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elearning with MasterClass

Online learning, also known as elearning, has become big business in the last decade. The idea of distance learning has been around for a long time. Correspondence courses date back 170 years. The advantage of online learning has over its predecessor is immediacy and inclusion. Students learning with the help of the internet may have access to an instructor and classmates and enjoy immediate feedback and real-time discussions. Courses, classes, and forums are offered by everyone from public universities to private companies. Today’s blog will look at a niche example that uses famous people as teachers: MasterClass.


Even if you’re not super familiar with the MasterClass platform, you’ve probably seen a few of their ads. These promos stand out because they feature a line-up of recognizable faces. (Individual class promos can be found on their YouTube channel.) MasterClass employs a model using big-name celebrities who are considered masters in their respective fields to teach the curriculum. Each class consists of several hours of video with a celebrity teacher. You also receive downloadable written materials, which may include a related reading list. There’s a workbook for each course, too. These expert teachers are here to impart their wisdom and tell you how they approach their craft.


Currently, the list of celebrity instructors is more than 75 names strong. This is a gathering of heavy-hitters and an impressive faculty, to say the least. Areas of interest include Sports, Business, and Culinary Arts. Canadians Margaret Atwood, Deadmau5, and Chris Hadfield are teaching classes in writing, music production, and science & technology. Here are a few more instructors to give you an idea of the talent and experience represented by MasterClass instructors:

  • Steve Martin teaches comedy
  • Serena Williams gives tennis lessons
  • Gordon Ramsay shows cooking techniques
  • Ron Howard directs on how to direct
  • Annie Leibovitz shares her tips on photography
  • Shonda Rhimes talks about writing for tv
  • Penn and Teller pull more than a rabbit out of their hats


In Canada, a flat fee gets you an all-access pass with one full year to enjoy as many classes as you like. The website explains that there’s an average of 20 lessons per class, and each lesson lasts about ten minutes. If you decide MasterClass isn’t for you, there’s a refund window within which you can cancel. You can also opt to buy single classes.

When you’re ready to sit down with MasterClass, there are some advantages and some disadvantages. On the plus side, the production value is quite high. They’re well-shot and produced. You won’t feel like you’re struggling to follow along because of poor lighting or bad audio. It looks slick, to be sure. There’s also closed-captioning if you need or want the feature. However, you can’t download the lessons. MasterClass videos can only be watched using the app.

computer, laptop, phone, tablet with image of books
There is no option to download classes


The MasterClass classes vary from teacher to teacher. Some instructors speak directly to the camera, while others may interact with students or guests. There can be excerpts of the teacher’s work in their field and even a chance to ask questions. Classes have related assignments and a workbook. There may also be reading recommendations. And participants can talk to fellow students through The Hub. But there are no live or two-way conversations.


The idea of MasterClass was hatched by entrepreneur Aaron Rasmussen and film editor and director David Rogier. This pair started the San Francisco-based online education platform in 2015. Many people have taken classes, written articles, and reviewed their experiences with the lessons over the past few years. Some people find the classes inspiring. To be able to learn from a person you admire and who is also very successful can be a dream come true. For many, MasterClass is the answer to the question If you could sit down with a professional in your industry, who would it be? 


MasterClass may not be for everyone. It’s an idealized way to learn, which is part of the problem. It’s not a personalized approach. An amateur cook in Alberta will get the same instruction as a professional chef in Vancouver. Some courses are too simple, while others are too advanced. It’s been pointed out that some instructors can already be found for free on YouTube, doling out similar advice. Finally, there’s no denying the homogeny of the faculty. Presenters are overwhelmingly white American men. There is a lack of diversity. And this particular demographic is already well-represented offline. The critique is that the classes could be better balanced and more representative since there are plenty of successful people of all stripes to choose from in each field.


If you’re considering an online class or elearning in general, you have a lot of options. Depending on what you’re interested in learning more about, there are sites such as Lynda and Skillshare that are ready to teach. MasterClass caters more to the creative arts, although they are starting to expand into realms such as Science & Technology. And if you’re looking to create an online learning experience for your own business, Key West Video can help you with videos that are engaging and informative. Call us today for a free quote.

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