This article contains content that is written like an advertisement. (October 2023)
The Teaching Company, doing business as Wondrium, is a media production company that produces educational, video and audio content in the form of courses, documentaries, series under two content brands – Wondrium and The Great Courses. The company distributes their content globally through a mix of Direct to Consumer models such as their streaming service Wondrium.com and TheGreatCourses.com, as well distribution through third party platforms like Audible, Amazon and Roku.
In 1990, the company was founded by Thomas M. Rollins, former Chief Counsel of the United States Senate Committee on Labor and Human Resources. Rollins had been inspired by a 10-hour videotaped lecture series by Irving Younger he watched to prepare for an exam while at Harvard Law School. He never forgot the series and wanted to share the experience with others. He began recruiting professors and experts to record lectures, with the first courses covering psychology, political theory, and Shakespeare.
By 2000, the company was well-established, with about $20 million (USD) in annual revenue.
In October 2006, the company was acquired by Brentwood Associates, a private equity investment firm. The company’s catalog grew from 20 million to almost 70 million and digitized 6,000 hours of content. Sales increased more than 35% the first year and then continued to grow at a double-digit pace. In 2013, indirect distribution channels, including Audible.com, Amazon Instant Video, Comcast Video on Demand, and Netflix were added.
In 2015, the company introduced its online subscription service, The Great Courses Plus, which gave lifelong learners streaming access to the majority of The Great Courses content library through a web browser or iOS, Android, Roku, Apple TV, or Fire TV app. A year later it introduced The Great Courses Signature Collection, a subset of Great Courses content offered as a subscription video service through their party platforms like Comcast, Amazon Channels, Apple TV, and Roku Channels.
In 2016, the firm was earning $150 million annually in revenue.
In April 2021, the company announced the rebranding of its global streaming platform from the Great Courses Plus to Wondrium. Along with the rebranding, the company announced 1,000 hours of new content from licensing agreements with Kino Lorber, MagellanTV, and Craftsy.
As of 2021, content included over 7,500 hours of content in the format of documentary and independent films, docuseries, short-form series, featurettes, courses, and tutorials. There are over 1,200 titles with more than 26,000 lectures.
Wondrium produces video and audio content under its two brands: Wondrium and The Great Courses. Both brands focus on educational content with the promise of learning outcomes. The Wondrium line of content, while also educational focused, focuses on learning experiences outside of the influence of traditional University curriculum and takes other content forms outside of courses such as documentaries, docuseries, and travelogues. The Great Courses line of content typically features University level experts and professors presenting in-depth learning across multiple lectures. Courses are developed by the experts and the Wondrium production team. Many of the programs’ episodes are around thirty minutes.
The production quality of the courses is "a cut above" free courses offered on YouTube, according to a report in The New York Times. Chief executive Paul Suijk described the company as the "Netflix of learning."
Content covers different subjects and categories such as science, math, economics, literature, language, history, religion, philosophy, fine arts, music, better living, health, wellness, how-to courses, personal enrichment, hobbies and leisure, and travel. The company has partnerships with the Culinary Institute of America, the Smithsonian Institution, the Mayo Clinic, National Geographic, Penguin Random House, Scientific American, and others. Self-described fans include Bill Gates and George Lucas, who delivered taped opening remarks to a Great Courses conference in 2015.
As of December 2019, the company lists the following categories and numbers of courses:
- Better Living (187)
- Economics & Finance (27)
- Fine Arts (31)
- High School (39)
- History (229)
- Literature & Language (109)
- Mathematics (48)
- Music (36)
- Philosophy & Intellectual History (120)
- Professional (75)
- Religion (83)
- Science (191)
Professors & experts
Most programs are delivered by an expert in the respective field. The lectures often involve computer graphics and animations; some offer an optional PDF guidebook to serve as a custom-made textbook for the course.
The following experts and university professors, among others, have authored courses.
