Imagine that you're in the midst of creating your online course and you're thinking about what should I include, what not to include, what content would be most helpful to my students? What would be most relevant? What would they benefit the most from hearing about or learning about?
Why do you want to do that?
As conscious course creators, we want to create content that makes a difference in someone's life and that we can be proud of.
It's important as people go through your course content that they keep progressing, that they have momentum and they keep moving forward. Part of that has to do with the content that's being delivered to them. How is that content being delivered? How is the content being consumed?
The more engaged they are with the content. The more that they will continue. The more that they continue, the more they'll get the results that your course promises.
And when they get results. What do you have? You have happy students, great feedback, and testimonials. You’ve just created brand ambassadors. Isn’t that what we all want?
So how exactly do you do that? There are things I want you to consider as you create your content.
Mix Up Learning Styles
People have different learning styles so it's important that you have a mix of learning styles in your course. According to Vanderbilt University, there are actually 70 different learning styles. We're going to focus on the four most popular and it's through this model that's called VARK. It's a model that I've used for years in creating course content and this is the way it works.
V - Visual Learners
You have learners in your course that are visual learners, meaning they like to see images, graphics, they like things represented in a visual way. Most course creators focus primarily on this when they're creating courses.
What will my content look like? What will my PowerPoint look like, my workbook? What are all of the visual elements?
A - Auditory Learners
Think about Audible, it’s popular today because people like audiobooks podcasts. People like to consume information while they multitask. They can listen to audio as they work out at the gym or cook dinner at the same time. This is really appealing to some students.
R - Reading/Writing Learners
There are some people that will be in your course that prefer reading text, they want to read the information. They like the written word, so documents that have your content where let's say they can download a transcript would appeal to this group.
K - Kinesthetic Learners
Kinesthetic has to do with more of the physical aspects of learning. Now you may be thinking that your course is not actually physical, but what I mean in more practical terms is how do they apply what they're learning? What actions can they take? What are they doing in terms of taking the information that you've given them? Maybe it’s working out a problem in a workbook, or they're in a breakout room with some other people that are part of the learning community. Maybe they're discussing and brainstorming solutions. Being able to apply in a practical sense what they've learned in your is important.
Show Versus Tell
How can you make the content come to life? Instead of telling try showing – show versus tell. Many times, when we think about learning, we think about a lecture with the professor that gets up in front of the school and they're lecturing for two, three hours. Not today! Today's modern learners demand more of an active learning role when they’re not just listening to someone. That’s passive learning.
How can you 'show' instead of 'tell' in your content?
You can illustrate your learning through stories. One of the courses I created several years ago had to do with financial advisors. The company that I was creating the course for, they were onboarding new financial advisors. One of the things that we decided to do in the learning design was to put them in a real-life scenario. We called it a ‘day in the life’ of the financial advisor, so throughout this training course it was as if that was their typical day.
We worked with actual financial advisors to make it authentic to what they would actually experience in their day. We asked…when a financial advisor comes in first thing in the morning, what happens? Looking at email, maybe get coffee, looking at the trades from yesterday, etc.
We really got into what does the day in the life of this financial investor look like and put those types of scenarios into the learning so that it wasn't just us telling you do A, B, and C but we were showing it by illustrating through the context of what their daily working life would actually look like. Now that may not always be the case for the course or training that you do, but open your mind, be creative, brainstorm ways that you can actually either give scenarios or show more versus tell even illustrating stories about what you teach, how it helped you, how it helped one of your clients, how you've applied it to your life or your business depending on your topic.
Remember, when they love it, they consume it, they engage with it, and they get all of the goodness that your efforts have put forth.
One more final consideration is to create content in digestible chunks. In today's world, most of us have very short attention spans. Somebody told me we actually have the attention span of a goldfish, which is less than eight seconds. Think about it. We have social media distractions - Facebook, Instagram, Tik Tok, you name it.
How do you keep someone focused and engaged on the content in your course?
You give them bite-sized learning to ensure the content is more consumable, more digestible. For the average person, and when I say bite-size, ideally I'm talking five to seven minutes, no more than 10 minutes when you break up your content in digestible chunks like that.
As a result, it helps people to see their progress, and we love instant gratification.
We get that instant gratification in seven minutes when we’re able to accomplish something, and then we can see our progress in that course. We've got a checkmark that says, ‘Hey, you got this taken care of, you check this off the list’ Then we're ready to move to the next step. So, it gives us that ongoing momentum to keep continuing through each lesson. This is one of the reasons why bite-sized learning is so powerful.
Also, it helps to create space in your learning. There has to be space between taking in information and then integrating that new knowledge to allow an opportunity to apply what they've learned.
By adding these key elements to your online course, you can truly create something amazing for you and your students.