Michele di Blasio is one of the brains behind the increasingly popular online school, Lacerba.io, that aims to promote and teach various digital competencies. Its sounding success lies in agile adapting to the demands of the market and providing the high-quality content delivered by professionals and practitioners. Recently, we have had the pleasure to collaborate with Lacerba and created our own series of UX courses you can check out here.
Read the full interview and discover why e-learning is becoming the future.
How did you come up with an idea to create online courses?
A few years ago a friend from Boston who was running an online coding school told me that he had a huge Italian community, but unfortunately, only a few students were completing the courses due to the language problem and a lack of the Italian support. That’s when we started analyzing the Italian e-learning environment. We immediately realized there was a huge demand for courses on new technologies. We decided to seize this opportunity and started testing the market.
What is the edge of online classes over traditional face-to-face workshops?
One above all, the opportunity to study at your own pace. It is a huge freedom only an online course can offer. You can study anywhere and anytime you feel like studying. In addition, the online courses are accessible to everyone, they allow you to learn from the best with a high-quality material and no fear of missing any information. Obviously, you can’t meet the professor in person during the course, but that’s exactly the reason why every lecture has to be directed and led by professionals who know how to make you comfortable even if you watch a lesson on a screen.
On what basis do you choose your speakers?
The most obvious strategy would be to select the professionals among university teachers since they already have a material prepared for their classes and are familiar with the educational environment. However, we apply a different strategy selecting only the professionals with a direct working experience on the topic. This is a crucial strategy for us as it allows us to teach on-demands skills which are related to the latest technologies and base on real case studies from the Italian market.
The learning process is incomplete without evaluation. How do you provide that to your users?
We are used to a learning process that focuses more on evaluation rather than acquiring the actual knowledge. At Lacerba we try to use evaluation to support learning but not to overload it. Our courses are designed to provide students with the tools to evaluate themselves and get feedback directly from the market. For example, a coding student will be incentivized to put the project online and show it to the broader audience and have his learning experience assessed by the market itself.
Learning from a video is a very special way of human interaction, how would you characterize it?
I think the video is a content that goes closer to a direct experience, in terms of emotions it can generate. Obviously, it relies on 2 key factors: the quality of the recordings and the communication skills of the teacher. Nevertheless, and we see it on every social media, videos are THE way to communicate nowadays. Since the beginning, we’ve been working on creating a standard format for our videos in order to deliver our knowledge efficiently. For example, the average duration of a lecture can’t exceed 5 minutes.
Nowadays, we often hear the best type of investment is knowledge. Isn’t it an exaggeration?
We live in a world where the knowledge is broadly available to almost everyone. It means you can lose every kind of a competitive advantage very quickly. For this reason, my feeling is that knowledge is no longer optional for those who want to maintain their status and potentially continue to grow. It doesn’t mean you must invest a lot of in money on it, though. It means you have to continuously expand your horizons!
Lacerba courses focus on Business, Tech, Marketing, and UX courses. However, on the Internet, we can find classes on such topics as basketball, acting or philosophy. Is the e-learning world splitting into micro-specializations and custom personalization?
I don’t think we are going to see many micro-specialized courses or platforms in the next few years due to the fact that they refer to small niches and so they are not scalable nor sustainable. On the other hand, I’m convinced that education will be more and more customizable in the future, allowing the students to choose their own learning path according to their expectations and goals.
What are the challenges you’re facing now, as Lacerba?
The main challenge is to offer a personalized learning path to our students. In order to be successful in the digital world, it is crucial to have skills in different areas. For example, a developer needs to have basic marketing knowledge so that he can track campaigns successfully.
For the same reason, a marketer with basic coding skills has the potential to understand the best possible technical implementation of his marketing strategies. Our biggest challenge now is to offer such learning paths that take into account this multidisciplinary approach and offer the best learning experience to each student based on his skills and expertise.
How would you define good UX of an e-learning platform?
A good e-learning platform has to guide the student in a super easy way through his learning path. On one side, new users have to be guided and deeply understand why they should study something new, and why they should do it with us. On the other side, the students should be incentivized to complete the course. For this reason, it is vital to build a personal dashboard of the user as well as optimize the platform for the main content it will deliver. Lacerba, for example, is a video-centric platform so we keep the user focused on the video.
If you had to name one crucial User Interface element of your website, what would they be?
The videos are crucial to our platform. Users are always looking to learn more about the instructors and the team in order to build a personal relationship with us and the school. The video is the perfect way to offer the information they’re looking for in a very empathetic and comfortable way.
For instance, every course has a video on the landing page with the teacher introducing the course and explaining what to expect by the end of it. It creates a ground for establishing a personal relationship with the visitor. I can’t imagine a user buying a course without watching an introductory video first.
Passionate about startups and technology, Michele di Blasio tries to connect visionary people with future entrepreneur generation providing know-how and inspiration through Lacerba.io project.
Like our interviews? Check out these posts: