From November 2022 through January 2023, Skillshare ran an engagement promotion, in which we encouraged Skillshare teachers to try out our engagement best practices and share their experiences with us in a short survey. Those who participated were eligible to earn a monthly engagement reward.
We’ve been sharing success stories gathered through the promotion from teachers across the Skillshare community, right here on the Skillshare blog. Check out our round-ups from November and December.
In this latest and last installment, we’re thrilled to share a few more strategies teachers tried in January, as well as some overall data and insights from the engagement promotion.
Impact from our Engagement Promotion
Overall, 1,669 teachers participated in the engagement promotion, which was approximately 39% of all eligible teachers.
We examined platform activity relating to engagement during the engagement promotion (November 2022 to January 2023) and compared that data to the previous three months (August 2022 to October 2022). Here are some top-level insights that we found.
Overall Engagement Activity Increased
We saw an increase of 23% in teacher-led engagement activity (project feedback, discussion posts, and replies by teachers) during the promotion compared to the previous period. If we include student-led activity (student reviews and project uploads) in that calculation, we saw an increase of 19% across our platform overall.
Why This is Significant
While some of the overall lift is likely due to badges, which launched during the engagement promo timeframe and incentivize student engagement, we were excited to see the promotion boost engagement for both students and teachers.
Engagement Leads to More Minutes Watched
Teachers who participated in the promotion saw a 2.3% increase in their earnings from minutes watched on their classes, compared to a 3.1% decrease for non-participants.
Note: For this data point, we compared the new data to October 2022 only since it was the first payment month with Skillshare’s new payout model.
Why This is Significant
This lift in viewership reinforces what our data has already shown: Engaging with students in these ways benefits not only the student, but the teacher in other ways too.
Asking for Reviews Helps
Teachers who encouraged students to leave a review during the promotion saw a 29% increase in student reviews compared to the prior period.
Why This is Significant
Combined with many teacher success stories on the effectiveness of authentically encouraging reviews, this data point showed that sometimes all you have to do is ask!
Discussions Can Engage, But We Need To Learn More
Teacher-led class discussions were the most used form of engagement—a whopping 107% increase compared to the prior period. In contrast, teacher replies on discussions showed the lowest overall increase, 11%.
Why This Might Be Significant
This discrepancy may suggest that plenty of teachers took the initiative on outreach through discussions and broadcasting information to students, but few of these actions resulted in conversations between teachers and students.
There’s more to learn here, but anecdotally, we hear from teachers that some of the highest engagement in discussions results when a teacher is offering something of value (a resource or additional information to complement learning) or a meaningful interaction to boost a sense of community.
Teacher Success Stories
As before, we learned a lot from teachers about what strategies worked best. Here are some success stories shared by teachers in the January survey, organized into some new (and familiar!) themes.
Get Your Hands Dirty—With the Project
Skillshare is known for hands-on learning, and student projects are still a primary form of engagement on our platform. In January, a few teachers shared some of their innovative approaches to projects, both in their own classes and in other teachers’.
Uploading your own version of the project is an effective way to encourage students to do the same in classes. Top Teacher Siobhan Twomey shared some specifics about her experience
“On my last class, Landscape Sketching in Ireland, I posted my project and got a big uptick in likes as well as students watching the class within the first two weeks. I also encourage students in the Discussion tab to post up their projects so that I can give feedback.”
Being engaged as a teacher on Skillshare doesn’t necessarily mean engaging on your own classes. Consider ways you can draw visibility to your teaching by initiating helpful and meaningful engagement across the platform.
Top Teacher Alanna Cartier tried this last month. She uploaded her own student projects and was pleasantly surprised to find that the activity sparked a lot of engagement among her followers! She received likes, comments, and an uplift in student projects on her own classes. Over email, Cartier added:
“I’ve been really enjoying being a student and sharing new projects, and it’s been such a lovely way to connect with my students too.”
Similarly, teacher Rob Davidson shared his experience:
“I noticed that another photography teacher had posted a new project and discussion regarding food photography, which is my area of expertise too. In the thread, I added in some additional suggestions that students could try, and the teacher responded with more additional ideas. I feel that we had a good dialogue, and it was an opportunity to put myself in front of her students in an encouraging and helpful way.”
