The Massive Online Open Courses (MOOC) movement is revolutionizing how we learn. I was lucky enough to be involved in a number of MOOCs and to see how thousands of people, from different parts of the world, were organizing themselves in groups to come up with brilliant ideas. The Stanford Venture Lab or Coursera, are particularly exciting projects.
Our task was to apply the inspiration of these courses to Hyperthinking: to design and build our very own MOOC.
Everything started with Phil Weiss’ talk at the Solvay Brussels School. I used Phil’s work as the basis for a PowerPoint presentation for the management team. They were impressed with the idea of an MOOC and asked me and Alejandra Laiton to design a plan and budget for not one, but three online courses.
Brainstorming course proposals
This was one of the most difficult parts of the job, but we knew we had an exciting project on our hands. We locked ourselves in a small room, armed only with a blackboard and a lot of coffee. The ideas came slowly at first; when we started at 9am, we could not have believed that by lunchtime, we would have come up with eleven course proposals. It was a great and fun morning.
Developing the content
We got the green light for three of our ideas, and got started on developing the courses. We developed the rough ideas from our brainstorming session into more detailed outlines, and shared these outlines with some of the best minds in the company.
Our outlines weren’t immediately successful. Some of the content needed to be changed, which meant having to start again almost from scratch. Eventually, though, with a lot of work we came up with a set of scripts that we were really proud of.
One of the most difficult things was to fit the script to the course facilitator. It was absolutely vital to match the script to the personal style of the online tutor, who needed to deliver it comfortably and with authority. So we came up with the idea of a dummy course, a shorter version of the real one, so we could test the content and so that the facilitators could become comfortable with the style of the scripts.
We used Udemy as the hosting platform and found their consultants extremely helpful, and their expertise invaluable.
Now we just had to shoot the video content of the course…
Eventually the time came, and the pressure was on to shoot everything in a single day. Thanks to Alejandra´s excellent management work, this was possible. To begin with Phil was tense, but he soon started to relax and proved a natural in front of the camera.
After our epic shooting day (thanks to Nicolas Olivier), we received the first raw footage and we made the first cut of our little movie: we added images, text and music on the video to achieve a more dynamic feel.
For a moment it almost felt that the job was done. But an online course is much more than a video. We also had to work on the rest of the course: the downloadable material for the students, the assignments to get them involved, supplementary material to make the course consistent… There was still a lot of work to be done.
When we had delivered all the curriculum videos, we still had to do the promotion video, and all the other materials to help guide the student through the course. Uploading all this material and setting up the platform was very time consuming. There were always little details to get right: keywords to optimize search results, profiles of the company and the teacher, pricing, etc.
But the course is not just a bunch of videos and documents. The student has to take on a whole new mindset, so we were very careful to make the Hyperthinking course a totally immersive experience.
After all our work, the most difficult task of all was to press the “live” button, and finally to unleash our creation. The course went up just before Christmas, and even in the first week, we got a lot of feedback that helped us to fine-tune it.
This project took a lot of hard work, but it was all worth the effort when the first student signed up, just a few hours after going live. Five short weeks later we had a community of almost 400 students. The community and the site are growing steadily, as new students enrol and we continue to add new material.
Phil Weiss delivers a Ted about rethinking thinking
The whole process has been an amazing experience and an opportunity to work with some truly inspiring people.
And here it is: Hyperthinking: Upgrade your mind to succeed in business.
Take the course at a reduced rate with this coupon code: WorkInEurope – and let us know what you think.