You’ve got a big blob of information in your head that you have to get out. It includes tips and some show-and-tell and some lecture…. Some demo… Some examples…. And maybe more.
How do you organize all that?
In this post I’m going to go over the piece-parts that you might fit into your course. The end game is going to be some level of consistency between modules so that your structure supports learning.
(The alternative? When your structure impedes learning by adding a level of confusion to your course experience. Let’s not do that!)
A quick caveat here is that I’ll be focusing on courses by coaches and consultants. These are typically courses in the middle of a sales funnel in which the coach or consultant is providing an entry or mid-level product that might lead into a mastermind group, VIP coaching, or a big live event. This means that the course is going to showcase you and your style and will entail some time on camera. Sorry.
Okay, appologies aside, let’s dive in!
First, let’s look at the basics…
A great course typically has these 5 components:
- Introductory video with you connecting with your audience (yep, this is your favorite part, isn’t it?). This video should express your excitement and happiness that they are embarking on this journey with you (!). Remind them about what wonders await them at the end of the course!It should also lay out what they can expect in your course and might include some logistics about getting around in the course platform or how they will connect into your Facebook group or other community aspect of the course (or whatever is applicable).
- A number of modules. A good rule of thumb is 6-10 of them per course.
- Perhaps lessons within the modules.
(We’ll get into 2 and 3 more down below.)
- A conclusion with you giving a compelling call to action about what’s next for them.
Next let’s delve inside the modules.
What to include in the modules?
You’re going to want to choose some common, consistent elements that will occur across your modules. Title them now so you can call them the same thing in each module (so your learner doesn’t have to expend any cognitive steam puzzling over course components).
Here are some strong components to include:
- Why this module is important.
There will be some modules your learner absolutely sees are essential and others that don’t strike them as being so significant (whereas obviously, you do or else you wouldn’t have include them!). So,for each module, spend a little time motivating your learners to complete the module. Make sure they understand why it’s significant and what they’ll get out of it.
- A story to open each module.
Stories resonate. Depending on the kind of module you are including, a story can be a highly effective way to engage your learner and draw them into your content. They are also great ways to give the learner a context upon which to hang your key points.
- The actual content.
But more on that another day :-).
- Case studies/examples.
Help your learner move from concepts to execution by including case studies and examples that help learners see how what they are learning applies in real life.
- Summary of key points.
Summarize, summarize, summarize. Remind your learner what they learned. It sounds extra, but it’s important in a number of ways — It helps lock in the learning and it helps them see the value they have just received.
- Worksheets with reflective questions (with request to share in FB/group) and action steps.
Learning doesn’t happen until the learner DOES SOMETHING DIFFERENTLY. Until they think differently. Until something actually changes. You may have a lovely e-course but if it doesn’t change people it’s an ineffective e-course.Worksheets help people apply what they’re learning to their own situation. Asking them to take further action is even better. If you have a community site (like a Facebook group), you might ask people to post a result or an observation they had after implementing something from your module. Or buddy participants up and ask them to share something specifically with their buddy related to that module.
- Tip Sheet or Cheat Sheet.
After your e-course is complete, what tip sheets or resource sheets will people want to have next to them when they implement your content? What will they want pinned up in their office or home to remind them of something important from your module (or course)?
Remember to name these components with the same terminology (in other words you might consistently use the term “tip sheet” and not “cheat sheet”). This will condition your learner to know what they will expect with each component. Otherwise they might get caught up in little inner discussions like, “well, what’s a cheat sheet and what I really need is a tip sheet.” Make those things simple and predictable.
Reorder if helpful to content
But you don’t necessarily have to stick to the same order. There will likely be examples of when you think a certain module might start with a worksheet, for example, or a case study right off the bat while others start with a story.
So what I’m saying is to strategize the order of these components based on what you’re teaching and how your learner would best learn that content. (Yes, this is the “art” part of e-course design.)
Did you notice that any of these components inside the modules may also be at the top level of your course as overarching components? Whoop! It’s mix-and-match! Fun, fun, fun!
Questions? Please let me know!