- Jonathan Adler
- Gregory S. Aldrete
- Patrick Allitt
- Stephen Alvarez
- Dorsey Armstrong
- Kenneth R. Bartlett
- Edwin Barnhart
- Edward N. Beiser
- Arthur T. Benjamin
- Jonah Berger
- Ira Block
- Bob Brier
- Edward B. Burger
- Sean M. Carroll
- Phillip Cary
- Thomas Childers
- David Christian
- Eric H. Cline
- Jodi Cobb
- William R. Cook
- Anne Curzan
- Philip Daileader
- Dennis Dalton
- Leo Damrosch
- Daniel Drezner
- William Dunham
- Malcolm David Eckel
- Sylvia Earle
- Bart D. Ehrman
- John Esposito
- Brian M. Fagan
- J. Rufus Fears
- Alexei Filippenko
- Jane Friedman
- Sylvester James Gates
- Eamonn Gearon
- Steven L. Goldman
- Anthony A. Goodman
- Robert Greenberg
- Annie Griffiths
- Patrick Grim
- Allen C. Guelzo
- Richard J. Haier
- James Hall
- Ken Hammond
- Kenneth W. Harl
- Donald J. Harreld
- Robert Hazen
- Craig Heller
- Kathleen Higgins
- James Hynes
- Peter H. Irons
- Luke Timothy Johnson
- Ed Kashi
- Douglas Kellner
- Eileen Kennedy-Moore
- Alan Charles Kors
- Joseph Koterski
- Richard Kurin
- Edward Larson
- Mark Leary
- Seth Lerer
- Amy-Jill Levine
- Allan Lichtman
- Don Lincoln
- Jodi Magness
- Clancy Martin
- John McWhorter
- John Medina
- Michael Melford
- Andrew B. Newberg
- Ashton Nichols
- Steven Novella
- Sherwin B. Nuland
- Joseph Nye
- Robert A. Oden
- Pamela Radcliff
- Mark Ravina
- Richard Restak
- Daniel N. Robinson
- Rick Roderick
- Jeffrey Rosen
- David B. Ruderman
- Robert Sapolsky
- Joel Sartore
- Benjamin Schumacher
- John Searle
- Jeremy Shearmur
- Michael Shermer
- Tom Shippey
- Seth Shostak
- Ronald K. Siegel
- Jeremy Silman
- Jennifer Simonetti-Bryan
- Robert C. Solomon
- Richard B. Spence
- Michael Starbird
- Jonathan Steinberg
- David R. Stone
- Steven Strogatz
- Michael Sugrue
- James Tanton
- Timothy Taylor
- David Thorburn
- Neil deGrasse Tyson
- Elizabeth Vandiver
- Indre Viskontas
- Irwin Weil
- Arnold Weinstein
- Eric R. Williams
- Gary K. Wolfe
- Richard Wolfson
- Molly Worthen
- Michael E. Wysession
- Michael Yamashita
- David Zarefsky
In February 2023, Wondrium announced several new instructors and programs:
- “The Banjo: Music, History and Heritage” led by Grammy-winning musician Rhiannon Giddens
- “Elevate Your Everyday Cooking with Curtis Stone” taught by Michelin-starred chef Curtis Stone
- “The Power of Storytelling” (working title) with NPR host Ari Shapiro leading the instruction
- “Road Trip: Searching for Psychedelic Truth” led by TV producer/host Selema Masekela
Audio-only titles available through Audible
While many Wondrium titles are available through Audible under The Great Courses brand, the company also produces a line of audio only titles exclusively for the Audible Originals brand. As of 2022 the company has produced over 75 of those titles including:
- The Life and Times of Beethoven
- Falling in Love with Romance Movies
- Raising Curious Kids
Wondrium distributes and monetizes their content through a number of ways, including direct to consumer models and through partnership with third party distributors.
