Designing learning experiences that encourage creativity

A good life means creating work we're proud of. Work we consider excellent and that makes our moms proud. Work that is as good as we can possibly imagine it. For that, we need to practice a lot, that's the only way. We must do our scales, practice and create. Every day.

But to get get there we need to start somewhere. We must understand the rules, the unseen laws and the tools. We must learn.

We naturally turn to online courses today to get the basics and get started. Online courses are an easy start: they're flexible and cost little. Especially during and after the COVID pandemic, we now default to online courses.

But online courses are terrible. They're terrible because 1. they're lonely 2. they're passive.They're not social nor do they push you to act. It's just you, your computer and your sheer willpower. Here's what course creators miss: Learning and creating are the same. And they're both fundamentally social experiences. We're 'social' + 'animals': we just learn more when we see how others create and when we create ourselves.

The consequence is we don't finish the online courses we sign up to. Reflecting back, we believe this topic must not be a good fit to us, we lose interest, we move on. We don't even start, even less practice. End of the story for most people.

So the logic is simple: by making online courses much better - by designing them to be truly social and hands-on - we can help more people get started, practice and ultimately create work they're proud of. Going from single-player learning to multi-player creating.This is a the simple logic I've been I've been exploring for years with my bachelor thesis, building my previous startup, sharing at TEDx and now creating online courses for Supercreative.

If we look at the best current online learning experiences, they all add constraints. They're paid. They're application only. They're time-bound. Counterintuitively, these constraints encourage online students to engage more with the course and increase student satisfaction. Take a look at Akimbo or Forte/Perell's courses. Pay special attention to how students report their experience elsewhere on the web. This is the third wave of online learning. I've been part of multiple learning community projects and they mostly all fail (with one or two exceptions I have in mind). Building up a community takes a lot of time and energy. But when they succeed, they pay off immensely for the learner.

However these cohort-based courses lack the crucial practice component that's missing to help learners eventually be proud of their work. A course is only a means to an end, and that end is creating potentiality.

This is why I'm creating OUTPUT today to embody this concept of multiplayer learning process.
Only Supercreative course students can access this community on output.supercreative.design. I'm using the framework of cohort-based courses but with an intense focus on practicing and the consistent delivering an output. This includes having the community help in ideation, getting feedback, organizing focus sessions or finding an accountability partner. A lot of the ideas from the Supercreative blog are applied here. The community is structured in such a way that people become accountable, motivated and excited to create more work they're proud of. In short, we tap into this community-powered creative workflow to double our creative output.

But there's the twist: you can only access OUTPUT by joining a Supercreative course. OUTPUT is a paid community too. Similar to the cohort-based courses, I'm introducing more constraints to boost engagement. The one rule: you get what you give. This is a value multiplying function: no efforts in, no value out.

The future is exciting. I'm creating a learning community differently. If students joining OUTPUT truly start creating more and better work, then I'll consider this a success. I'll share the data and lessons in the next months as I take decisions and make mistakes.

Created by Ben Issen

Based in Paris, Ben founded Supercreative. With his team, he creates tools and videos to help creatives be more productive. Prior to that, he worked at Webflow and launched a design agency. @ben_issen


Dec 9, 2020

Time to create:

4 hours

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0 hours

Reading time:

3 minutes

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