Working on Gary Glew’s “Life College” project got me thinking about people who are successfully coaching and teaching over the internet. Glew wants to create an instructional program for young adults who need help transitioning into fully independent life. This would include things like learning about asking for raises, filing taxes, and managing rent. It’s a pretty unique program. I haven’t stumbled upon any other that does that. But we can still learn a ton about best practice from others in the internet-teaching sphere.

I love looking at patterns, and I found 4 key ones to model while researching this area. We’ll talk about each of them, and how they might apply to Glew’s project as an example of finding ways to model established strategies in a new business.

1) Successful teaching sites openly feature their biggest customers. Almost every site I looked at had images of big customers’ logos on a banner somewhere. For Glew’s project, we could have a banner with the logos of the colleges who have bought or participated in the program.

2) Successful teaching sites are categorical. They clearly define what ‘courses’ or types of information they offer. Kahn Academy is a great example of this. They separate their subjects into math, science, the arts, economics, and computing, and then go into clear sub-topics within those.

3) They produce their content in multiple formats. The most successful teaching sites use a variety of platforms, from videos, to podcasts, to blog posts. This could be helpful for Glew’s project if we decide we want to create a ‘Freemium’ model, for example letting people read blog posts and listen to podcasts for free, but charging for video content.

4) They have a call to action on the first page of the website. This is usually an opt-in to subscribe for a mailing list with an incentive. For example, Glew could put up an opt-in with the incentive that if you subscribe, you get 2 free videos of your choice to start with.

I didn’t realize how huge and varied the online teaching space is, but there are definitely a lot of people doing it the right way. I can’t wait to see how this space expands in the future.

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