So if you’ve been searching the internet about online course creation techniques and strategies, you’ve probably come across a ton of different ideas from what is becoming a very crowded space…
I’ve seen some people use methods that they bring over from the business world (the Business People turned Course Creators), and some methods that people use because it has worked for them individually and now they are teaching it (the DIYers turned Course Creators), but I wanted to tell you about a process that is used by Course Creators from the Educational Psychology space – a framework based on a lot of research and originally created for military training.
STEP 1: ANALYSIS (Or, Should I Create An Online Course?)
First, we have to determine if a course is needed. Not every problem can be fixed with an online course. Sometimes, you might need to create an eBook to explain something, or sometimes all you need is a checklist.
And some problems are a part of the person’s environment (for example, lack of resources) and can’t be solved through education at all… .
This phase includes heavy research of your market – the demographics, psychographics, and an understanding so intimately, that you can take an educated guess of how and when they might prefer to learn. For example, if you know that the majority of your audience has a jam-packed schedule during the week and their Friday evenings are generally spent hanging out with friends or family, you can guess that they will not be ready to learn at that time. If they work a 9 to 5, that means, they are most in need of motivation and inspiration on Sunday evenings.
Use this phase as the opportunity to fail fast and fail often and to really get to know your potential students intimately. I recommend that you go through this phase as many times as needed to validate your course topic before you continue on to the other phases.
STEP 2: DESIGN
The second step is to outline, or create a blueprint of the course content. It’s not just about breaking things down into “digestible chunks”. It includes figuring out what results students need to have in each step and how they will know when they have gotten those results. It includes giving them mini goals, activities, and ways to assess their own improvement.
What keeps students motivated?
Learning is what keeps students motivated. So this step asks, how can I make sure that students are aware of their own learning and see their progress? They need to think – “Oh wow, I didn’t know that before” or “I didn’t know how to do that before”.
STEP 3: DEVELOPMENT
The third step involves using tools to create a structure and environment for learning – such as setting up a course platform, a website, a community for discussion. It goes beyond creating videos and involves deciding what technology will support the needs of your students.
For example…if you are teaching a photography course, you will need to use a very visual approach, with as many examples as possible and have a platform that allows your students to share their own work. If you are teaching language, you need a platform that supports audio. This phase ensures that you consider your students’ learning needs as content is developed.
STEP 4: IMPLEMENTATION
This is where you actually teach the content – release the course content into the wild and collect student feedback. Use teaching strategies that keep students focused, motivated, engaged and that mesh with your personality. But this doesn’t mean you need to be someone you’re not in order to have a good course. Don’t be silly or try to crack jokes if that’s not you. If you are analytical and data driven, use that in your course.
Online course success happens when you attract the type of student that will crave your specific teaching approach and will think…”yesss, yesssss, exactly” as they’re going through the content.
STEP 5: EVALUATION
This is the last step, and is skipped in many of the other approaches that I’ve come across. This is where you determine what’s working and what’s not. Simple as that. As Mr. Miyagi said “No such thing as bad student, only bad teacher.” But it involves having ways to collect honest feedback – such as anonymous surveys and one-click feedback.
So, can you think of ways to include any of the ADDIE framework into your process?
I hope to see more of these “psychology-driven” online courses out there.