A Conversation with Elspeth Briscoe, CEO and Founder of the 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 – taking broadcast-quality video 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, Piet Oudolf (Food & Drink), Chris Beardshow (Gardening) and Rosso Emerald Crimson (Art) and many others.

Since the company was founded in 2014, more than 40,000 students from 80 countries have taken our courses, and many have changed the course of their lives. We have had teachers who turned into horticulturalists, supermarket workers into florists, and stay-at-home moms who became acclaimed chefs. We also have a large number of retired students, who simply enjoy lifelong learning.

Learning with Experts has been put in place to improve access to high-quality, reliable, professional adult learning and reduce the high drop-out rates seen with massive open online courses. While 80% of people fail to complete MOOCs, it is a great source of pride that learning with experts has an 80% success rate.

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 long career in technology (eBay, Skype, The Guardian), I decided to make a big career change and enrolled in a master’s degree in gardening.

On the first day, all the other students showed up with notebooks and pens, while I brought my laptop. I immediately put everyone on Skype so that we could communicate easily with each other. At the end of the course, the speaker declared that we were the most successful group he had ever seen and directly attributed that to our use of technology.

This was my bulb moment – realizing the potential of integrating the best parts of education and technology to help create collaborative and inspiring learning communities with students around the world. We are pioneering the next education revolution by bringing online education to the level of the gaming industry, broadcast media and interactive social media technologies.

How has the business evolved during the pandemic?

The past year has been huge for the online learning industry as a whole and Learning with Experts is no exception: between March 2020 and March 2021, our sales increased exponentially.

Our core values ​​of human interaction and reliable, high-quality content were perfectly positioned to meet the challenges many faced this year. Our classrooms are limited to 20 students and specially designed to foster close-knit communities, which has proven to be a welcome tonic to the social isolation so many people felt. Our recorded lessons, which are beautifully produced by experienced filmmakers, are particularly appealing to a population beginning to feel the effects of Zoom Fatigue.

What can we expect from learning with experts in the future?

We are currently developing the B2B part of our business. We have already created bespoke certified courses for professional organizations such as Goldsmiths, Rathbones and the University of Buckingham.

Alongside former NHS Knowledge Officer Sir Muir Gray, we are developing a brilliant course on post-Covid wellness, as well as courses on diabetes, obesity and other major health issues at approach. The Covid course, which offers a new approach to social care focused on lifelong learning of well-being as a form of prevention, is tested in 3 NHS Trusts and with active partnerships, reaching 20 million people across the UK.

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

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