A Chat with Elspeth Briscoe, CEO and Founder at Online Social Learning Platform: Learning with Experts

Learning with Experts is an online social learning platform with human interaction at its heart. Our students learn in small groups – consuming broadcast-quality video-based lessons led by experts and working together in a virtual classroom.

The quality of the learning and teaching experience has attracted world-class experts such as Michel Roux Jr, Raymond Blanc, (Food & Drink) Piet Oudolf, Chris Beardshaw (Gardening) and Rosso Emerald Crimson (Art) and many others.

Since the company was founded in 2014, over 40,000 students from 80 countries have taken our courses, and many have changed the course of their lives. We’ve had teachers retraining as horticulturalists, supermarket workers as florists, and stay at home mums becoming acclaimed chefs. We also have a large number of retired students, who simply love lifelong learning.

Learning with Experts was set up to improve access to high quality, trusted, adult vocational learning and reduce the high dropout rates seen with Massive Online Open Courses. Whereas 80% of people fail to complete MOOCs, it is a great source of pride that Learning with Experts enjoys an 80% completion rate.
 
 
LEARNING WITH EXPERTS, OXFORD EDTECH COMPANY, RAISES £800k TO DISRUPT  ONLINE EDUCATION & APPOINTS RUPERT PENNANT-REA AS CHAIRMAN
 

How did you come up with the idea for the company?

 
I like to say that Learning with Experts is the product of my midlife crisis! After a lengthy career in tech (eBay, Skype, The Guardian), I decided to make a big career change and enrolled on a Masters course in gardening.

On the first day, all the other students turned up with notebooks and pens, while I brought my laptop. I immediately put everyone on Skype so we could communicate easily amongst ourselves. At the end of the course, the lecturer said we were the best performing group he’d ever seen and directly attributed it to our use of technology.

This was my lightbulb moment- realising the potential of integrating the best parts of education and technology to help create collaborative, inspiring learning communities with students around the world. We’re pioneering the next education revolution by bringing online education up to speed with the gaming industry, broadcast media and interactive social media technologies.
 

 

How has the company evolved during the pandemic?

 
This past year has been enormous for the online learning industry at large and Learning with Experts is no exception: between March 2020 and March 2021 our sales increased exponentially.

Our core values of human interaction and trusted high-quality content were perfectly placed to address the challenges that many faced this year. Our classrooms are capped at 20 students and specially curated to foster tight-knit communities, which proved to be a welcome tonic to the social isolation that so many people felt. Our recorded lessons, which are beautifully produced by experienced filmmakers, are especially attractive to a population starting to feel the effects of Zoom fatigue.
 

What can we hope to see from Learning with Experts in the future?

 
We are currently building up the B2B portion of our business. We have already created bespoke certified courses for trade organisations such as Goldsmiths, Rathbones, and The University of Buckingham.

Alongside former NHS Chief Knowledge Officer Sir Muir Gray, we are developing a brilliant course on post-Covid wellbeing, and also courses on diabetes, obesity and other major health issues to be tackled. The Covid course, which offers a new approach to social care that centres on life-long learning about wellbeing as a form of prevention, is being trialed across 3 NHS Trusts and with Active Partnerships, reaching 20 million people across the UK.

We have a full pipeline of B2B projects with healthcare organisations and higher education institutions in the next year, but are always open to working with new partners!