Have you been delivering face-to-face training and wanting to scale and selling the course online? Or are you about to sell online courses for the first time? If you are, you might be wondering where to start and how to sell your courses?
I've recently been helping a client to develop a course to sell on retail learning management platforms like Thinkific and Learnworlds. And I realised, technically, the steps are simple but can be overwhelming!
First thing first, you need to design and develop the product to sell, in this case, the course. And if you're a perfectionist and aim to design and develop an effective course, there are many aspects to consider.
The process and consideration in creating an online course ensure that the content is easy to understand, as relevant as possible, valuable to perform or solve challenges, achieve the business and learning goals, and applicable in their environment.
The overall pathway in creating an online course might look like this:
1. Write and develop the content
If you're the subject matter expert, choose the topic, write, develop and research the content material. If, you have raw content to work on from other resources, review and assess it to understand any technical information and the flow. If you are new to the topic, it is an excellent opportunity to have a fresh perspective and ask questions that might give you new insights into the content. If you don't have the raw content, this is where you need to write the content from scratch!
2. Analyse learner needs
Understanding the learner needs help you to determine the language to use, what information to include, what not to include, and the platform to use. The more you understand them, the more relevant and engaging your course for the learner. To create an engaging, relevant, helpful, and applicable learning experience for your learners, ask questions like:
Are the learner beginner or expert?
What are the main challenges that learners face?
What information do they need to be able to perform as you like them to be?
How might the content help solve their challenges?
What kind of environment the learner is in?
Do they have fast or slow internet to load heavy content?
If you can meet and talk with the learners, you might have better insights than just guessing their needs. Suppose you work with a subject matter expert (SME). In that case, this is an excellent phase to get their perspective on these questions and understand the topic a bit deeper. All these questions will help you determine the course outline, flow, and languages for the course.
3. Determine the evaluation method
Remember, the online courses are designed to help learner solve problems, increase knowledge, or improve skills. They are designed to achieve a particular goal that is set up by the business. You also want to engage them with a great learning experience to help them retain skills and information. At the beginning of the process, it is best to decide how you will measure the success. What does success look like for you? How would you measure success?
This is where you decide if you need to do surveys or other methods to compare the before and after a learner did a course. Do you want to have some actual data to see the real impact of behavioural change? All these depend on what your goal is and the resources and access you have to data analytics.
4. Create course outline
Create a document to develop a structure that help break down information into chunks and gives a better picture of the flow. The outline is also designed to map the learning objectives with the content and the format. This is where you can start getting creative with the instructional design approach. For example, you might want to integrate, such as; game-based, scenario-based learning, or micro-learning.
This is also a chance to review any gap between the content and learner needs. You have the power to craft an immersive learning experience here.
5. Consider accessibility
When developing a course, you might have to consider the accessibility aspect of it. Accessibility impacts the languages and visualdesign of the course. Your course might reach a global audience that English is not their native language; therefore, you may have to consider language accessibility. This could include using plain English writing or provide options to switch to different languages. When designing the user interface and having video and audio in your course, you need to consider colour and hearing-impaired people. Does the colour combination work for colour-impaired people? Do you need to provide a transcript for hearing-impaired people? Will the flashy imagery cause seizures to some people?
6. Script storyboards
Once the outline is determined, this is where you develop content in a storyboard format. You can use any tool to create this, but Microsoft Word or Google Docs are standard tools. The storyboard is where you expand and detail the languages and wording for the content. At this stage, it is a mix of content curation, writing, and research to get the content where you want it to be.
When the storyboard is completed, it’s always good to hire someone to proofread and quality assurance of the content. This is also a good phase to start developing tasks, assignments, or quizzes to help the learner practise and recall the knowledge and skills they've just learned.
7. Crafting visual design
You are ready to do some visual design once the content is all done. You might want to find some visual inspirations for user interface (UI) from Pinterest, Dribbble or Behance. I find it easier to decide on an overall look before designing all the screens. Pick a few screens with content that stand out and create the UI using Adobe XD, Sketch or Figma. This is where you determine where you place the logo, content, button,how do they look like?What colours should the background look like? The overall look and feel of the course. Consider the user experience at each element you design.
8. Develop the course
When all the screen designs are ready, jump into the authoring tool of your choice, like Storyline or Evolve, and start developing the course and making it live. This is where all the fun animation and interaction happening. The storyboard will be your guide in developing the elearning.Ensure you review and test all the functions. It would be good to hire somebody else to do the quality assurance for you.
Once your course is ready, you need to think about how to market and sell it. You might want to consider these aspects when you're prepared to sell the course:
1. Host the online courses
Big organisations or companies might already have their own enterprise Learning Management System (LMS) as they have many employees. So, their LMS would be the place where they host the course, and an LMS or platform specialist might support them to ensure smooth implementation. However, if you don’t have an LMS to host and sell your courses. In that case, this is an excellent opportunity to research available retail LMS out there. There are many affordable platforms you can subscribe to, such as Thinkific, Teachable, or Learnworlds. They offer different features, so you might need to compare and use one that fits your needs and budget. You can also consider marketplaces for online courses such as Udemy and Coursera.
2. Marketing and website
Your course is ready for learners to enrol! How are you going to get the learner to purchase your course? Like any other business, you need to set up a marketing strategy or a website to attract learners to purchase and enrol in your courses. Some of the retail LMS offer website integration. If you already have a website, you might only need to include the link to your courses on your site. As for marketing, many people now use social media such as Instagram, Facebook or LinkedIn Learning to market their courses. Explore and research the best way for you to promote the course.
3. Price your course
Once you determine where you will sell your courses, think about how you want to price your courses. The impression you make and the way you market your courses will impact how the courses attract learners. Consider any additional fee the learning management platform might charge you when pricing your courses. Do you perhaps offer a free introduction course as a teaser to the rest of the lesson? Do you charge high or low? Research the best pricing for your courses or compare it against what other people are selling in the market. Find guides like this document on how to price your online courses by Thinkific.
And that’s it! You are done.
If you think this is too much and intense, and you only want to worry about the business aspect, you can hire a learning experience designer or an instructional designer to help you.
Who is a learning experience designer and instructional designer?
A learning experience designer can help you with creating the online course processes above.
The learning experience design (LXD) is a process of creating a learning experience that focuses on the user experience (UX) whilst applying instructional design (ID) approaches that align with the learner's needs to achieve the desired outcome.
An instructional designer might have a similar role to a learning experience designer. Some resources may say that instructional design is a part of the Learning Experience design process. An instructional designer might have a more scientific approach to the process.