Value added, value lost

What gives your online learning value?

If you make a unit of a course accessible, free of charge, are people more likely to sign up to do the whole course?

If people can access the content of your online learning materials, without interaction with a moderator or other course participants, do they perceive it as having the same value as the moderated course?

I’ve found myself pondering these questions of late when faced with a simple request: “Give trainees access to the whole online course for a short workshop where they’ll use roughly 1/10th of the materials.  We hope they’ll sign up later to do the whole course.”  On the surface of it, it is difficult to establish a business case for this scenario.  I mean, if someone has had access to the whole course, albeit for a limited time, why would they then hand over good money to complete the course?

But as the discussion continued, there was one (and only one, interestingly) dissenting voice that pointed out what we hear over and over again, at the completion of almost every course – the best feature of our courses is the interaction and guidance from the moderator.  It is, if you like, how we differentiate ourselves – our courses are based on constructivist, collaborative principles. The content, while good to excellent in quality, is actually not what we pride ourselves on.  So … why am I still so reluctant to see us ‘give it away’ to people who are doing a workshop with us?