Teachable makes a move on it’s customers’ customers, with changes to it’s instructor policy.

Until now we've been recommending Thinkific as a platform for course instructors, with Teachable a close second. We run both platforms for different reasons and with a few clients.

Today all that changed.

First a bit of back-story to the strategy of choosing a platform for your course.

Essentially there have been 2 choices:

  1. Sell in a marketplace like Udemy, or Skillshare benefiting from their audience, but not getting the customer data.
  2. Build your own audience on a platform you own. Higher cost, but better for a long term relationship with your customers.
    The platforms we recommended were Thinkific or Teachable, or if you have the tech skills, a WordPress site using the LearnDash Learning Management System.

Recently, Teachable has taken a very definite step from the owned audience model into the marketplace model. And their customers aren't happy at all.

The crux of the issue is in one sentence in the Teachable Instructor Policy:

Students are Teachable Users, and not customers or students belonging to any Instructor.

For instructors who have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on recruiting these customers, having Teachable lay claim to them is a crippling blow.

Laura Papworth runs courses on social media under her own branded site at laurelpapworth.com.

She described her feelings about the move as “beyond angry!”

This gives them the right to take your students away from you, and to email your students without your consent, and to promote your competitors classes to your students.

The legality of the move is still in question, with at least on instructor suggesting that Teachable could be laying themselves open to massive fines under the recent European GDPR legislation.

We have made an extensive review of Thinkific's data protection policies and it's clear that they make no such claim to your customers.

In the meantime, we are recommending that any existing Teachable customers back up their customer data and start moving their content to Thinkific who have given me assurances that they have no similar plans to take ownership of their customer's students.

If you're considering switching to Thinkific, or setting up a new school there, I have arranged an exclusive 3 month free trial of their Business Plan for my readers.


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2 responses to “Teachable makes a move on it’s customers’ customers, with changes to it’s instructor policy.”

  1. Christopher Collins says:

    I don’t see this clause in the teachable instructor policy? Did they remove it?

    • It looks like some subtle amends since this was published but the essence remains in the Privacy policy:

      “Teachable is the data controller for the processing of personal data in relation to myTeachable accounts”
      myTeachable is compulsory on free accounts and the default on others, so the fact remains that Teachable have a “hook” into your data for the purpose of other courses.

      They’re making out that having to maintain a separate login per school is such a hardship that it justifies acting like Udemy who maintain ownership of the student data in order to pump students around multiple products.

      In Udemy’s defense, they do actually generate their own traffic via PPC and affiliate programmes. Teachable want all the benefit with none of that expense, and it muddies the waters of a self-branded school.

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