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Pros and Cons of Evergreen vs. Launching a Course

Evergreen Online Course

What’s an Evergreen Course?

Just like the name says, evergreen courses are open for enrollment all the time, with students beginning the course any time they want. We could contrast that model with a “deciduous” course, that you launch once (until the time), close once it’s launched,  and everyone starts at the same time. Which one is right for you?

On the surface, evergreen seems more profitable. Why turn people away from taking your course whenever they want to? But this set up ignores the power of scarcity perception. This means that we will often postpone taking action if the opportunity seems limitless, but if there is a deadline involved, we act. There is an immediacy and power to the “launch” of a course with a deadline in sight. You’ve seen this in action countless times if you follow any internet gurus or teachers at all.

What About the Student Experience?

But in the end, the choice is totally yours. While you may round up more registrations with the launch formula, it does take a lot of energy (and stress) to run a launch campaign. To me, it seems a bit artificial to do it just to manipulate people into signing up, but there is another big benefit to this type of course structure if you as the teacher will be doing new or live videos as a part of each class or interacting with students in some other “live” capacity, such as answering questions, participating in chat rooms. etc. That is, you will have a group of students who are all at the same place in the course at the same time, and the students provide resources and support to each other as they work through the material. You as the instructor can also address student questions that have come up that week as part of your live broadcast, giving a much more custom feel to the entire experience.

Instructor Access

It has been found that this direct access to an instructor is a major factor in the decision to register for a course, rather than relying on existing resources that may be available on the internet. For example, one of the well-known teachers for whom I design online courses has a very large library of excellent YouTube videos, which a student could spend week watching for free and learning much of the same concepts as in the online course. However, his paid courses focus on a topic and the process of transformation it presents, with a group of students focusing intently on the course materials and live interactive video presentations each week presented through Zoom. Students can ask their specific questions of the teacher, as well as the other students who are participating in the live class.

Evergreen or Launched?

So, there is a certain intrinsic value to a “launched” course with a live video component that can very much work in everyone’s favor – students and instructor as well.

Have you ever “launched” a course? How did it go? Or do you prefer the evergreen approach? If you’re just getting started, which approach resonates with your style? Let us know in the comments below.