What MC Hammer Can Teach Us about Creating Online Courses

The Engaging Effect of MC Hammer

Yeah, your girl was back up dancing for MC Hammer. You read that right. The shiny suit, parachute pant wearing MC Hammer. MC Hammer Can Teach Us That Online Courses Need to be Engaging.

You may be wondering, what does MC Hammer have to do with creating online courses? I’ll get to that in a moment.

But first, let me bask in my 15minutes of fame. (This is actually my 2nd 15 minutes of fame making it a total of 30minutes of lifetime fame.)

Ok, I admit. I wasn’t actually a back up dancer, but I was on stage with him. That counts, right?

I got a chance to see MC Hammer live in concert this weekend. He captivated us from the very beginning. His entire performance was engaging: he got the crowd moving, he danced down the aisles, he jumped up on the raised platform, he shimmied, he shook, AND he handed out flowers. Hammer knows how to create an experience and get his audience involved (which is key for creating an amazing course).

It was during the Too Legit to Quit song that he invited a group of people to the stage. Anyone who knows me, knows I LOVE to dance. So, I couldn’t resist. I jumped up on stage too and busted out my dance moves. (I was slightly hoping I would be invited to be a real back up dancer. But, alas, I returned to my 9to5 job the following Monday.)

Back in the day, Hammer was not only a rapper, but also an entertainer. His songs and dance moves were high energy. And, in his recent concert, he didn’t fail to live up to that standard.

What MC Hammer Can Teach Us About Online Courses

Hammer knows how to engage his audience. He knows how to get people up and moving and having a great time.

And, with online courses, you need to inspire your learners to have a great time, too. You need to be like Hammer. Your goal should be to have your learners engage with the content, not just sit back and passively listen. They want to hear from you because they want to learn something. They want to change their life. And, they trust you to show them how to do it.

So, you may be thinking, does Jennifer really want me to start shaking my booty on video in my courses? Hold on speed racer, that’s not exactly what I’m saying.

How to Engage your Online Course Participants

Here are 4 activities you can use in your courses to get your learners engaged and involved in your content (Download worksheet here):

1. Worksheets/Fun Sheets: Use handouts and workbooks to get your learners to reflect and record information. This can either be information you presented or information that they need to go out and find. Writing things down is a powerful way to engage learners.

2. Project-Based Activities: More than likely, the people who take your course are trying to learn to do something. And, because they want to learn to do something, I’m not a fan of quizzes. Quizzes don’t make you do something. They test whether you remember something (most of the time). So, instead, replace a quiz with an activity your learners have to do. Do you remember the most important questions to ask before starting your course? Use that as a starting point for creating a project-based activity.

3. Observation/Collect Things: I told you that I love dancing. Now, you know my second love — scavenger hunts. I’m pretty competitive, and I love solving mysteries or searching for things. Getting your learners to search the web, explore their surroundings, collect images, etc. can really help them see things in a different perspective.

4. Case Studies: Present your learners with a problem or a scenario. Let them create their own solution to the situation. This gets them actively thinking and applying what they learned to their personal experience.

These are four of many ways you can get your course peeps involved in what you’re presenting. Check out this worksheet to record some of your content pieces that may possibly fall under each category.

So, what can we learn from MC Hammer? Don’t just throw up some slides, talk, and think it’s going to cut it. Be like Hammer and engage your learners because, guess what? I’d pay to see Hammer again in a heartbeat and I’m telling ALL of my friends about it. And, you should want the same for your course.

Alrighty, I want to hear from you. In the comments, let me know the most memorable concert you’ve attended. And, let me know what ways you plan to engage your course participants.


  1. says

    I love numbers 3 and 4 especially! I love the idea of a scavenger hunt to help clients change perspective, I’ve never thought of it like that, but honestly that’s what summer camp counselors and people do for kids a lot right?! Thanks!

    • Jennifer says

      Thanks Ashlee! Yeah, don’t let adults fool you — we love those kiddie games too! Any kind of interaction we can provide will help course participants really internalize what you’re presenting! Thanks for stopping by!

  2. says

    Wow Jennifer! Lucky you! I can tell you had fun sharing the platform with MC Hammer. That’s fantastic for you.
    I love the activities you gave for the online course. Learning is not just about writing and reading. A learner retains information when they do practical tasks. Plus when learning is fun it’s more likely that they’ll engage and enjoy at the same time.
    Thanks for this. I’ve downloaded my worksheets. :-)

    • Jennifer says

      Hey June! Great input! I definitely fall under the idea that I must engage with what I’m learning. I can do that in many ways, but mostly visual — meaning video, images, and pictures. It’s always a good idea to take into consideration how our participants learn.
      Hope the worksheet is helpful.

  3. says

    Love this! I am right in the midst of creating courses for law students and attorneys and this is just the reminder I needed that while they make look calm on the outside they want a good party just as much as we do!

    • Jennifer says

      Wow! Sounds like an interesting course.
      Yeah, I’m sure law students have received their fair share of lecture style courses. I think it will really set your course apart if you do activities that are more engaging.

      I would love to hear more about your course!

    • Jennifer says

      Good for you, Denise!
      Glad you’ve got out there and have finished your first course! That’s a big one to get under your belt. Glad you found the site. I’m sure you’re going to find some helpful tips. Thanks for hanging out with us!

