10 Principles for a Better Online Course Experience

September 8, 2021
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When you’re making an online course, you may get caught up in the details of production, marketing, and sales. 

But don’t rush through the most important steps of online course creation: planning and structuring your course.

When making an online course, you’ll want to prioritize your student’s experience. Create something with a high perceived value, which takes some careful consideration.

Not only will this help students on their journey to reach their goal, but it will also foster trust between you. If you show your students you can deliver on your promises and provide valuable content, they’ll come back again to learn from you.

So, before you jump ahead into setting up your audio-visual equipment or creating a marketing plan, think about what your course needs to deliver quality content.

We’ll go through why you should build your online course with these principles in mind.

Why create an online course?

Woman Thinking About an Online Course while Drinking Coffee

Before you start making your online course, take a few moments and think about why you want to create one in the first place. 

Is it to make money as a side hustle? A way to break into a new career? Build a community around your shared passion?

Knowing why you’re doing this will be the driving force behind many of the principles we’ll talk about. 

Not sure why you should create an online course? Here are 11 reasons that might inspire you! 

What goes into creating an online course?

Man Teaching an Online Course with Camera and Guitar in Background

Here is a list of 10 principles you should consider when putting together your online course:

1. Organization

First, your course must be organized in a logical sequence. This should be an easy one, but I know many inexperienced instructors who dump all their thoughts into a course without sorting through them.

If you don’t organize your thoughts before you begin making content, you’ll get a disjointed program. This may confuse students, and they may quit without finishing the course.

Take the time to think through the student’s journey. Build each lesson to help them get to the next skill.

2. Delivery

Effective teaching is all about delivery. If you sound monotonous, have low energy or mumble, you might have a hard time grabbing a student’s attention. 

Practice your delivery by reciting in front of a mirror. Look at your body language—everything from your posture to your facial expression. Pay attention to what you’re doing with your hands when you talk.

If you can, practice with an audience and get feedback on how well you did and what you can improve.

3. Pacing

Following a good delivery, your course should move at an ideal pace.

When I first started out, I honestly didn’t know this was a thing!

After reading through thousands of reviews left on my courses, the word “pacing” kept popping up over and over again.

I reviewed my courses and realized that I had a knack for pacing lessons in a way that worked for my students.

Pacing means that there is a nice balance—progress through the material is not too fast and not too slow. 

You need to deliver the content slowly enough that you don’t lose people, but quickly enough that you don’t bore them, either.

This might mean trimming down your content to streamline your course. Go through your outline and/or script and see what unnecessary information can be removed. 

Many people add more content than what students really need. If you give out too much information, people might tune out!

4. Tone 

Another lesson I learned from reading the reviews on my courses: just like pacing, the tone is an important part of delivery.

Don’t be too loud or too quiet. Extreme volumes can be really distracting, so you’ll need to find the right level.

At the same time, vary your tone

A trick speakers use on stage to captivate the audience is to exaggerate important parts with a louder volume.

Lowering your voice can be an effective tool—it requires students to pay more attention. 

Just be careful when using these tactics. You still want people to be able to hear you. And you definitely don’t want to be so loud that you blast through their headsets!

5. Engagement

Think about a boring teacher you had at school. Now, think about one that was really fun. What do you remember from their classes?

I bet you remember more stuff from the fun teacher!

Boring teachers usually have poor delivery. They speak with a flat tone, and they don’t show enthusiasm in what they’re teaching.

Most fun teachers are excited about the subjects they teach. They come into a class full of energy—which is one of the secret ingredients to engagement. 

This is even more important for online courses. It’s a challenge to engage students through audio and video only. 

If you aren’t excited about your own course, why should you expect students to be? Conversely, if you deliver your content with energy and enthusiasm, you’ll get your students pumped up for it, too. 

6. Expectations

Always meet the expectations you’ve set for your course. You’ve promised to help and teach someone a new skill, so tailor your course to make sure you deliver on that.

When someone invests time and money into something, they expect results—and quick! 

The faster and easier you can give your student the result they signed up for, the happier they will be.

7. Clarity

Did you know the average American reads at a 7th-8th grade reading level?

Too often, we fill our courses with jargon to make ourselves sound like authority figures.

This can actually harm your course! If the student isn’t familiar with the words you use, you’ll quickly lose them.

Make sure that when you’re writing or speaking, you do it at a level that most people can understand.

A great app that helps with this is the Hemingway App. It shows you awesome insights into your written work, such as reading comprehension level. It even gives you suggestions on how to fix issues!

8. Precision

We touched on this earlier, but it’s worth mentioning again: your lectures should be clear and concise.

This means that you should get to the point of each lecture. People don’t have time to waste, so the easier and quicker you explain a philosophy, the better your course will be.

There are times when 30-minute or 1-hour lectures are applicable. But if you can explain one concept in 5-10 minutes, then that is what you should do!

Don’t go off on tangents thinking you need to “beef up” the length of the course. Adding more content doesn’t always mean adding value.

Prioritize quality over quantity, and your students will thank you for it.

9. Interaction

Gamification is an effective strategy to keep people engaged. 

Think about adding fun elements to your course—give prizes for milestones or provide a place where fellow students can hang out, like a Facebook group.

The more interaction you build into the course, the better chances your students will stay for the long run.

10. Exercises

People love filling things out! It doesn’t matter if it’s a practice test, a quiz, or a workbook. Providing actionable exercises in your courses will fuel the kinesthetic learners in the group.

Make sure you test and reward your students often. This will give you a good benchmark of where everyone is at. It also helps students visualize their progress in the program.

Start Creating Your Online Course!

Three Guys Watching Video on a Table in a Coffee Shop

Now that you know the foundations of a successful online course, go forth and create one!

I hope this gives you some ideas of ways to make your course more enjoyable for students. Optimizing your students’ experience delivers valuable education for them and ensures a loyal customer base for you. If your students are excited about your course, they’ll shout it from the rooftops . . . which will entice more people to sign up!

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