How to structure your online course?
Finding the right online course platform might seem like a daunting task but once you are done with it, then it all comes down to how you use that platform & structure your online course.
Proper structuring of your course (or online classes) can really make or break your course.
That’s a brutal truth.
You’ll be surprised to know that, according to a research by Harvard University, only 2-10% students complete their online course.
So, why is it so?
Why student leave the courses even after spending their hard earned money?
See, A few days back, I was watching a Clippers match in NBA league.
In the last few minutes, the opponent team(leading at that time) was going hard with a rock solid defense.
Clippers tried every trick in the book to score some points but all in vain.
Their wings tried the field goal, blocked.
They tried the alley-oop, again blocked.
Even took chance with the 3 pointers but no result & eventually, they lost the game.
But they worked hard, they never gave up & came back strongly in the very next game.
See, your students are like that Clippers team, they want to win.If you can’t provide that win, they will take their chance in the next course somewhere else.
Students don’t join your course for the content, they join it to achieve the results.
So, how can you provide that win or results?
See, most of the online courses fail miserably because they have some negative points which overpower the positive ones.
Let’s see some common pain points & learn how to structure your online course.
Remember these pain points of students while you structure your online course
1. Where are your students stuck?
Most of the students join an online course when they are stuck with something & they feel that you can take them out of that situation.
Believe it or not but it’s the small things that make the huge difference.
So, you’ve to make them believe that your awesome course idea will change their lives.
Take them on a journey where they can see themselves growing, compare to what they knew before joining the course.
For example, if your online course is about ‘how to play the guitar’.
Early on, your students might know nothing but as they’ll go through the first chapter of your course, they’ll learn about how to fine tune the chords, how to position the guitar & how to use the pick.
These learnings will make them believe that they are going somewhere & that’s the transformation they want to see.
Try to show them their journey after every chapter & they’ll gain confidence to move ahead with your course.
2. What to do with impatient students?
See most people create an online course focusing on the end goal & they totally forget to ask their students whether they are liking it or not.
This is one of the most important aspects to structure your online course for the modern generation.
So, what can you do?
In spite of focusing on that complex end goal, you should give your students small-small wins in quick intervals, so that they can measure their progress quickly.
So, while teaching guitar, don’t try to teach how to play a Shakira song, instead give your students little wins over & over again, like how to play a single chord, how to play a 1-2 rhythm & so on.
This way they can check their progress & most importantly they will stay.
3. But what if they can’t check their progress themselves?
Yeah, it’s a common problem in business.
Being a marketing expert, I’ve helped a lot of small businesses.
And the number one problem they’re facing today is how to measure their growth.
Furthermore, According to B2B report by content marketing institute, only 32% of the overall businesses have a proper well-documented growth strategy.(i.e. content marketing).
The same thing applies to your students, most of them don’t even know how to measure their growth, that’s why you need to create checkpoints for them.
It can be in the form of regular tests, assignments or homework & don’t forget to reward them for passing every checkpoint.
So always remember to
Create checkpoints to measure progress.
This will make them realize that they are growing & it’ll boost their confidence.
4. Don’t make it too much complex!
This is one of the mistakes which I also did in my early days, I gave away the most complex stuff too early & the students went nuts.
They were like, huh???
That’s why you should try to make it easy so that students can absorb things in a fun & healthy atmosphere.
You can give them stuff in a step by step manner, just like a ladder.
It has 2 important benefits:
- Students will grasp everything properly & will grow over time.
- This will also help you to build a relationship with your students over time.
5. What if they feel bored?
Many students have a lot of passion for the subject but they don’t find the ecourse interesting enough to stay.
They feel like, they feel like ‘bored’.
Even after trying really hard, they just can’t remember the concepts & eventually, they don’t show up.
So, how to make your course interesting?
When I decided to create my course, I also had this trouble but over time I figured out some cool ideas listed below:
- Keep it short – If you can wrap up a concept in 15 minutes, don’t spend an hour on it.
