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Everything You Need to Know About Creating Your First Online Course
Congratulations! Being here means you have cleared the first step, which is being sure of wanting to teach online. Great efforts are always preceded by a strong will. Now, wear your teaching hat and get ready to kick off the exciting journey of creating your first ever online course.
Before we go further on this path, let us indulge you in some trivia. Did you know that the global online teaching market is set to touch $350 Billion by 2025? This is, mind you, a pre-2020 projection. With the online learning market exploding due to the lockdown, the figure is only set to increase. In more ways than one, it is the best time to start teaching online.
So, whether you are a corporate employee who has finally found some free time to pursue the post-retirement desire of teaching or a dance instructor who misses guiding students in physical classes and shows — you’re at the right place. The world of online teaching is not nerve-racking but might seem a little intimidating because of the overload of courses and information this year. Don’t you worry, we’re here to tell you why it doesn’t have to be so. Let’s start at the very start.
The birth of your online course
There are two pillars for this stage, inspiration, and research. You’re not even thinking about course material yet, you’re just introspecting.
- Inspiration: Teaching is an art. You’ve seen it in your favourite teachers and professors from your school/college days. There was that one history teacher who could make the World War less scary and more fun to study, that one marketing professor who made it seem like selling hotcakes is everybody’s game. You’ve also seen it in that one colleague who makes PowerPoints look like a short film or that cousin who taught you how to play the guitar better than any formal teacher.
There is one thing common between all of these people — inspiration. They are all extremely motivated people whose passion is infectious. Now, ask yourself. What is your true passion? It could be anything from a dance form to organizing Excel sheets. You will find students for everything. It doesn’t have to be something popular or trending on LinkedIn. It’s better to carve your niche where you’re more confident and less influenced by others. This niche is where your passion and your skills converge.
- Research: After inspiration comes to research. This gives a method to your madness. Although you can create your own research methodology, here are a few steps you can begin with:
- Look for existing courses and materials in your field of choice.
- Read up to expand your knowledge and expertise.
- Take an online course yourself. Use Google Search, Quora, blogs, social media, and any other relevant online tool.
- Talk to interested people you know and find on online forums.
- Find out which aspect of your passion they are most interested to learn, and how they’d like to learn it.
By this stage, you are motivated enough to get into the details. Let’s begin by determining the type of your course, which will make further steps easier.
Types of online courses
You will find a lot more types than the ones listed here, but these are the only ones you need to know. The rest are only narrower categorizations of these. We believe that it would be better for you to not fall into meticulous structures and instead find your own space, build your own structure.
- Masterclass: Masterclasses are advanced-level courses. These aren’t usually meant for beginners. They’re for people already well-versed in the field who want to gain expertise. For this, you have to be an expert yourself. These courses are best suited for creative fields.
- Coaching: Coaching courses are where you, the coach, helps an interested beginner gain knowledge of a topic and learn the ropes. These include everything from business coaching, career coaching, personality development, to yoga coaching.
- MOOC: Massive Open Online Courses are meant for unlimited participation from across the world. These are easily repeatable, fixed syllabus courses that promote student communities. They’re good for fields such as STEM, business, humanities, and technology.
- Corporate Training: In fields such as hospitality, Human Resources, and administration, employee training is crucial. In the current situation, an online course is the best way to provide corporate training. Corporate training topics range from confidence-building to personality development and communication.
- Creative Courses: Gone are the days when you couldn’t turn your hobby into your profession. Creative courses are very unique in themselves, and each needs a different approach based on the nature of the art. A dance class would require both the teacher and the student to have a spacious room. A musical instrument would be a must for a music class. For visual arts, students might need physical material such as paints, or even software, depending on the course niche. Keep these specific requirements in mind while working on your creative course.
Roadmap for creating your first online course
Now that you have probably figured out the domain of teaching, let’s get to business. What you have now is a subject, a course category, your expertise, your subject research, and your audience research. That’s plenty of material to start working on your actual course material.
1. Pick a specific topic
Based on your research of the theme and the audience, find out what marketing professionals often call ‘pain points’. These are gaps in the market, areas that no one else has touched. For example, say you want to teach the violin. You find out that there is hardly anyone teaching it exclusively to senior citizens, who need a different pace and approach from children or youngsters. Tap the pain point and introduce a specific course for them.
2. Decide the end goal of your online course
What is it that your students will take away at the end of this course? Just like you must have done with research papers in college, determine your conclusion first. Then, build towards it. Express the end goal in a sentence. For example, ‘At the end of this online course, students will know how to read and write basic sentences in French, along with some cultural knowledge about France.”
