To create a successful eLearn course, you first need to decide what you’ll teach. When choosing your topic, it can be important to know what learners are most interested in. This article will help you choose a topic for your course according to your interest and learner demand.
1. Choose your course topic
When choosing what to teach on eLearningMarkets.com, pick a topic you’re experienced in and are genuinely excited about. But for some of us, there could be a handful of topics that we could teach. So how do you make a choice? One way is to factor in the topic’s relative demand and competition by doing market research.
2. Define your audience and objectives
After you’ve decided what to teach, you’ll need to decide who exactly you’re creating your course for. You’ll need to determine the motivations of your future learners, and what outcomes you want to give them.
2.1 Don’t expect one-course for “everyone”
Courses created for a specific audience have a higher enrollment rate and get more positive reviews. You’re more likely to have success on eLearn if you have a course with a specific learner in mind. It’s better to fit one specific target demographic well, than trying to address too broad a category of learners.
Here are two examples of how you can define your target learners well:
My target learners are beginners in English who no good in English grammar but who can understand English.
My target learners range from complete beginners interested in digital marketing to intermediate level learners, who have worked or are currently working for a business that has difficulty retaining users and bringing users back to its platform.
If you’re having trouble defining your audience, try deciding who your course is not for. For example, your course is not for someone who’s just interested in your topic, but who wants it at a different level or in a different teaching style.
2.2 Understand what’s driving your learners
To get clarity about your future learners, ask yourself these questions about their motivations and needs:
- What’s driving your learners to find and take your course?
- What problems are they encountered that your course can solve?
- What objectives or tasks do your learners hope to accomplish after learning your course?
In others words, you can ask yourself: from the point-of-view of my learners, why should my course exist?
2.3 Define your learners' learning objectives
Getting a clear idea of what your learners want from your course will help you understand the bigger picture of where your course fits into your target learners’ life. Maybe your learners are trying to get a job, or maybe they are just looking for a better way to get a promotion in job. Maybe they’re taking your course to supplement onsite classes that are moving too fast. Being clear about what your learners may want to move toward can help you find your niche.
Your course objectives should be realistic and measurable, meaning learners should be able to demonstrate their skill at the end of your course. When describing your course objectives, use strong action verbs like build, write, create, distinguish, and so on. Follow this formula when writing your course objectives: “At the end of my course, learners will be able to…”
3. Outline your course
To create a successful course efficiently and effectively, structure your course based on your course goals. Plan out how and what you’ll cover in each lesson and lecture of your course. Generally, each lesson should map to one specific skill you’re teaching.
While mapping your outline, think about the format you’ll use for each lecture.
Follow the steps below and learn how to set up the foundation for your course.
3.1 Build your own template
Your course has 3 parts—an introduction, a middle, and a conclusion. There are different best practices for each of them.
This is the first 15 minutes or so of your course. The goal at the beginning of your course is to motivate and hook your learners. Start your course with the following:
- Intro lecture: It should not be more than 2–4 minutes. Introduce yourself and explain why you are the best person to be teaching this course. Set the right expectations, tell the learners what they’ll learn from your course and what they’ll be able to do by the end of your course.
- Quick win: Provide value right away by providing a “quick win” within the first 3 lectures in your course. This could be an exercise or reflection activity that is a way for learners to prepare for the course or practice what they’ve already learned and dive right into the material.
- Instructional lectures: Introduce the topic in these initial 1–-2 lectures.
This is the main part of your course, where you’ll teach the subject and train the learners on the skills that they intend to learn at the end of your course. This part of your course should include lessons, consisting of lectures, practice activities, and reference materials:
- Lessons: Focus on covering one new and relevant skill per lesson. Make sure all the lessons add up together to deliver on all the skills your course promises to address in your course goals.
- Lectures: Each lesson should ideally contain 3–5 lectures. Stick to 1 concept per lecture and give the learners a chance to make progress every few lectures. Typically, a video should not be more than 2–6 minutes long. To create effective videos, choose the appropriate lecture format, based on the type of content you want to present.
- Practice activity: Include at least 1 practice activity per lesson, to give learners the opportunity to practice the skill/learning outcome of the lesson. As you create your course outline, consider different projects, quizzes and exercises you can integrate into your course to help learners practice and build on the concepts they’ve learned.
- Reference materials: Don’t forget to make a note of any additional resources you want to add in each lesson, like checklists, worksheets, templates, visual aids, pdf notes, and additional links, as necessary.
End your course with a strong finish that leaves learners with a feeling of reward. Learners who feel rewarded are more satisfied with the course and generally leave more positive reviews. To make an impactful end to your course, you can add a final and a bonus lecture at the end:
- Final lecture: At minimum include a congratulations lecture at the end. But there are many other creative ideas for final lectures that delight learners and leave them with a sense of accomplishment.
