Learning with Experts expands its stellar vocational and commercial training courses

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Demand surged tenfold during the pandemic as thousands more seized the lifetime learning opportunities offered by the Oxford-based company. 

The brainchild of tech entrepreneur and A-grade fundraiser Elspeth Briscoe, after seven years LwE now has customers in 78 countries.

Thanks to its platform digital innovation and human interaction are indelibly linked, eliminating the crushing isolation of distance learning. 

The unique courses (from £45) combining broadcast quality recorded lessons, personal feedback and trusted chat rooms, create communities of close knit groups of up to 20 people. 

For them there is the opportunity to upskill, retrain or explore something new – just for the love of it.

While dropping out is a routine feature of the standard massive open online courses (MOOCs), LwE has “an unrivalled 80 percent completion rate”, declares Briscoe. 

“We don’t curate through algorithms and our charges are very competitive compared to other private education. 

“Clients are aged from 18 to 90, they learn as a group, transcending geography. But equally they have the same social experience as being in an actual room together. The live streaming we are introducing this year will enhance this.”

Current category areas reflect today’s lifestyles and lifelong learning interests. They range from food and drink, gardening, wellbeing and floristry to photography, antiques, and art and design. 

Celebrity tutors, aka ‘teachers’ teachers’, such as renowned chefs Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and Michel Roux Jr and gardener Chris Beardshaw, supply both credibility as well as dazzle. 

Most recently after growing demand for design knowledge, iconic luxury interiors brand Designers Guild and its founder Tricia Guild have teamed up with LwE and introduced a new training course.

Commercial partnerships using LwE’s technology and ground-breaking content are also flourishing in areas such as healthcare and teacher training with institutions such as the Royal Horticultural Society and the University of Buckingham now on board. 

Boots is also part of the mix with LwE running a course for its No7 beauty brand influencers to improve their authority when talking about skincare.

NHS collaborations include a trial social care course on post-Covid wellbeing and others focused on huge contemporary health challenges such as obesity and diabetes.

LwE has 50,000 consumer customers and, following £4million of investment, expects to break even this year then generate revenues of £10 million by 2025. 

Now on her way to building a team of 40, Briscoe is planning an acquisition or float within the next few years. More immediately in 2022 she is aiming to raise a further £4million-plus to advance the technology and bring new high net worth backers with specific sector experience on board. 

Among recent investors is digital luminary and former vice chair of Unicef UK Justin Cooke who joins financial heavyweights such as former deputy governor of the Bank of England Rupert Pennant-Rea and Professor Alastair Nicholson of Oxford University’s Said Business School.

“Education is the most powerful tool to change the world,” says Cooke. “Learning has now entered the consumer mainstream. It’s how we spend our time alongside traditional leisure activities and for the first time technology is enabling us to learn with the best.

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“People understand that learning is an enabler to develop new skills, gain pay rises and start businesses. We’re democratising access to experts.”

Citing recent research which suggests 100 million people in the UK and US say they would be willing to pay for an online course, Briscoe has India in her sights. “It also has huge potential. Knowledge and education are really valued there,” she says. 

Closer to home she envisages LwE’s technology also enriching the lives of those in care homes. “Bringing together residents in different homes who share common interests, such as classical music or love of a particular composer,” she explains. 

“We could link them up wherever they are. We make community learning fun. Magic happens when different cultures interact.” 

www.learningwithexperts.com

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