• Lynne Christensen

YOU NEED TO CREATE AN ONLINE COURSE: NOW WHAT?

Updated: Feb 10



How To Meet Your Online Training Goals

The world has embraced online education. Call it the new normal, pivoting or any of the current buzzwords. Taking courses over the Internet is a phenomenon here to stay and no longer has the stigma of an antisocial person staring at the screen in a basement. Companies all over the world are scrambling to move content online and as a result many of their courses leave things to be desired either in content, design or usability factors. This blog post provides some essential tips on how to get started designing an effective, efficient and thorough online course that users will appreciate.


Consider The End Goal

Students take courses for good reasons including earning qualifications, upgrading skill sets or for general interest. It is critical to understand why learners are willing to commit time and money to sit at their screens for your course. It’s not enough to say you have an interesting topic; good courses are designed by those who keep end users’ needs in mind. Dig deeper and ask your team why students will attend and also why your organization is providing the course. You may be surprised at the answers.


Grant Earned Course Credits On Time

Numerous courses today grant continuing education unit credits (also known as learning unit credits). Frankly, the idea of earning these credits is what attracts many students to courses in the first place. Professionals are required, in a variety of licensed occupations, to continually upgrade their knowledge and have a required number of annual credit hours to achieve. They will expect prompt confirmation that they have earned their credit hours, and many times this is provided either with a transcript or certificate of attendance and completion. If your course is accredited with a particular organization, you may have specific time limits in which to grant this confirmation. Make sure you’re organized and offer an efficient process to your students.


Speak Your Students’ Language

In order for course materials to resonate, course providers must ensure the curriculum is written in a style and tone that suits the learner. For example, one would approach a course on animal husbandry using a different tone and language if the target audience was comprised of veterinarians as opposed to pet owners. The terminology, teaching style and graphics would likely be different for both audiences, simply to accommodate the existing level of knowledge and particular focus.


Understand Different Learning Styles

Students vary by how they prefer to learn; visual, audio or hands-on are the three most common options. Technology allows hybrid models of learning; a good example is listening to a podcast versus watching a video. Both formats can contain the same information, however a student’s learning style will determine which one will resonate with them the most. It’s also important to decide if this will be an instructor-led or more of a student-led learning experience. Course providers need to determine if their course will be provided in synchronous time (live) or asynchronous time (work at your own pace) structure.


Choose A Suitable Online Platform

The software platform selected for your online course needs to be easy to use. This cannot be emphasized enough. Expect your learners to have varying degrees of experience and comfort levels with online education. Online learning is second nature to some, whereas others feel sheer terror when asked to participate in online group discussions. The software should accommodate the number of learners you expect online at a time, instructor needs, requirements for interaction such as question-and-answer sessions, as well as student quiz/exam requirements. Be sure to check out reviews from other users before you decide.


Organize Your Curriculum

The best courses are the ones with organized learning materials. It’s quite an art to gather all of the instructional materials plus background information, and then put it into an effective curriculum. It’s important to take the time to do this well in order to produce effective lesson plans. Ask your Subject Matter Experts for input, including asking which topics should be given more emphasis. An education committee, comprised of various colleagues from different departments, should review and approve your course curriculum.


Be Realistic With Assessment Goals

Learner assessment will largely depend upon your organization’s existing resources. The less automated a test is, the more it will cost to mark. If there is a high degree of interaction, including student group projects, it likely will cost additional funds to manage. Follow-up after course completion provides valuable feedback; be aware that automated scoring mechanisms are usually less costly to run than hand-marked, long answer questions. Overall, the higher the price of the course, the more individual feedback you should expect to provide to students. Make sure you are providing value for their educational investment.


Summary

Of course, each of these subtopics could be expanded into much longer discussions of their own. This blog article provides you with a brief overview of key elements to consider when planning an online course. Need help developing your next online course? Contact Northleo Writing Inc. today: studio@northleowriting.com

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