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What is Tutorpass (part 1)

What is Tutorpass (part 1)

In the past few months, I have written extensively on Tutorpass’ business model. But what is Tutorpass as a product today? I am indeed guilty of not answering these questions. Let’s fix that with a thorough analysis of the platform’s functionality as it stands by looking at how lesson cards work.

“The fastest way to create, share and watch learning experiences.”

That, my dear readers, is Tutorpass’ tagline.

But practically, what does it mean?

It’s a crucial question, especially as there are hundreds of course creation platforms out there.

Generally, whenever I quote this tagline, the responses are threefold:

  • Have you explored the idea of using <insert existing platform name here> to save time?
  • How is this different from <insert existing platform name here>?
  • Hmm, that sounds pretty cool. Do you want to come and help me build <insert side project name here> instead?

All three responses share a common thread - a lack of conviction on the user’s end that what I am building is worth the effort.

Hence, I am writing this series of articles, hoping it serves as a reference point to expand on these stalemate situations in the future. Perhaps they might also serve as a rebuke to myself, as I might not be articulating Tutorpass’ value proposition clearly enough.

Part 1: The Minimum Viable Product

Let’s start at the beginning.

Online teaching is something I enjoy. I love the relationships it builds and the results that it yields.

Teaching online On a lesson with one of my students

In the middle of the pandemic, I realised that I could run small group classes over Zoom. There was a growing demand for 1-1 Computer Science and Programming sessions.

So I set up a BigCartel website and started selling lessons from it. I also had a Calendly site where students could book Zoom meetings directly into my calendar.

The above process was a stark contrast to what I commonly do. I’m a “build a complex tech solution first” type of person. But here I was, putting together the operations side of my business in a couple of hours.

I had leveraged myself as an asset to get this project off the ground. People wanted to pay to learn stuff from me. My job was to make it easier, so I automated everything I could with minimal effort.

However, I quickly realised that this was unscalable.

I was getting burnt out. Preparing lessons was hard work. Gradually, over time, I enjoyed teaching online less. My lessons involved copious explanations of topics that I could tell were going over my students’ heads.

I desperately needed a better way to do this.

Part 2: The Minimum Loveable Product

After some deliberating, I decided that creating a course would be the best thing to do. There was a clear gap in the market for my subject. My current students could access these courses ahead of our 1-1 sessions, so that more time would be spent discussing the material.

However, there was one minor qualm.

I was not a big fan of the course creation platforms currently on the market. Having used (cool) web apps like Canva, it surprised me how unintuitive most offerings were.

Canva Canva user interface

Furthermore, I did not like how most online courses behaved like internal company websites that are inaccessible without a VPN.

For example, if you’re not an Udemy user, you can’t do much on the site, even if the course you are interested in is free. Against the backdrop of an increasingly open Internet, was this the right way to democratise online learning?

So as a result, I decided to build something that made sense to me.

Tutorpass was born.

Now, the concepts behind any content generated on Tutorpass were pretty straightforward:

  • A single course has many modules.
  • A single module has many lesson cards.
  • A single lesson card has many elements.

The first two features are the backbone of most online course creation platforms, so there is no point in covering them.

For the third feature, I took inspiration from Twitter’s innovative approach to presenting the objects that make up their platform.

Twitter A tweet ready to be embedded anywhere on the Internet

Tweets, as they stand, are an atomised unit of the Internet.

Tweets are embeddable and can go anywhere on the Internet. They can contain elements such as text, video, photos and audio. Simply defining a tweet as “280 characters” barely scratches the surface.

Lesson cards Tutorpass’ course creator user interface

In Tutorpass, lesson cards are like tweets. They contain elements such as text, images, videos, quizzes, and code blocks.

Lesson cards cannot hold everything, they need to be succinct. The appeal of tweets, or any shareable item of social media, is that they can compress the intricacies of an idea or moment. Lesson cards attempt to emulate by making course creators break up their learning content in a way that makes it easy to distribute in parts and as a whole.

When embedded on an external website or shared via a hyperlink, lesson cards can act as the tail-end of a conversion funnel, which will drive traffic back to an instructor’s course.

As a result, online courses can exist as a self-contained experience with limited interactivity that continues indefinitely, acting as a signpost to a more comprehensive learning opportunity.

This is unlike incumbent solutions, wherein courses exist in silos and lack an “embeddable” nature.

Lesson cards contribute heavily to Tutorpass’ overall teaching and learning experience from a marketing and content perspective. In the next post, I will look at how Tutorpass draws inspiration from Instagram and Snapchat stories.

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