Creating content for online courses is a little like watching the Fast and Furious movie. It seems easy and pretty realistic from a distance. However, you begin to feel nervous when it’s time to act it out and set the gears in motion. Worst of all, personal experience in your field of interest doesn’t necessarily guarantee success.
In today’s world, online courses are a popular choice for anyone seeking to gain new knowledge on any topic. Online courses are a minefield for knowledge, from math 3rd-grade courses to creative writing boot camps. Therefore, many experts are responding to this demand by creating either free or paid comprehensive courses.
So, here’s the big question: how do you write a strong online course? More importantly, what are the criteria for strong content?
If you’re considering writing an online course, this article will guide you through the nitty-gritty of it all. Let’s get down to brass tacks, shall we?
Step 1: Focus on your target audience
Who is your target audience? Any course has a specific group of people whom it’s designed for. For instance, if you’re offering high school math lessons, then it goes without saying that your target audience would be high school students.
Before creating an online course, you must first consider your target audience. If you haven’t already done this, it may be a good time to pause this article and have a long thought about who you’re creating content for. This knowledge will guide you on how to structure the content and make it more useful for your audience.
The more specific your course is to its audience, the more engaged they will be.
Step 2: Set objectives
Here’s the thing: every action has an objective. If you drive to the mall with a shopping bag and a list, your objective is clear: you need to ensure that every item is crossed off the list by the end of your shopping spree. If something as mundane as shopping has a clear objective, why shouldn’t your course content tow the same path?
Before writing your course content, you must clearly define what you want your students to achieve by the end of the course. What lessons will they learn? What skills will they acquire? If you’re offering online math courses, what level of proficiency will your students attain?
These are important questions worth considering as they will guide you towards creating helpful and relevant content for your audience.
Step 3: Create an outline
Once you’ve determined your goals and objectives, it’s time to get to the crux of the matter: writing content. Deciding your course’s content can be tricky and a tad overwhelming as you may want to cover as many topics as possible. Thus, you need to create an outline first which will help you stay organized and on track. Think of the outline as a skeleton. It’s the most basic frame that makes up the structure of your content.
So, what should it contain?
Typically, your outline should contain the topics you’ll like to cover and all the information you want to include. It should be listed as bullet points or headings and subheadings. With this structure, you can develop your content around each bullet point.
A little disclaimer: cramming as much information as possible into the outline may be tempting. Don’t do it. Your outline should contain only basic information. Nothing more.
Pro Tip: If you’re unsure what topics you want to write about, look at your competitors. If you offer math courses, take a look at Brighterly.com or other similar platforms. Analyzing your competitor’s content will give you a rough idea of what to include and leave out in your outline.
Step 4: Pour your heart into the introduction
The introduction is your first chance at winning your audience over. It’s the bit where you introduce yourself and your course to them, telling what you offer and how the course works. Put simply, it’s your only chance for creating a first impression, and you have to make it good.
So, what should you include in your introduction? For starters, present the most basic or important concepts you plan to cover in the course. Explain the resources you’d be using and the reasons why they are essential. Most importantly, tell the audience what they will gain by completing the course.
This last bit is the most important as it clearly tells students what you’re offering them and the benefits of sticking with you till the end.
Finally, when drafting your introduction, make it as lively as possible. You want your audience to feel engaged.
Step 5: Develop the body with clear instructions
Now that you’re done with the introduction, it’s time to focus on the main content. Ideally, the body of your content should be separated into different sections. This approach will help your audience go through the content one step at a time instead of going through a long stretch of information.
Each section should have a strong title and fully explore the subject. It’s also important to ensure that you don’t repeat ideas in multiple sections. While two sections can be interconnected, they shouldn’t contain the same ideas.
Pro Tip: When beginning a new section, give a brief rundown of the previous one. This would refresh your audience’s memory and get them in the right frame of mind for receiving new information.
Step 6: Simplify your language
If you’re writing content for a professional audience such as math tutors, it may be tempting to use large words or professional jargon. However, that’s one of the fastest ways to either drive away your audience or slow down the learning process. Always keep your language simple and straightforward as this will help your students digest information faster.
Writing strong content for an online course isn’t number one on the list of easy things to do. However, with these tips, you’re well on the path to success. In addition, you should provide a self-check at the end of the course to show your students how far they’ve come or what they’ve learned in the process. This could be in the form of tasks or a final test.
We hope these tips help. Good luck!