How To Create A Winning Online Course
There is no doubt that modern education has melded into the digital
age. With a wide offering of different ways to learn, to know how
to create a winning online course, will lead to student success, and
business success if you are offering the course. A good quality online
course is made up of three major components: Introduction, Instruction and Conclusion. Attention paid to each of these will help you in your mastery of hosting a great course!
The first impression you make with a potential student is in your
opening words, and possibly image, on your home page of a website. And
as with all first impressions – it is critical. With the click of a
mouse, this potential user can become engaged… or be lost to you
The tone for your course is set right here in your welcoming words.
Get it right! Be professional and an authority, enough that someone will
want to spend their time, and likely their money learning through your
expertise. Students are generally in need of something, and can easily
feel intimidated so bounce this message off many friends,
family and colleagues before using it. It is a widely known fact that
engage learners actually don’t “read”, they scan.
- Course outline.
This is the catalogue portion of your site. The
“shoppers” will review what your course offers, how it is organized, how
it will be presented and evaluated, and so much more. If the students
don't find in your summary exactly what they need from the course, they
will “shop “ elsewhere. Provide an overview for each topic, and a brief
description with objectives and tasks to help students understand the
expectations. If the content of the course is heavy, or lengthy, be sure
to describe it in “chunks” or units of study. An overwhelming course
load can be an instant turnoff. Identify benchmarks in the course and
perhaps, how the assessment will work as the student progresses through
- Faculty information.
If and when the potential student is keen, provide the necessary
information about the experts teaching or providing instruction in the
course. Try to make these people sound accessible, provide friendly
photos and pictures of them interacting with students in meaningful
ways. Give an overview of how contact and one-on-one time with these
“mentors” will be available to all students. Credentials are important
here, but there is a fine line between making a teacher look aloof and
too academic, and being a great guide that a student can feel connected
- Required resources.
Summarize the required texts, plug ins, technical support, everything
that will make up the tools necessary to achieve success in the course.
Include a list of optional resources students can use for further study.
Try to use a variety of means to deliver the content such as graphs,
charts, video and audio. Be prepared for the technical difficulties that
will be a part of devices and equipment. Have systems in place to allow
for these frustrating technical times.
- Expectations and grades.
Be very transparent here about how work will be assessed, and how
communication will be kept open between assessors and student regarding
evaluation. It can be effective to describe how your program offers a
performance analysis and to ask for learner feedback. It can also be
effective to display model assignments, or with students’ permission,
post samples of quality work. Post and use grading rubrics to give clear
examples of what is top work in contrast to less than top.
- Time commitment.
As a potential student learns more about your course, and develops
interest, be very clear about the time commitment and the schedules of
classes, tutorial, seminars, and whatever makes up the content of the
program. Give a clear perspective about the assignments, quizzes and
tests to be expected. Stick to some consistent scheduling in your test
dates to avoid missed opportunities. Use a calendar graphic if
Independent learning can sometimes give independent students a feeling
of isolation. Students will need to know exactly how and where help is
available through your program. Help students help each other with
easier access to the common questions or problems. It may also help
eliminate duplicate questions arising and the extra time it will take to
answer each. Sometimes, teachers can choose to deliberately oppose a
student in a forum or in answer to a question to encourage thoughtful
debate and interaction. Ensure that tips for success will be available,
as well as information about how the course will be developed to offer
assistance to address different learning styles, and disabilities. Many
of the best online learning courses include some kind of video based
training. Demonstrations are good. Even Powerpoint presentations offer a
different approach to instruction. Be sure to invest in using these by
hiring experts to produce them, keep them short and relevant,
interactive, and creative.
Courses today provide opportunities for teachers and students to
interact through digital mediums. Discuss venues and opportunities for
engaging with other students. Explain how this kind of contact will be
key to success, so the potential student feels connected already. Tips
for success could become a regular part of these discussions. When
setting up your in person or online discussion groups, make a friendly
“Getting to Know You” section for the users to become more comfortable
with talking to each other. A forum or questionnaire can easily do this
for you. It will also show your range of students. This is where you may
discover which students have taken online courses before, or where to
direct new students to tutorials that may help them even more.
Be sure to outline specifically the policies of enrolling in the
course, the finances involved, the rules regarding attendance,
submitting work, plagiarism and other items as they relate to your
course. Be clear about how you will resolve conflicts and disputes.
Antagonizing of other students, or teachers, should never be tolerated
and this needs to clear from the onset.
Your course needs a clear outcome for the students. Discuss exactly
what achievements or credentials successful students will be sure to
garner by taking the course. But don’t over promise as it may come
across as flimsy, or like a scam.
As with any website on the Internet, to create a winning online
course, it has to look good! A professional website designer would help
you choose just the right style, colors, fonts and presentable look to
give your visual appeal and impression you need it to make. To attract
students you want a polished site, otherwise it may leave potential
students feel you are not up to the caliber they are looking for.
If you put in plenty of effort and planning in hosting an online
course, be sure to include a schedule for yourself to regularly check in
with its progress, problems and to deal with issues. Respond promptly
and professionally to all student queries and monitor the successes and
near successes of your customers/student. Give students opportunities to
improve their grade or retest material to do better in the course. Your
course can change from time to time, evolve and improve, especially
when you take into consideration the feedback you will receive from its