Sunday, November 16, 2003

Oprah's eLearning

Oprah's Live Your Best Life isn't a great example of innovative eLearning, but what she's always been good at is building her brand and finding effective business models. What she's selling is herself, of course. Most of what she's saying in this online workshop is sort of meaningless to me, but I'd bet that her target market will lap it up.

The concept is simple -- turn Oprah's self-actualization workshop into an interactive online "course". It could be done in book format, but with the online version you get pretty pictures and spoken narraration. Instead of streaming video, they chose to use lots of still shots of her speaking, interspersed with text, all done quite effectively in Flash. Each section has a sort of lecture, then a couple of reflection activities, which are basic html forms that you fill out for yourself.

It probably works a bit better than a workbook, but I'm surprised that they don't use the power of the medium. Why not hook the whole thing up to a simple message board so that participants can talk to each other as they work through the activities? Oprah is the master of broadcasting -- but she would be wise to focus on connecting people to each other in this realm.

You can sign up for a free 30-minute membership, and then you have to pay $25 to continue. This kind of business model might seem like wishful thinking, but like I said, I bet that many of her fans will pay. Why? Her personal star power, slick production values, and the smart simplicity of her approach.

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