How To Launch An Online Course: A Beginner’s Guide
Part V: How to plan your course content
Once you have created your plan, presold your course, and found the right platform, it is time to move on to course content creation. The course content is what your students will see, use, and learn from when participating in the course.
It is important that your content is factually accurate, engaging, and visually attractive in order to keep students interested and come back for more courses. When you are planning your course content, you must think about multimedia content types, outlining, and content creation tools.
Multimedia Content Types
The first step of creating your course content is deciding what type of multimedia you want to use. In short, multimedia use is when you use a variety of media tools in your course. This includes PDFs, audios, videos, PowerPoints, and more.
For online courses, it is important to use a number of media types to keep students captivated and engaged by the content.
Videos are the most popular form of media for online courses. The reason that they are popular is that they give the students something to look at while they are learning. Since they are learning from their computers, they can get distracted easily. The videos keep their eyes trained on the lesson though, which helps to prevent distractions.
There are several ways you can use videos in your lessons. If you want to demonstrate a skill or talk as though you were giving a lecture, then you can just show your body or face. This will give your students a face-to-face like interaction through the screen.
If you need to show numbers or have a PowerPoint, you can also use a screen recording with a voice over. This option will allow you to show the students your computer screen while you explain what they are looking at. This option is great for math courses or something that involves a lot of quotes.
A third way you can use videos is through animation. If you want to have an entertaining tutorial-style course, animating your videos is a great way to provide snippets of video information.
Worksheets are another highly popular medium for online courses. You can use worksheets to distribute information, create cheat sheets, or homework. The point of worksheets is to give your students a tangible study tool that they can download and print for later. When you upload worksheets, you want to offer more than one download type.
It is recommended to upload a Word and a PDF copy of all worksheets. This ensures that all students have access to download the content. Even though videos are the most popular tools for online students, you absolutely must upload worksheets for your students.
The reason for this is that most learners need to write out the information and challenge themselves in order to learn the information long term.
Visuals are another great media for online courses. Visuals can include PowerPoints, cartoons, or pictures. The visuals will allow your students to see a physical representation of what they are hearing or reading. To keep your students engaged, it is recommended to use a visual with every lesson. This will allow them to connect an idea with an image, which will improve the likeliness that they remember the content.
Another media outlet you can use is audio. This media is less popular than the other two simply because most learners do not retain information auditorily. None the less, audios can be extremely helpful in the right contexts. If your course is designed for on-the-go use, then you should consider using audios. The audios will allow your students to listen to the course almost like they would a podcast. They could listen to your course in the car, waiting in line, or at the gym.
Planning Your Content
Once you know what multimedia you want to use, you should start planning your course. Planning your content includes researching and outlining for the course. This step is crucial to creating a course that this professional, accurate, and reputable. As you plan your content, make sure that all your lesson plans match up with the learning outcomes.
If your plans do not match, either change the learning outcomes or change the plans. It is important that the two match in order to ensure that students get what they pay for and come back for more of your courses later on. Research
The first step to planning your content is researching. It is assumed that you already know some things about your topic, but you still want to research it to make sure you are correct and up-to-date on the content.
Read and watch content that is created by experts. In the research phase, it is also helpful to watch other online courses on similar topics. What do those creators say? What do they think is important?
This will help you to gauge where your focus should be in your course lessons. Additionally, let the research go its own course. Instead of trying to find specific answers or opinions on the topic, read as much as possible, and research thoroughly.
This will ensure that you are getting the most accurate picture of the topic, and it will allow you to answer questions better later on.
Once you have completed the research phase, you should move on to outlining. The point of the outline is to start grouping topics and ideas together for the lesson plans. At this point, the sections and groupings do not need to be exact. Instead, the outline is to help you get your thoughts together.
In the outline, you want to separate topics so that you can start creating lesson units. These lesson units will fill the weeks that your online course is live. It is important that the contents of each unit are relevant to the main unit but still connect to the course as a whole.
When you are outlining, think of a natural progression of the information. Is there any information that the students must know first before moving on? Often vocabulary or a general overview of the topic goes first.
Best Content Creation Tools
In addition to choosing a platform, you also need to select correct content creation tools. These types of tools include PDF makers, cameras, microphones, and more. In other words, these tools will allow you to create beautiful content that you can then upload on your website or platform.
Here is what you should look out for:
Video Recording Tools
Some of the most important content creation tools are video recording tools. These tools will allow you to record yourself instructing on or demonstrating a skill to your online students. If you create an online course, you certainly should record yourself. The reason for this is that over half of online students prefer to watch a video than read a document.
Here are popular video recording tools:
Apowersoft Free Online Screen Recorder is a software tool that will allow you to screen record. This is beneficial if you need to do a Voice Over while showing a PowerPoint. This tool is free and easy to use.
ScreenFlow is another screen recording tool but specifically for Mac users.
Camtasia is the most popular screen recording tool for both PC and Mac users.
Smart Phones are another great video recording tool. They say the best camera you have is the one you already have, which in most cases is your smart phone. They are extremely convenient if you already have one and are very straight forward to use. In addition, you will be able to incorporate other editing tools with your phone for even more convenience.
A webcam such as Logitech’s range of webcams are a great choice if you are going to record from your computer. I use this one.
Zoom. If your online course’s format going to be “conference style”, Zoom is probably one of the best tools for that.
Document Making Tools
In addition to uploading videos or audios, you will almost certainly upload documents in the form of Word or PDF.
Here are some recommended tools to create your documents:
- Microsoft Word
- Google Docs
- Canva is the most popular design tool. It allows you to create a number of documents like ebooks, checklists, presentations, and more. It has a lot of options to choose from, is user-friendly, and comes in free and premium payment options. This is my most used piece of software or SaaS (software as a solution)
Finally, once you have created your content, you will want to edit it before publication. Luckily, there are a lot of editing options on the market today.
Here are the two most popular:
Grammarly is one of the best tools for editing written content. You can either use the free option or upgrade to a payment plan if you need more assistance. You can either use Grammarly on the web or download it on your phone, tablet, or laptop.
iMovie is a great video editing tool for Mac users which comes preinstalled. It is more user-friendly than other video software, making it great for beginners.
Adobe Premier Pro is for you if you’re a bit more savvy, Premier Pro is the way to go. There are a lot of video tutorials on YouTube to help you learn the basics of Adobe.
In the next article, I will explore how to create lesson plans and course content. This article contains some affiliate links.
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