- Marketing section: A marketing section is the last lecture of the course, typically after the concluding lecture. This is the place where you can market other courses or products. But make sure you are following our marketing section rules and guidelines.
4. Plan your practice activities
Practice activities can be anything that makes a learners apply their learning. That way you can prepare your learners better on how to apply their knowledge in the real-world. Include at least one practice activity per section. Practice activities are optional for eLearn courses, but can result in higher learner satisfaction and course reviews. In this article, we’ll help you with some best practices to create the appropriate practice activity for your course.
4.1 Guideline on creating practice activities
- Timing: Provide learners with a time to complete. Give them a sense of the scope of the activity. When you estimate the time, try the activity yourself and then remember learners will need 2-3 times as long.
- Instructions: Write good instructions. You can include instructions in both text and video. Describe the activity, its importance, what learners need to do, and list the materials needed to complete the assignment.
- Examples: Provide examples. If you provide sample solutions, learners get a chance to evaluate their own work by comparing it against the example(s).
- Feedback: Ensure learners are getting feedback. Encourage community-building and peer feedback. Provide learners with a rubric or checklist that lists the criteria for a high-quality piece of work. This leads to more and better targeted peer feedback.
4.2 Types of practice activities you can create
eLearn offers different tools for instructors to make their content more interactive and to get learners to apply what they’ve learned. A practice activity can be just a reflection question or worksheet or any or a combination of the following:
- Practice test
- Coding exercise
Quizzes are multiple-choice and best for courses that are fact-based. They are an excellent way to do a quick check if the learners are understanding what you are teaching or to help them retain the knowledge. So you can add short list of questions in between your lectures to reinforce the learning and improve retention.
Learn more about creating a quiz.
Unlike quizzes, assignments are good for concepts that require deeper understanding or practice, where the learners need to practice their problem-solving skills or creativity. So try to replicate a real-life scenario in your assignment. You can include open-ended questions or case studies.
Learn more about creating assignments.
4.2.3 Practice test
Practice tests are longer and a more robust activity tool than quizzes. They are timed and graded only upon completion. Practice tests are useful if your course is intended to prepare learners for a final exam. So make it a realistic exam experience. Use similar question types, length, and requirement, as the real exam that the learners are preparing for (like the IGCSE, SPM, or certification exams).
You can also create practice-test-only courses. Such courses must have a minimum of two practice tests.
4.2.4 Coding exercise
Coding exercises are an interactive tool you can add to your programming courses, so your learners can get practical coding experience.
5. Set up your filming studio
Setting up your filming studio correctly is essential to helping your learners have good experiences with your courses. Learners need to be able to see and hear your video without distractions like buzzes, pops, or a shaky camera. The good news is that you don’t need a professional studio to create your course. This article teaches you how to set up your filming studio at home.
5.1 Before you start
Keep in mind that you’ll have different setups for different types of courses. For screencast videos of, say, coding, you’ll record your computer screen. For videos of you teaching directly, you can record yourself as a “talking head” or performing a task (cooking, doing yoga, etc.). You can also use editing software after you film to combine screencasts and footage of you talking.
5.2 Select your equipment
Camera and microphone: Try starting with the camera that you have in your computer, but avoid using the built-in microphone. Invest in a good-quality, hands-free microphone that’s stable, reduces background noise, and is small enough to be invisible in the video.
Screencast software: If your video is a screencast, then you’ll need screencasting software like Quicktime Player, Loom, OBS, Apowersoft, Camstudio, or Jing. Click here to learn more How to use screen recording to create online courses.
Make a Video in PowerPoint: You can create video using Microsoft PowerPoint with narration, annotations, animations, and timings. In this video, I show how to record a slide show, how to annotate slides and how to add your web cam.
Learn how to Record Screen using PowerPoint:
Video source – Kevin Stratvert (Youtube-How to Make a Video in PowerPoint – ppt to video)
Learn how to add more features that make learning more interactive and entertaining at Reference Toolkit Can Use to Create Your eLearning Courses
Lighting equipment: At first, try out natural light in your room. If it isn’t enough, then try adding lamps and lights that you have at home. If you’re still not getting enough light, we recommend a tree-point lighting kit.
They have a wide range of equipment, so feel free to Google and make the right choice.
5.3 Set up your audio
- It may sound obvious, but make sure your external microphone is plugged in correctly to your video recording equipment.
- Check the gain in your microphone settings. Gain determines loudness of the audio that comes into the microphone. If the gain is set too high, you might hear an electrical static sound in the recording.
- Check the audio output settings of your microphone. It should be set to stereo instead of mono.
- Speak loudly, clearly, and directly into the microphone. Do not speak too close or far away from the microphone. For best results, maintain a 6–12 inches (about 15–30 centimeters) distance from the microphone.
