June 22, 2023

Maven Insights: What top-rated courses have in common

By Gagan Biyani
Co-founder & CEO of Maven
Summary
Discover the secret behind Maven's success in crafting top-rated online courses. Learn how a robust syllabus, project-based approach, and active community contribute to a great student experience.

We started Maven because we knew students were hungry for a different type of online course: engaging, impactful, and fun. Today, we’ve received countless glowing testimonials and 9/10 average rating across all courses. 
Here’s a pattern we’ve noticed across our highest rated courses: when students love a course, they’re more likely to spread the word and take more courses on Maven. Also, top-rated courses tend to rank higher in Maven search and email promotion.
So, how do you create an amazing student experience? 
In short, top-rated courses (9.5+/10) are more resource-rich, project-driven, and interactive. As your course evolves, we recommend investing more in asynchronous content and reducing lectures in live sessions, so your future cohorts can be more scalable, interactive, and highly rated.
1. Top-rated courses have a more robust syllabus
Top-rated courses feature 4+ items per module (resources and videos) compared to 2-3 items per module for other courses. Students appreciate reviewing content at their own pace and coming to live sessions prepared with questions.
For example: Jorge Torres’ Venture Fluent has a 9.7/10 average rating. He packs his modules with pre-work and bonus materials. As a result, students come to the session prepared and excited to ask questions. Jorge recorded this Loom to show other instructors how he set up his syllabus.
How to enhance your syllabus:
  • Add reading or videos as pre-work ahead of live sessions.
  • Turn recordings into videos to replace lectures with interactive Q&A and exercises in live sessions.
  • Include bonus resources for students that want to go the extra mile.
2. Top-rated courses are more project-driven.
Our top courses assign more projects than other courses—1 project per module on average. Students want accountability to apply what they’re learning, and projects are a great way to structure this.
For example: Pamela Slim’s Tiny Marketing Actions (rated 9.8/10) features 1 project per week.
How to build a project-driven course:
  • Create 1 project per module for your course even if it’s a small action. Here’s a brief guide on how to create projects in Maven.
  • Encourage students to share their project in the #share-your-work channel (this happens automatically through Maven’s portal) and be sure to give feedback.
  • Host office hours and working time for students to share their work and ask questions about projects.
3. Top-rated courses have more active communities
Students in top-rated courses get 2.5x more community notifications than students in other courses. Instructors encourage their students to reflect, share, ask & answer questions, which leads to more engagement and connections.
For example: In Anyone Can Invest Now (10/10 average with 84 ratings), Andy Gupta asks a reflection question after each live session and encourages students to reply in-thread.
How to build a more engaged community:
  • Invite students to ask questions and give peer feedback in the community. 
  • Create private DM chat groups to form accountability groups. 
  • Give students a light discussion prompt after live sessions.
  • Respond to student questions and tag other students that might find it relevant.

This summer, we’ll launch new features that will make it even easier to deliver a highly engaging course that students love. Stay tuned! 
Finally, as you know, we're dedicating over 50% of company resources to marketing courses. It's going really well. We're seeing success across social, email, SEO, paid, and more students browsing our marketplace directly. Some of these efforts are best done in collaboration with our instructors, so the Maven team might reach out to you to participate in various marketing activities.
In case you missed it, here’s additional context on our marketing efforts:

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