Important changes to Online Workshops

Today we made what have to be the most requested changes to Learn:

  • When you start an online workshop all of the lessons are now immediately available to you. We try to provide some better guidance about the expected timeframe and workload of workshops, but allow you to access all of the lessons from the start.
  • We also now allow you to register for more than one workshop at a time. There are people who are truly intermediate level or ready for the test-driven workshop who want to get access to the lessons from the preceding workshops. We’re happy to accommodate. If you attempt to register for a second workshop that overlaps with one you’re already taking, we now present a friendly warning message, but allow you to register anyway.

When we originally started Prime it was a completely open system. We saw people sign up and then immediately register for all workshops. We were worried that this lack of focus would cause people not to actually learn, so we put the limits that you are familiar with in place. We were then able to watch how people use the system, collect honest feedback about what worked and what didn’t, and add new features to better guide subscribers in the right direction.

Today, we have better integrated the Trail Maps, improved the onboarding experience, and introduced mentoring. With these, and other numerous small changes, we feel we’re ready to reintroduce some flexibility into the system.

While every day we manually allowed people into extra workshops, and bumped them forward in the workshops they were already in, we understand that it was a nuisance to have to ask, and we appreciate everyone’s patience as we worked to improve the system for everyone.

Thank you again, happy learning!


I am glad you guys are making great changes.

I would like to say that I loved the way that certain videos were available per course week, I think the behavioural psychology behind it is(was) a smart way to see a higher finishing rate, one of the differentiators that you guys have(had) was instead of delivering everything to you at once, it would give you or at least for me a weekload of work to really focus on that work. Unlike most video tutorial sites.

This allowed me to focus on that set of videos for that week, watching it twice or three times at some point. But in the end I really got it.

When I signed up, I was signed up with TutsPlus, Codeschool, and I was also doing the Gamification course at O’Reilly, after experiencing your model I really wished Tutsplus and O’Reilly would release the option of having the videos on a schedule instead of an open bar. Which isn’t the best behavioural nudge. Much better to give me a piece of celery a day rather than give me 20 pieces and expect me to sort them out, you are bound to have dropout rates for not stringing us along.

It might even sound lazy but I believe in good choice architecture, I think it brought more quality to your videos, that fact that it wasn’t a free for all made me respect and cherish the videos better than when I simply downloaded all the videos from sites like Tutsplus.

As an advocate of success especially for students who work very well with order, I think it is a great feature, and I would be sad to see it go, I think if you were able to track finish rates, you probably would see a major increase relative to what people are used to on video based sites.

But I do understand that not everyone works that way, it even threw me for a loop initially, but then I began to think this fits me very well. The constraints used caused good friction between me at first thinking it wasn’t a good idea and then after a couple of weeks past and I was able to intensely focus without the need to use will power, it felt great.

I do hope the feature can be an option and that you might even consider what it brings to the table aside from all of the immediate complaints. Kind of goes back to the faster horse saying… I as the customer, didn’t know I wanted it until it was right in front of my face. But when I saw the end result I enjoyed it very much.

I do challenge those who don’t think it works to think about it as a deep immersion into each part of the video, I know we can do that on our own but the constrains would lead to better results if we were testing to see how immersed students would be in each workshop. Again I think the feature is an asset that doesn’t come off that way at first.

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@christianramsey Thank you very much for your detailed thoughts. I’m hopeful that the guidance we provide now (and will continue to improve upon), and the structure that we are still providing strikes a balance between what you liked about the way it worked and letting people moving through at a pace that is more customized to them. We’ll continue to keep an eye on this.

Over the coming week’s we are going to be revising workshop content even further along these lines, to provide more structure and guidance, as well as validation that people are indeed learning.

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