How to meet course learning objectives and gain more popularity in the coaching market? It is easy - provide high-quality.
To create a cohesive, structured, and effective course, you'll need to provide a high-quality development environment as well as complete and concise content to allow your students to engage with the learning material and collaborate with one another.
Therefore, in this article, we will take a look at the main aspects of course creation and share some effective tips with you.
If you are ready, let's start!
The following article covers:
What is course design?
Course design is the process of creating a course that is suitable for a specific audience. To design one, you will need to use different methods and practices to improve the overall product's quality and make the course more valuable.
As we defined previously, it consists of a few things.
- Content (your teaching material): It is everything like presentations, videos, lectures, notes, readings, etc. Content should be dense, that is short but full. And it has to be suitable for your audience.
- Structure: By dividing your learning material into smaller fragments, you are making it less intimidating and more accessible. This leads to the curriculum component. The order of the content is vital.
- Environment: It includes learning methods – tactics that you use to explain your material to somebody in an understandable way and in a way that they will remember and employ the information.
- Collaboration: There is also a collaborative component. Your students need to learn how to work in groups, compromise, manage time and structurize their work.
- Evaluation: Another part of the environment. What is the base of your criticism? How do you present it to your students in a way that doesn't discourage them but motivates them to learn better?
And lastly, remember that your function as a tutor is not only to teach but to encourage students to learn, give them this love for education, and motivate them for further work. We recommend coming up with methods of encouragement beforehand.
Why is course design important?
Course design is important for various reasons, and here are some:
- You are never lost: When you have everything pre-planned, you don't have to improvise in the middle of the lecture to engage your students with something; you know for sure what to do. There is this certainty and comfort in knowing that everything goes according to plan and that you have enough time to deliver all needed material.
- Time-saving: When you preplan everything, you don't have to spend a lot of time rehearsing the material, making slides the night before the class, etc. Everything is excellent and ready. It's like a frozen pizza, you just put it in the oven, and it's prepared with the exclusion that this one is of the same quality as a freshly made one and even better.
- Good outcomes: Your students will succeed, and their success is important for you as a coach/teacher. You have to make sure you provide high-quality learning materials; otherwise, people will stop purchasing your courses after some time. If students are motivated to learn, they will learn well. They will recommend your course to others. Good outcomes occur when you pre plan your course – thoroughly. But it's worth it. It benefits you and your students.
- Make sure that you are fluent in the material: There is no way to avoid repetition of your material when drawing a course design. And as we know, repetition is the mother of learning. This ensures that you know your material well and that you remember the details, which will only come in handy when you try to explain it to others.
- A place for creativity: Imagine how much time you will have when you don't need to think about basic stuff – about the outlines, slides, quizzes, etc.! You can redirect all that free time and energy into coming up with something brand new and creative, and it is always a pleasure to study in a different "mental" environment.
- Engaging: This comes from the previous point. Saving energy during the preparation part gives you opportunities to deliver engaging in-time lectures, with jokes and puns that will help your students memorize the material and result in better class performance. When you show your students that you love your profession and your field of expertise, you infect them with the same love and joy for studying.
- Good for you, and your students: Now, combine all of those reasons and think about how it benefits your students! A teacher in good shape, a coherent material, creative tasks – all that creates an experience of studying and ensures that people will return to you. You get your customers, and then you keep them. If you implement the course design strategies, your course will definitely turn out better than ever before, which will result in more clients, more positive reviews, and public awareness.
How to design your course?
Now, there are several ways to design a course. To do so, you have to take into account several components of a course. Let’s start.
Timing & Logistics
The first thing you need to know is how much time you have to prepare. It may depend on several factors: availability of your materials (textbooks, gadgets, etc.), your speed of working, whether the course was offered before, and so on. We divide everything into short, mid, and long-term preparations.
Depending on how much time you have, you may make your course design more or less precise and detailed. Still, even if it's a short-term preparation, you would like to make a full outline of the course first, no matter how vague it is. It is better to be a few steps ahead. If you have enough time, you may prepare all the slides and lecture notes for yourself and think about the quizzes, tests, and other tasks you want to give your students.
Concerning logistics, there are technical things like filming equipment, website optimization, etc., that you would like to solve ahead – stuff you need to order and fix. So, make sure you have everything necessary to get started.
