How To Improve Your Online Course

How To Improve Your Online Course. 9 Key Factors That Affect The Success Of Your Online Course
Summary: The content is a king, and that rule applies to your online course as well. Great content isn't enough, though, to make your online course engaging and provide the best experience to your learners. Here are the aspects to improve that can make your course close to perfect.

9 Key Factors That Affect The Success Of Your Online Course 

It sounds odd, but providing great content doesn’t automatically turn your online course into a great one. The reason is a great course is not only information. It is also an experience.

To form an outstanding online experience, every single aspect of your product matters – from materials and structure to superficially insignificant things as technical and design elements.

Here are the key success factors to work out.

1. Title Sells. 

Your course title is your sales pitch. It answers in matter of seconds the most important question potential learners have: “What is in it for me?”. Depending on your answer, they may consider enrolling. Or they may bypass all your efforts and keep browsing. The course title has two main functions – to grab attention and to make a promise. To differentiate your course from the others, don’t just state what it is about. Tell the potential student exactly what you will help them achieve. Create an exclusive offer they cannot miss. Suggestions for improving your course title:

  • Spur excitement about the benefits your students will gain.
  • Incite curiosity by asking a thought provoking question.
  • Make an emotional statement that resonates with your audience’s struggles.
  • Define a specific solution for a problem people face.
  • Address your student directly. If they are specialists in a certain field, for example, include their professional jargon in the title.

Be creative! But don’t sacrifice clarity for creativity. And do not make promises you cannot keep.

2. Build Up To Success. 

A great online course is a journey. It’s up to you to create a map your students can follow – from beginning to end. This is what the course structure is about. Plan and describe it in as much detail as you can.

3. Introduction. 

They say people need less than 5 minutes to form an impression. The first minutes of your course are meant to do just that. Those who enrolled could still leave, if you bore them during the course introduction. Start of by generating anticipation and motivation with your welcoming message. Describe your expertise, the course objectives and the benefits for those who finish it. Create realistic expectations.

4. Instruction. 

Plan and describe in detail all course sections - objectives, milestones, lectures, and assignments schedule. If different topics are covered by different lecturers, introduce them and their expertise. Aim for a balance between friendliness, accessibility and professionalism when presenting the mentors. Structure your instructional part so that it is challenging, but not overwhelming to your students.

5. Conclusion. 

Discuss the aftermath and achievements of your students at the end. The skills they gained and their real-life application. Don’t forget to provoke discussion and ask for feedback. Use learners’ experience to improve your material even further.

6. Style Matters. 

You surely have a lot to teach. The course experience, however, needs showing (at least) as much as telling. All graphic elements in your course shape the eLearning environment. Is yours attractive and memorable? Have a close look and polish the following elements:

  • User interface must be clear and intuitive. All resource maps have to be easy to navigate.
  • Optimize your web design for mobile devices.
  • Video lectures – supplement narration with lots of relevant images, charts, print screens, etc.
  • Additional materials (handouts, worksheets) – keep consistency in the basic design elements (logos, color scheme, fonts) throughout the whole course, including the bonus materials.

Many brush visual design elements off as purely decorative and non-essential. That is a fundamental mistake. Visually appealing and stimulating learning environment can create emotional response, raise student engagement and make the lectures more enjoyable. Even details like alignment, color usage, and font size can affect how students evaluate the course.

7. Content Rules. 

Whatever the discussed topics in your course are, if you present them in a creative and engaging way, your student audience will keep growing and coming back for more. What makes content engaging? Everything your learners can relate to. Center your teaching on your students’ lives.

  • Make sure the lectures are delivered in short chunks via various formats – in written form, as well as audio and visual methods. If you don't consider yourself a great writer, try a professional proofreader or a proofreading website for the best content quality.
  • Highlight your key points.
  • Provide summaries.
  • Create lots of discussions and take an active part in them.
  • Minimize the chance for technical difficulties in accessing the content. Backup options and prompt technical assistance are a must.

Be very transparent when it comes to course policies, student evaluation, and feedback. Describe the assignments process, your grading rubrics, and dispute mechanisms. If possible, provide model assignments and tests.

8. Sparkle Engagement. 

The beauty of online learning is that anybody anywhere can take part at their own convenience. Sometimes that is the problem – people can easily lose interest. It is up to you to keep eLearners engaged and motivated throughout your entire course. Here are some tips to achieve that:

  • Design your students’ journey from novice to master. 
    You can design your course using game elements and mechanics to keep people “checking in”. When done properly, gamification turns learning into an exciting and memorable experience. Some game elements you can easily incorporate in your lessons: achievements, avatars, badges, content unlocking, progress bars, teams, and leaderboards. The point is to help learners build competency in a fun way.
  • Provide 24/7 communication channels.
    Discussions not only help students learn more, but they also get to know each other. This builds a community. And community means engagement. Define the ways for learners to contact you and to interact with each other in a friendly and constructive way. Direct communication leads towards support and feedback. Forums, live chats, webinars are just a few communication options.

9. Bonuses And Extra Resources. 

Suggest as many extracurricular resources and bonus materials as you can. The more people gain from your course, the happier they would be with the experience. And that will bring more new learners and opportunities for you.

The difference between regular online courses and the great ones is that the best courses meet or even exceed expectations. To achieve that, you have to polish every detail of your course.

But don’t stop there; pay attention to students’ feedback and keep improving.