3. Make your drawing board
You’re probably imagining a wall full of ambiguous post-its, pins, colours, flow-charts, and maps, like in the movies. That’s exactly what we’re suggesting. When we say make your drawing board, we mean to make one literally. Jot your ideas down in words, sketches, tables, etc. Use coloured pens and sticky notes. Put all of it down where you can see it simultaneously. At this point, every idea is a good idea. Put it down without thinking about whether it makes sense to anyone else or not.
4. Organize your board
Now comes the tough part. Take out ideas and elements that do not fit within the goal you had decided for your online course in Step 2. With the rest, make a class-wise plan. Then, set a mini-goal for each of these classes. For example, let’s assume that you’re conducting a baking course. Here’s how the course structure would pan out:
- Lecture One: Introduction to baking
Goals: Identifying baking tools, usage of a microwave, and basic practices
- Lecture Two: Types of cakes
Goal: Understanding the difference between the basic varieties
- Lecture Three: Making a basic cake
Goal: A small cake for two
- Lecture Four: Frosting and other decorations
Goal: Adding frosting and other personalized decorations to the cake made yesterday
Decide how much time each class would roughly take, including introduction, lessons,
5. Add activities and assignments
The most engaging, creative way to achieve the goal of each class is an activity. Divide your students into groups and give them something to work on. Promote conversations and discussions amongst themselves. After the class, give them assignments as well. Make sure not to make them too heavy. A good measure to keep in mind would be that it should be something they can finish within an hour. This keeps them involved without putting too much pressure on them.
6. Put your online course together
Now that you have a clear course outline, it’s time to make the actual course. There are numerous tools available for you, starting with the basic PowerPoint (which is actually not very basic, it has unbelievable features that you could very well need a whole online course to learn), to sophisticated tools such as Photoshop. Use a combination of tools that suit you best. This is your time to make the fun presentation you can never submit to your boss.
7. Conduct a crash test
Now, you have your course. Do you immediately launch it? Of course not. It’s your first course. You need to test it. Hold a free webinar or lecture on the same topic, and carefully note down the response and feedback you receive. The webinar will also serve as a marketing tactic for your upcoming course. You can even hold a demo class with friends and relatives and take their feedback. Remember that any criticism you receive is only a chance for you to improve.
8. Add finishing touches
Based on the feedback you receive, make alterations to the course. Review each part including the assignments. After your crash test, you might realize that school students get easily distracted while reading a book without pictures, or that teenagers want to be treated as adults and would like more challenging assignments. Derive these key insights and refine your course. Even if you realize that you have to go back to the drawing board, do it. It’s okay if your course is delayed, but not if it’s short-sighted.
9. Choose the right platform
Now that the final draft of your course is ready, you need to pick a platform to run the course on. There are a plethora of platforms online, and you might get confused because each offers some advantages. It would be best to simply pick the one that lets you do what you want freely and turn every feature into an advantage.
- Heavy on-course personalization
- Ideal user journeys
- Prompt quizzes and assessments
- Custom domains for every course
- Effortless payment unification
- Smart third-party integrations
- Completely Whitelabel and re-brandable operations
- Next-gen reporting and analytics
- Support for solopreneurs and organizations
10. Sell your course
Selling your course involves three key elements. Once these are done, you’ll be ready to hit the play button.
- Pricing: You already know your audience. Now, decide how much you’d like them to pay. Don’t make the mistake of charging too little just because it’s your first course. Remember that this will also decide your reputation in the future. You can also decide a base price and then charge extra for optional add-ons such as extra lectures, curated notes, etc.
- Naming: After the price comes the actual selling. Name your course. This is the last step and not the first because now, your name will be inclusive of your online course material, your audience goals, and your USP as a teacher. The best way to name a course is to describe it as taking a student from point A to point B. i.e. ‘Learn How To Play 5 Yanni Tracks On The Violin In 5 Weeks’.
- Promotions: Start promoting it on social media and personal circles first, and then move on to niche platforms that are relevant to your audience. For example, if your audience is millennials from the US, you should probably tap into Reddit. Remember that it’s your first course. Heavy promotion might not lead to a heavy flow of inquiries and registrations. This is, however, just the beginning. These promotions are going to build your brand image for future courses.
Are you ready?
We reckon you are! There must be a lot of thoughts going through your head with most of them turning into questions such as, “Should I do this?”, “Will it be profitable?”, “Will I be good at it?”. The best part about online teaching is that you only invest time and effort. There is nothing to lose here. You will gain new knowledge for yourself, even if your financial or other goals aren’t met immediately. So, it’s time to stop thinking, and start doing it.
We’ll leave you with some inspirational words from one of the best teachers in the universe.
“Try not. Do… or do not. There is no try.”Yoda, Star Wars