The world has changed. It’s changed in the last year in significant ways. In the last 10 years, it’s changed in ways we couldn’t have imagined 10 years earlier. And as coaches or course creators, many of those changes have made our lifestyle possible.
Specifically, how and what we teach has changed. That’s partly thanks to the new channels we teach on. And it’s partly the need to teach new skills for the new jobs and lifestyles people are living today.
The changing demands of the 21st century are both thrilling and humbling.
Now that we’re halfway through 2021, we’re ready to parse through these changes to understand the future of coaching and course creation. This will enable us to get ahead of new changes, too, because they will keep coming.
The value of the role of course creators and coaches will expand in the next year, continuing its accelerated growth during 2020 and the coronavirus pandemic. The new normal demands a different model of education and leadership for a world actively seeking opportunities to grow.
Keep reading to get a full picture of where we are, where we’re going, and how you can best position yourself for what’s to come.
MOOCs and CPDs
Online courses and coaching first surfaced as Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) and Continuing Professional Development (CPD).
MOOCs, often provided by traditional universities and sometimes by individuals with proprietary curricula, were what first tapped the idea of distance education online. Educational resources were offered for free to students around the world.
Once students got over the mental hump that these courses could still be of value even though they weren’t credit-bearing, adoption picked up.
MOOCs were designed to be scalable and available to the masses. They don’t bear traditional college credits (even when offered by formal institutions), they have no formal prerequisites, and are almost always free.
The MOOC market is expected to continue gaining more ground in the next several years, growing at a CAGR of 32.8% from 2021-2026.
As the world has gone more digital, professional development has taken on new formats, too. CPD delivery, therefore, has changed with the times and grown enormously as a result.
CPD uses a combination of approaches and techniques that help students directly manage their learning and growth. Because CPD courses are not credit-bearing, their focus is on results and skills gained. Specifically, they focus on the results these courses bring students into the real world.
The most important message garnered from today’s CPD delivery is that there is no “one size fits all.” Wherever students are in their careers, they can use a CPD to add new or sharper skills to their quiver.
Maybe you’ve taught a MOOC on Udemy or Coursera. Or maybe your proprietary online course is structured as a CPD. Or maybe you deliver your content outside of these two models in a proprietary format. However you deliver your knowledge to your clients or students, it’s beneficial to know where trends in online teaching started.
Next, let’s look at what recently changed online teaching forever…
The Impact of Covid-19
Thousands of people worldwide created online courses during the first 12 months of the COVID-19 pandemic. E-learning platforms saw an unprecedented growth as consumers signed up for courses in everything from digital marketing to floristry.
The demand for coaching and courses has climbed at a never-before-seen rate since then. An upward trend existed before the pandemic, too, but rolling lockdowns and adoption of digital platforms in 2020 accelerated it.
In 2011, for example, the business coaching market in the U.S. was valued at just under $9 billion. In 2021, it was worth almost $12 billion.
The primary reasons for this growth include:
- Huge investments by key market players
- Increased learning platform security
- Increased reliability in cloud technology
- Growing number of service providers
- Growing volume of content
- Growing number of topics
- Declining hosting costs
- Growing need for education
- Consumer adoption of more digital platforms for life and work
The accelerated adoption of online courses and coaching in 2020 is easy to explain in hindsight. People were stuck at home and wanted to learn new skills or take up new hobbies. In many cases, job loss or concerns about job security compelled consumers to beef up their skills.
This heightened adoption and market growth has been game-changing for course creators and coaches, too. Many stopped in-person consulting altogether and switched to online-only models. Many more entered the market for the first time, taking their lifetime careers and translating them into the proprietary courses and coaching services that leverage their experience.
You’re Already Ahead of the Curve
The way of the future is “anywhere, anytime” learning.
It’s easy now to connect with anyone across the globe. A world of information is available at our fingertips, whether by a click or even a simple voice command.
And technology, as it turns out, is both a motivating factor to learn and also the means of delivering that learning content.
Back when MOOCs and CPDs first gained popularity, the myth surfaced that online classrooms (or even tech used within traditional classroom settings) created a lazy and disconnected vibe. In reality, just like some professionals have thrived and others have suffered working remotely since the pandemic, there are students who don’t excel with the online-learning format as well as students who flourish.
What this myth failed to address was the increased accessibility of coaching and online courses to a population that was previously unreached. This alone has abundantly offset the minority of students who were incapable of organizing their course accountabilities themselves in an online format.
The next generation will be completely comfortable in the online sphere by the time they look for courses and coaching online, too. By offering your content online today, you’re ahead of the curve. Online coursework is here to stay, and everyone will be making this shift.
Trends to Watch
Technology will continue to develop, creating a horizon of constant possibilities for the delivery of your content.
That same technology will be present in every other aspect of our lives, too, making the online teaching experience that much more seamless with the new normal of our lives.
Trends in content creation and coaching will be the product of these technologies, whether directly or indirectly. From new opportunities to collaborate to opportunities to reach niche sectors, these are the trends to watch.
Collaboration and co-creation
The classroom where a teacher stands in front of students waiting with baited breath to respond to their direction is increasingly becoming an antiquated scene.