  4. says

    This one is going straight to evernote! Great post. As a teacher, I love project based activities and student centred activities.

    Overall this has really gotten me thinking about ways that I can create courses that are less lecture-style and more interesting and interactive for the participants. Thank you!!

    • Jennifer says

      You’re welcome, Carlie.

      It’s so much easier and faster to do lecture style. I know for myself, I zone out really easily!! So, I think about that when I’m preparing to teach anything.

      Thanks for stopping by again.

  5. says

    Great post Jennifer!

    I love the idea of giving take-away course work (#2), it also gives students an opportunity to take time to absorb the new learning. Good tip!

    • Jennifer says

      Great point!
      And, sometimes absorbing materials means having contact with it more than once and in several different ways.

      I don’t know how many times I’ve been in situations where I’ve had to re-read or find an alternative explanation just to understand it!
      Thanks for your insight!

  6. says

    I’ve seen MC Hammer twice in concert. Always
    puts on a fantastic show!

    Perfect timing on this post for me. I’m currently working on an online course teaching people how to shoot better nature and wildlife video.

    I will certainly incorporate the tips you’ve given me.

    • Jennifer says

      Thanks for stopping by, Kevin!
      MC Hammer twice? That’s awesome! I had such a blast!
      I’m glad you were able to find some tips in the article. Your course sounds fantastic! Glad you have a specific niche too!

  7. says

    Hey Jennifer! Absolutely love this post. These four points have inspired some major creative thinking about how I’ll get more of my participants actively engaged. I’ll be building your suggestions into my next online course :) Cheers!

  8. says

    OMG girl, I knew you would have a good time but you got up on stage. Dang Jennifer, I sure wish I’d been there with you cause we would have been getting down. Oh yeah, this girl knows her moves too whether anyone else likes them or not! I’m the one out there on the dance floor all by myself when everyone else is to scared to get up cause they might be seen. Not me, oh no… I don’t care if it’s the first song of the night, if I want to dance to it I’m gone. lol…

    So on to the topic of hand, yep I got kind of carried away too! This is really good info cause as you know I’m creating my first course and I don’t want it to be boring and dull yet I’m doing screen shots of the “how to’s” with your blog. But I want it to be memorable and fun so you’ve just given me some good ideas.

    Thank you for that Jennifer and so now you’ll have to come down and enjoy a quiet weekend without MC! I know, it will be hard but I have faith in you. Okay, forget that right! Just put on the tunes and get down again! lol… 😉


    • Jennifer says

      I wish you were there, too! We would have been movin’ and groovin’!

      I already know you, Adrienne. Your course would never be boring! I’m excited to see what you’ve got going on for your course.

  9. says

    Hey Jennifer, to be honest I couldn’t even imagine what to expect when I saw MC Hammer in the title haha but I see what you did here now.

    I was pretty young when MC Hammer was the bomb but I still remember his most important songs and I have to say he WAS one of the few artists that would put any boring party on fire (with his music, I don’t mean he actually being there)

    Anyway, I couldn’t think of anything else while I was reading your article but “gamification”.

    This is something that engages your audience and entices you to solve stuff in order to make progress, hence why there are so many new learning platforms out there that show progress bars (think Udemy).

    I believe this is my first time here, you have a great blog, love your writing style and I certainly did learn something new from MC Hammer today (and from you as well) thank you and talk soon Jennifer! 😉


    • Jennifer says

      Hey Sergio!! Glad to see you over here at TGS. So, I tricked you with that title? :)

      Yes, gamification is huge. This is an area that I don’t know too much about, but definitely need to keep my eye on. I’m sure it’s like any sort of activity that engages learners, it needs to be closely related to what they’re learning in order for it to be effective. Gamification for gamification sake, doesn’t help the learners learn. But, when used correctly, is great for courses.

      Thanks for stopping by Sergio and leaving your comments!

  10. says

    Your title is very eye catching. It made me want to read your article, which tied into your article about making learning interesting and fun. We retain more when the tasks make sense.

  11. says

    Really great post, Jennifer, and a eye catching title indeed. I love the analogy.

    It truly does take some creativity and innovation to be able to catch and keep your readers/students/audiances’ attention. You’ve provided some excellent tips on how to to do just that.

    One thing that I’ve found to work wonders when I relaunched my blog last year is writing case studies. My case studies were extremely in-depth and detailed.

    They were centered around showing my audience EVERY single thing I did to generate traffic and build relationships with top bloggers in my niche; down to the screen shot of the comments I left on blogs to invoke engagement and interaction.

    I don’t think that any engagement tactic is truly “original”; many of us participate in the same activities to gain exposure and traffic. However, what IS original is our unique personalities and the way we deliver our message and content. As you’ve exemplified in this post. :)

    This is my first time visiting your blog, Jennifer; I’m love what I’ve read and seen so far.

    I’ll be sure to share this post with my social network. I’ll also leave a comment on bizsugar.

    Keep that great content coming and I look forward to connecting more with you soon.


  12. says

    OMG, I LOVE that picture, Jennifer!! You look like you’re having a blast!

    Great tips as well. I’m planning on creating an online course later this year, so I’ll definitely be referring back to the Hammer Tips! :)

    • Jennifer says

      Woohoo! Thanks so much for stopping by, Andrea. Good to see you.
      I’m excited about your course! Let me know if I can help.

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