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4: Online Course Design – A “How To” Guide

This is the fourth of 10 Steps to Building and Selling Your Courses Online.

Online course design begins with a basic outline of your course material. So, how exactly do you do this? It begins with a thorough understanding of the learning objectives you envision for students.

What would you like them to walk away with after they’ve taken your course? The best way to begin designing an effective course is to create an outline around your highest level objectives.

Determine the most important takeaways you want your students to have after completing your course. These objectives can help you define detailed learning points. It will also help you prepare for the necessary materials you will need in order to illustrate these points.

Based on these objectives, you should be able to build an outline for your course. Break your course up into logical sections, then use the detailed learning points to support each section of the course.

Decide on delivery format

Once you’ve designed your course outline, you’ll have to decide the best method of relaying this information to your students. You may consider:

  • DigitalChalk: 4: Online Course Design - A "How To" GuideStreaming video
  • Audio
  • SCORM (“Sharable Content Object Reference Model” that creates units of online training material which can be shared across systems)
  • Slides
  • Assignments
  • Tests

You should decide on your course media format type based on your students’ needs, course material availability, and budget. For example, if your students only need text to achieve the course objectives, they may not want to sit through long video lessons. Therefore, you may want to use PowerPoint slide presentations or text PDF documents.

Other courses may need video to help demonstrate “how to” objectives. Bear in mind that video lessons, only for the sake of video, could be expensive and time consuming to create.

“Talking heads” can be boring and may not be the best use of course presentation resources. Instead, you might consider synching various media types, such as PowerPoint slides and audio. This could be easier to produce and more effective for student viewing of lesson material.

Also, consider any compatibility issues with various media types such as smart phones. For example, lessons created with “Flash” software can be interesting, but are not available on many mobile devices. Selecting the course media that best meets your students’ needs and your budget is critical to your overall course success.

Script digital media

Scripting your course lessons is essential. Developing media content should take into consideration the shelf life of your course material. Video and audio are expensive to edit and maintain. Time sensitive information should be used in text content, but left out of video and audio.

Scripting your content can minimize course delivery time to students and reduce maintenance of course material over time. “Winging it” will produce mistakes, elongated lessons and unprofessional course content.

About DigitalChalk

DigitalChalk is your complete solution for creating and delivering your training online. No matter who you train, the DigitalChalk platform is a time-saving, efficient, learning management system (LMS) that lets you design and launch your courses, your way.

Want to learn more about the DigitalChalk online learning solution? Call us at 877-321-2451 (opt. 1) or to speak with a Solution Specialist. Or visit our website at