- Give them assignments – When students create something on their own, they feel more involved and passionate about it.
- A sense of belief – Create educational quizzes & games, where they can believe that they have achieved something & they are growing.
6. How to deal with the short attention span of the new generation?
In my early days, I created various courses but students were not able to get the most out of it.
No matter what I do, they just don’t like it.
Why is it so?
Its because they were not getting a clear direction of what to do.
Furthermore, According to a research, nowadays people have a focus span of only 8 seconds, whereas a goldfish can focus for 9 seconds.
On top of that, modern generation is in a real hurry, their eyeballs move really fast & their thumbs move even faster.
So, what should you do in this situation?
Today, all the popular online courses have one thing in common, it’s that they give a clear direction of what to do & how to do.
That’s what you need in your online course.
As soon your students enter your course, everything should be crystal clear.
In short, you should structure your online course in such a way that it guides your students step by step.
Now that we’re done with it.
These basic points will definitely help you to structure your online course & keep your students involved.
See, There is a modern psychology (Bloom’s revised Taxonomy) that whenever you create an online course, you should create an MVP(Minimum Viable Product).
And you can analyze, modify & adapt as you grow.
It’s like :-
Jumping from a mountain cliff & learning to fly on your way down.
This MVP technique is highly recommended to create an online course, it’s because you will get that valuable feedback from your students to improve your course.
Plus, It’ll also help you to select the right type of course structure.
If you aren’t sure about how to structure your online course, then this one is especially for you.
How to structure your online course based on its type:
1. A Step by step program:
This is the most common type of online course structure & is highly recommended for the purpose where you are taking your students on a journey from point A to B.
For example, a course on how to do yoga -From beginners to pro.
In such courses, instructors are more focused on clearing the concepts one by one, starting from the most basic to the difficult ones.
And the students develop the desired skills in a really professional manner.
You can understand it from the life cycle of a potato, see how it transform from seed to a full-fledged plant.
2. Week by week program
A week by week program also shares great value but its divided into time-based modules.
Here you complete your course over a certain period of time like weeks or months.
For example, an 8-week course on karate.
This type of course structure is mostly required for topics which need time to learn or practice.
Just like a karate program, where you need regular practice.
3. A reference course
A reference course is something in between the other two categories.
Here you provide a separate course for helping your students.
This is kind of a go-to place for all your students whenever they need any kind of help or reference.
Most of the course creators provide reference course in the form of a guide.
So, how can you use it?
You can create a full-fledged video course along with a shorter pdf version as a reference course.
When I created my first online course, I wasn’t sure about things.
It was all a big mess, there was no fixed recipe.
And students were not sure where to find a particular video, they can’t log into live sessions & most importantly I forgot to write the overview.
Basically, I created a five-star cuisine without a recipe & made a total disaster.
So always remember,
Cooking without a recipe, will turn into a tragedy
Don’t worry about the recipe, I’ll give you mine.
Without further ado, let’s see what are the ingredients needed to structure your online course.
Mandatory steps to structure your online course
The very first part of an online course is to give a brief introduction about yourself & why you created this particular course.
This will help students to know about you & they will feel an initial bonding.
Don’t forget to share your social channels so that students can connect with you.
This one is really important as it guides your students about what they are going to learn & how they are going to learn.
It helps them to analyze the goals & objectives of the entire course.
They will also get a brief idea of the basic “To do’s” of your online course & they will feel more confident about the agenda of the course.
You can provide other useful information like your email, chat hours & social channels.
Most course platforms provide a special place to upload syllabus of your course.
And it’s a necessary feature too, cause it helps your students to understand the main concepts of your course.
Through syllabus, you can provide details about different modules, topics & sub-topics.
Let’s say you are creating an online course on skin care, then you can create syllabus like
- Skin cleaning
- Oil cleanser
- Toner etc
This tells your students about what are the topics covered in the chapter.
(IMPORTANT NOTE:– Don’t waste too much time on these 3 topics, try to cover all of them in a short single session)
Whenever you go to a special event with large gatherings whether it’s a big concert, business event or even a baseball game.
