Updated: Oct 4, 2022
Even though a course is digital, it's still a lot like building a house. You need to start with the foundation, then build the walls and floors before putting them on the roof. However, unlike a house where you only have one chance to get it right, you can always tear down something in your course if it’s not working out. Here are some tips that will help you build solid content for your online courses:
Know your audience
Know your audience. Who is going to be reading, watching, or listening to this content? What are their needs, wants, and desires?
Be consistent with the language you use throughout your course. It’s important for consistency in style, tone, and voice so that students get a sense of familiarity when they come across new content.
Plan ahead. Think about where potential problems might arise during the course creation process and plan accordingly by creating a schedule for yourself that includes deadlines for various tasks such as developing assessments or creating assignments.
Don't wait for your online course to be perfect.
Don't wait for your notes to be perfect. You'll never get them perfect, and if you do, they'll never be useful because, by the time they're perfect, you don't need them anymore.
Don't wait for the perfect time to start writing your course content. There's no such thing as a "perfect" day or moment in which to begin working on a project. The only thing that matters is starting now—and finishing later.
Don't wait for the perfect mood before beginning your course content creation process. Instead of waiting until you feel more inspired or motivated than usual (which will probably never happen), instead set aside specific times each week where you'll sit down and crank out some writing—even if it doesn't feel very good at first! What matters most is getting started with something that works today; whether that means starting with a blank page or taking notes on something else entirely like an outline template can vary based on what works best for each individual writer's personality type but ultimately comes down mostly having their mindset firmly upon getting started despite whatever obstacles may arise along their way towards completing their goal rather than allowing those obstacles themselves become excuses not doing anything at all!
Relate the content to real-life scenarios as much as possible.
Ensure that the content is relevant to the students and that they can relate to it in some way. Use examples from people's lives and make them more relatable. For example, you could write about how a student might use this information in their professional life, or explain how it applies to a student's personal life.
Avoid being too general.
You don't want your students to be confused, so it's important to stay away from jargon. You should also avoid using too much information in an outline, as this can overwhelm students and make them feel like they're drowning in information.
Your final course must be well-written and easy to understand by your students. If you follow these tips, you will create a course that is easy for them to digest while still giving them all of the information they need in order to succeed!
Focus on what matters most.
Focus on what matters most.
It’s crucial to focus your course content development on the fewest, most important topics that will be most beneficial to learners. If you overload your learner with too much information, they are likely to get distracted and lose focus.
Don't overwhelm the learner with too much technology.
A lot of online courses require learning new technologies or software—but don't overwhelm them with too many features or functions at once! This may cause confusion and frustration instead of engagement, so keep it simple by focusing on just one or two key features in each module that truly enhance learning experiences for students (e.g., animations).
Provide practice activities with immediate feedback and support.
Practice activities are a useful way to give students immediate feedback, while also giving them the opportunity to practice what they have learned. This type of activity should involve a small portion of the overall course content but can be incorporated into any lesson or unit. Practice activities provide not only the opportunity for students to learn and apply information from lectures and readings but also allow them to gain confidence in their ability to solve problems independently outside of class discussions or meetings with instructors. Practice activities can include games such as crossword puzzles; matching exercises where students match concepts with definitions or examples; short answer questions that test student understanding of assigned readings; and even problem sets/problems (e.g., math word problems).
Make sure you are building course content for your actual students, not for an imaginary version of them.
When you're developing your course content, you may find yourself thinking "This is something my students should know." That's a normal and valid thought. However, make sure you are building course content for your actual students, not for an imaginary version of them.
Most of us have been a student or have worked with students at some point in our lives. By that logic, we assume that the students that will show up to our online courses will be like those we've taught before: smart but inexperienced in our specific subject matter; wanting to learn more but needing guidance along the way; maybe even anxious about making mistakes or getting things wrong. But what happens when we throw all these assumptions out the window? What if instead of assuming our students know something (or don't), we actually try asking them whether they do?
I hope this article has given you some useful tips on how to make the most of your online course content in order to keep your students engaged and learning. Remember that what works for one person might not work for another, so try different things out until you find something that works for you!