Written by:

Holly Macdonald


December 10, 2014

Wow! Serials are really trending. The most popular example is “Serial” – a podcast that is delivered as a serial (shocking I know) – it’s a fabulous model for learning. People who are captivated by the story and the approach are creating their own “study” groups to discuss and analyze the new findings. It provides a great example of learning that is pushed out to an audience, but additional learning is pulled from the accompanying web resources (and the study groups). It’s fascinating. It’s compelling storytelling so it might be successful because it’s done well. Good pacing, moody background music, great interviewing. Plus, everyone loves a mystery.

Over the past few months, I’ve also seen some courses or modules being delivered by via email on some kind of schedule (serial) sometimes called:

  • Drip Campaigns – more a marketing slant and training is one
  • Educational Drip Campaigns – this shows how this type of learning can be a great Minimum Viable Product – MVP, which is a great insight and could even be a way for learning professionals to get a course out the door quickly. You could even build it as you go, adapting each week based on feedback or analytics.
  • Subscription Learning – Dr. Will Thalheimer has a whole blog with examples
  • Learning Campaigns – I noticed that all the big e-learning companies in the UK seem to offer this as part of their services now -not sure if these are courses broken into smaller pieces and delivered piecemeal (serialized), but struck me as interesting.

Email newsletters have been around forever, but these take the notion further, it’s not just a grab bag of interesting content, but content with instructional goals, delivered with intent to teach something. There’s something anticipatory about waiting for your installment. The examples I’ve referred to below are not stories, but that would be a very interesting approach.

Here’s a couple of examples:

this explains everythingThis Explains Everything (how could you NOT sign up for this?) – this is a course that features a range of experts and provides you insights on product psychology. It’s more of a curated list, but each week in your inbox a new module is sent about social psychology, brain science or design thinking.

“Creative instructional design lessons” can be delivered to your inbox from Ever Learning. The topics include “Use Learner Personas to design learning experiences” and “Digital technology is like a bicycle for the mind”. The lessons aren’t long, and it’s the kind of email that you like to open because you are going to learn something.

If you want to create your own – you might want to check out: How to create a self-paced email course. The part I like about this explanation is it establishes a way to set autoresponders to send the next lesson when the current one is marked as finished, so you can automate it, but also match the pace of the person taking the course. Which may not make it serialized, but still a subscription.

What do you think? Are these a viable option or a fad that will quickly fade? Got any great examples to share – leave a comment.