Student learning spaces—in and out of the physical classroom—have changed and will continue to do so. Everything is connected now for collaboration and co-creation via online platforms.
In online courses, this can happen in asynchronous or synchronous interactions.
In the physical classroom, this is increasingly happening in synchronous collaboration during live classes. To a lesser extent, it’s happening asynchronously as students co-create through exercises and shared assignments.
Collaboration in the classroom enables students to build off of one another’s learning. This teamwork allows them to apply new knowledge in context.
The classrooms that do still physically exist can now coexist with online spaces, too, making even more collaboration possible. The current learning model has been flipped on its head to allow students to learn and collaborate at home and then use class time to demonstrate knowledge and get questions answered.
Along with our evolving idea of what a classroom looks like, we’ve also reshaped the idea of how instruction is delivered.
Just like doctors give patients individualized treatment plans, education and coaching are now following the same standard. There is no “one size fits all” model for learners, and today’s coaching and courses are finally starting to reflect that.
Technology has made this possible in new ways, thereby allowing students and clients to take ownership of their own learning trajectory and manage available content at their pace. This lets students find what best suits their abilities and engage only with content that’s beneficial to them.
Customization becomes even sharper as coaches and course creators get feedback from students, too. And personalization are easier to integrate into courses and coaching online without interrupting access for other users.
Hard Turn Away from Testing
Ask yourself: What are you really testing for?
If you employ tests in your coaching or online courses, that’s not inherently a bad thing. However, today’s trends have forced us to reexamine why we deliver tests, how, and to what end.
Students and clients will naturally be focused on end results. Traditionally, those results have been measured by grades and tests.
These results, however, don’t define the student.
The nature of non-credit-bearing MOOCs and CPDs has helped today’s students look past test scores. As a course creator or coach, you have an opportunity to continue pointing them in a more personalized direction.
Do you really want students working toward a test score? Or do you want them working toward a demonstrable skillset?
Course assessments of the future will be evidence based, meaning they’ll use measures that assess skills and adoption of course material. They’ll also be highly customizable.
Opportunities in Niche Sectors
Specializing in niche sectors will give coaches and course creators more opportunities. Not only do you avoid the saturated, red ocean market that way, you also reinforce your brand’s value and uniqueness.
Your ability to target a niche audience will depend on your professional experience. Bear in mind that new niches are forming rapidly as new jobs, technologies, and lifestyles enter the fray.
Your ability to monetize a specific niche will also depend on the demand in that niche. For example, as baby boomers age, retirement coaches have surged in popularity.
More companies and individual coaches and instructors are going global, too, meaning your capacity to target a specific niche doesn’t have to be limited to any geographic region. But be aware, this also means your competition could come from anywhere.
Lean Into Qualifications
Coaching and course creation both are still largely unregulated, but that will change. Regulations will principally address quality assurance, which has become an increasing priority for consumers as they vet the growing number of courses and coaches out there.
Until the market is fully regulated, getting a head start on qualifying credentials will help you differentiate yourself from the rest. Membership with organizations like the International Coaching Federation (ICF) will help consumers pick out the more serious thought leaders.
And remember, the best credentials are 5-star reviews and testimonials.
Even with the growth in adoption and demand for coaching and online courses, it’s not all rosy in the market. Here are the two principal problems to be aware of in the coming year:
- Course and coaching horror stories are picking up due to an increasing number of scams online. One popular scam involves creating a site and charging for content, then never delivering. Another scam hooks consumers in with big promises that the quality of content delivered ultimately doesn’t meet..
- Saturation is another hurdle many coaches and course creators should be prepared to jump. Thousands of privately-owned coaching programs and online courses have formed in the last 12 months. The global online education market is projected to reach over $319 billion in 2025 (up from $187.877 in 2019). Not all the content out there has seen equal demand, and many topics are already covered by major market leaders. Be prepared to study your competition and market demand.
Proactive Steps to Take
There are a few key steps that coaches and course creators can take now to leverage the trends above and get ahead of the challenges.
- First, research the competition. Even if you’ve performed market research before, the number of new coaches and courses hitting the market today requires an updated view at least once a quarter.
- As you work on defining your own credentials, you can differentiate yourself specifically from for-credit traditional education by educating your students or clients about the trends above. Those trends each bring big benefits to learners—collaboration, customization and results-based learning are all things you can sell them on. Academic institutions still hold the lion’s share of the market in MOOCs and CPD, so by setting yourself apart, you instantly brand your offering as something special.
- Keep an eye on new positions in the market, too, because new jobs are appearing at an unprecedented rate. 65% of the jobs today’s grade school students will work don’t exist yet. Once you see new jobs and sectors (like “virtual reality consultant,” “e-commerce director” or “user experience director”), immediately think about how your course, coaching or content could aid that audience. Thereby, you’ve created a new niche.
Whether you’re new to coaching and course creation or have been around the block, the future is bright. There’s more demand, and you have more tools to creatively deliver your content.
The value your content brings people will continue to increase as technology develops, as well. You’ll be able to specialize your offering as the market swells and new niches play out.
Generational and economic shifts will continue to influence the world.. Decide now how you’ll be a part of it.
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