The process of creating a good course has a few different aspects. You have to organize content, record course videos, and so much more. The work doesn’t stop there though. Even after the course is complete there are other things like marketing that must be done. Once you have students in your course the real challenge begins—getting your students to complete the course. 

The average completion rate for online courses teeters around 15% and the dropout rates are astronomical. At first glance, you may think “well they paid for the course so it’s no big deal.” But what you don’t know is that low completion rates can ruin the profitability of your course in the long run. 

Here’s why.

Why Online Course Completion Rates Matter

Online learning platforms offer an easy and cost-effective way for people to gain new skills and knowledge that they can use. This puts student success at the top of the goal list for online course creators. Having amazing enrollment numbers may seem like the ultimate achievement but in reality, it’s just a vanity metric. What truly matters is student engagement, retention, and learning experience.

If your course has low completion rates this means that your students will be less likely to share the course with others. Your course will also suffer over time because you won’t have any proof that your course is effective. Higher completion rates allow you to gain testimonials, case studies, and reviews which are all necessary for marketing. In addition, these elements are also used to justify your course’s pricing.

Online Course Completion Rates Point To Underlying Issues Within Your Course

Online learning differs from traditional learning because it lacks face-to-face interaction. As humans, we are wired to want interaction with other people especially when it comes to learning. Technology has made it possible for us to communicate and connect with each other without being together physically but it isn’t perfect. 

One of the easiest ways to spot an issue is by checking the analytics on your course. The data can show you if you have a large number of learners who are dropping out at a certain module. This will let you know if your online program needs tweaking or if there’s a technical issue to blame. 

There are a few more underlying issues within your course that can cause your learners to become distracted or disengaged. Here are the most common issues and tips on how to correct them. 

The course description lacks clarity 

Sometimes things like course descriptions aren’t clear and can confuse your learners before they even begin. Make sure your course description covers all important information so learners understand what they’re signing up for. 

A good course description should include things like:

  • Course length and time commitment
  • Notable deadlines
  • A detailed description of course content
  • Prerequisite skills
  • Assigned projects or activities
  • Technical requirements
  • Information about how to contact the instructor

Learners rarely hear from you or see from the instructor

Ghost instructors plague the online learning community. This is where learners buy a course and never see the instructor or receive any type of contact from them. Eventually, the course becomes boring and they quit.

To avoid this, build engagement outside of your course by posting relevant content on social media and by encouraging learners to follow you on those platforms. You can also send weekly emails to check up on their progress. 

If you have more time to dedicate to your learners, try implementing live course sessions or opening up virtual office hours to provide additional help to those who need it.

Learners feel bound to their desks

Course design can make or break your course. If learners feel as though they have no freedom while taking your course then they may drop out. This is why implementing on-the-go learning is crucial.

People live busy lives so your course should be flexible enough to fit into their schedule and not the other way around. Your course platform and course materials should be available across devices. 

There’s no sense of community surrounding your course

Building community is a powerful way to keep learners from feeling isolated. 

When you create an online community, it helps learners know they’ll be missed if they don’t come back. This helps hold them accountable and increases their chances of completing your course.

Your course offers no incentives

If your learners are falling behind they may need a little extra motivation. You can offer extra content like ebooks or an exclusive training/coaching session. If you’re active on social media you can try encouraging learners through public recognition. Try shouting out learners as they finish your course. This keeps them engaged and provides a feeling of accomplishment. 

Gamification can also be an effective tool for keeping learners motivated to finish. You can do this by adding leaderboards and encouraging healthy competitions within your course. 

Detecting and correcting issues that are plaguing your online course can help increase course completion rates. In the long run, higher course completion rates lead to more effective and profitable courses.

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