It’s been 4 years since I released the Footwork Style Mastery Course and my Online Classes. In that timespan I’ve produced about 1,000 instructional videos and distributed them to over 680 students. You could say it took all of that for me to learn two really important lessons that have led me to tear down all that I’ve built and instead reconstruct something that I believe will work much better.
Curious to hear what those two lessons are?
Lesson 1. My Students Want Less (but more meaningful) Material.
One piece of feedback I got again and again from numerous students in my research process (I love feedback by the way) is that the Footwork Style Mastery (“FSM”) course was much more helpful than the Online Classes. I really should not have been surprised, seeing that I was the one pushing this “all you need are three moves” thing on my students. I do sincerely believe that by the way.
But I guess I couldn’t help but assume that students would get bored and eventually want more. And so through the Online Classes, I just kept throwing out more moves, more variations of those moves, more combinations, and more choreography. And it just kept going until it became the largest, most expansive, never-ending encyclopedia of house dance that there ever was.
Some students ate it up! But most students seemed to have trouble finding the motivation to work through the mountain of material (119 weeks worth!). The Online Classes, now at over about 1,000+ instructional videos, may have been great for the exceptionally self-driven students, but was overwhelming (and probably a little boring after a while) for many other students.
So I realized that there were 2 things that made the Footwork Style Mastery course so powerful and 1 thing that was missing from it.
What made it powerful (what I kept for the new Online Courses):
First, FSM wasn’t about moves and choreography. Rather it was a system based in theory that was backed by hundreds of hours spent studying and analyzing numerous house dancers (including myself) over the years, all designed to improve your freestyle and footwork. And as countless students have demonstrated, it actually works!
Second, FSM was self-contained, with a clear agenda complete from beginning to end, rather than an open-ended, never-ending stream of new moves and stuff. With FSM I had a single goal in mind – to teach you how to freestyle, and I did that by giving you the building blocks, one block at a time. In other words, FSM was not anything like one of those open-level “drop-in” classes people show up to at a dance studio whenever they have spare time. It was a progression of the material that I believed you needed to achieve a specific skill.
Now, the thing that was missing from FSM (what I made sure to build into the new Online Courses):
A social, collaborative learning environment… which brings me to the next important lesson I learned.
Lesson 2. It’s a community thing.
I’ve designed the new courses with two relationships in mind: your relationship to me as your teacher, and your relationship to your peers — or as I like to call them, your cohort. I realized that one problem with both the Online Classes and the Footwork Style Mastery Course was that they took too much of a hands-off approach. So, I’ve decided to change the ENTIRE thing into an interactive learning experience, putting way more intention into the design of the new Online Courses.
With each of the Modules, not only do we have a clear end in sight, but also we’ll all be walking (training) together every step of the way. In other words, we start at the same time (to ensure this I open enrollment only twice a year), and then we get through the material all together, just like a legit course you’d take at a school.
It always surprised me whenever a student revealed that the best part of my classes, for them, were the friends and relationships they were able to form through it. Although I had imagined starting the Secret House Society when I first came up with the Online Classes, I never really thought that it would be the highlight for so many. But again, I shouldn’t be surprised. House was created and developed by a community of dancers together. It will only thrive in a community. So one of the higher priorities I hold with the New Online Courses is connecting people through this dance.
So with all that said, let’s check out the features of the new and improved Online Courses!