Lessonface Program Partners Case Study: MAFA

MAFA, the Mid-Atlantic Fiber Association, represents and supports a community of fiber arts guilds in the greater Mid-Atlantic region, and started using Lessonface for their virtual events in the fall of 2022. View MAFA's upcoming virtual classes. We asked the chairperson Margaret Briggs to answer some questions about her experience with Lessonface. Here is her perspective. Thank you again, Margaret!  

About Your Experience with Online Classes and Lessonface

Margaret Briggs: For context, I was the MAFA Conference Chair in 2020-21 when we took our entire conference virtual. That was a four-day event hosted on Cvent with classes, lectures, exhibits, and other events. I am currently MAFA president, but also chair of the MAFA Virtual committee. I also ended up managing the 2023 in-person conference after our conference chair resigned unexpectedly in early 2022.

How did you hear about Lessonface, and why did you decide to utilize the Lessonface platform?

I heard about Lessonface through taking online classes with MD Sheep and Wool and the Folk School. 

I had also taken a lot of classes through Vogue Knitting Live, Stitches, Fiberworld, Tatter, and Making. After attending so many classes on my own, and managing the MAFA 2021 virtual event, I had a pretty good idea what sort of experience I wanted us to have as planners, and for attendees to have. Cvent was way more than we needed for an ongoing series of classes and lectures, as well as being very expensive. Lessonface offered ease of use, flexibility for offering a few events at a time, and a reasonable cost. At the time we started the Virtual program we were not sure whether we would do another virtual conference, so managing an extended schedule was our primary concern.

What type of support and resources does Lessonface offer you?

Since we are an all-volunteer organization, having Lessonface handle the entire registration and payment process, is a major form of support for MAFA. I have also managed local guild programs where we took all the registrations manually with an online form and sent out Zoom links. So, I did not want to try to DIY this. 

Lessonface provides the Zoom hostings, which allows us to host more classes without schedule conflicts with guild meetings on our Zoom accounts. From our end, it has worked well for us to host the lectures where we want 100+ capacity without having to go to webinar format (which our people really don’t like.)

Lessonface provides an interface for us to list our classes and events instead of having to build more web pages on our own. 

Flavio Lira has been very helpful when we first started setting up our classes and events, often making suggestions to improve how we did things, and prompting us to offer repeat classes for sessions that filled fast and had a waitlist.

What type of enrollments/student participation did you expect & have you met your expectations so far?

Our expected enrollment varies widely by class type and instructor. depending on whether the class is a lecture/demo (with higher max number of students) or hands-on (smaller class size), plus instructor temperament on handling a large class (whether in-person or online.)

Some of our classes have filled quickly with popular instructors or topics, others have been less popular. Because we only have to look at the overall profit/loss for the fiscal year, each class does not have to make money, and I can run all classes even with low enrollment.

How comfortable are MAFA teachers and students with online classes?

For teachers, that varies quite a bit. Some jumped right into virtual teaching in 2020 and love it. Some prefer to teach virtually now and not have to deal with travel. Others did it when it was all there was to do and have mostly gone back to in-person teaching. Some will not teach virtually. 

Students started out also varying quite a bit. Some embraced virtual classes from the start. Some grew to appreciate them. Some took them when it was all there was. Some really dislike or do not learn well in a virtual format.

A very meaningful effect for MAFA has been to engage those members who can’t travel anymore, and who can now take classes again and engage with other students. 

We also find that the time and cost of virtual classes make them much more feasible for younger, busier students, or those on low or fixed incomes.

How far in advance do you typically plan classes?

Ideally six months, in reality, sometimes much less. We like to have 6 - 8 weeks for class enrollment since many of our classes have a lead time to acquire materials.

What feedback have you received from your community about your online classes?

Feedback has been very positive, and in some cases truly heartwarming. The response was already good before our 2023 virtual conference, and even better after.

Do you have advice for other organizations considering offering online lessons with Lessonface?

I have given my advice to several organizations considering virtual classes. Primarily what we have seen for MAFA and for our member guilds is that the organizations who offered virtual events during the pandemic survived and even grew. Those who have kept up either hybrid or a mix of in-person and virtual events are thriving. Some guilds and regional organizations who did not offer virtual programs have not done well since 2020. Similarly, those organizations which have returned to in-person and abandoned virtual, I think are going to suffer some loss of members.
My advice is to do it.

Why do you plan on continuing with your online programming?

  • It is a cost effective way to offer fiber arts classes to our wider community.
  • It is much easier to administer for us as planners than our in-person conference.
  • It allows us to broaden our community by not being tied to geography - people can participate in our events from anywhere.
  • As above, it allows members to participate even if they aren’t able or don’t participate in in-person guild and MAFA events, for whatever reason.
  • It allows us to provide value to our members in the time between our biennial conferences.
  • It allows us to offer classes by new and different instructors, and on topics that might have a more narrow appeal than we can reasonably offer at the in-person conference where we have to have minimum enrollment for a workshop to run.
  • It allows us to offer classes that benefit from having more time between class sessions than we can provide at the 2-½ day conference.
  • It allows us to offer classes by instructors from any geographic area.

View MAFA's upcoming classes.

Work with Lessonface:

Online class programs for organizations
Online teaching for individual teachers

Loading cart contents...
Load contents