Who are your students (target audience)
Every single point here is important, but determining your target audience is the most vital point. To be as effective as possible, you need to know the age, occupation, region, education, and other details about the people that you want to target. Explaining how lightning works is different for a nine-year-old child and a college student, and it is different even for two college students of the same age and region if they are from different faculties.
Knowing who your audience is will help with teaching strategies and befriending your students to become that "relatable teacher" that everybody loves and recommends. Plus, marketing, of course. It is easier to sell something when you know who buys it.
Articulate learning objectives
Studying is fun, of course, but those people are not paying you, not only for the process. They need outcomes, and you, as a teacher, need to know whether you are succeeding or not. To do that, you need to set some goals. To set goals, use the SMART technique; it is just perfect for any area of life.
Identify potential Challenges
Know yourself. Know what you're good at and what you're bad at. When you work in such a responsible position, you need to be as realistic as possible about it. Your possible challenges may include:
- Technical restraints – slow internet, bad sound isolation, etc.
- Difficult material – content that is hard to explain or content that requires prerequisite
- The flexibility of students – how much free time do they have (to do readings or another kind of homework, for example)
- Social – shyness of yours, stuttering, challenges of communication between students, etc.
Identifying challenges helps with overcoming them in a way. For example, knowing that there is not much place for your students to collaborate, you can create forums for them; if your material requires prerequisite knowledge, you can prepare cards with short explanations of the needed material or terminology. It is good to know beforehand to have more time to prepare.
SWOT analysis is a procedure that helps you to identify strengths and weaknesses, opportunities and threats of your business. This directly comes from the previous points. Integrating your business in a realistic environment and evaluating it helps you enhance your course's strengths and eliminate weaknesses.
Strengths (S) and weaknesses (W) are tied to internal factors of your business, like financial, human, and material resources – how much money, people, and goods you have. Opportunities (O) and threats (T) correlate with external factors like trends, economic conditions, demographics, etc.
So you would like to draw a table with four columns for S, W, O, and T accordingly and fill them in.
Write/revise a syllabus
A syllabus is much needed to make everything clear between you and your students. The syllabus consists of the course outline, calendar, topics, assignments and tests, requirements, evaluation methods, and rules that students need to follow – policies.
It is also recommended to include the list of references that you use, as it makes you more trustworthy, plus gives your students an opportunity to access primary sources by themselves. Students can do pre-readings to your classes, adapt their schedules around your course, avoid awkward questions, etc. For you, a course syllabus helps to see the overall picture. We also recommend putting the main objectives and learning outcomes in the syllabus.
Choose a platform
Lastly, you would like to choose a platform for your course. Yes, you can create your own website with website builders such as WordPress or Wix, but it takes a lot of time and effort, plus it can become expensive. If you are new to online tutoring, we recommend starting with a ready platform for online learning.
The platform of your choice will depend on the type of your course. If it is a lecture-based course, you may consider using:
- Zoom: Zoom is popular, especially with the arousal of the pandemic. It has a straightforward interface and generally is quite comfortable in work. Zoom allows online conferencing, recording, screen sharing, chatting, etc. It is a nice choice for lectures and webinars. It does come at a price, at least the version that allows you to hold a lecture for more than half an hour, so consider your financial situation.
- Discord: Discord is a friendly platform, too, although it was not originally created for educational purposes. Still, it gives you opportunities for video-conferencing, screen sharing, recording, having group chats – structured group chats with text and voice channels – and document sharing. It can be a bit more complicated than Zoom, but it's free and is more intuitive in use.
But those platforms are too oral and airy, so if your course is based more on pre-recorded and uploaded materials like readings, videos, podcasts, etc., there are other platforms to choose from. And of course, if you provide a synthesis of those two types of courses, you can use a few platforms.
- Uteach: Uteach is our own development, and we cannot recommend it enough! Its main feature is that it allows you to build your own website without programming or additional expenses quickly; it provides custom templates that you can change depending on your needs and taste. It collaborates with Zoom and Google Classroom, so it is perfect for synthesis courses. Try Uteach's free trial for 14 days and see if it suits you. You can end the trial at any time, so it is perfectly safe for you.
