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October 4, 2023

The "Action" Piece in Designing Learning Experiences

Kevon Cheung

Founder & Head Teacher

I want to dive into my thought process a little bit today.

Sometimes I find it funny that I seem to be going in circles when I design learning experiences for my students.

Let me give you some examples.

I started a paid community in 2021, shut it down after 4 months, then now I’m running a course community again.

I pivoted from that paid community to a 30-day challenge, stopped after 3 rounds, and switched to teaching a cohort-based course with live workshops. Then now I’m adding a 30-day challenge, Build in Public Sprint, again.

From the sound of it, don’t you think I’m making circles? Maybe even contradicting my own decisions a bit?

That’s exactly what I’ve been thinking about —

Why did this happen? What has changed to make me say yes to running a community and a 30-day challenge again?

This essay is more of a reflection of myself as a teacher.

There are 3 parts to learning

In the creator economy, everyone is teaching. Content is a form of teaching. Then when you build products to sell to people, you’re teaching some more.

When I started, my perception of teaching was naive. It was the transfer of my knowledge about a topic to another person, right?

I think a lot of people also see it this way. That’s why most of the online teaching focus on the delivery of information like lectures and presentations.

What I’ve learned is that knowledge is only 20% of the learning experience. A more important part is getting students to take action. I’d say that’s 60%. And the last part is reflecting & getting help, that’s 20%.

When I started seeing learning this way, a pure video course didn’t satisfy my desire to be a good teacher. It is good for making money (no doubt!), but it is definitely not optimized for learning.

This is why I think if someone is serious about teaching, they have to create an experience that involves action (60%) and help (20%). You don’t need to run a few courses. To run a sweet micro-education business, you can just teach 1 course. This is why I’m putting all my energy into making Build in Public Mastery a high-quality experience.

With that, let’s go back in time.

Why did I pivot away from a 30-day challenge 2 years ago?

I was new to teaching and creating experiences back then.

I saw the trend of X-day challenge and decided to make one. The thing is — I don’t have the information (20%) and help (20%). I had the action (60%) part only.

All I had was prompts to get people to share something. It felt a bit empty if that’s the entire learning experience. I didn’t feel like I was a legit teacher. Not to my surprise, without any training on the topic, many people would drop off in the middle of the challenge.

And that was the moment I realized I should build a curriculum that breaks down the different requirements to be a public-minded entrepreneur.

I was reflecting back to the time when I attended a 3-mo coding bootcamp when I was 23. It would be totally weird if they had asked me to build pet software projects without giving me any sort of training, right?

Then why am I bringing the 30-day challenge back?

It was hugely related to my decision to move from a cohort-based course that relied on live workshops to deliver the information, to a learning community that provides a self-guided curriculum and lots of live support and activities.

I made a video to talk through why I made that decision.

Honestly, I was worried that the learning value would drop if we no longer had those live workshops and breakout exercises to pull us together. Would they still learn well?

My recent batch proved me wrong. I don’t think the learning value dropped. Instead, they now have more flexibility to learn. They can take their time to practice a certain part. They can let other important things like family and emergency occupy them and resume later.

Students comment their thoughts directly on video lessons, so other students can also see.
Students post their work in the community so everyone can jump in to help.

But even with all these Loom comments and community posts, I think something is missing. I’d love a lightweight, fun, slight-pressured exercise to help them push a bit more. I know for a fact that once people make a commitment to something, they can do 10x more.

And that’s why I want to bring back the 30-day challenge for the students to practice what they’ve learned. A lot of them are very excited about it because there’s a place they can put their learnings into action. Some of them even started thinking about what they wanted to build at Build in Public Sprint a month in advance!

This time around, I decided to not limit the Build in Public Sprint to just students at Build in Public Mastery, I want to make it available for anyone to join too.

Why do I let non-BIPM students join?

When I first started, I was that teacher who wanted to turn every student into Kevon, as in I thought teaching meant reshaping the way they think and do. Soon enough, I realized it was more about helping them move from point A to B.

But what’s weird is that everyone comes from different backgrounds, skillsets, and goals, so it is very hard to design one linear path and expect everyone to follow. In my case, I could assume they need to join Build in Public Mastery first to do the curriculum, then that’s when they’re ready to join Build in Public Sprint.

Does that sound like our education system?

Hmmm … yeah. So the truth is that there’s no one-size-fits-all. Maybe some want to learn from the curriculum first and take action. Maybe some would want to take action first to see what’s missing, then decide whether they need the course.

I’ve gone from a linear teaching approach to now assembling a few different experiences that allow students to be flexible in how they want to approach it.

Frankly, I can see a lot of people who would want to join the 30-day sprint and they don’t need my knowledge at all. That’s fine too.

Assemble. Don’t Build

I recently wrote another essay on the 4 principles time-strapped creators can take advantage of. 1 of the 4 points was about building things within the same system — assembling.

My belief is that it is very hard to be successful when you have many different products tackling different problems. Again, it is fine if you just want to build, launch, and make some money. But in the long run, it is good if things are more aligned and related.

Here, you can see that Build in Public Sprint is a part of Build in Public Mastery.

Also, my book, Find Joy in Chaos, is also part of Build in Public Mastery, focusing on the community building part.

My course, Email Course Engine, is also part of Build in Public Mastery, focusing on teaching a very important internet asset — a free email course.

Not everyone would need all of them, but at least there’s a chance for someone to go “Ah, I also need that.”

So yeah, assemble! I understand this requires a level of focus and discipline and many people love to pursue their interests at the moment. I guess that’s the ongoing battle between the entrepreneur and the creative soul in us!

This is why I’m bringing on Build in Public Sprint.

Am I making circles? I think so, but now I feel like that’s also part of my learning experience to learn how to design learning experiences. Maybe making circles is part of the learning process?

Maybe we need to make our students go in circles? Ha!

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Find Joy in Chaos

My book has been read and used by 1,000+ creators to build their Twitter/X presence. You’ll learn how to systematically attract fans and opportunities.

Get Find Joy in Chaos

Find Joy in Chaos

My book has been read and used by 1,000+ creators to build their Twitter/X presence. You’ll learn how to systematically attract fans and opportunities.

Get Find Joy in Chaos