It bothers me – what about you?

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If you are like me there are plenty of things to get bothered about in 2015.  Maybe its the supposedly faster electronic checkout lanes at supermarkets that inevitably have someone in front of you who can’t figure out how to use it.  Yeah that’s bothersome.

Or the person who has decided that the high speed lane means driving slower than even the posted speed limit and then refuses to move over (even though the lane next to them is empty) for you to drive by.  Yeah, that’s bothersome.

Or perhaps its watching MasterChef here in the U.S. and wondering how in the heck are these folks the best amateur chefs out there.  I’m mean seriously, how is that possible?  Anyway that’s bothersome.

Well, this week, I’m exposing the bothersome tactics and items that are happening right now in the e-learning space.  You might be dealing with it right now, or maybe in the past.

Heck, you might not even be aware that it is happening/had happening, but if you did – you would do things differently.

41320746_s MOOCs


MOOCs really bother me. 

Not that they are free, although some places are either charging a small fee (you can work towards a degree) or are actually SPOCS, but since that word is not universal to their audience pitch it as a MOOC – if you are offering me the opportunity to get credit hours and thus down the road a degree – it is a SPOC!  I feel much better already.

Okay, not that better.

MOOCs as I’ve mentioned in previous posts are inherently set up to fail. 

I don’t care if you offer credits (SPOC) and tantalize folks with a degree or not.   I don’t care if you state “we have a higher completion rate than traditional MOOCs”, because that isn’t saying much – the completion rates in general are awful.

Nor do I care that you state the reason your MOOC is better than say X is because the length is shorter (time wise or course wise) and therefore, here comes success and better completion rate.

Do you see the trend here – psst it’s completion rate.  Is it about learning the material?  No.   Is it about acquiring the skill sets (synthesis) and improving upon them?  No.  Oh, is it about the experience and continuance of learning?  No.

It’s all about completion rates.  Wait, I forgot – and MOOCs are free.

Regardless if you find a MOOC via the big name or lesser well known name university, Coursera (aggregator), a search engine or from someone else, they are still inherently setup to fail.


Because no one wants to go take a course, free or otherwise, where you have to use a syllabus, go linear with assignments or whatever else is tossed their way and then communicate with someone via a discussion board or office hours.  Yuck, I get just bored thinking about it.

But for whatever reason many folks are enthralled with MOOCs. It’s mystifying really.  When there are so many other ways to educate folks using non-linear, or simulations that are interactive, we seem out right WOWed by MOOCs.

Tell you what – I’ll give you a piece of paper and this new fangle thing called a pencil and you can write on it – the paper that is.  Be enthralled about that, because that is the level of engagement with a MOOC.  Wait.  The paper and pencil is more – engaging that is.


FREE Trials, whitepapers and more



I love free.  I mean who doesn’t love getting something for free. Especially with no strings attached.  Yeah, that is the best kind of free.

What happens though, when you think you are getting something for free – and by all appearances it is free, and then a few days later you start receiving this newsletter or an introduction to a webinar or eeek – a person contacting you either via email or phone about their product.

Wait – when did I ask for that?

You didn’t – but here is the kicker – you did – the moment you decide to take that “Free” document.

Read the latest document, paper or whatever on US – Download Today

Did I mention how I love free and I surmise you do to?  Well what if I told you that you could download the latest whitepaper on the state of e-learning for 2015? 

All I need from you is your name and email address.  I might ask for your company, maybe the number of people who work for you, and some other this or that, but – hey – this is a great whitepaper or research document and it is yours free to download.

Uh, I forgot to mention that the moment you entered your information and downloaded that document, you agreed to be on our call list for potential leads.  Did I mention that?  What? No.  Oh well, you should have known that.

What I just presented above happens and happens a lot – not just in our industry but across the board in many.  However, I’ll go back to ours here.

I have zero issue with offering a free whatever for some one to read. No problem at all.  But, what I would like to see and what I can’t understand why I don’t see more of it – is one of the following:

  • An opt-out radio button that I can click so I do not receive a phone call or email call from the vendor OR their freaking newsletter – I should have mentioned  that the download a document from X, can include you getting on their newsletter whether you wanted to our not


  • Some writing – warning if you will – letting me know that by downloading or receiving this X, that I am allowing this vendor to contact me for whatever

It’s that easy.

And that is where it becomes an issue – because it is so easy to fix.

But why do that, when I can get a hot and fresh list of leads who have no idea they just became a lead?  As one vendor put it, “well, people know.”  No, they don’t know.

Newsletter Horror

The same applies to newsletters.  What has been hot the last few years – in our industry – are the receiving of a newsletter that for the life you can’t figure out how you got it in the first place AND you don’t remember ever visiting the vendor’s site.

Well, part of that of course – is that the vendor in question sold your name to a third party and surprise you are now on a marketing list, but the other wonderful part are tied to three things that you may not realize

  • Downloaded X from vendor’s site.  Could be a whitepaper, case study, report, etc.
  • You signed up for a trial of something (doesn’t always happen, but it happens more than enough – by the way, sign up for a free trial, expect to hear from a salesperson)
  • Left comments for the vendor on whatever – HELLO newsletter

And lastly the one that really bothers me – asking for the vendor to contact you about their own product – because you are interested.  Yes I am interested in your product, but no, I do not want to be on your newsletter.

This contact us and we stick you on our newsletter list is thankfully not universal to every vendor, but there are more than enough who did it – that it is troubling.

Again, you want to zing me with your newsletter on any of the above things, fine, but tell me first and let me opt-in or out, prior to the blasting of the newsletter.

How you can eradicate emails you don’t want

The best way is to not enter that information – but you know that already. 

Thus, the best way to do it without having you get stuck with lots of newsletters you don’t want, include the options of dedicating one e-mail address that you use that these fine folks can shove all their newsletters, follow-up emails, etc. into OR use a temporary inbox (some will last 30 minutes or less) for it.

The temporary inbox is nice because you may need a number to enter to get access to those documents or download that trial, so you get it and say goodbye.

A few favorites for temporary inboxes

And there are many more out there.

What about calls you may ask – what can you do to avoid them?  Well, I just use the ol’ TV/Movie option with 555.

The point isn’t though about having to trick someone so they don’t bother you (although it works), rather it is about telling us ahead of time that you plan to do so – i.e. contact us – allowing us to decide if we want to or not.

 Bottom Line

Yeah there are plenty of things that are bothersome to us all.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

It can change.

First, focus on the value of learning and change the structure of MOOCs.  Make them engaging, interactive or at least utilize them in combination with a mobile device (there are ways to do it). 

Secondly, stop zeroing in on how your MOOC has a higher completion rate than X and instead focus on what I as the learner will attain as a benefit of taking your MOOC versus another.

Thirdly, as a consumer ignore what prestigious university provided the MOOC or MOOCs.  No one cares – I mean they do, because they can state it in some PR materials, but at the end of it, you might find a better MOOC at X university that isn’t as well known as Y.

If I am going to take a MOOC, I’d rather take it based on the information and content rather than what university/college provided it – because one doesn’t equate to another. 

There isn’t any study out there that says, by taking X MOOC at famous university you are more likely to get a new job or be smarter than someone who didn’t.

It doesn’t exist.

Wait, it might.

I have it in this whitepaper – free for you to download and read.

I only need your name and email address.

Then it is all yours

And your e-mail address is all ours.

E-Learning 24/7



One comment

  1. Good points on the marketing issue. Shame it’s still happening. It seems paradoxical too: trying to generate leads without respecting basic business ethics. I also get disappointed by these manoeuvres, and never return to these websites.

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