We knew from the start that we wanted to do online education differently. We have a simple philosophy that drives our view on education: learning by doing. On Skillshare, students prove what they learn through project completion, while collaborating with other classmates, asking questions, sharing ideas, and exchanging feedback in class. In August, we launched our version of MOOCs (massive open online course) – our Online Skillshare Classes. We’ve started to see a tremendous amount of success with this unique model around “doing”.

One of our teachers, Elliott Curtis, taught an online class on Sneakerology to over 1,100 students from around the world. In addition to purely lecturing, Elliot conducted interviews with street legends like Bobbito Garcia, hosted office hours online to answer questions, and curated readings for the students that helped guide them through their projects, which was to design their own sneaker concept.

The students in his class collaborated with each other by asking/answering each other’s questions, giving feedback on each other’s projects, and meeting up in smaller study groups all over the world (online and in-person). This model worked well for the students because it allowed them to move at their own pace, learn with other people, and immediately apply what they learned to a project.

By the end of the class, students uploaded their projects, which showcased what they learned in the class. 

Since our online classes are mostly project-based (we don’t have quizzes or exams) we’re seeing a high rate of completion compared to other MOOC’s. Also, since the students have an unlimited time to complete their projects, the completion rate for each class increases over time.

With the new projects feature, it’s really transparent to see how many students are truly making things with what they learn in class. Here’s an example of a current class on Street Photography: Capture The Scenes of Your City (skillshare.com) with about 36% completion rate. The students in this class met up locally in cities like Brooklyn and went on photography adventures together!

If we truly believe that everyone is creative –  education can play a huge vital role in re-thinking how we learn from each other. Collaborating, creating, failing, tinkering, making, doing, sharing, and taking initiative are all skills needed in today’s work. Moving forward, we hope to empower more teachers to break $30K from teaching one class (which is nearly the average salary of a teacher), and to provide access to students from anywhere in the world.

Written by:

Michael Karnjanaprakorn