Davidson added, “I think more interaction between teachers in front of students could be a good avenue to increase engagement and allow students to discover new teachers to follow.”
On the theme of projects, we had to spotlight Top Teacher Lisa Bardot’s innovative project in her latest class, Kickstart your Creativity with Procreate: 20 Fun Drawings for Beginners and Beyond.
Many teachers tell us that they enjoy breaking down the process to help their students succeed. Bardot took this to the next level by creating a project tracker as a class resource.
She shared, “This class is designed to be taken over a 4-week period, so I supplied my students with a ‘progress tracker’ meant to be filled out one lesson at a time. I instructed students to share the progress tracker at the end of every week by updating their class project.”
It’s working: Bardot’s class has nearly a hundred projects so far and counting. Aside from her accessible and fun topic, a downloadable resource helped students get started on the project sooner.
What’s more, this resource and her class structure helped Bardot created a clear through line from her teaching to engagement: “All of this lead to students coming back to the class to ‘fill up’ their progress tracker, thus resulting in high rates of class completion—and student satisfaction!”
Bring it Back to Skillshare
Throughout this promotion, teachers have been telling us they have been engaging with students outside of Skillshare as much as on it. While helpful, some teachers reported success in nudging students back to Skillshare so their interaction with them is visible within the context of their teaching.
Top Teacher Jen Dixon shared, “A student that completed my class Painting Trees with the ABCs shared her project on Instagram and tagged me. In our conversation on Instagram, I complimented her work and mentioned that I hadn’t seen her work in the projects for the class, which prompted her to add it to the class project gallery, where I gave more in-depth feedback. I worded the ‘ask’ in a way that didn’t feel pushy, but I’m hoping that the nudge will encourage her to create projects in Skillshare as she works through my classes from now on.”
Teacher Tortor Smith reported some success reaching out to a few students who have already messaged her on socials. She shared, “I asked them what they thought of my classes and would they be interested in reviewing my teaching on Skillshare. I got a couple through on classes and they were super positive. The main feedback I keep getting is people just want more classes from me, which is great.”
Find a Way to Make a Gentle Nudge
In previous round-ups on the blog, we reported that teachers found success in earning reviews on their classes and teaching by asking for them. As mentioned, our data analysis shows that teachers who tried this strategy did see a significant increase in reviews (a lift of 29% for November 2022 to January 2023, compared to the previous three months).
In our January survey, a few more teachers shared how this worked in practice for them. We’re happy to share these as model examples for teachers to follow.
Top Teacher Ohn Mar Win says it best: “Students typically need reminding about leaving teacher feedback and including it as a closing sentence when I leave project feedback has been worthwhile. This has probably doubled the rate that I receive feedback just in the last week, such as in my latest class, Toned Paper: Stunning and Simple Illustrations in Black and White.”
Teacher Harry Jones shared his approach in detail: “In January, I began asking students who posted class projects to also leave an honest review on the class in my feedback, letting everyone know their thoughts. Most people who I asked to leave a review did actually follow through. This has been really successful for me. My assumption is, if a student was driven enough to participate in the class project, they more than likely enjoyed the class. And if that’s the case, why not ask them to let other students know why they enjoyed it?”
While gently asking for a review has proved to be successful for a number of teachers, it’s important to remember to be authentic! Students are more likely—and probably happier—to leave a review when you’ve provided an awesome learning experience, such as by giving them genuine project feedback or answering their questions.
Jones elaborated further: “It will seem a bit disingenuous if your feedback essentially amounts to ‘Good job. Write me a review.’ By giving a student real feedback on their project and not just a generic canned compliment, I think it significantly increases the likelihood that the student will feel comfortable writing a review, and return the favor for an enjoyable class and experience.”
Watch for Butterfly Effects
It’s called feedback for a reason! It’s no secret that students flock to Skillshare to learn from a specific teacher, working their way through the classes they have to offer. In January, a few teachers reported that engagement might have been the catalyst for drawing students into a deeper engagement with their teaching.
