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November 10th, 2020 Course Creation

Wondering where to get started with designing your course? These posts will take you through some best practices.

So, you’ve purchased LearnDash, installed it on your website, and now you’re ready to start making courses. The only question is: where do you begin?

This may sound like an odd sticking point for an online educator, but it’s a situation we encounter every day. Most of our users are what we would call subject matter experts. They have a lot of knowledge in the subject they want to teach—but they haven’t ever actually taught it. They want to share their knowledge, but they don’t know how to take what’s in their brain and translate it into a course others can learn from.

The good news, however, is that teaching is a learned skill—one that is backed by a lot of science and research. This is what instructional design is all about. By following proven methods for delivering materials in ways that work with the ways learns absorb information, you can create more effective and enjoyable courses. Here’s where to start.

1. 6 Tips to Help You Plan a Successful Online Course

Let’s start by reviewing some of the instructional design basics. If you want to create a successful course, you have to begin with good foundations. That means learning about your audience, creating a strong outline, establishing regular check-ins for assessment, and building up a support community.

The follow up: Create a Course Outline in 3 Steps

It’s all well and good to talk about planning, but how do you do it? It’s simpler (if not easier) than you might think. Begin by setting the ultimate objective of your course. What do you want learners to have learned by the time they reach the end? Then set key milestones that they need to achieve to accomplish that goal. Finally, create action steps so that they can achieve those milestones.

2. 5 Instructional Design Mistakes to Avoid

On the flip side, there are also some major instructional design mistakes that we have seen educators make time and again. These include crowding the screen with too much information at once, using gimmicks for the sake of gimmicks, and creating poor flow between lessons.

The follow up: Are You Guilty of Content Stuffing Your Course Pages?

How do you know if you’ve committed one of the mistakes on our list? And if you have, how do you fix it? In our post on content stuffing, we go deeper into the subject of why this practice is so bad for learners, and steps you can take to avoid it on your own course pages.

3. Does Your Course Suffer from Learner Burnout?

Instructional design is an essential part of online course creation for one key reason: Without it, learners tend to burn out—fast. And when learners burn out, one of two things happen. Either they drop out of your course, or their performance suffers. Both spell death to your business. Here’s how to prevent it from happening.

The follow up: How Understanding Cognitive Load Can Improve Your Course

Ready for some psychology? One of the reasons learners can burn out is because of a concept called “cognitive load.” In other words, the more you tax your learners’ memory at one time, the less they’re likely to remember over time. People can only learn so much at one time before they become weary. Fortunately, we’re here with some tips for keeping cognitive load in check.

4. Use H5P for Engaging LearnDash Courses

One of the key questions educators have about teaching courses is: How do I engage my learners? Sometimes the content itself is so compelling that learners get hooked and stay hooked for the whole course. But interactive content, when done right, and create a learning experience that is hard for learners to put down.

The follow up: 8 Types of Motivation for Online Learning

Why do learners sign up to your course to begin with? Are your learners seeking a social group? Is this course a job requirement? Or are they just innately curious? If you know what’s driving your learners, you can be more effective at creating engaging content.

5. Use Your E-learning Course to Change Behavior

Another way your course can help your learners in the long-term is by encouraging them to form new habits. By changing learner behaviors, you can make it easier for them to stick with your course until they finish it—and then to sign up for the next!

The follow up: How to Turn Incremental Learning into Lifelong Learning

When learners recognize that your instruction is helping them achieve their goals, it motivates them to stay with your program. Over time, you can build a base of lifelong learners who will remain dedicated to your course for years. Here’s how.

When it comes to running an effective online course, how you teach is just as important as what you teach.

There’s a common quip that says “those who can, do; those who can’t, teach.” As you can probably guess, teachers aren’t a fan of the saying—and for good reason. Being good at doing a thing is not the same as to be good at teaching how to do it. They’re two different skills, and some people possess one skill, others the other skill, and many people possess both.

As we said at the beginning, teaching is a learned skill. Even if you’ve never taught a course, you can learn how to do it, and with each course you create, your knowledge and understanding will grow. If you know to expect a learning curve with your first courses, you can use your experience to continue creating better courses as time goes on.

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