Dyck (2016): Beyond Satisfaction (Book Notes)

These are my notes for the book “Beyond Satisfaction: The Secret to Crafting a Profitable Online Course That Will Change Lives” by Breanne Dyck.

Section 1: Overview

The book “Beyond Satisfaction: The Secret to Crafting a Profitable Online Course That Will Change Lives” by Breanne Dyck is about user experience as a key factor for online courses. It is written from the perspective of a higher-ed teacher entering the online course business. It’s a super-short book and while it touches some interesting themes, I feel that it only scratches at the surface of most of them. My guess is that the major purpose of this book is that it is a lead magnet for other parts of the author’s business; however, it is not a worthless read.

Section 2: Notes on (Non-)Engagement

The main problem with online courses is established as student non-engagement.

Quote: The killer is attrition. Its weapons of choice are lack of interest, dissatisfaction and a lack of results. (Dyck, 2016)

So how to fight against this “killer”? The book focuses on learner engagement, and this starts with having the right (engagement-)goal in mind when setting up the course.

Quote: What I’ve discovered, though, is that those who build truly successful online businesses don’t cite money or time as their primary motivators. Instead, they are creating online courses because they are seeking to have a bigger impact on more lives. (Dyck, 2016)

The concept of student engagement is then broken down into three R’s: retention, referral (comes from positive engagement), and repeat buyers.

Section 3: Notes on the Target Audience

The target audience is segmented based on engagement in 3, or actually 4, categories. First, there are active participants and you certainly want to have those. Second, there are passive participants;they represent the vast majority. Third, there are lurkers. You know who they are, if you ever attended any Massive Open Online Courses like on coursera or edX. Well, at least this is true for me. And last, and not officially counted by the author, there are magic-bullet seekers: They join for the wrong reason. They want a quick fix without actually engaging with the material and they habitually do so. You cannot really satisfy them, so do not try.

Section 4: Some workflow based on the book

First, establish the topic: Start with the broad theme and then break it down into 5 to 10 topics. Also try to think at the return of investment for the learners: How will they get a return? How high could it be?Second, think about the “Perfect Participants“: What do they already know? What difference will the course make in their life? What are their (implicit) goals? I found that part of the book particularly helpful, it does indeed expand the usual target market analysis in a new direction.Third, design for engagement, especially through learner interaction with content and instructor (both!): Here, reflective exercises/questions are super useful.

Quote: You can increase retention and student success in your course simply by getting your participants to reflect on what they’re doing and how it relates to their life. (Dyck, 2016)

Fourth, when designing those engaging activities, try to keep the bar rather low. You do not want to require your learners to have massive motivation; lower levels should do (and more motivation is required for more difficult tasks!).Fifth, investigate and monitor: Study some KPIs like refund rates, evaluations, etc. I have to say that this was probably a important call to action for me. I meticulously collect feedback in higher ed. courses, but I do much less so in my online courses.

Quote: In general, I like to focus on metrics that fit into the following four diagnostic categories: Retention, Refund and Growth Rates Participant-Content Interaction Interpersonal Engagement Customer Success and Results (Dyck, 2016)

Final Section: Sign-Off

These were my notes for the book “Beyond Satisfaction: The Secret to Crafting a Profitable Online Course That Will Change Lives” by Breanne Dyck. I hope they have been useful to you.Please get in touch to discuss your learnings and interpretations from the book, I’d love to hear your view of things and, of course, your feedback.