Sometimes it makes sense to think inward before you start or outsource the development of an online course. But before you throw your money and time out the door, you should consider these questions.
What To Ask Before Starting An Online Course
Despite the proliferation and rapid authoring and the tools available these days, sometimes it makes sense to know the objective of what you are creating. Perhaps you want the course to do something that is more sophisticated than your skill set can handle, or perhaps you simply don’t have the time to manage it all yourself.
But before you let your content out, it is important that you consider a range of questions beyond the typical ones around how much will I sell it and how long will it take.
Here are few questions that I suggest you answer up front:
Must it be an online course?
You must look at your content well if it will require you to consider alternative modes of delivery such as a user guide, an infographic,PDF, PowerPoint, a video clip, or a webinar. They’ll probably be cheaper and may be just as effective as an online course.
Does the course already exist?
Another organization might have already created it, or it may be available to buy “off the shelf” from an external vendor. I recommend that you watch what has already been created to know the uniqueness you’re bringing on board.
Repeating an existing course with the same content might not be a good idea.
Will you outsource?
Managing creation and activities can be cumbersome. You could pay an external developer to create the course for you; alternatively, you could employ a contractor to come in and do it which seems to be the best if you do not have so much knowledge about it.
Which devices will the course be compatible with?
Consider desktops, laptops, tablets, and smartphones. While rendering your course depending on your audience type, majority of online viewers now use mobile, so ensure the course is mobile compatible.
What knowledge level is this course designed for?
How much do you expect your learners to already know before they start your course? Are they new to the field, or do they have some experience, such as a college degree or a certain number of years in the industry? Or is this their entry point to a new profession?
The answer to this question will help you determine what information to include in your course and how to market it. Even for a beginning course, you will probably need to indicate to your learners a few basic requirements, such as access to the Internet and a familiarity with certain computer programs.
How much time will your course take to complete?
Your learners will want to know how much time they need to plan on investing in your course before they start. You can deliver the timeframe as either a total number of hours (“this certification program will take 40 hours to complete”) or spread out over a time period (“this is a four-week course, requiring a 10-hour time commitment a week.”)
Obviously, some certification or ordinary course are much faster than that. A 2-hour webinar offering a micro certification in a special field is a much easier sell than a multi-week course.
7. Will your learners require one-on-one tutoring?
Most online courses are pretty hands-off, allowing learners to progress independently of the instructor. However, some courses may require individual attention, and if so, you will need to know how to handle the higher workload.
That said, personal tutoring sessions can be a big selling point for some learners. The promise of a 30-minute Skype lesson adds a lot of value to the course, allowing you to charge more per certification.
8. Why will your learners pay money for your course?
What is the value of your certification program? Will learners be able to use it to advance professionally or personally? Do you have any accreditation to support the worth of your certificates?
The most valuable certification programs are ones that teach a definable and measurable skill that can also be tied to professional growth. It’s easier to justify paying lots of money for a certification program if it is likely to land you a raise at work.
9. What will your learners gain upon completing your course?
It’s unlikely anyone will enrol in your course without a clear understanding of what they will be learning or gaining after. You can define this by outlining the course syllabus/curriculum, or by describing specific skills that the course is meant to teach. The more concrete examples you can offer, the stronger your value proposition.
If you had to add a section in the course description that promised outcomes, what would they be? If you need a prompt, start with “by the end of this course, you will be able to…” and then list everything you expect your learners to be able to do.
10. How will you measure success?
Once you’ve defined the course objectives, it’s a lot easier to measure the extent to which you’ve achieved them. If you promise your learners that they will be able to build a six-figure business online, you need to know if they can accomplish that goal.
Maybe that means writing a quiz, or maybe that means asking them to actually create and submit a website for your review. The more measurable the results, the more confident you can be in promising outcomes for future learners.
Are you including audio/video components?
What are your file formats? Will they be in video or audio formats? Some courses in video also attach audios so it can be accessible in multiple formats.
How big will the course be?
Large courses can run into problems such as not resuming to the right spot and all. If the courses are too big you can consider breaking them into parts.
Who will upload the course into the Learning Management System?
This is important as it will help you plan, I earlier mentioned that if the system is not what you are familiar with, you can plan by hiring a consultant to do the upload and monitor the progress for you.
Who will test the course works?
People often disregard this, but it is very important you have one or two trusted reviewers who can help you test the course to ensure it is working as planned before sharing it to the public. Their suggestions will help you adjust any error ahead of your release.