8 Ways to Add Value to Your Online Course
Keeping learners hooked on your course is a matter of demonstrating ongoing value.
Every now and then, I hear people claim that online learning is a way to generate “passive income.” The idea seems to be that, once you create a course, you can fully automate everything about it, and it will smoothly scale to serve as many learners who want to take it, and you can sit back and retire to a beach somewhere without having to worry about it every again.
Of course, those who have actually built an online course often feel like the reverse is true: They create some excellent content, put it out into the world, but struggle to attract and retain new learners. It’s frustrating and disheartening.
The truth is that building a course takes work, and selling courses often means continually creating new content and updating old. Learners need to see ongoing value in your course to remain committed, but it is sometimes difficult to find new ways to provide that value.
Fortunately, value comes in many different forms, from extra quizzes to personal feedback. And the more creative you are with the value you provide, the more intrigued learners will be about your course. So, if you’re looking for inspiration, here are 8 ideas to add value to your online course.
1. Pose weekly challenges for users of varying skill level.
One of the best ways to keep learners engaged is to give them something to do regularly. Unless your ask is very short, a daily challenge is something many users might drop out of. On the other hand, a monthly challenge may be too spread out for learners to feel engaged. A weekly challenge (solving a puzzle, completing a creative prompt, achieving a goal) gives learners something to latch on to and provides motivation and a sense of progress.
2. Offer time slots to connect virtually.
Individual feedback is the least scalable part of an online course, but also one of the most valuable. If you’re a personal coach or mentor, offering a time slots to discuss a learner’s individual needs may be one of your most profitable—and popular—online services.
3. Organize small groups to build community.
Online learners crave connection—not just with you, but with their peers. I’ve joined several online classes where the most exciting aspect was the chance to connect with others who were learning the same skill as me. However, one of the downsides to this is that, without facilitation from the group leader, connecting with classmates can be awkward and may not happen. If, as the leader of your course, you take the time to organize thoughtful group projects, it can be a way to help your learners work together and build meaningful social connections at he same time.
4. Create special limited-run micro courses.
One of the secrets to selling more courses is to only offer them for a limited time. Many learners will put off singing up for a course if it’s always available. But if you put out a micro course on an interesting or timely topic, it motivates learners to sign up.
5. Maintain a regular blog and email updates to your learners.
Blogs are, of course, public—and they should be an ongoing part of your content marketing strategy. But they also give learners a reason to keep taking your course. A blog keeps your content current, and is a public demonstration of your continued expertise in your field. Coupled with an email mailing list, it’s a way engage your learners and inspire them with new ideas and insight.
6. Use gamification to add motivation and accountability.
Many learners struggle to stay engaged with a course after a certain period of time. They need a reason to check in, and they need something to hold them accountable when they don’t. Gamification elements, like streaks or leaderboards, can do both.
7. Create high-value downloadable resources for learners.
Downloadable resources, like PDFs and infographics, remain popular with many learners. Users like the idea that they have something to take home with them—something they can reference for their own use, or share with others. You might release a piece of downloadable content every month or so to send to your learners—something they can print out to keep at their work station, or a worksheet they can fill out as an exercise.
8. Build interactive elements into your course.
Finally, consider researching the options currently available to add interactivity to your course, and look at whether or not these tools would be useful for your own course. These might include flashcards, interactive videos, and branching scenarios. Creating resources that learners can work with inside your course can help make content more memorable.
To be a successful online educator, you need to keep looking for ways to provide value to your learners.
Success in online education almost always requires personal involvement. And this only becomes more true the more you build a brand around yourself and reasons why learners should turn to you for guidance. While finding ways to continue delivering value to your learners is a challenge, it’s also the only way you will retain them long-term.
The good news is that, if you are successful in establishing your expertise, your time will become more valuable. Selling courses becomes easier, and your reputation as a thought leader becomes easier to maintain.
But that will only happen if you’re providing real value to your learners. By continually reinvesting in your course and your course community, you demonstrate your commitment to delivering high-quality material for the long term. And that’s the kind of commitment your learners are most likely to reciprocate.