Just-in-Time Learning and the Academy of Storytellers

Do you ever have the feeling that there’s just TOO MUCH EDUCATION? Every day my inbox if filled with info about webinars, videos tutorials, blogs posts, and more and more podcasts! Sometimes it can be a tad overwhelming.

Education is important. We need it to continue to better our craft and our career, to improve our businesses, and to be more well-rounded individuals. For the past few months, I’ve been on education overload as I’ve been gearing up for the production and release of not one, but TWO new shows. So it’s entirely possible I’m just projecting. Regardless, there’s a concept I’ve heard about lately that I think makes a whole lotta sense. It’s called Just-in-time learning. (I heard about it on The Showrunner podcast whose guest said they heard about it from Pat Flynn).

The concept is simple: only learn what you need to learn when you need to learn it. Instead of devouring every webinar and video tutorial that gets sent to your inbox, consume what you need to accomplish the tasks at hand. Are you in the process creating a new WordPress site? Step by step, read the articles you need for the individual implementations as they arise. Are you embarking on a journey to become a filmmaker? Then watch just the tutorials you need for the work you’re trying to do.


An “Academy” that Comes in “Bite-sized” Portions

There is a plethora of fantastic educational resources out there. Sites like Lynda.com, CreativeLive, Udemy, Ripple Training, Larry Jordan, Shane Hurlbut’s Inner Circle and more. One of the most recent players in the education game has been The Academy of Storytellers. For a few months they granted me access to their community so that I could check out their offering. And I must say, I was pleased with what I encountered. There are two distinguishing factors that I like about TAS. First and foremost are the bite-sized videos. Every week they add two new lessons that are usually in the 5-10-minute range. Short, sweet and to the point. A perfect fit for just-in-time learning.


Obviously, they aren’t the only ones doing short and sweet tutorials. The ingredient they add that helps elevate the experience beyond watching one-off tutorials is the community. But it’s not just a general forum. Tutorial viewers are invited to engage in the conversation on each video, thereby enhancing the learning as other filmmakers share their experiences with that particular topic. “But can’t you do that on Vimeo or YouTube” also?” you may ask. Great question. Yes, you absolutely can. I think the subtle difference is that TAS has specifically invested in building a community around the school, so it’s like going to school and seeing your same friends over and over. A sense of trust, commitment and loyalty is built.


Stiff Competition

I would be remiss if I did not mention that one resource that I think may be the biggest competitive challenge to the TAS method (and other online filmmaking education for that matter) is Rocket Jump Film School, from the studio of YouTube sensation FreddieW, makers for “Video Game High School.” They also have a short video tutorial format, as well as a community built around their forum. The challenge for TAS is that RJFS is free vs. the annual $379 “tuition” for TAS. Frankly, that is a small investment to make in your education as a filmmaker, but I can see where it may be difficult to justify the cost when there’s this free resource. But here are a couple of things to think about:

  • The audience. The audience and community around TAS will be older, more mature, professional filmmakers looking to build their business. The RFJS community will be younger, YouTube fanboys and girls looking to break into filmmaking. (I know that’s a gross generalization, but it’s a safe one to make).
  • The specific topics. Because the people who created TAS are/were themselves small wedding, event and corporate filmmakers. The educators they’ve curated are the same (e.g. Gnarly Bay, Ryan Booth, Still Motion, etc.) So if that’s the kind of filmmaking you do, you’ll be getting content that speaks to that. Many of the RFJS lessons will be more “Hollywood”-ish style learning.

tas-topicsUltimately the decision is yours. Whatever you decide, you can seldom go wrong investing in your education.