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How To Create Courses: Online Course Template

To design and create e-learning courses we need to approach the process thoughtfully to create an effective, easy-to-navigate learning environment. It’s not just about the content we teach, it’s how we present it.


In this article, we’re going to cover key steps and principles in effective e-learning delivery so you can begin the process of planning and developing elearning courses.


We'll also walk through an online course template and e learning examples to help create a compelling learning experience that captivates and educates your audience.


Dietitians are well-positioned to deliver evidenced-based nutrition education to the public and provide meaningful and effective learning experiences.


If you’d like to read more about the benefits of offering online courses and whether offering an online course is worth it for you and your business, check out Creating and Selling An Online Course: Are Online Courses Worth It?




 

Cover of our Online Course Outline Template free download

Inside you'll find a general template and an example outline for a 5 week course.

Hope it helps you move forward in your course creation journey.




 



How To Create An Online Course 





1 - Plan Your Course Outline


Person sitting at desk with laptop open, planning an online course outline.


The first step in developing your course is planning your course outline.


Consider what topics you want to cover, how in-depth you want to get with the information, how long you want the course to be, how much background information to share, the practical components to include, and define the course objectives.


At this stage you’ll also want to make sure you have a clear picture of your target audience, understand the needs of your audience, and clarify the learning outcomes.




2 - Design the Learning Environment


Person sketching and planning user experience pathway for e learning environment


The next stage is choosing the right platform to host the course.


Use the features available on the platform to set up a user-friendly and visually appealing course interface.


Implement intuitive navigation and clear organization of course materials. Take time to preview the interface from the student view so you can view the course materials from the student’s perspective.


Some popular online course hosting platforms include: Teachable, Thinkific, Kajabi, Wordpress, Udemy, Learnworlds, or Skillshare. There are dozens of options available with different price points and features.


Check out a few and pick the one that works best for your specific course needs. Let us know in the comments if you’d like to see a breakdown of the features of different course hosting platforms in the future. 




3 - Consider Instructional Design Techniques


Person demonstrating cooking and baking.


When creating your instructional materials, such as videos and written materials, think about the most effective way to teach a topic.


For example, do you feel it would be more effective to…

 

Create a talking-head style video where you educate on the macronutrients of a food item pictured and explain its impact on blood sugar using graphics and how to balance this meal with a list of other foods.


OR…


Create a video where you demonstrate cooking a balanced meal in your kitchen and talking about the macronutrients of each food item, explain its impact on blood sugar, and show optimal food pairings.


What do you think?


The most effective way to share this information may be to do both. Often times people need to hear things more than once and see it presented in different ways.


Designing a learning environment that presents information in multiple ways will be most effective.


Incorporate interactive elements like videos, quizzes, and assignments where you see fit. Look at your course through the lens of a student to ensure your content is easy to follow, and well-designed.




4. Plan for Accessibility and Inclusivity


Person highlighting text on an e-reader device using a stylus


It’s much easier to plan for accessibility from the start than it is to correct it after the fact. By ensuring your course accommodates various learning styles and by designing with inclusivity in mind, you’ll save yourself a ton of time and headaches later if you take a few moments to plan ahead.


For example, if you are a fast-talker, practice and make sure your recordings and videos are spoken at a reasonable pace for your audience to keep up.


You don’t want to film the whole course, launch it only to hear feedback that it’s much too fast and then have to make the decision on whether to re-film the whole thing or not.


Another example to consider is when you’re setting up any slides or adding text to your videos, make sure there is enough contrast between the text and the background. 


Preview your course on a phone as well as a computer to ensure the text is adequate size on multiple devices.


Incorporate other accessibility features like alt text for images, closed captions for videos, and accessible document formats.


Again, it will be wasted time having to go back and fix these things later. Plan for accessibility from the get-go.




5. Assessment and Feedback


Person sitting at home on couch with laptop open and papers on table taking online assessment for online course


Consider including assessments and feedback that align with your course objectives. 


Consider what opportunities you could create for learners to apply what they’re learning and demonstrate it back to you or their peers.


Use these opportunities to provide prompt and constructive feedback to engage learners and enhance their learning experience.




6. Engaging Communication and Support


Close up image of a keyboard


Establish a clear communication plan for interacting with course students. 


Where should they direct their questions? 


Will you hold live office hours? 


Will you engage with them in a private community group? 


Will you offer individual, private feedback?


Consider your time and build a realistic support plan so you can respond to participant queries and concerns in a timely manner without overwhelming yourself. Make sure to communicate your plan so students have a clear expectation on response time and method.




Online Course Template: E Learning Examples


Mindmap outline with markers and sticky notes on wall for an online course template


Now let’s look at a general course outline for a 5 week course and apply what we learned here. You can also access a pdf of this online course outline template and e learning example outline here.


  • Introduction to the Course

    • Welcome + course overview

    • Course expectations and learning objectives

    • Introduce yourself and your background

  • Module 1: Background On Course Topic and Course Overview

    • Cover background information on the course topic and subtopics

    • Provide an overview of what students will learn

    • Explain the layout and organization of the content

  • Module 2: Key Subtopic #1

    • Dive into subtopic 1

    • Present key information and principles

    • Provide practical examples where students may use this information

  • Module 3: Key Subtopic #2

    • Dive into subtopic 2

    • Present key information and principles

    • Provide practical examples where students may use this information

  • Module 4: Practical Applications

    • Translate their knew knowledge into practical skills

    • Provide additional real-world examples 

    • Incorporate interactive assessments and activities

    • Provide feedback on submissions

  • Module 5: Recap, Review, and Resources

    • Summarize learning objectives and learning journey from the course

    • Assess understanding with final assessment

    • Provide resources for continued learning or ways to work with you again

    • Encourage feedback and testimonials for course improvement




Wrap-Up: How To Create An Online Course


Developing e-learning courses requires a quite a bit of strategy and and thoughtfulness to create an effective learning experience.


It goes beyond the content itself, and involves the presentation and application of what students learn. 


As you dive into creating your first or next online course, we encourage you to explore our online course template and outline your course using the tips we covered here so you can make an even bigger impact on your current and future students.



Need ideas for courses to offer? Check out Online Courses For Adults: 5 Online Course Ideas For Dietitians to get some ideas for courses designed for the public or Online Course Ideas: Dietitians Teaching Dietitians to get some ideas for courses designed for dietitians.



Ready to dive into creating your course, but need some guidance along the way, check out Online Course Blueprint (**affiliate link**). This self-paced program is specifically designed for health and wellness practitioners and offers a step-by-step process to not only create your course, but to market and sell it as well.



 

Cover of our Online Course Outline Template free download

And don’t forget to download our Online Course Template.



Inside you'll find a general template and an example outline for a 5 week course.

Hope it helps you move forward in your course creation journey!


 

About the Author


Sara Kerr, RDN, LD

Sara is a Registered and Licensed Dietitian, artist, writer, and video editor. She holds a Bachelor's of Science degree in Nutrition from Oregon State University. In 2021 she founded The Kerrminator LLC, which specializes in creative services including video editing, graphic design, and content creation.


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