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Get Your Online Course Up and Running

Justine Ickes
Dec 3, 2014 7:16:00 AM

45 million. That’s about how many people hit the road over the Thanksgiving weekend in the U.S. Compared to the annual trek for turkey, creating an online course is a walk in the park, especially when you know how to put together a clear and simple course outline.

Make Course Outlines Work for You

Imagine you’re a copywriter and you want to develop a DIY copywriting e-course for solopreneurs. The topic of copywriting is wide so you’ll need to laser in on your need to know content.

How do you narrow down your expertise into online program that’s useful to your clients? Put them in the driver’s seat and find out what they want to learn and why.

What’s in it for the Learner?

Keep in mind what makes self-directed learners tick and why they enroll in courses. Unless they’re meeting a work or school requirement, people take courses because they want to:

  • Get informed
  • Be enlightened
  • Feel empowered
  • Be entertained

The best e-learning experiences combine all of these.

Back to our example. How do you find out what people want to learn about copywriting? Well, you might first offer a free phone or Skype consultation to prospective clients. If you wanted to scale the process and get more input, you could create a poll or survey and post it on Facebook, LinkedIn, or wherever your prospective clients hang out.

Once you got a pretty good sample of responses, you’d want set aside some time to really dig into your data. The information you’ve gathered should pinpoint exactly what type of problems people face.

But that’s only half the story. Because, while people can usually tell us what their pain points are and what type of problems they face, they may not always know what they need to solve them and or how to do it. (Hint: That’s where you and your expertise come in!)

Remember when we talked about launching your online school? Well, if you think of your course as a journey, the data you get from your needs assessment plus your insider knowledge and expertise make up the bucket list for your course. So, now that you know what you learners need and want to learn, what’s next? Use those must-have topics as the scaffolding for your course outline and write objectives for your main content.

The Well-Traveled Objective

I know. You’re itching to get down to business creating your awesome videos, handouts and PDFs. Why all the fuss about objectives?

Clear and realistic objectives are to course design what gas is to cars. (And writing them isn’t nearly as pricey as filling up your tank.) In fact, when it comes to course design and delivery, having a solid set of objectives can save you time and money.

Think of your objectives as GPS for your course and use them to:

  • Orient you and the learner to your final destination.
  • Help you identify must-see content, plan for mental breaks, and avoid detours.
  • Track how far the learner’s come and how far she has to go.

Like a road sign, objectives should be specific, measurable, achievable, results-oriented, and targeted to the learner. (Get it? They’re S.M.A.R.T.) See the difference between the first three so-so examples and the other two S.M.A.R.T. ones?

  1. Learn yoga so my back feels better.
  2. Stretch more often.
  3. Work on my posture and stop slouching.
  4. Describe three poses that improve posture and ease lower back pain.
  5. Using a stretch band, do a 30-minute Pilates routine three times a week.

After you’ve surveyed your target learners, built out your topic list, and crafted your course objectives, you’re ready to start the next stage of the course design process. Learn how in our next post!

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