You’ll see that they all have one thing in common.
Can you guess, what is it?
It’s that giant screen which shows all the proceedings. Whenever something happens people instantly look to the giant screen.
Well in an online course, discussion bars work pretty much the same.
Discussion bar is the go-to place for students to find the solutions to their problems & any other related announcements.
They are specially designed to help students in exploring, communicating & discussing a particular topic.
Don’t forget to create a discussion bar for your course cause it’ll also help you to find the pain points of your students.
The more they discuss, the more they learn.
The more they learn , the more you earn.
5. Assignments & Submissions
Whether you believe it or not but boredom is a major factor in the failure of an online course.
According to a new research by pnas organization, students who attend traditional teaching classes are 1.5 times more likely to fail compared to active learning. (i.e. Engaging & fun learning).
So, how can you introduce active learning in your online ecourse?
You can do it by using assignments, assignments play a key role in increasing the engagement factor of any online course.
When students create an assignment, when they put in the effort to create something new, they automatically feel that energy & connection with the subject.
They start feeling passion about how they are doing, how others are doing & eventually they get attached to it.
And to make it more fun, you can add extra points & bonuses, this will definitely be a great help to structure your online course.
6. Confidence booster:
One of the major difference between a good online course & a bad online course is how they treat their students.
If you just keep on shooting different threads one after another, students may feel like a bit disconnected.
So, it’s really important to keep the enthusiasm up.
That’s why you should look to give away some awards & badges, this is especially helpful for long programs which go over 2 or 3 months.
Enthusiasm is the secret ingredient of a secret recipe, especially if you are starting up & don’t know anything about how to sell your online course.
So, how can you do it?
The easiest way to do this is by introducing small games or quizzes, of course, related to the topic & award the winners with badges.
It’ll boost their confidence & it’ll increase their engagement as well as the participation level.
If you want that money in your bank, you have to fill the air in their tank.
In spite of being a very important factor, most online course creators don’t follow this step.
While starting an online course, one of the best things you can do for your course is to introduce a grading system.
A grading system works as a feedback for your students.
It allows them to check their progress on a personal level & measure their growth.
So, how can you introduce the grading system in your online course?
Well, you can give them grades for individual assignments, quizzes as well as for the overall course.
So always remember the phrase
Set grade, get paid.
8. Direct support
One of the major tools for your online course is to give them a direct support link where they can find you.
This will allow them to interact with you, in case of a problem.
And this will also increase your ratings for great customer support.
Customer support is one of the major factors for failure in any business.
So always remember,
Greater the support, greater the reward.
Free giveaways & bonuses are your way to victory.
Not only they help your students but they also help you.
How do they help you?
By providing the features mentioned above you can only create a great course but by providing ‘extra bonuses & giveaways’ you can make an epic course.
It has various benefits like:
- Students will be happy as they are getting valuable stuff free of cost.
- They will see you as a pro & you will gain more credibility.
- Most importantly you can guide them towards another course or maybe pitch them for a direct sales call.
If you can do this correctly, you can make some real handsome money with your online course.
So, This was an overall roadmap of how to structure your online course.
When I created my book “Twisted Marketing”, it took a lot of sweat, blood & tears to write it.
It was months & months of hard work but the end result was like gold.
But when it came down to price the book, I was in a real dilemma about what should be the price of the book.
My brain was saying that you had worked hard enough & book has a shit ton of value for readers, you should price it high.
While my heart was saying to keep the price low so that the maximum number of people can get benefited from the book.
So, I have to do a long research for finding the right price for my book.
And you’ll be shocked to know that how many factors are actually involved in pricing a new product for the market.
You need to balance between price & demand.
So remember that,
Pricing is a game of balancing.
Now once you’re done with all the if’s & but’s to structure your online course, you’ll also face this situation.
So, on huge public demand, I’m finally sharing all the gold on how to price an online course.
Check it out & do share your feedback.