Is this learning or entertainment?
I’m the first to admit that I’m a real sucker for radio advertising, and the latest product which I’ve purchased after hearing a radio advert promoting a buy one get one free offer was a Masterclass subscription. And here are my thoughts, the pros and cons of this E-learning platform.
But before I get into the pros/cons, just for those who haven’t heard of it before, Masterclass is a subscription-based website where you can learn from those in the know i.e., song writing with Alicia Keys, acting with Samuel L. Jackson, architecture with Frank Gehry, Cello with Yo-Yo Ma etc. So, imagine a celebrity guest speaker coming to a local Community College near you, to run a semester’s worth of classes! And Masterclass is kinda like that, but you learn from the comfort of your own home, anytime, anywhere- if you’re willing to fork out $276 (Australian dollars) up-front. Not all that much if you’re enrolling into a training course, but a bit of money for a 12-month subscription based streaming service. So, the value proposition is dependent if you perceive Masterclass to be learning, as you can’t place a monetary value on knowledge! Or is it just entertainment? Because if it’s just entertainment, it’s more expensive than any other streaming service out there!
Star power- you’re learning from household names, so that already makes the learning experience super appealing and fun! And even if you might not be interested in the topic beforehand, but you probably will be after completing the class which encourages you to do further investigations afterwards. That’s big right!?
Quality production- the production which goes into each video is super slick, each class has its own music soundtrack which suits each teacher and topic. So, you can tell that much time and resource has been invested into each video’s creation.
Accessible- the website and smart phone app are super easy to use, so you can be learning or picking up where you’ve left off within seconds! Although there is a bit of a IOS bug when using Voiceover to access the app, which makes for some amusing moments (SESSIO N? anyone?).
Unlimited access- the year’s subscription gives you unlimited access to all the classes currently in their library (over 150 classes at last count). And new classes are added each month, alerting you of new classes/instructors via email.
Multiple modes of access- you can watch classes from their website, or on their Smart phone app, or as audio only like a podcast (on IOS only), and you can also download the class workbook as PDF for later reference for those who prefer to learn by reading.
Refundability- if you find that Masterclass is not for you within the first 30 days, you can request for a full refund of your up-front payment.
Buy one get one free offer- and for the month of December only, you can get two subscriptions for the price of one. You pay for one and you have another year’s subscription to gift to a friend or family member (gift to be redeemed within 12 months of purchase)- this offer ends on 31 December 2021. However, once the offer is redeemed, you wave the option to cancel your subscription within the first 30 days.
Have I learnt anything? Classes can be perceived to be more like entertainment, than true learning. Or it might depend on the topic in mention? I’ve been telling people if the class divulges 10 tips/tricks, and I walk away with one which I might adopt, or is interesting enough that I can drop like a fun fact as a conversational starter? Then that is probably deemed a successful class/learning experience for me. But realistically after watching Stephen Curry’s Masterclass I doubt I’d be hitting 3s like him, nor making beats like Timberland after completing his class.
Do you really get 12 months use out of it? Realistically if you powered through the classes, and only engaged with topics which you have a true interest in- you’d probably watch all you want within 3-6 months. So, for the rest of the year, you might re-watch a few, or a new class might take your fancy. But because of this, I think therefore they make you pre-pay for an entire year, or otherwise if it was a month-by-month subscription, I can see most people cancelling their subscriptions after the first 3-6 months. So, it’s a smart business model, but not in favour of the consumer though.
The topics are Niche. The topics which the experts teach are so specific that you just might not like 95% of what is on offer. As people just aren’t that eclectic with their interests. So again, you might not get your money’s worth from your subscription, if say you got through 12 classes in a year? Because you might have 6-10 different interests, would you say that’s money well spent? That’s $23 per class.
New recently added classes aren’t as good as the old stuff. It’s bound to happen, after they’ve released upwards of 150 classes, covering all sorts of topics, their bound to reach a point where the new stuff aren’t as interesting as the original content. What I’m finding is, that the new classes are exploring ideals, opinions or are topics which don’t deserve 15-20 lessons on, rather than hobbies or trade secrets from experts. So, if the original stuff was good just for its entertainment purpose (even if you didn’t have a true interest in the topic), and the new stuff on face value probably can’t be called entertaining either, so if it’s not true learning and it’s not entertaining, then what is it then? BTW, you can tell what is new and what is old by the class titles, where it has ‘teaches’ in the class title, then these lessons are old, and are the good stuff!
Spam. And OMG! Since signing up to Masterclass, I’m receiving so many emails from them! On average like 3 emails in a 2-day span. Some are informative, like alerting you to the latest new class which is now available. But some are like ‘we’ve noticed that you haven’t been learning recently’ type emails, but I literally just watched that class 2 days ago, I wouldn’t say that has been a long-time in-between drinks? Not worth nudging someone for inactivity? Right? I’ll soon find out if all these emails are due to the fact I’m still within the initial 30 days and they’re worried that I might ask for a refund. But if the spam is still this frequent after the 30 days, then I might need to start blocking the sender. It’s really that annoying!
Classes aren’t available forever! And the last con, is the fact that classes don’t last forever? From what I can see, they add and remove classes on a regular basis. So, you don’t have the assurance that a class which you’d love to get to, would still be there when you finally have the time to watch it. So, this feeling of FOMO, isn’t a feeling I enjoy having.
So, in the end, it is everyone’s own decision if Masterclass is right for them. Is it really learning? Yes, if you happen to be specifically looking for the topic in mention, and you already possess the foundational skills required and it was the final 10% or nudge required to push you across the line. But for most people, it isn’t. So, if it’s entertainment then, the question would be do you have a vast enough array of interests that you’d find skateboarding, guitaring, baking, floral arrangements to yoga, meditation, and science entertaining enough to devote on average 3-4 hours to get through 15-20 lessons just for its enjoyment value? Therefore, Masterclass is probably not for everyone, but if after reading this list of Pros/Cons, and it still sounds like your thang, then please take the next step and give it a go! Just click HERE to begin your journey of discovery!