- Use a pop filter—a physical filter you can attach to your microphone—to avoid a popping sound in your recordings. Such sounds can cause unnatural spikes in your audio.
5.4 Camera’s recording and export setting
Make sure your camera is set to the the right recording and export settings:
- Aspect ratio: This is the proportion of width and height of a frame. The aspect ratio of your video needs to be be either 4:3 or 16:9.
- Video resolution: This represents the quality of the video, which is determined by the number of pixels (p) in the frame. Your video resolution must be 720p or higher. A high definition (HD) video has a resolution of 720p or higher.
5.5 Set up your filming environment
eLearn instructors typically use home studios to film their courses. Here, are some best practices for setting up a home studio.
- Studio room set-up. Dampen the recording room to help absorb any echo. You can add soundproofing acoustic panels to the room or use simple remedies like putting up blankets, cushions, and couches to avoid picking up any echo in your recordings.
- Background for screencasting. Maintain a clean background to avoid any distraction from the actual course content on the screen. Make sure your desktop and tabs are clean and free of non-course related content.
- Lighting for a “talking head” video. If you shoot indoors, sit by a window where the light hits you from the front or from the side and not from behind you. The main subject of your video should be clearly visible and well-lit. Avoid shadows in the background or on your face.
5.6 Frame your shots
Here are some tips regarding camera placement and movement:
- The subject should be in the middle of the shot, or on the sides, using the rule of thirds. The rule of thirds is a concept in which you separate a frame into nine equal parts by dividing it twice vertically and twice horizontally. Placing a subject along those lines or their intersections creates a more interesting visual.
- If you are creating a “talking head” video, don’t be too far away from the camera or too close. Don’t put the camera too high over your head or too far below your face. Imagine you are having a face-to-face conversation with your learners.
- Make sure your camera is steady. Use a tripod or put your camera on a steady surface. Don’t try and hold the camera yourself.
6. Create your first lecture
The introductory lecture is the most important part of your course. It’ll set the right tone and expectations for your learners. So it needs to be brief but impactful. Keep it within 2–4 minutes.
In the video, you’ll introduce yourself, and explain why you are the best person to be teaching this course. You’ll also set the right expectations, telling your learners what they’ll learn from your course and what they’ll be able to do by the end of your course.
This article will help you create a successful introductory lecture for your course. Whether you’re building a new course or updating an existing one, follow these instructions to inspire more learners to engage with your course.
6.1 Knowing & understanding what your learners want
If you’ve taken courses on eLearn, you can probably relate to some of the questions that the learners might have when they start your course. In your introductory lecture, try to answer most or all of the following questions for your learners.
6.1.1 Is this the right course for me?
As an instructor you need to reassure your learners that they’ve made the right choice by enrolling into your course. Describe the target learner you had in mind when creating your course. Ask yourself, what does this learner already know? What are they looking to learn? In your introductory lecture, address that primary target learner and tell them how to get the most out of your course. You can begin by saying: “I built this course for…”.
6.1.2 Is this course going to cover the right content?
Learners need to know how the topic you cover in your course is going to help them achieve their goals. Explain how the sections and lectures you’ve created will help your learners gain the knowledge and skills they are looking to acquire. Focus on what your learners will learn in the course and how that is relevant for them. State your course goals, describe where your course fits in your target learners’ larger goals, and give a brief overview or walkthrough of the curriculum to demonstrate the value that your course will create. for…”.
6.1.3 Is this the right instructor to learn from?
Learners need to know that they can trust you because you are their source of knowledge. Your introductory lecture is the best place for you to demonstrate that you understand your learners, their frustrations, and their aspirations. Connect with your learners by recalling what it was like to grapple with the concepts you’re now teaching, and that you know how to help them learn effectively. You don’t have to be too serious. It doesn’t hurt if you can make them laugh a little and just be relatable.
6.1.3 Is this going to be worth my time? Is it going to be fun or boring?
Online learning can feel isolating and monotonous. But it doesn’t have to. Inspire them, and they’ll be hooked. Share your passion and enthusiasm for the topic that you chose to create a course on. Remember, if you enjoy teaching, your learners are likely to enjoy learning. So have fun! And your learners will too.
6.2 Prepare your script
Since your course introductory lecture will be a video, we suggest writing a script first, rehearsing, and then presenting with enthusiasm in front of the camera. That way, you can time the video and make sure you cover all the questions above.
6.3 Record your video
There are several things you need to decide for the first video of your course. From whether you want to appear relaxed or energized and eager, to what background you should choose for your shot, will set the right tone for your course. Learn more about setting up your filming studio.
While we would want you to get it right the first time, we suggest you plan some time for re-making your introductory lecture video. As learners enroll for your course and view the introductory lecture, they might start giving feedback. Be open and look for learner feedback to improve the video, if needed.