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ServiceScape Incorporated
ServiceScape Incorporated

Creating an Online Course for Your Students: Everything That You Need to Know


It comes as no surprise that in our current way of life, our new normal amid the pandemic's demand that we rearrange our normal lives to protect one another, many businesses, schools, and entrepreneurs have had to rethink how to deliver teachable content to student audiences.

And, with people in quarantine and practicing social distancing, the availability of content for learning is at an all-time high. Students are dealing with college campuses and schools being shut down indefinitely. Businesses that had intensive seminars or conferences planned now have to cancel. The average person who finds themselves with an abundance of free time now wants to learn something new.

And this is the perfect time to launch your online course!

We've put together a step-by-step guide to follow when constructing your course. Everything from marketability to the content itself is very important for success—so be sure to check out tips for success.

Determine your topic

This might seem like an obvious place to start, but it's an important one. What will you teach people? What are you passionate about that you feel you can teach people to better their lives in some way? It could be a task, a language, a skill, or a lesson on an important topic. But it's vital to make sure you're teaching something that you truly care about and have a passion for.

Your authority will come out through your enthusiasm, and if you're already interested in and have some expertise around a particular topic, that makes your research, content-gathering, and course development that much easier. If you're not interested in science at all, you probably don't want to offer a science-based course. If you have no knowledge about copyediting, then offering a course on how to copy edit won't be viable.

No one wants to learn from someone they feel doesn't know what they're talking about, so a thorough knowledge is critical—not only for the success of the course, but also for you, as the teacher. It's always much more fun to teach something you love, rather than something you're apathetic toward.

Check market demand

Now, you might be the foremost expert on a particular topic that you are especially passionate about, but if there's no demand from potential students to learn about that topic renders your course obsolete before you even begin.

As important as it is to choose a topic that you are passionate about and an expert on, it's just as important to determine if you'll have an audience. And if you do have an audience, it's also critical to identify them for marketing purposes.

You'll also need to decide how large of an audience you want in order to launch the course. You may decide an audience of 5 people is plenty for you—or you may want to have an audience of 5,000. If a topic doesn't have a large audience, consider selecting another topic you love that might have greater appeal.

Determine course outcome

What do you want your students to walk away knowing at the end of the course? In other words, what's the end goal? What's the objective? Determining this is important to structuring your curriculum. This could be something tangible, like a project or a paper. It could just be knowing something new they didn't before. But knowing what your objective is will help you focus your content, particularly if you're teaching a broad topic.

Research your course content

This is one of the more intensive steps in this process, and it can be time-consuming and also take quite a bit of time. It probably goes without saying, but making sure your content is accurate, concise, and clear is vital to the success of your course and the objective you set in the previous step. Ensure that the material you teach is detailed enough to meet the course outcomes you've set, but not overwhelming. It should be easy to understand, well-written, well-spoken (since you'll likely be on video!) and dynamic.

On any given topic, you can come across countless trails of information, and all of it might seem important—but include in your content only that which will guide you to the completion of your objectives, will answer questions your students may have, and, importantly, offers information that's not only helpful but isn't offered by competitors.

Create your curriculum

Here's another intensive part of course development! Now that you have your topic, you know you have demand, and you've got all your content researched and gathered, you've got to organize it into a solid learning plan.

Decide how long you want the course to be. A matter of hours? A long-term, ongoing course? This will help you decide how to organize the material in a natural, progressive way that advances at a good pace that will help your students learn the material thoroughly.

Also consider the narrative you'll tell with the curriculum organization. Most topics will require things to be learned in a certain order, so determining this order will be vital in ensuring the success of your students and the completion of your course objectives.

Determine course delivery

Once your course is organized in a logical, progressive way, it's time to decide how that material will be delivered to your students. You'll need to consider your prospective audience and how they learn. For instance, adults generally learn at a different pace than children or teens. An elderly audience might struggle with technology, whereas a younger audience may find a lack of technology causes the course to be boring and unengaging.

What sorts of visuals will you offer? Animations, videos, recordings? Will you have quizzes and tests, or final projects? A combination of both, perhaps? Will you create a community chat environment for students to have discussions? Will they be able to utilize teleconferencing software to verbally participate in discussions?

Consider what technology and tools you'll leverage to ensure your course is delivered in a way that's clear, concise, and engaging—you want your students coming back because they're able to learn easily and they're interested in what you have to say!

Record your lessons

This might be a nerve-wracking step for some, but it's also important. Online courses with an instructor students can see and hear is one of the most effective ways to maintain student interest and engagement.

You'll want to research lighting, good cameras, and a good quality microphone. You might also consider backdrops. Decide how you'll toggle between you on camera, and the content on camera. Editing your videos is important to creating a concise lesson and also, engaging interest from your students.

Of course, another simple way to achieve both objectives at once is utilizing teleconferencing software. You can have your material projected on the screen or via screenshare, and when you're not projecting, your students will be able to see your face and hear you talking.

Set up online school

Now that your course has been properly developed and packaged, you need a place to launch it! There are a number of platforms you can choose from to launch your school, but they all essentially boil down to one of three categories: online course marketplaces, learning management systems, or plugins/software on your website.

Determine pricing

Now, you'll need to consider pricing. Will you offer a course for free as a magnet for users to view your website and check out your products or services? Will it be a form of side income, thus, maybe lower priced to attract more students? Or, are you planning for this course to be your main source of income?

Pricing is something that you might want to consider in the early stages of development, or at least whether or not you want it to be a primary source of income, a side source of income, or free. This is because this will dictate the content of your course. If you're offering something for free, for instance, you might not create a course that's intensive and very in-depth. On the other hand, if you're looking to gain a main stream of income, you'll want to design a course that's a deep dive into the topic with intensive lessons.

Launch and market

Now, it's time to launch your school! Remember that audience you researched in step 2 when you were considering market demand? These are the people you want to get your course in front of!

So, how will you do that?

Social media has long proven to be a very effective way to market, and it's usually for free or for low cost. Do you already have a following? Market your course to them. You can do targeted ads through Facebook or Google. Share the course with your newsletter subscribers.

Also consider ways to attract the audience you're sharing your course with—early bird discount pricing? Giveaways? Having a solid marketing campaign planned out before you launch will be key to your course's success.

Our world is in an unsure time at the moment, but plenty of people are looking to use this time to develop themselves and learn something new. This is a great time to get your skills and expertise in front of them and be safe and socially conscious while doing so!

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