Wondrium is the company's direct to consumer subscription streaming service that offers most of what Wondrium and The Great Courses produces as well as additional licensed non-fiction content from select partners. This streaming service is distributed globally. In 2021, it offered about 7,500 hours of content with three pricing options: a monthly plan, a quarterly plan, and an annual plan. It is available on mobile, web, and platforms such as Apple TV, Roku, Amazon Fire TV, iOS, and Android. Wondrium offers both video streaming and audio streaming.
The Great Courses Signature Collection
The Great Courses Signature Collection is the second streaming subscription service offered by the company that is distributed by third parties, including Comcast, Roku Channels, Amazon Channels, YouTube, and Apple TV and focuses specifically on The Great Courses line of content. It contains a limited portion of the total count Wondrium and The Great Courses produces and releases relative to the Wondrium streaming service. This collection consists of more than 300 courses on subjects such as philosophy, ancient and modern history, photography, professional development, science and cooking.
In 2013, courses were made available through Audible under The Great Courses brand. In 2019, the two companies announced their plan to create new audio-only nonfiction titles. The first three titles were Conspiracies and Conspiracy Theories: What We Should Believe - and Why, Medieval Myths and Mysteries, and No Calculator? No Problem!: Mastering Mental Math.
Great Courses (TheGreatCourses.com)
These titles are available to purchase digitally, audio or video, or through DVD. Customers can choose from over 1,200 titles in subject categories including the arts, science, literature, self-improvement, history, music, philosophy, theology, economics, mathematics, business, professional advancement, photography, and cooking.
True History is a Free Ad-Supported Television (FAST) channel. It features over 650 hours of nonfiction programming from Wondrium, and is available through SelectTV (FreeCast) Roku, Xumo, and others.
Wondrium Journeys are immersive vacations “designed to bring the company’s vast collection of travel courses, videos, documentaries, and series to life.” The first vacation was a 9-day, 8-night trip inspired by the company’s course Exploring the Mayan World.
An article in Forbes said that Wondrium has a “smorgasbord of online educational videos. Where MasterClass emphasizes glitz and glamor, Wondrium streams classes and documentaries that will make [users] feel like [they] are in a fascinating and engaging college lecture hall.”
Another review in PCMag, said that the courses are “ideal for couch-side edutainment.” It continued with, “Wondrium’s sweet spot is content catering to your curiosity…The instructors are professionals in their fields…What you don’t get on Wondrium are unvetted amateurs uploading courses to the platform. Sites such as Teachable let anyone develop and upload a course. While you may find rather instructive content on Teachable or even YouTube for that matter, there’s no guarantee of the quality. Wondrium doesn’t have that issue at all. All the content is professionally created and produced.”
The Norwalk Reflector shared that, “Wondrium is a new streamer which offers lectures from the best professors across the U.S. (voted by students NOT administrators). They are talking about their favorite subjects, and unlike some of the droning teachers we might have had in the past, these are completely engrossing.”
In a gift guide, ZDNet recommended The Great Courses Plus for anyone with a “passion for and curiosity to learn new things.” It described the collection as “a huge library of college-level courses taught by some of the world’s greatest professors from prestigious universities and institutions around the globe.”
CNet said, “Wondrium (formerly known as The Great Courses Plus) is more geared toward actual learning than skill development. Sure there are still plenty of amazing courses available about hobbies and trades like baking and woodworking, but there’s also so much more. For example, courses that are designed to teach you about history, not how to be a historian.”
Regional Emmy Award
Going to the Devil: The Impeachment of 1868 (Nominee, 2020)
- Mind-Blowing Science - Season 1 (Nominee, 2021: Science/Long-form) 
- John Lewis: Witness to History (Nominee, 2021: History/Short-format) 
- Black Inventors: Hair Care and Madame C.J. Walker (Winner: Best History Program/Content - one-off or series -short-format) 
- John Lewis: Witness to History (Winner, 2021: People’s Choice Documentary in History) 
- Solving for Zero (Winner, 2022: Science and Technology - TV/Video)
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