How to create an online course pt. II
12 October 2020
Doing the work, going the distance
In the first article of this series we discussed the building blocks of a good online course and how to set up a ‘recipe’ for your online courses. In this second article we will move on to the real work; the often-lengthy process of creating an online course and all the steps this entails.
A brief recap
Welcome back! Previously we discussed how online courses should follow a formula that is based on what you want your courses to achieve. In our case we want to make lifelong learning fun again by making our online courses fun, accessible, effective and useful. And to do that, we decided to make use of our passion and drive, bite-sized learning, Kolb’s learning styles and the taxonomy of learning objectives. This is what we call our learning formula, our recipe for creating an online course.
Trust in your recipe
Your goal when making an online course isn’t just to bring forth ‘an online course’, but to make a course that is tailored according to your recipe. Anyone can record a bunch of clips about an interesting subject and plop them online, that’s easy. As discussed earlier, our goal is to make sure that our courses are fun, accessible, effective and useful. Thus, we must make sure that our process of creating an online course reflects this.
Don’t forget about quality
However, there is one essential goal that we don’t mention in our learning formula. The quality of our content. It may very well be the most important ingredient to a good online course, but we didn’t put it into our formula because we believe this should be part of your baseline. If you’re making an online course and your content isn’t up to par, then it should immediately be disqualified from being a ‘good’ online course.
Determine your course content
That’s why determining your course content should always be the first step. Together with an expert on the subject matter you determine the scope and lesson plan for your course. And when we say determine the scope, we mean to define what subjects you will limit your course to. With the scope clear, you can structure your lesson plan according to the specific subjects you’ll be handling. After all, an online course about history is unlikely to involve a detailed account of every historical event ever recorded. You’ll have to carefully decide on what your online course will contain.
Assign content to learning goals
With the lesson overview of your online course planned out, next you’re going to have to structure the content of each lesson. How will you ensure that the student can learn and understand the content properly?
We sit down with the expert and distill each lesson’s content into several learning objectives according to Bloom’s Taxonomy of Educational Objectives. Take care that there is a logical order to your learning objectives, because both the written and spoken text will be based on these.
Assign learning aids to learning goals
Once the content for each learning objective has been written, we assign additional learning aids to each learning objective. For instance, images, infographics or additional short videos. These can be assigned to a learning objective to better facilitate the knowledge transfer and ensure it appeals to a broader range of learning styles.
Use quizzes as a learning aid
At the end of every lesson we implement a short quiz as a tollgate review, so that learners can test if they have met the lesson’s learning objectives. These quizzes are also a learning aid, as they both solidify the learner’s existing understanding of the course content and correct any misconceptions they might have through the correct answer explanations at the end of each quiz.
Build questions according to learning goals
We build these questions and the exam questions according to each of the course’s learning objectives, ensuring that each question is matched to a specific learning objective. We want to be sure that whether it is during a self-testing quiz or an official examination, the questions accurately reflect the learning objectives in the online course.
Lights, camera, action
Next up, it’s time for the movie magic to happen. It’s time to put our expert onto film. This takes a few days of practice on their end, and usually a day or two of intensive film-mongering. With all the preparation that’s been done already in streamlining the text script according to the learning objectives, and pre-planning the visual elements that are to be used in the videos, this is usually the easiest part.
Editing the videos with the aforementioned visuals and adding that extra bit of cinematic spice does take a lot of time, but during this time frame there’s plenty left to do for the rest of the team.
It’s called an online course for a reason
During the video-editing, and even during most of the filming, our platform designers have to get everything onto our website. It’s called an online course for a reason after all. This is hard work and takes more time and effort than you’d think.
The basic programming itself isn’t all that difficult; the hard part is translating all the learning aids onto a web-page and ensuring that it all looks, feels and works as intended. But once that’s over and done with and the videos have been added to their respective lessons, we finally have an end product to be proud of!
So that’s how we build our courses in a nutshell. When you create an online course, you should always do so with clear goals and expectations, and then plan accordingly. Your course should be built through a process that is based on what you want the course to achieve. As far as we’re concerned, that’s the only way to create a good online course.
Of course there’s always room for improvement, and this is a formula and process that we will continue to tweak until we feel we’ve perfected it. Which is probably never. But at least it’s a noble endeavor, wouldn’t you agree?
Putting the mission first
In this article and the one before, we’ve spoken at length about following your mission statement and how you should create your online courses to contribute to this mission. It’s all about putting the mission first and letting all your processes flow naturally from there. In the next and final article of this series we’ll discuss the importance of continuously improving your formula and development process and why this should matter when creating an online course.