Online or e-courses have become a common appearance on websites, blogs and even university websites. Everyone is jumping on the bandwagon, but not all online courses are created equal, and even though you may have something very valuable to offer, designing an online course can be daunting.
This is why a strategic approach is best when it comes to developing an online course. Follow these 7 simple steps and enter the promising world of online education.
#1: Identify the problem
In order to design a course that is effective and targeted, yo will need to answer a specific question or address a specific need. According to SH!FT disruptive learning you cannot even attempt to offer a course on something if you do not know what exactly that something is.
If you do not have a specific idea of what your online course should be about, then you need to do a needs analyses. A needs analyses can range from a simple interview or survey through to an in-depth data collection operation and will help you get to the heart of a problem. What you should end up with is a single, encompassing and detailed question or concept, that your course will aim to answer.
#2: Know your audience
This is a very important part of course design as it will set the tone of your course, and will also determine how much detail to add to the course. If you are offering an introductory course, you will most likely have to spend some time on definitions and the explanation of terms, so your audience can follow the rest of the course. On the other hand, if you are offering an advanced course, wasting time with basic definitions will leave your students bored.
The key is to find a great middle ground that will challenge the more advanced students in your range, without completely losing the less advanced.
#3: Choose your platform
Naturally, your course will need some form of online platform, whether it is live streaming, pre-recorded videos or audio files along with downloadable documents. According to Dacast, if you are offering a live streaming course you should consider a dedicated platform which can handle large audiences and their interactions. Keep in mind that if you decide on one of the platforms out there, you audience should have access to high speed internet and you should have the adequate server power to handle such a broadcast.
There are a lot of eLearning platforms which offer the function of live streaming to be implemented in the learning process, such as Knolyx.
#5: Set the learning objectives and timeline
Based on the previous two sections, you can now outline the course objectives and associated timeline. A learning objective is the expected outcome of each learning module or section and will aid in structuring the course into manageable chunks. When defining the objectives of the course, you can follow the SMART criteria. This defines learning objectives as being Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-sensitive. Once you have defined your objectives, it will allow you to plan out the timeline of your course.
#6: Add the content
Once you have all of steps 1-4 set, you will have a pretty good idea of what the content of your course would look like. Spider diagrams that outline the whole course structure on one page are very useful. Add one or two word notes on what the content of each section should include, which will help you determine if pictures, videos or written content, or even a combination of the three is best for each section.
#7: Advertise & offer the course
Once you have designed the course, you can start to advertise it to your target audience. This can be done though your blog or website, or even through social media depending on how large a crowd you wish to attract. If you are a small time business owner or blogger, starting small may be a great way of testing the course before offering it to more viewers.
Finally, this may not seem such an important part of course development, but offering some form of evaluation to your students can help them, and you assess the success of the course. Offer a quiz or test at the end of the course and make sure to offer your students the opportunity to give you feedback on your course, as this will help you improve it.
Online courses are more and more important, especially in the context created by Covid-19, when all the activity has been moved to an online environment and the learning & development departments have to adapt to the new conditions and requirements.