Key Principles for Designing Online Education Courses

With demand for online education increasing, more and more institutions and businesses are looking at creating online courses. However, with demand comes competition, and to stand out from the crowd, your courses need to be well crafted.

Here are seven principles to help you design a high-quality online education course.


Make it easy to access

Don’t make people jump through hoops every time they want to access their online materials. As with anything online, user experience is important, so you want to make your course as easy to navigate as possible.

Of course, you don’t want to compromise on security, but you do want to keep things as simple as possible for your students. Remember that not everyone has the same level of computer skills, so try not to over-complicate things.


Don’t neglect the entertainment factor

Your main goal is to educate, but that doesn’t mean you can forget about the entertainment side of things. Not only does an element of entertainment help motivate people to keep coming back when your courses, but it also makes it easier to learn.

People are fitting your courses into extremely busy schedules, so try and give them something to look forward to. If you’re just putting out dreary lecture after dreary lecture it’s not going to help anybody learn, and it could cause a lot of people to drop out.

Entertainment is important no matter what materials you’re putting online, and it’s just as true for education.

Break things up

One of the great things about online courses is that they allow students to work at their own pace and fit their studies around their schedules.

Work with this idea and break your courses down into small, manageable chunks. This allows your students to easily take a break from studying and pick up where they left off. Humans have limited attention spans, and if you overload students with a lot of information in a short period of time, then they’re not going to take all of it on board.

Make it interactive

When you’re lecturing in a classroom it can be fairly easy to get feedback from your audience. If the three people in the front seat are all asleep, then you know you’ve lost your audience.

However, when you’ve got students studying from behind a computer it can be much more difficult to ascertain how they are interacting with the material. This means you’ve got to be proactive about making sure they stay engaged.

Using different mediums such as video and other interactive tools like online quizzes, helps you to keep people engaged, rather than just putting out long texts and hoping.

Remember the practical side

The skills your students learn online need to link back to what’s happening in the real world. Many careers combine theoretical knowledge with practical knowledge and your course needs to reflect this.

For example, in nursing, this is why online institutions take great care to make sure their students end up in the best nursing clinicals. They realize that the online world has to connect to the outside world, and practical experience is a must.

Think about ways you can offer more than just an online service and ensure your students come out with the well-rounded skills they need.

Encourage communities

When you’re running an online program, you have a diverse range of students, each with something to bring to the equation. Make the most of this by encouraging the creation of communities. The online environment is ideal for people of similar interests to get together to discuss ideas brought up in the course.

Studying online is different to studying on campus, but that doesn’t mean students can’t form meaningful relationships that help them throughout their careers. One of the main reasons people go to university is to create these relationships, and (although they might be slightly different) this is perfectly possible through online study.

Stay focused

As mentioned, when you’re speaking to a live audience, it can be fairly easy to pick up on how people are responding. That’s not necessarily so easy when you’re creating online materials, so it’s important you’re focused on staying on point.

Online students lead busy lives, and when they sit down to study, they need to know the materials they’re following are specifically designed to help them achieve their goals. Of course, you want to help expand their horizons by introducing new things, but it’s important to make sure you don’t spend too much time off on a tangent.

Keep things concise and keep people engaged with the material.


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