Let’s travel back in time to your teenage years in our Summit Evergreen Time Machine.
It’s the night before your driver’s permit test. You haven’t cracked the DMV handbook yet, because you assume the information is common sense. At the last minute, you get scared, deciding to spend most of your night reading the manual. Just in case.
The next day, you sweat your way through the multiple choice test. Some questions you know, some you remember vaguely from last night’s cram session, and some – well, you’re just taking wild guesses.
Miraculously, you pass the test. But you realize that you haven’t really learned what you were supposed to. You’ve already forgotten everything. Other drivers, beware!
There’s a better way to learn, and it pushes our human tendency of procrastination and overconfidence out of the way so we can actually retain knowledge.
The secret is DRIP. Like a leaky faucet? Well, sort of.
Drip, at its most basic, is slicing information into small chunks and scheduling them out over a period of time.
Teaching without drip is like handing your student a book about the theory of relativity and saying “learn this.”
Teaching with drip, you break that book into digestible chapters and give them to your student about once a week.
Which way would you rather learn? With drip, of course.
Let’s talk about WHY it’s so effective. Learning is a complex, multi-faceted process, and everyone learns slightly differently, but drip works across the board because of how our brains are wired.
First, you can only hold so much information in your brain at one time.
In the 1950s, psychologists determined that most humans can only remember seven numbers at once – like a standard telephone number. Even then, most of us will have to write down a phone number instead of committing it to memory.
Second, we get overwhelmed easily when presented with too much information.
It’s like going to a corporate conference or trade show and being introduced to dozens of people over the course of a night. At a certain point, you stop trying to remember all of the names, and you head to the bar.
Third, we can take in more information when it’s spread out over time instead of condensed.
If you meet one new person a day instead of 100 people in one day, you’ll actually recall their names. You’ll be able to identify their faces more easily, and maybe you’ll remember other things, like where they work, their hometown, or their favorite Beyonce song.
The human brain is basically built for drip. Here’s how it benefits your students:
It forces your students to timebox
Left to our own devices, most of us are pretty lousy at time management. When presented with a huge chunk of course material, students tend to do one of three things:
- They’ll feel overwhelmed, which leads to procrastination. They’ll make a hundred excuses about why they can’t be bothered right now.
- They’ll skip around throughout the material, not sure exactly what they should be focusing on. They’ll hop aimlessly from chapter to chapter, with nothing really sinking in.
- They’ll attempt to do too much at once, overestimating their learning capacity, and (surprise!) finding themselves overwhelmed or bored.
With drip, you provide your students with limited information on a well-paced schedule. It eliminates any question about what to do and when to do it, preventing your students from making bad time management decisions.
It prevents “I Already Know This” syndrome
How many times have you looked at a product instruction manual and actually read every word? The idea is laughable. If you purchased a new printer, you might read a few key pages – but you’re not going to read the section about how to load paper. You open the tray, and you put in the paper. Why waste your time reading something you already know?
In the online learning world, this natural tendency to think we already know something can become a big issue.
Without drip, you can guarantee that your students are going to skip over certain areas of your course material. Having all the information at once, their brain will immediately begin to make choices about what is worth their time and what isn’t.
Some people will skip the introductory sections, assuming that any “basics” must be common sense. Some people will skip sections that simply sound familiar without reading to find out what’s actually in there. These students will have a shaky foundation on which to build their knowledge.
Drip is the only way to prevent “I Already Know This” syndrome.
When you only provide one nugget of instruction at a time, students don’t have the choice of skipping it. They’ll pay attention to the one chapter or topic that’s placed in front of them.
Then, you’re able to build a solid foundation of knowledge, starting them off with basic information and gradually building them up to more advanced topics.
It creates a sense of “I Can Do This” and “I Did This”
Putting your course material into digestible chunks makes your students feel capable instead of overwhelmed. Each chunk represents a manageable goal in a specified time frame, which they can visualize themselves completing.
Then, as each section is finished, students feel a sense of accomplishment. You gave them something to do, and they did it! With those positive feelings occurring every week, right on schedule, you’re creating a strong connection with happy students.
And we love happy students! But drip isn’t only about them. As the course instructor, you’ll reap the benefits of implementing drip into your courses.
Here’s how drip works for YOU:
It keeps your students coming back for more
Have you ever sat through a 3+ hour movie…something like “The Lord of the Rings”…and thought to yourself, “This movie is so LONG!”
Similarly, have you ever watched an episode of something on Netflix…something like “House of Cards”…and five hours later, realized you’re still watching, and you still want more?
We call this The Netflix Effect.
When you’re presented with a big, “Lord of the Rings” size course, it can feel like too much at once.
When you’re presented with a series of smaller, “House of Cards” size chunks of material, it can make you hungry for more.
The result? Students who get hooked on your dripped material are more likely to complete the course, and more likely to sign up for additional courses to keep the momentum going.
It increases (and grows) your target audience
When creating a dripped course (or any course), you should always lead with the basics before presenting more advanced material.
There are two distinct advantages to this:
- It allows anyone, even a total beginner, to purchase and participate in your course. If there’s no prerequisite skill level required, you can reach a wider customer base.
- Your course participants will be prepared to graduate to your next course level. You’re creating students well equipped for future courses, students who can continue to grow with you.
It increases the value of your course
We all value time. The concept of “Time is money” is deeply ingrained in our culture. We value time so much, in fact, that we’re willing to pay for it. Here’s how:
Let’s say you’re offering a self-improvement course, and you have two potential ways to release it.
You can sell a 60 page, self-paced PDF.
Or, you can sell a 6-week, dripped course featuring the same information.
Which product do you think customers would be willing to spend $500 on? The 6-week course, of course. There are many reasons why this has increased perceived value in the eyes of your customer, but one important factor is TIME.
People inherently understand that something worth doing right takes time. And our lackluster time management skills mean we’re happy to pay for someone else to do the time managing for us.
It reduces unsatisfied customers and refunds
It’s so easy for a student to buy your PDF, skip through to the end, declare it “not worth it” and demand a refund.
It’s way more difficult to do that with a dripped course. Sure, some students might want to refund at the end of the first or second session, but they’re more likely to wait and see what future sessions might hold. And once you’ve gone that far, why not stick it out to the end?
If your course plays out the way we’ve recommended here, you’re going to have a satisfied student by the time they reach the finish line.
They’ll have learned (and retained!) the information.
They’ll have a foundation of knowledge that sets them up to learn more.
They’ll feel that the time they’ve invested with you has been well spent.
They’ll spread the word about their great experience to people they know.
And you’ll feel incredible, knowing that you’ve effectively shared your awesome knowledge with the world.
That’s the power of drip!
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