Do you want to share your knowledge and expertise in a way that allows you to reach a large audience while also generating income? If so, you may be thinking about creating an online course.
This can be an excellent way to build your brand, generate leads, and make money. Before you start, it’s necessary to take the time to learn how to structure a course so that it will be both helpful and easy for your students to follow.
Want to skip ahead?
- Best Practices for Structuring Your Course
- Focus On the Big Picture
- Structure Flow Examples
- Structuring an Online Course from a Coaching Program [Example]
- How to Support Your Students Best
Best Practices for Structuring Your Course
So, what goes into a successful online course structure? Here are a few best practices to keep in mind:
Group Similar Ideas into Modules
If you have lots of information to cover, consider breaking your course into modules. This will help your students focus on one topic at a time and make it easier for them to review the material later.
Cause and Effect
When structuring your course, starting with the cause and working your way to the effect can be helpful. For example, suppose you’re teaching a course on social media marketing. In that case, you might start with a module on understanding how social media works, and then move on to modules covering specific strategies and tactics.
○ Course Goals
As you plan your online course structure, keeping your goals and objectives in mind is essential. What do you want your students to learn? How will they be able to apply what they’ve learned? By aligning your content with your goals and objectives, you can ensure that your course is focused and relevant.
Ask yourself these questions to define learning:
- What do you want students to remember once they finish your course?
- What should students be able to do with the knowledge or skills they acquire from taking your course?
- What processes will students go through to achieve the objectives?
- What resources and materials will students need?
Check out this blog on designing an effective learning path to learn more.
Content-Type and Format
When deciding how to structure an online training course, there are a few different content types and formats you can choose from. Here are some of the most popular options:
Live online lessons are taught in real-time and typically include interaction between the instructor and students, such as Q&A sessions or live chat. They are a fantastic way to create a sense of community and engagement among your students. If you choose to host live courses, you’ll need to be available at set times to deliver the content.
Audio is another popular content type for online courses. If you choose to use audio, you can record lectures or interviews and make them available as downloadable files. These courses are a great option if you want to provide your students with content they can consume on the go.
Video is a popular content type for online training, as it’s easy to consume and can be broken up into smaller segments. If you create a video course, you choose the format for delivery, such as streaming or downloadable files.
○ PDF Worksheets/Activities
PDF worksheets and activities provide your students with targeted, interactive content. If you create PDF worksheets and activities, you can design them to be completed offline or online.
○ Community Q&As for Engagement/Learning
Community Q&A forums create a sense of community and engagement among your students. If you choose to create a community Q&A forum, you’ll need to be available to answer student questions in real-time.
Want to learn more about how to plan and set-up your course? Check-out this free guide
Focus On the Big Picture
Getting caught up in the smaller details is easy when first learning how to structure an online course. It’s important to remember that your course is just one part of your business. So, take a step back and focus on the big picture.
People Want to Learn from a Person with Experience
People are willing to purchase online courses because they want to learn from a real person with authentic experience and success. They want to be able to produce specific outcomes by learning from someone who’s already gone through the process.
Want Digestible Ideas and Information with a Desired Outcome
Most people want to be able to consume ideas and information in a way that’s digestible and easy to understand. They also want to know that the information they’re consuming will help them achieve their desired outcome. Be sure to keep these things in mind when you’re creating your course.
One Transformation for One Audience
You’re trying to help a specific group of people achieve a particular transformation. When you’re clear about who your course is for and what change they’re looking for, you’ll be able to create a genuinely impactful system.
Structure Flow Examples
Once you’ve decided on the format of your course, it’s time to start thinking about how you’ll structure the content. Here are a few examples of how to structure your online course content:
This is the most popular online course design, and it effectively takes learners on a clear path to reaching their goals. The advantage of this format is that it’s easy to follow and linear, so learners can easily see their progress.
Outlining Examples/Tips: Consider using a mind map to brainstorm the different topics and subtopics you want to cover in your course. Once you have a broad overview of the topics, you can start to organize them into a step-by-step format.
