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7 tips for creating an online course

7 tips for creating an online course

Creating courses online involves getting subject matter expertise into a course that takes learners on a logical and well-organised journey from ignorance to knowledge. That is a fundamental requirement for an online course to have any impact at all. But what about the delivery system – how do you package the learning content as a product that reaches learners?

Content that a Learning Management System (LMS) can understand can be created by using one of the popular authoring tools on the market, such as Adobe Captivate or Articulate Storyline.

For a simpler, text-and-images based course, straightforward documents can be converted to SCORM format with certain software tools. SCORM is a data container format that nearly all LMS can unpack and present to the learner as a course. At the time of writing (early 2020), there are no free tools to do this. The free PowerPoint plugin Office Mix used to do allow SCORM conversion, but it has been discontinued.

Alternatively, you can hire the services of an eLearning development company to create the content for you. If your budget will stretch to it, this is a good option. Premium authoring tools cost money and have quite steep learning curves. Your course does not necessarily need animations and bells and whistles to be successful, but it does need to be well-organised, appealing, engaging and, above all, useful.

If at the end of the writing and structuring process you’d prefer to hand the raw materials over for rapid conversion into a working eLearning course, let’s Professional Services Team do that work for you. They are skilled and experienced in rapid content conversion and will produce a finished, professional course. They can also provide eCommerce if you are planning to sell the course, as well as marketing services to bring the course to the attention of the public and grow sales.

Returning to the initial course creation stage, how do you make sure the course has value to learners and makes them want to finish it? Here are a few essential steps to go through before actually creating the course.

Get inside your learners’ heads. Rather than thinking about whom you can sell to, it is more productive to think of how your course will give a genuinely valuable and positive result to learners. What is their starting point, what are their problems, issues and needs, how does your course address them, and what is the end result that will open doors for them or change their lives for the better? In other words, make your courses useful to a specific group of people. This represents genuine value to the learrner.

Differentiate your offer. Find an angle that makes your course stand out from its competitors. For example, create online courses that offer tips and tricks to save time when working in your area of expertise, provide enlightening case studies, describe common mistakes and how to avoid them, or position your course as an introduction for a particular demographic. Try to avoid generic course descriptions and give learners a glimpse of the tempting path your are offering to lead them along to a desirable outcome.

Write compelling content. Here are some tips to sell training courses online that grab the attention of learners and keep them engaged:

i)             Give clear reasons why they need to learn this. Provide a list of learning goals and outcomes.

ii)            Cut out all non-essential content. Keep it concise.

iii)           Make it interactive. Set frequent tasks like checklists and worksheets that give a sense of progress.

iv)           Make it clear at every stage how much of the course is still left to complete.

v)            Split learning content into easily digestible chunks. Use short paragraphs and bullet points.

vi)           Stimulate more than one sense. Use video, images and audio to communicate knowledge as well as text.

vii)          Frequently repeat key learning points. Set quizzes that test knowledge retention.

Take the course yourself, several times. Is it all logical and how is the sense of progression and achievement? How does it end? What are the takeaways for the learner?

Good luck!

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