Launching a QUALITY Online Course
You are nearly ready to launch your e-course but are very nervous if it will cut the grade. You fret, “Is it good enough?”
This question is asked by every. course. designer.
In this blog post, I share the top 3 elements you need to have in your course to ensure it is quality. This advice comes straight from the e-learning field after studying the impact of thousands of courses on thousands of participants.
Top 3 Course Quality Elements
- Easy navigation
- Learning path
NOTE: This topic highly relates to the course platform you will need.
Online courses need to have an ‘intuitive’ navigational system. That is, they need an easy way for students to get around the course and not get lost.
For new online students, or at least new to your course, they are focusing on learning. They are excited to start Day 1 and get into your content. Having a poorly structured course, or one that is designed so differently will frustrate online learners.
So what is meant my ‘intuitive’ navigation.
Think of a website structure. When I open a new website I’ve not been to before, I have preconceived ideas of how to get around it. I don’t have to think about it and it is set up so I can find information quickly, like the ‘About Us’ page.
The same applies to a course. Students are looking for a very basic layout that will not only be easy to find lessons but also resources and communication avenues. Ensure these are reachable on every page of the course.
Here is an example of good navigation in a course:
ADVICE: Use course platforms, not content or web pages.
- Course platforms nicely layout your modules/units and individual pages into an intuitive menu and allow you to easily reorganize them if wanted.
- They usually have opportunity for students to check the ‘completed’ button to stay on top of the pages and lessons they have visited. This is great data about completions for you, too!
- As well, most course platforms have built-in quiz makers to add more dynamic and interaction to your course.
Whereas, content or web pages don’t have these functions and make connecting lesson pages more cumbersome. I do not like designing courses in them.
For more tips, see my tutorial on Choosing the Perfect Course Platform.
Now, for my fave topic – the learning path you will lead your students down (thus, build their learning journey).
Have you taken a course that was light to start with and had fresh intro pages, lovely warm welcoming video and a way to connect with other students?
And on time, Week 2 come along where you are introduced to major concepts and terminology around the course topic plus get to learn about the instructor’s experience and background via a short lecture on the main ideas.
Then, in Week 3 – WHAM! Pages and pages of content are presented that somehow are to become a lesson on how to delve into, reflect on or apply a topic.
Crickey, throw the rope – I’m drowning!
This is the real cruncher for course developers – how to design a course with just the right amount of content, activities and flow (AND includes all the main ideas) that helps people to do/know/feel/perceived what you would like them to.
Please know, I truly get people want to help others improve their lives and/or businesses via a course, and that they are teachers at heart.
It is vital to break courses down into absorbable vital steps and procedures in order for students to successfully apply and embrace it.
And this might mean they have to really streamline their courses and drop some of the content. It’s okay! Students want to learn what is promised and will love a nice, tight course.
Learning Path Example
Here is an example of lessons nicely separated and easy to absorb. They include the following 3 sections:
- The INTRO section should tell learners or readers what to expect in the lesson, provide a brief background on ONE keypoint, and then lead them to the middle section.
- The MIDDLE section is the meat. Here the main ideas, facts or steps are presented that tell about the keypoint. These can be presented in an infographic, story, video, example and/or a written words, etc. (NOTE: You can have 5-6 lesson pages per module/unit; 3 lessons are shown here).
- The END section is a summary of what was presented and a call to action, such as an exercise to play with the ideas, facts or steps.
COURSE TOPIC: Warmly Working with Your Massage Client
ADVICE: Consider how people learn by envisioning that you are teaching your course in person.
- What would that look like?
- Emulate that into an online course.
For more tips, see my tutorial on Chunk Out Your Course Content.
This is a techy topic as well. How useable is your content across all technical devices?
Is your multimedia (i.e. images, video, audio, etc.) optimized and formatted to be readable on:
- PC and Mac operating systems
- Desktops and laptops
- Apple and Andriod devices
- Mobile phones and tablets (mobile responsive)
- Within course platforms (and learning management systems)
It is mind boggling what we need to consider when designing digital products.
To add, what is the available bandwidth for your typical audience? Would a video-heavy course be accessible and usable by them?
Consider the questions above if the majority of your students…
- Travel a lot and may need Wi-Fi on the fly
- Are from a lower socio-economic status and have limited internet services
- Are from developing countries with low bandwidth
- Have older technology and do not update operating systems (thus, don’t have current video streaming software, PDF readers, etc.)
- Are on metered Wi-Fi services
- Unsure if they can access plug and play features
- Build multimedia and in course platforms that draw on slightly older versions of readers, multimedia players, web fonts, etc.
- Don’t over clutter your lesson pages but ensure lots of white space.
ENSURE a QUALITY COURSE
Get more tips and advice from my Quality Standards Checklist with 22 standards explained, such as:
- Web design standards
- Information availability
- Writing quality
- Supportive resources
- Course organization
- Learning quality
- Technology standards