Converting Your Live Classes into Self-Study Programs

Posted by on Mar 27 2013

We are seeing a change in the way students like to receive education.  Students are used to on-demand everything. Their new philosophy is, “I want training where and how I want it,” and that culture is becoming the norm. We’ve got TiVo and Netflix and Hulu and Kindle — and these things give people complete control over access to what they want in their lives: whenever they want it and wherever they want it.

Why Create Self-Study Programs?

I have been teaching Designing Effective Workshops as a live teleclass series for seven years. I was finding that my students would sign up for the class but they wouldn’t always attend live because of busy schedules. They would simply pick up the recordings and listen when it suited them. These students were very clearly voting for self-study by saying, “I’m just as happy to do it via recording versus doing it live.”

Should you convert some of your live classes to self-study programs?

Here are some thoughts to consider when making the decision for your business:

  • You may find your customers are demanding it.
  • It will make you rise above your competitors because creating an effective self-study product is not easy.  Many of your competitors won’t even attempt it.
  • You want to add passive-income products to your business model.

Things to Consider When Doing the Conversion

  • Start with your lesson plan.  You need to have a written outline of what you’re going to teach and the order you’re going to teach it in.  If you’ve taught the class before, use the same lesson plan that you have already created and tested because you know it works.
  • Edit the exercises. If you already have a lesson plan for a live class, you’ll need to modify the exercises or the homework assignments, changing them into ones that an individual student can do on their own.
  • Decide if the students will have access to you for questions. Typically you will do this through some sort of online message forum, email, or a weekly teleclass. I thought it was important that students be able to ask questions, so I decided to add a message forum to my Designing Effective Workshops self-study online learning program.
  • Decide which media types you will be using for delivering your self-study material. You can deliver your self-study program through video, audio, ebooks, and transcripts. You can choose just one of these delivery media types or a combination. For Designing Effective Workshops, I chose all three: video, audio and transcripts. That way, whichever media type the students preferred, it would be available for them.

Creating self-study programs can be fun and rewarding for you on many levels. And converting your live classes into self-study programs is a smart move to better serve your students and increase your revenue stream.



15 comments for now

15 Responses to “Converting Your Live Classes into Self-Study Programs”

  1. Caroline

    What a clever idea! I have a lot of classes I can create self study from.

    27 Mar 2013 at 7:22 pm

  2. Emma H.

    I’ve been thinking about creating online education videos for a long time. Thanks for the motivation, Karyn. 🙂

    27 Mar 2013 at 7:40 pm

  3. Karyn,

    I originally delivered my classes “live” with a forum where they could post homework and questions. Later, I switched to a combination of audio and handout, complemented by a call where they could ask questions.

    Now that I’m coming out with a book based on my class, I’m mulling over how to integrate that into the class. The book chapters are more complete than the audio/handout combo. However, I know some people like having audio.

    28 Mar 2013 at 5:08 am

  4. I really enjoyed this article, Karyn. It’s right on time. I’d been thinking about making this move for a lot of my content to help balance my crazy schedule & still allow me to serve more people.

    Your post was one of the confirmations I’ve gotten the past month or so. And you shared great tips on how to make it happen. Thank you!

    28 Mar 2013 at 7:43 am

  5. Karyn Greenstreet

    Tanya, what I’m finding is that self-study classes are a commitment initially to the creation aspect. But once they’re up, they’ll free you to teach your other classes live, especially those classes where live interaction is built into the course design. Or as Salman Kahn of the Kahn Academy suggests, but your “lectures” online as self-study and put all your exercises and interaction into the live portion of the class. He calls this “flipping the classroom.” 🙂


    28 Mar 2013 at 9:55 am

  6. As a creator of a platform for building self-study courses online, I’m slightly biased :). But I really do believe this is a huge opportunity for speakers, coaches, consultants and others who primarily deliver their expertise through live classes and workshops.

    28 Mar 2013 at 9:03 am

  7. Karyn Greenstreet

    Abe, your platform is great (, and perfect for the non-techie who wants to get self-study programs out to the world but who doesn’t want to fuss with all the technical setup work of a membership site.

    28 Mar 2013 at 9:53 am

  8. I’m in the camp of people who prefer self study, but I thought I was in the minority and that most people preferred live classes. Glad to hear that most people prefer self study as I have been thinking of ways to integrate this into my own business.

    28 Mar 2013 at 9:23 am

  9. Karyn Greenstreet

    Kristine, the shift is just beginning to occur now. Every 18 months, I conduct a “learning survey” asking people how they prefer to learn. The next learning survey is being conducted in late April/early May of this year, so I should have more information at that time for you.


    28 Mar 2013 at 9:51 am

  10. Roger DeWitt

    Great article, Karen. Quick question… what program/add-on/plug in do you use for your online forum? Is it stand alone or attached to your site/blog?

    Low tech would be get a gmail email address just for the class participants and tell them how many questions a week you will answer and when you will check it. i like something a bit more high tech, however.

    One other question, when you teach a class like that, do you use a membership site program to manage the site protection? Amember? Wishlist Member? Premise?

    Sorry for the 20 question 3rd degree. Hope you are well.


    28 Mar 2013 at 9:40 am

  11. Karyn Greenstreet

    Hi, Roger,

    We’re using vBulletin for our online forum. Our website is HTML/CSS, not a WordPress site, so we went with one of the leaders in forum software. It works seamlessly with our aMember software, which controls “membership” (class registrations) for our students.

    Don’t throw away the email idea, though…it would give you a great level of interaction with your students. 🙂

    Ask any questions you’d like…happy to help.


    28 Mar 2013 at 9:49 am

  12. Dina Eisenberg

    Really useful and timely article,Karyn. I developed a unique retreat experience for managing conflict but it’s limited to 18 attendees. I see now that I can turn it into a self study that reaches more people at an affordable price. My challenge will be how to give additional support afterwards. Email or a Q&A call might work for a follow on sale. Thoughts? Thanks!

    28 Mar 2013 at 12:51 pm

  13. Karyn Greenstreet

    Yes, Dina, a monthly Q+A call might be the perfect answer, as it would give you some of that in-person feel that your existing retreat offers. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to reach more people with your message and your teachings?


    28 Mar 2013 at 12:55 pm

  14. Gerrie

    Hello Karyn,
    I’m almost complete on a number of information product projects, and they would be much more effective and higher value to my clients as a self-study guide – thanks for the idea!

    29 Mar 2013 at 9:06 am

  15. Hi Karyn:

    What timing! This is precisely what I have been thinking about but now having the confidence to go ahead at this point. It’s like you are a mind reader sometimes for this is just what I needed.
    As usual, thank you Karyn and enjoy knowing that you assist so many of us with such high spirits.
    My best as always with a big thank you! Helga

    01 Apr 2013 at 10:50 am

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