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Online course creators are becoming more sophisticated in how they are approaching their course design. No more series of talking-head videos coupled with boring worksheets. Rather, more course creators are questioning how to engage their students and provide them with an excellent learning experience. Bravo, now we are getting somewhere!

However, the opposite could happen – too much engagement is added to the course with all the lovely tools, bells and whistles that are available. Rather than suffer from cognitive overload due to lengthy, content-packed talking-head videos, now it’s overstimulation of where to look first, what to click next, and how to complete a lesson. There is too much going on!

The solution:

I get it and am thrilled, as a professional course designer, that there is a heightened interest to improve online student learning experience. And, I have some advice for you on creating the best online course and experience for your learners.

Audio visualization exercise for course creators

Close your eyes and listen to the following audio exercise to really determine how best to design and deliver YOUR course for YOUR students. This will be a game changer.

I’ve delivered this to hundreds of people with great impact. Just sit back, relax, open your mind, and envision your special course.

Action steps:

Once you’ve listened to the audio, complete the action steps below:

1. Quickly jot down your first impressions and ideas for your online course. That is, capture the essence of your course without overthinking.

2. Next, from your notes describe the following:

  • Essence/feel of your course: Will your course be factual and linear or will it weave through topics? Will there be support to reflect and grow?
  • Structure of your course: Will it be dripped or open access? Will there be live components? How many modules and lessons will you have?
  • Flow of learning: How will your students experience the learning? How will they be active and do something? Will they get feedback?
  • Interaction between students & facilitator: Will you facilitate or not? If so, how will you do this?
  • Interaction between student & content: How will they access all the types of content (i.e. instructions, resources, tools, etc.)? What will it look like?
  • Interaction between student & student: Will you have an online community? What tool will you use? What will be the purpose of this?
  • Major learning materials: Will the content be placed within course pages or in a PDF? How much rich multimedia will there be (i.e. video, audio and images)? Can students download the content?

3. Once you have your course essence/design and the basics outlined, what technology will support this? There are 4 types of technology that can support your learners, and it is up to you to decide which types will be most effective in teaching your specific course topic

Don’t let the available technology overwhelm you

As course creators, we often get so caught up in all the hype and endless choices of course platforms and technology that we forget what we really want to do. The teaching vision is already inside you. Trust that.

Once you discover your vision (and it will feel good and right), all the pieces will fall together. You will gain clarity on how you want to teach – what it looks like and what you want your students to experience.

Lastly, find the technology that supports your vision as the LAST step of your course design process.

In short, your course needs to be special and delivered as you see it. You’ve got this.

P.S. Return to this audio exercise again if you find you are getting lost in the quagmire of the online world.

Audio Visualization Exercise to Guide Your Online Course Design @wireddoc #instructionaldesign Click To Tweet

Dr. Kelly Edmonds is a professional instructional designer and teacher who specializes in creating online courses. She has three degrees in education with a focus on adult learning, educational technology, higher education and online learning. For the last 17 years, she has created online courses every day for companies worldwide. Her company provides e-learning solutions for small and mid-size companies as well as academic institutions. She is also one of Thinkific‘s expert course designers