October 11th, 2017 Instructional Design

When we create courses we do so in hopes of not only teaching, but in providing people with new skills or knowledge that they can use in daily life.

I don’t know about you, but whenever I take a course I am looking to get something practical out of it that I can use to better myself, my business, or my life.

Unfortunately not all courses succeed at meeting this outcome.

As someone who has seen thousands of courses and who has taken hundreds of them I have come to realize that the structure of the course is incredibly important. It can make or break the effectiveness. And let me tell you something: if you’re selling your course then you want it to be effective.

So how do you go about creating an effective course?

Well, structure for one – but also it’s in the way that you approach the structuring process.

It is incredibly easy to think that your course is going to “teach” someone. There is nothing inherently wrong with this, but it’s pretty “old school” when it comes to content delivery. Teaching is often  one-way communication.

Guide, Don’t Teach

My challenge to anyone making a course is to stop thinking about “teaching” and begin thinking about “guiding”.

This subtle difference in how you think about your course can make a world of difference.

Guiding someone means that you are taking them for a journey. On this journey you provide them with the tools so that when you (the guide) are gone, they can continue on this journey successfully without you.

The result of thinking about your courses this way is that you begin to consider the learner’s perspective and what it is they need at different parts of their journey (i.e. at different sections in your course) in order to be successful.

Instructional designers are always looking for the best tools and methodology for creating courses. I believe that the course creation process begins even before a tool or framework are selected.

It starts with your mindset and end-goal. Be a guide, not a teacher. Your course material will reflect this and will likely have a lasting impact.

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About Justin Ferriman

Justin Ferriman started LearnDash, the WordPress LMS trusted by Fortune 500 companies, major universities, training organizations, and entrepreneurs worldwide for creating (and selling) their online courses. Justin's Homepage | Twitter


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Great insight into the purpose of all exceptional instruction. As an instructor the goal is not to lead them to the water and make them drink,the goal is to make them thirsty.

Avatar Robert Jackson

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