free.
Their real value lies in their ability to quickly bring someone up to speed on specific ideas, providing them with a level of proficiency that allows them to be effective in a particular context.
Self-paced online courses function as a structured list of readings, videos, and other content designed to cultivate an understanding of a specific discipline. They are a flexible learning tool, allowing learners to engage with the material at their own pace and on their own schedule.
When it comes to movement building, self-paced online courses serve as an excellent orientation tool.
They can address fundamental questions like: "Why is this movement being created?" "What is our vision?" "How can we measure success?" "What roles can different individuals play based on their unique skills?"
A well-structured course can answer these questions, clarify the importance of the cause, and empower learners to become contributors to the movement.
One of the practical benefits of creating a self-paced online course is the amount of time it saves. It's not scalable to manually onboard people and answer everyone's questions. By answering these queries once and including them in an online course, you can create a common baseline of knowledge for all contributors. This not only saves time but also fosters a shared sense of identity.
When I co-ran a non-profit that trained 2000 young people across 80 countries, it was both an educational initiative and a community. This was largely because everyone was engaging with the same content and assignments, creating a shared experience and collective identity.
Self-paced courses can also offer an easy entry point for those who may not have a lot of time. They can participate by sharing the course with others or finding ways to improve it. One organization that has successfully utilized online courses for movement building is the Center for Humane Technology. They have a course called "Foundations of Humane Technology," which not only helps individuals understand the impact of technology on the world but also prepares them to shape tomorrow's technology for the better.
Contrary to random blog posts, a self-paced course provides a structured learning journey.
Even though I have numerous blog posts that someone could read, I am considering creating a course to better gauge who truly understands the philosophy and worldview that I am trying to communicate. A blog post can sometimes feel like random trivia if not structured properly, whereas a course can help learners grow in a targeted way, providing them with a sense of achievement.
Ultimately, creating an online course can be a huge win for everyone involved. It can save you time onboarding people manually. It can save newbies to your organization or movement time getting up to speed with what they need to know to contribute effectively to your cause.
Four Orgs That Would Greatly Benefit From Having Their Own Online Courses: Guild.xyz, Gitcoin, Afropolitan, and Zuzalu 🌍
Let's dive into some practical applications of the principles I've just outlined, focusing on four organizations with which I am connected: Guild.xyz, Gitcoin, Afropolitan, and Zuzalu.
Each of these organizations has unique needs and goals that could greatly benefit from the creation of a self-paced online course.
Guild.xyz provides foundational infrastructure for communities aiming for efficiency and scalability without adding administrative burdens or ballooning community management budgets. A comprehensive online course could help potential users understand the power of Guild, showcasing detailed case studies of organizations that have successfully utilized Guild to elevate their operations.
The human element should not be underestimated. People enjoy being onboarded by other humans in a friendly and structured manner. An online course can effectively communicate the necessary knowledge in a digestible and compassionate format, pointing learners to further resources when needed.
As an evolving entity, Gitcoin may not be easily understood, even by its own members. Creating a self-paced online course would allow a trusted spokesperson to communicate the essence of Gitcoin clearly. It could clarify who would benefit from participating in the Gitcoin universe, be it those seeking to explore or create interesting projects, ecosystem builders looking to stimulate community-led innovation, or brands aiming for visibility through sponsorship.
Given the complexity of Gitcoin, it's important to present this information in a structured, easy-to-follow format. A barrage of blog posts, tweet threads, and forum posts can be overwhelming and off-putting. A well-constructed course can create a more compassionate, ergonomic learning experience.
Another organization that could greatly benefit from an online course is Afropolitan. This network state is dedicated to human empowerment, particularly of the African diaspora, and it seeks to support Black innovators and serve as a home for allies of the future of Africa. That being said, the concept of Afropolitan is not entirely clear to me, despite my deep spiritual resonance with their mission. Furthermore, I'm uncertain about how someone like me could get involved as an ally. Therefore, in my opinion, an online course would be of immense benefit to them.
Finally, Zuzalu, a pop-up city in Montenegro, is a fascinating concept but may be difficult to grasp for both insiders and outsiders due to its emergent nature. Creating a self-paced online course could serve as a forcing function to clarify what Zuzalu is and why it matters.
The course would explain the many reasons why Zuzalu could be of interest to course participants. Investors might be looking for projects, builders might seek collaborators and inspiration, and countries might want to attract global innovators. The course could lay out how individuals can plug into Zuzalu, be it through funding the next pop-up or applying to attend one, among other possibilities.
By creating structured, accessible, and engaging online courses, organizations like Guild.xyz, Gitcoin, Afropolitan, and Zuzalu can reach their audiences effectively, answer their key questions, and provide a clear path for involvement. Not only does this strategy save time and resources, but it also creates a shared sense of identity and purpose, essential ingredients for building powerful movements.
Courses Level Up Contributors (Who Level Up Organizations)
I am a firm believer in the profound impact that a well-crafted, introductory course can have on an organization, community, or movement. By addressing the foundational questions - "What is the organization?", "Why should it matter to me?", and "How can I contribute?" - such a course establishes a basic infrastructure for understanding and engagement.
You'll begin to notice a significant shift once this groundwork is in place. Alumni of this course will engage in more advanced discussions and demonstrate more effective coordination. Freed from the need to constantly answer basic questions, they can propose innovative ideas and contribute meaningfully to the growth and evolution of the organization.
This is a critical point: you don't want your resources tied up in answering questions that could easily be addressed by an online course or a chatbot. Instead, you want to be collaborating with individuals who are well-informed, passionate, and ready to tackle creative problem-solving to propel your organization to the next level.
The creation of an online course is not merely about providing information; it's about setting the stage for meaningful engagement and innovation.
It's about empowering your community members with the knowledge they need to not only understand but also enhance your organization. This shift from passive reception to active contribution is what truly defines a thriving community or organization.
Conclusion: Create A Course To Help Your Movement Flourish 🌸
I hope this blog post helps you understand that self-paced courses are not just for those looking to become online gurus generating passive income. Creating self-paced courses is also for those who wish to contribute effectively to their fields or causes.
Creating an online course can significantly amplify your impact without proportionally increasing administrative costs. It enables those who are eager to contribute effectively and build collective power to do so in a way that doesn't overburden individual team members.
In essence, creating a self-paced course could be a game-changer for your organization.
It provides a structured platform to organize disparate information stored across various mediums such as tweets, blog posts, governance forum posts, and videos on platforms like YouTube. This structure creates a comprehensive home for the most relevant content, assisting anyone who wants to get up to speed and become an effective contributor.
Moreover, participants who have completed the course can engage in enriched conversations, coordinating at a level that could elevate your organization to new heights.
I genuinely hope that you consider using online courses to advance your cause.
Doing so could be revolutionary.