Top Teacher Catherine Jennifer Charnock shared this story: “A new student posted a question in my class, Watercolor Without Fear: Painting for Pattern Design. After I answered the question, I noticed that the same student then enrolled in my class Line Drawing: A Three-Step Approach (And a Five-Day Birdacious Bootcamp) and shared her project. After I gave feedback on that project, she came back with another question, which I answered. She then took my class Drawing Without Fear: A Self-Care Approach to Daily Creativity and shared her project for this class, which I subsequently gave feedback on. Answering her initial question and then giving feedback on her projects has definitely helped me to make a connection to her.”
Teacher Diana Escamilla told us a similar story: “A student shared her project for my class, Creative Hand Embroidery on Leaves. I gave her feedback and asked a few engaging questions to which she responded. Two days later, she showed up in another of my classes, Creative Paper Embroidery, because she completed and shared the project for that class too. My hypothesis is that she felt engaged and felt psychologically safe to share her work once more.”
Bottom line: One small engagement action with a student in a class can have a ripple effect across your other classes, and encourage them to persist further through your content.
Make Engagement a Feel-Good Habit
As mentioned, we’ve seen a lift in engagement activity across the site since we started this promotion, and teachers are reporting a “lift” in their own attempts too. Engagement is above and beyond just creating new classes, but there are measurable rewards.
As noted above, teachers who did participate in our engagement promotion saw an uptick in their earnings via minutes watched on their classes (+2.3%) compared to those that did not (-3.1%). Moreover, for some teachers, they reported it felt good to try engagement, and more so when they saw the effects.
Teacher Annie Liu shared, “It’s always really nice to see and engage with student work, and when I can, I’ll share it on my social channels, i.e. Instagram stories. I’m not sure how big the impact of doing this is across the board, but it definitely makes me feel like what I’m doing is impactful for students who share their works and feels good on my end!”
“It has been a really nice exercise to sit down and think of relevant and meaningful ways of engaging with my students,” wrote teacher Jose Anglada. She continued: “In January, I wrote a detailed discussion in my class, Introduction to Jewelry Making: Take Your Hand Sketch to an Accessory, where I shared the project I created and after that, I provided five tips and tricks for hand piercing. So I’m trying to encourage students to create their own projects while providing valuable information at the same time. Overall, I’ll definitely take this practice with me and continue doing one engagement practice per month. With time, they will feel more natural, and I’m sure that my students will appreciate it!”
Final Thoughts and Looking Ahead
Overall, we learned a lot in this promotion, but in summary:
- The promotion boosted engagement across our community, for students and teachers alike.
- Earnings for minutes watched increased slightly for teachers who participated in some form of engagement.
- Engagement around reviews had great results, especially when asked for authentically and through quality classes.
Based on these early insights, here are our general recommendations for teachers on our platform:
Prioritize Quality Content
A student’s experience in a class is grounded in what is taught, and how. Furthermore, we know that meaningful engagement with classes leads to higher rates of member subscription, renewal, and satisfaction, but only when that engagement is with high quality classes.
For teachers, keep learning and iterating on your approach to content planning and production, and follow our Class Quality Guidelines to ensure you’re creating high-quality classes for our community.
Engagement for the sake of engagement or discussions for the sake of discussions don’t lead to high quality engagement. Instead, we encourage teachers to add value to their interactions with students. Give genuine feedback, start a meaningful discussion or offer a free resource, for example.
Ask for Reviews
Some students will not think to leave a great review unless you remind them to do it. Gently asking students to share their feedback, for example, in your conclusion video and your project feedback, can increase the likelihood they will post a review in your class.
Make It a Monthly Habit
Many teachers shared that reaching out to students and trying to kick-start engagement was a very positive experience for them. They had interactions with students they wouldn’t have had otherwise. And, based on our findings, teachers who engage with students tend to see a lift in minutes watched, which means more money too.
So, our suggestion here is to continue to engage with your audience on Skillshare at least once a month. The promotion might be over, but the benefits of engaging remain.
We’re also eager to consolidate and share more insights and recommendations for engagement in our Teacher Help Center. Look for updates in the coming months.
We Couldn’t Do This Without You!
Thank you to our teacher community who took part in this engagement promotion. Your feedback is helping us learn more about engagement across our platform, which we’ll continue to track moving forward.