Internet Explorer doesn’t work well with our website. We recommend using a different browser like Google Chrome.

A common question we get asked is, “What makes an effective online course?” There is no secret ingredient, but we’ve pulled together a few tips.

No single determining factor determines if a course is good or bad. However, with our experience in online education, we’ve noticed a few things that some of the most successful courses have in common. Today, we have accumulated a few of those tips to create a universal recipe that you can rely on.

Here’s the recipe for how you can design an effective online course:

1. Preheat it with a hook

Before you launch into the meat of the course, you want to capture the students’ attention. Students learn best when they are intrigued by the material they are learning, and there’s no better way to bore them than with a mind-numbing list of facts and figures.

Break the ice with an engaging introduction, whether it is a game, relevant clip from popular TV show, or personal story. The key is to make the course interesting while keeping students interested in the course.

Students learn best when they are intrigued by the material they are learning Share on X

2. Mix it up with videos

Research has shown that visual content helps us remember new information better. This is primarily due to the fact that the human brain is wired to process images better than words. Visual imagery is powerful, and although the effects can be achieved with pictures and infographics, you can take it to the next step with videos.

Take the time to record yourself on video (an audio recording works as well), integrating the video with well-illustrated photos or slides that get the information across quickly. Limit the number of words you use and focus on employing pictures and graphs. If you do this step successfully, watch out because your students will be learning in no time.

visual content helps us remember new information better Share on X

3. Bake it with storytelling

Storytelling is an art. It is the simplest way of engaging students, while expanding knowledge at the same time. By building off the potential of imagination, we can transform big ideas into precise facts.

We tell stories to our friends and family every single day, and the same skills apply here: be interactive, be dramatic, and personalize the story to make it your own. Don’t underestimate the educational power of storytelling.

Don’t underestimate the educational power of storytelling. Share on X

4. Cool it with quizzes

If you want students to remember specific information, don’t force it down their throats. Information is only half of the learning curve; the other half is testing. Although tests and quizzes have a negative connotation, they actually are more effective than you think. Tests inform you of the things you know and don’t know, so you can focus your energy on what needs improvement.

What many instructors choose to do is put a quiz at the beginning and end of every course. That way, the student will understand what to focus on from the very beginning, and won’t waste effort on what they already have knowledge of.

Use testing in online courses strategically to focus student energy on what needs improvement Share on X

5. Ice it

In the radio industry, there is something known as dead air or radio silence, and it is one of the worst things that could happen. Although this phenomenon often happens unintentionally, dead air occurs just as easily with awkward pauses and excessive um-ing and ah-ing. Students lose patience quickly with empty content, so the best solution to keep them engaged is by ensuring your online course is professional and put together.

Edit out irrelevant material (especially when you go on a tangent), omit any unnecessary pauses, and re-record parts that have mistakes. As a result, you can maintain the natural flow of your content and won’t lose students’ attention.

Avoid radio silence in your online courses to maximize student attention Share on X

Want more tips on creating your first online course? Download our free guide below!