Posted: 28th September 2022

How does a 0% Discount sound?*

Cheap online courses (the reality)


Do you let the cost of a course dictate your learning?

Does a great offer persuade you to take the plunge and give a cheap online course a go? A lot of us (including me) have heard of and used massive open online courses (MOOCs). These include Coursera, Udemy, LinkedIn learning and more. These companies appeared on the scene in the early 2010s and attempted to cheap online courses to the masses. These courses exist as an alternative to universities or conventional colleges. However, although it was a genuine endeavour with a promising future, these newcomers have weaknesses. Studies carried out have shown that upwards of 90% of enrolees were not completing their courses. Why not?


Yes, completion rates are not everything to do with the overall quality and individual success of the course. but they are a good indication of how many people initially commit to completing the course but fail to see it through. Meaning, what is the likelihood of you completing the course?


A simple analogy could be buying a new car, you do your research, you are excited, you believe you understand what you want, you have made your choices and head off to the car showroom to make a deal. You’ve had the test drive and you’re about to commit to the purchase. You are certain you are making the correct decision when the salesperson tells you that there was a less than 10% chance of you using the car as you originally planned, well you probably wouldn’t be as committed to purchasing it at that point, would you?


So are online courses worth it?

So why are people so enticed by these cheap online courses, and why are they not completing them? Classes are larger than conventional in-person establishments (and universities), there is reduced contact with instructors, and many assignments are auto-graded. Well, this is where the enticing offers come in. A survey by RetailMeNot discovered that 67% of consumers have made a purchase they weren’t originally planning to make solely based on finding a coupon or discount. Pair that with the perceived urgency a lot of these brands use e.g., “a limited time offer” or “1 hour left to checkout, and you can see why discounts are a powerful tool for converting sceptical browsers to course enrolees.


So, if we think back to that car in the showroom, what if the salesperson acknowledged your worries and explained he’d offer you the car with a significant discount, maybe less than half the original asking price, possibly even lower!  You see how all at once that’s a lot more enticing and the fact that there is a small chance of you not using the car may not seem as big of a gamble. This is exactly how these courses work. They play on your doubts and negotiate with your worries and values until you’ve mentally reasoned with yourself to just go for it. As a result, people are taking these courses with less certainty than conventional courses. There are less checks and limited support to guide you in the right direction.


Quality vs quantity

The reason this model of course production continues to work is that it seems that everyone wins. The shareholders of the MOOCs and MOOCs themselves make the money from the vast influx of cheap online course registrations. The course enrolees get all the expected resources they need to pass the assessments. The data still shows us that everyone doesn’t win.


In reality, to keep growing and making profits, MOOCs began their shift from online virtual classrooms to lower-cost videos, created in bulk, to sell in bulk. So, not everyone wins. To maximise profits the quality of the learning experience has been compromised to improve scalability. This doesn’t mean that every course is a slapdash memento of its past (there are still some excellent courses out there) but due to this shift, quality has been affected.


Struggling to find online courses?

As a result of this bombardment of cheap online courses, even if there is an excellent course out there, how will you know which one to choose? As an enrolee, you’ll struggle to find the right course and when you do, it may not be long until you start doubting yourself on whether you have chosen correctly. A phenomenon is commonly known as the paradox of choice. The paradox of choice is the tendency for people to get overwhelmed when they are presented with many options.


As a society, there is a current and on-going shift towards buying less, focussing more on quality. This is when Crescente comes in. Our focus is on the educational coherence of our courses. Yes, they take longer to create and require more resources, but this ensures the learners and programme participants gain not just a certificate but retain the knowledge from the course. When taking on corporate clients or distance learners we find it essential to have a conversation with them. This allows us to unpack their needs and decipher what it is they’re looking for in a learning partner.


The best place to find online courses

At Crescente we don’t think an offer or price should be the only deciding factor for choosing a course. We think the realistic, human variables are what help others complete their course experience. Our commitment to supporting ensures our learners and our clients are catered to on an individual level. There are no boundaries and chat algorithms to delay speaking to a human. There are no chatbots telling you to visit that FAQs page you’ve just clicked off of. By listening to our learners and having regular communication with them whenever necessary, we have been able to achieve an over 94% first-time pass on their final assignments. Because of the support our completion rate is consistency above the online only courses.


Our final tip for finding the right course, stick to courses you’re generally interested in. Do not get swayed by attractive low offers or new topics that claim to be trending. If you’re unsure, ask the course provider, or past learners whether it’s the right course for you. Often learning providers have groups for alumni to discuss and find past learners, like our Crescente learners group. Our coaches take the time to evaluate you and your needs to help you conclude whether our courses are right for you and whether they’ll help you achieve your goal.

*By the way we do offer a small discount for third sector organisations.


Contact Crescente here.