Topic: How to Start a Blog
- Step 1: Find Your Niche
- Step 2: Choose a Blogging Platform
- Step 3: Set Up Your Blog
- Step 4: Customize Your Blog
- Step 5: Write Your First Post
A week-by-week approach allows you to teach a procedure that will take a specific amount of time to learn or finish. This approach is better for courses with a clear end goal, such as learning a new skill or completing a project.
Outlining Examples/Tips: Start with the course’s overall goal or objectives, then break down each week into smaller objectives to help learners achieve the overall goal.
Topic: 5-Week Course to Master Social Media Marketing
- Week 1: Introduction to Social Media Marketing
- Week 2: Setting Up Your Accounts
- Week 3: Creating Content
- Week 4: Analyzing Your Results
- Week 5: Advanced Social Media Strategies
This online course is designed as a resource that learners can dip in and out of as needed. It’s perfect for those who want to learn about a particular subject in depth or for those who need a little reminder from time to time.
■ Outlining Examples/Tips: Start by listing out all of the topics you want to cover in your course. Once you have a complete list, you can start to separate them into easy-to-navigate sections for students to reference as needed.
Topic: Guide to Professional Photography
- Lesson 1: Camera Equipment
- Lesson 2: Photography Basics
- Lesson 3: Lighting
- Lesson 4: Composition
- Lesson 5: Advanced Topics
Related: Develop your online course curriculum in this free guide
Structuring an Online Course From a Coaching Program [Example]
If you’re selling a coaching program, a sample online course structure might look something like this:
Module 1: Introduction
- Lesson 1: Setting the Stage
- Lesson 2: Your Coaching Agreement
- Lesson 3: Welcome Call
Module 2: The Foundation
- Lesson 1: Your Coaching Philosophy
- Lesson 2: Core Values
- Lesson 3: Why People Hire Coaches
Module 3: The Process
- Lesson 1: The Coaching Process
- Lesson 2: Discovery Call
- Lesson 3: Intake Form
Module 4: The Tools
- Lesson 1: Goal Setting
- Lesson 2: Progress Tracking
- Lesson 3: Resources and Referrals
Module 5: The Business of Coaching
- Lesson 1: Packages and Pricing
- Lesson 2: Sales Call
- Lesson 3: Getting Testimonials
Once you’ve decided how to structure your online course, you can start filling in the content. Keep in mind that each lesson should have a specific purpose and outcome. And make sure to use engaging media like images, video, and audio to keep learners engaged.
How to Support Your Students Best
Once you’ve decided on the format and structure of your course, it’s time to start thinking about how you’ll support your students. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
It would be best if you were consistent with your course content and delivery. That way, your students will know what to expect from you, and they’ll be able to trust that you’re providing them with quality information.
Create Prompts for Discussion
Creating prompts for discussion in your course forums or social media groups will help to keep your students engaged and connected with you and each other. Make sure to provide feedback on your students’ work. This will help them to understand what they’re doing well and what they need to work on.
Creating a sense of community is essential for any online course. It’s important to make your students feel like they belong and are part of something larger. You can create social media groups, forums, and other online spaces where your students can connect.
Exams & Quizzes
To assess your students’ understanding of the material, you’ll need to include exams and quizzes in your course. It’s up to you when, where, and how often you want to do evaluations. Just be sure to give your students enough coaching to prepare.
○ Points Awarded!
A point system can help keep students engaged. You can award points for things like completing lessons, participating in forums, and getting involved in other activities.
You can use points to create leaderboards and give out prizes. This is one of many ways to add fun and competition to your course.
You can create different badges for things like completing all the lessons in a module or getting a specific score on an exam. Seeing their progress represented in badges can be an excellent motivator for students.
You can also utilize contests throughout your online course. This can help students retain the information better and make the process enjoyable.
○ Public Recognition
Giving public recognition is another helpful way to support your students. You can feature their work on your social media channels, newsletters, or website.
With this guide, you should better understand how to structure an online training course that is both engaging and effective. Remember the importance of consistency, community, and assessment, and you’ll be sure to create a very successful online course structure.