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Things to consider before building an online course

I have seen so many people dive into building an online course and they are quite resource heavy; it takes you quite a while to build said course and create it.

So, if you haven’t kind of considered what you’re going to create you end up creating something that is boring or just sits on a shelf doesn’t get sold, people don’t really want it and you’ve spent all this time creating this fabulous, wonderful content that nobody really sees or gets help from.

I don’t want you to do that. In this video/article I’m going to talk about the things to consider before you decide that you’re going to build an online course and I’m going to share with you my process that I used for years.

My expertise in online course creation

Previous to being a therapist I was a learning and development consultant for over 10 years. I worked in corporate multinational companies creating training and development and all sorts of e-learning.

I’m going to share with you in this video/article the process that we went through before we created any kind of resource or content or training and I’m hoping that by sharing that with you then you can implement that process into your own business to ensure that you’ve considered these things before you decide that you’re going  to create an online course.

Why this is important for online course creation

Why should you care, why should you bother? Well it:

  • save you a lot of time, so you don’t end up spending hours and hours and hours creating courses that people don’t want.
  • help you to make your course more interesting, more creative, something that excites you and excites the audience rather than this whole, bungle your knowledge into one course kind of stuff which I see so much of.
  • make sure that the course you create is actually useful to the people who are consuming it, it’s delivered in a way that is answering the issue or the problem, in a way that they want to engage with it.

This will increase the likelihood that you will actually make money from your creations.

So, let’s get into it, let’s get started.

Step 1: Training Need Analysis

The first thing that we do is we do a training needs analysis.

In the corporate company I worked with there was a request, so somebody would say, ‘we want training on this’ and the first thing I would do is a training needs analysis. I’d go and I’d ask questions such as:

  • what is it that they are finding challenging?
  • what can they not do?
  • what’s stopping them from doing whatever it is that you want them to do?
  • what have they trained in before, what content solutions have they already consumed?
  • why didn’t they work etc.

The reason for this is because so many times we’d come away from our analysis and realise that the training need was actually different.

The thing that the people needed and wanted was different from the original request and if we had gone ahead and delivered what was  originally requested it wouldn’t have worked and it wouldn’t have been effective because that’s not actually what the problem was.

This is also true in our businesses, you don’t know what it is that people are actually struggling with until you ask them, so the first thing that you need to do is you need to do some analysis. You need to look at:

  • what’s already available
  • what is it that people are struggling with
  • what is it that’s stopping them and preventing them from taking whatever step it is
  • what is their biggest issue or their biggest solution

All of these kinds of questions can help you to  identify what the actual need is and what is it that they’re actually really struggling with and often we were quite surprised that the answer to that was different from the answer that we thought it was originally so do some good analysis.

Step 2: Get creative with your online course solutions

Then we would take that analysis and we would go back, and we would start thinking, ‘okay what kinds of solutions are we going to create’ and for this bit we want to stay in creative mode.

Your brain has two different sides, it has a logic sensible structured side and it has a playful creative and imaginative side. Very often people go straight into the logical elements when they’re building a solution or a course or product or whatever it is.

They go straight into okay well I need an introduction and then I need this bit and then I need that bit and they go straight into logical, they go straight into the structure.

You have jumped a whole section of the process!! Allowing space for creativity, for imagination, for your ideas. Sometimes within the corporate world we would get a few colleagues together go into a meeting room and be like, okay this is the thing somebody’s struggling with and we would literally just bang loads and loads and loads of ideas down.

Start getting those creative juices flowing. We were using coloured pens we were using flip chart, post-it notes, really enhancing that part of your brain, the part that is lovely and creative, to come up with loads and loads and loads of different ideas and different ways of doing things.

Then after that we would narrow those down to the best ideas or the best structure or something that really got us interested and excited about what we were going to do.

The result of that process meant that we just kept coming up with interesting, intriguing, exciting ways to get the idea and the learning across. Every single thing that we did had a different flair, a different flavour, a different idea, a different approach, a different voice and that means that the engagement is going to be so much higher.

So, make sure that after you’ve done your analysis, you don’t go straight into structure, you stay in creative, imaginative, play. Get loads and loads of colours and all sorts of things involved and then start whittling it down.

Step 3: Deciding on the structure and strategy

The next part is then, ‘what do I need in order to create that solution?’ So, I would start  looking at what kind of technology do I need, do I already have that technology and is there something completely new I need, you might need something else.

Flesh that out, do you need loads of videos, do you need word documents, do you have the ability to create these things, and do you have the technology that can support and deliver that, or is that something that you’re going to have to find and create?

Only then do we then go into what is the structure going to be, e.g. I’m going to start off with module one, I’m going to start off with this particular video, I’m going to make sure that this is in module one that’s in module two whatever it is.

This 3 step process allows you to make sure that what you are creating fits your audience and is exactly what they need. You might find out that they want and would really benefit from six bite-sized pieces rather than everything being together in one solution for example. You’ll know that it fits your audience, you know that it’s really exciting, intriguing, creative, fun, all these kinds of things and you know then what technology that you need.

Online Course Creation Mistakes

So many people ask me about things like pricing, marketing and all of these kinds of things and I say, ‘what have you considered before we’ve got to this point?’ The answer is usually, well I’ve just had this idea.

Please don’t do that, it leads to very boring content it leads to content that sits on the shelf and doesn’t get used or seen, and it ends up with you spending a hell of a lot of time creating a lot of stuff that you really didn’t need to create.

So, training needs analysis, do some analysis first, stay in the creative allow that, encourage your imagination, your creativity. If you don’t have those elements within you, I know some people are just not that way inclined, get some people together who are and then work out what you need to make this happen, what do you have already and then you can get into, what’s the structure of this and how it’s going to look.

I hope that’s helped sharing with you a little bit of the process that I’ve used for many years, with corporate training and I’ve used it ever since in terms of building my own online pieces. So yes I can absolutely vouch that it works.

Take that away and have a look at what you’re doing currently and implement that process and those are the fantastic things to consider making sure that you are building a fantastic online course creations.

Zoe