- Google Classroom: Google Classroom is a nice tool for Google group product lovers since it is integrated with Google Docs and Slides (and other apps). It allows you to make synchronized lectures, create blogs, tests, assignments, etc. Google Classroom is like a real classroom put in a virtual environment – you can even grade and track your students' progress. And it is free.
- Microsoft Teams: Microsoft Teams reminds you of Google Classroom – it also gives you opportunities to communicate via online conferencing and create blog posts, lectures, etc. You and your teammates can implement products of Microsoft Office while working directly from Microsoft Teams. It combines features of online conferencing platforms such as Zoom and the flexibility of websites while being quite cheap.
10 ways to make your course more effective
Every teacher has a different teaching philosophy, so we will not try to impose something too big. But there are little details and strategies that can make your course more effective in synthesis with the teaching style that you implement. Let's have a look:
- Show Don't Tell: Humans perceive 80% of the information through their eyes, so naturally, it is recommended to provide your content in a visualized manner. Slides, images, graphs, statistics, maps, and schemes are very useful for learning and understanding new material. For example, if you are delivering a lecture about air pollution, show a graph that depicts the rise of CO2 levels. This will show your students the problem in its full capacity. You can get quality free pictures from platforms like Freepik, Unsplash, etc.
- Befriend Your Students: A tutor is not just a person who teaches the material; it is a person that shows people how to love learning, how to think and analyze, and how to find motivation. Try to be a friend or a parental figure to your students, a person who they will go to for advice. Encourage them to study; It will only make everything easier.
- Repetitions: Repetitions help with remembering the material, and they are important so that students won't start forgetting the previous material. In a well-designed course, previous information is used in future lessons, but if there is no such an opportunity (for example, if the course is done in a survey way).
- Game: Games are a fun way of learning or repeating new material, and they also allow students to collaborate with each other. This tactic is based on the Soyer effect that makes a tedious task enjoyable and even desirable if the task is done in a game way. It worked in Twain's fiction and worked in real life for years.
- Short Term Goals: Apart from coming up with all-in-all learning objectives, try to set goals for each lesson, or at least for each module. A module here will be a few lessons more or less connected thematically. You can also assign bigger tasks like group projects or presentations and set goals for that, too. This allows you to track your students' progress, and they feel more accomplished and encouraged when they see the outcomes in the short term.
- Internal Deadline: Internal deadlines are needed when you assign a big project to make sure that the project is in progress and not done the last day before the deadline. Those deadlines are milestones that again help your students to feel complete and productive.
- Peer Reviews: Peer reviews are another way for inter-group collaborations. They develop critical thinking skills and help students see their peers' mistakes. It also allows them to get criticism from somebody not as intimidating as a teacher, so in a more friendly manner.
- Study Breaks: During a long study session, a five-minute study break is essential. It allows students to refresh, and you, the teacher, relax for a few minutes. But a break doesn't mean going immediately on Instagram. We recommend performing physical activities during short breaks, like going downstairs for tea or stretching your back. This is proven to make learning more productive, so make sure to implement this new technique.
- References And Resources: Again, it is recommended that you put your reference list in the syllabus and provide primary sources to your students. Apart from backbone your course, this will create a discourse. Your students can come to different conclusions when reading the sources you provide, so it is a nice way of talking to them and exploring their character better.
- Evaluations: Provide evaluations for your students! Nowadays, it is really easy to find a course on YouTube, so to make your tutoring worth it, you need to engage with your students. And partly that includes evaluation. Tell them how they're doing, what they are doing well, and what they don't. Also, include self-evaluations, so you can see the way they're thinking.
Course design templates and examples
Let’s have a look at a few course design templates.
- First one is from Biggerplate, and it does provide a lot of space for creativity. It represents a tree with a few branches with an introduction, main content, bonuses and a conclusion. This template is ideal for a long or mid term course because there is a lot of place for creativity. You can use this as a skeleton to know what to include in your design and then put everything in a nice PDF using Canva.
- We do recommend starting with a more full template, as that one is quite vague. Venngage provides a template with a perfect example of conciseness and fullness. You can fill this in and present it right away, no additional interference.
- The template created by Behance is a good example of a course design within a private company.
- Here’s another interesting design that is created for Oki Doki blog. This template will work nicely with a short-term course.
Surely, each tip, advice, and step will assist you in the process of course design. With a bit of patience, you will be able to create an incredible course of high value, which is demanded on the market.