How to Design an Effective Online Course

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Sure, you can try and sell a course and make some cash. Anyone can do that.

However, do you actually care about your students or your craft? If so, you’ll need to do a bit of work. You’ll need to be better. 

Learning how to design an effective online course is vital if you want to be the best educator you can be. This allows you to showcase your expertise and get your knowledge out there.

How to Design an Effective Online Course

Please note that designing an online course is a lengthy process, and this list isn’t exhaustive. Still, it’s a great starting point and is going to prepare you to execute a successful online class.

Pick the Topic

The course topic needs to be something that you know a lot about and have passion for. This is going to show through when you write it. In a sense, the training might be duller if you don’t like what you teach.

You don’t need to be at a university level to write an online course. Just think of your talents, skills, and life experiences. Create a course about interior design, favorite recipes, or something else. As long as you’re good at the topic, have experience, and enjoy it, you should be good.

High Market Demand

You don’t want to spend weeks or months creating something that no one wants to buy. That’s silly and a waste of your time. Make sure that the topic you pick has a market demand for it.

Consider market research tests to see what the need is. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that there’s a lot of competition, so yours isn’t going to work. In fact, when there’s a lot of competition, it means there’s a bigger market demand.

Make sure that people are talking about the topic. They should be asking questions (which you can then answer in your course).

Find out what the competition is doing and find the gaps in the information. If you have all of these and your idea is different from what’s out there already, your course has a chance of making it.

Create Compelling and Magnetic Learning Outcomes

The learning outcome is essential here because it directly affects your bottom line and reputation.

You aren’t going to spend money on something you can’t use and don’t understand. No one is going to buy your course if they don’t know what they’re going to learn, either. Of course, you know what the course is going to add. However, your students don’t. You’ve got to show them so that they want to enroll.

Learning outcomes explain what the learner is going to find out when they are done. This includes the knowledge they gain and the skills they can demonstrate.

Gather the Course Content

Now that you’ve got the right topic and it’s something people want to know, the tricky part comes. Most course creators get stuck here because there is so much information available. You’ve already got a lot of it in your head or on the computer. This step is an art, and it’s probably going to take the longest.

Not only do you have to decide what to put in the course, but you’ve got to know what to leave out. Of course, you’ve already conducted some market testing, so this research comes in handy now. Focus on the learning outcome you set for yourself. If the information doesn’t pertain to it directly, leave it out.

When I get my course material together, I like to use Post-it notes. One idea per note. That way you can easily move them around and get them in the order you want.

Another method is to only include information that fills gaps from the competition. That way, your content is fresh and engaging. It can also go along with other courses to build a large knowledge base.

Structure Everything

Once you’ve written all of the content, it has to flow. Take a look at everything and start the grouping process. Consider similar themes, ideas, and tips, putting them all into modules.

Then, you can order everything within each module so that it flows and is logical. This way, you’ve got a sequence of lessons that build upon each other.

We suggest using the ladder approach to design an online course.

Consider Delivery Methods

Now, you’ve got to decide how to deliver the content. Remember, adults have various learning capabilities. Some prefer hands-on lessons, while others like to watch videos. Factor all of that into the training delivery to ensure that it’s engaging.

You can have some material that must be read, activities, videos, and even audio.

Consider the visuals, as well. A well-selected image in the right spot can add a lot of information. Plus, it is going to break up the monotony and create white space.

Just ensure that you’ve got a balance between audio, visuals, and practical methods. That way, everyone can learn and become engaged with the content.

Filming and Editing

You are now in the production phase of the online course. Of course, you should have a course plan and all of the content you need. Everything is going to be delivered in the right way, and it’s all organized properly.

This is the fun part because you get on camera. The delivery of the training depends on what the audience desires. You’ve also got to consider the learning outcome and how best to present the material.

Video is still the most effective option because people like to watch instead of reading. You could have talking heads (where it’s just a person delivering the content). There can also be green screens. Plus, you can decide to perform experiments.

You can find a variety of editing software, some of which are free. Cut things and change the audio for more clarity.

Bottom Line

Learning how to design an effective online course is important. You want people to choose your course. In fact, some schools might buy your class to show students. This is extremely helpful when you want to become a course creator.

About the author: Hey there! I’m Vince. I’m a trained and practicing teacher with experience in e-learning and course design, along with having an extensive background in building and maintaining websites. I started EduTest Labs to help course creators and students find the best resources (without the BS).