HOW TO F*** UP YOUR EDUCATION BUSINESS

A lot of discussion has risen over the topic of learning design in just a few years time, which is great! Now that the world seems to be somewhat ready for education as a business, or education as a service (EaaS), I want to tell you how neglecting education design will surely make you fail in the education business.

But before I tell you how to screw over your business, let’s define education design first as a term. We can start by analyzing the words learning and education. When learning means the actual cognitive processes and changes in your brain whether through formal or informal education, the term education also refers to any kind of schooling, results produced by instructions, trainings or studies, and the science or art of teaching –pedagogics. (dictionary.com). In short, education can be seen as an umbrella for different educational operations that enable learning. The term design, again, is nowadays attached strongly with customer-oriented approaches, just like in learning design, design thinking, UX design, CX design and so on. Thus, education design is a practice of forming intentional educational services enabling learning and development having the customers and other relevant stakeholders in the center of it.

Now it is clear that the first step towards failure is taken by forgetting to design your education service from the point of view of your customers and other relevant stakeholders. To avoid this I suggest you take a moment to go over your different stakeholder groups. Do you need to outsource some functions of your operations, such as sales, conducting market research, or having your training offerings in an external online marketplace? Who will conduct the trainings and education itself? How are you going to pay those people and ensure loyalty and satisfaction? How will you provide the best possible service to your supporting stakeholders? How will you take care of your customers and ensure the best possible experiences for them? How are you planning to get to know your customers? In what society are you planning to operate in and what are the laws and regulations there? How will you acknowledge the alumni and the parents of your learners? How about your investors?

The second step towards failure is to not plan out your service, “the product”, carefully. Just like in any business you need to understand what you are selling and in this case, teaching. What is the need you respond to with your education business and why would someone pay for it? How does it differ from other similar services on the market, what is your value proposition and what kind of added value will your service provide your customers?

To make sure your service is not well thought out, neglect determining the conception of learning behind it, as well. Conception of learning is a basis for learning design and learning methods, as well as the selection of the form of education. So not defining how you view learning, what are the main cornerstones you’ll build your education business on and what are the concrete ways of educating, teaching, training, coaching etc. and why, will successfully lead to your failure. This way you are also free to choose whether you’ll deliver your product in physical surroundings or perhaps online just based on your gut feeling. However, if you want to avoid failure, think more closely about the physical places or online environments you want to operate in and how it supports learning and delivering your service. You might want to even consider if the physical spaces will change or be permanent, how your learners will get there, how many people will fit in, how you’ll communicate with your learners in online environments, how will they find to your online course area, and how all of these decisions and many more will affect your service and business. For example, quite often people who plan to start an education business forget to familiarise themselves with good online education practices, for example, or think about ways that optimize learning results and experiences, and end up losing their customers. Quite blindly we tend to just choose to conduct onsite learning, blended learning or online learning and then just wing it. This is not the way to make it in the rapidly increasing education market and provide the best possible educational service to your customers.

Now that we have shat on the service design and pedagogical aspects of your business, it is time to forget about funding, marketing, and sales, too. Who cares about the local cultures and ways of doing things, right? Wrong! It is highly recommended to have a partner that understands those things when entering the market, especially new markets. But before that, it is important that you’ve figured out the business model for your business. Who pays what and how, what kind of other sources for funding can you identify, how far will those take you, how will you make your business sustainable? Also, how are you going to acquire customers and learners, what is your target segment, what kind of language they speak and terms they use, what is important to your customers and how will you convince them that you have the solution they are looking for? Think about the marketing channels, your ideal customer, your most likely customers, their culture, your brand and vision. Closing a deal might require multiple failed attempts. They better not be due to not paying attention to education design! You should always try to learn from each lost deal, ask your prospects why they decided to take a different path. When doing sales, you need to know the optimal places, timings and people who can do it for you or with you. You might not, and especially in international business will most likely not, be the best person to do the sales. Get a professional to do it for you. Don’t underestimate your prospects either, they will spot fake from afar. Tell honestly what you have, what you are capable of doing and what you don’t have or won’t do. At all times, do intelligent data-driven decisions — make decisions you can justify. Or not and say hello to your new friend called epic failure.

All in all, you might notice that in education design business design and development, pedagogical design, learning design, customer and user experience design have all come together. It is clear that if something involves so many different aspects, it can not be a simple and quick task to put together. When doing education design you should pay attention to five aspects;

  1. Education Service (the content)
  2. Conception of learning
  3. Form of education
  4. Funding, marketing & sales (FMS)
  5. Relevant stakeholders.

To help you avoid f’n up your education business, we are here for you!

Come to us with a challenge — We got this. Aeonian Solutions.

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