In the Thriving World of Edutainment, Four Leaders Emerge 

Since the pandemic took over everyone’s lives, online “edutainment” (education + entertainment) has filled the need for many looking to try something new, be inspired, or just learn for the love of learning. Four teaching groups have risen to the forefront of the industry.  Masterclass, One Day University, TED, and  Great Courses have tapped into the public’s desire to learn, and have capitalized void in different ways. While each is considered a form of edutainment, they have many differences. The who, what, when, where, and why of these companies highlight the reasons that each of these companies have succeeded in building online communities, and success in the edutainment industry during this uncertain time.

WHO

With an impressive list of household names including Christina Aguilera, and Wolfgang Puck, MasterClass brings in household names to speak to the audience about their craft. Unlike One Day University, which pulls in an audience based on topics of interest and professorial talent, Masterclass relies on big name celebrities to entice membership in their programming. Forbes recently reported that MasterClass raised $100 million in funds to produce more content. TED is a bit of a mix, in that some well known people do participate, but they also tend to feature experts who are lesser known to the public. TED and One Day University both find engaging experts whose message is so powerful, but One Day U exclusively works with popular professors only – not authors or consultants.

WHAT

Great Courses has recently taken a different approach to learning. Unlike the other three big edutainment brands, a lot of their focus is on a concrete take away- how to do something. The have teamed up with National Geographic, Smithsonian, and the Culinary Institute of America in their pursuit of expertise. They are similar to One Day University in that they recruit top professors to teach their subjects, but the take-away for much of their content is different. Their new focus is on instructional type videos, whereas One Day University focuses on more general elements of learning about various subjects.  You can find How to Paint, and Learning to play Guitar on the Great Courses site, but if you want to know the history of Guitar, The Beatles or Beethoven you’re better off at One Day U .

WHEN AND WHERE

All four companies are exclusively online right now.  Prior to the pandemic, all but MasterClass had an in person component to their program. Through a combination of live-streamed lectures, and prerecorded libraries, each company has a unique way to deliver their product to customers. It does seem that moving all programing online has created a type of transparency into the lives of world-renowned professors that our audience did not have before. We see them in their home offices, surrounded by their world of books and sometimes even family members pop in. One Day University is offering 5 days of live programming a week, and hundreds of previously recorded lectures that can be viewed at any time.

WHY

TED presents topics to think about, be inspired by, and then compel action. TED is not learning for the sake of learning, although they have created a database of ideas for people to watch.  Each TED speaker has an agenda, to get you to change the way you think, and what you do in your everyday life. Masterclass, Great Courses, and One Day University are more about consuming education, for entertainment, to learn how to, or to learn for the sake of learning. Edutainment seems to have caught the country’s attention. There’s a world out there, millions of people who want to learn about everything, because learning is an interesting thing to do, and because people are intellectually curious. With these programs you’re not getting a degree, and they are not a substitute for college, but you are enjoying your time and potentially being inspired to act or do something more with your life.

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About the Author: Brian Novak