So, you want to publish an online course. Many have done it before you and many more will after you do. There is no need to reinvent the wheel; however, it is essential to understand what works online and what doesn’t.
The value of what we already know about curriculum development from decades of research is going to help you build the foundation for your online course. Before you start working on the curriculum, you need to know that there is an audience for your content. You need to know this for economic reasons as well as to help you understand what it is that your audience is looking for. After all, what is the point of all this work if it is not what people want?
Building a course for a small audience is fine, as long as you know this right at the beginning and set your expectations accordingly. My first online course is an example of a niche market course. I knew this when I started, and I designed the marketing efforts to zero in on that audience. That course brought and continues to bring in a decent income every month. With a relatively small amount of work upfront, you, too, will be able to understand your target audience better.
I recognize that a course’s success cannot be measured only against financial return on investment (ROI). If your goal is to teach some valuable skills or concept(s) to an audience for free, you still need to research the “market” and understand your audience to make sure you are the most effective in teaching. Success, after all is said and done, is for a teacher to help the student “learn” the material or develop the required skill set. So, to achieve educational success, we will be reviewing the standard curriculum development methodology, starting with the needs analysis.
You can no longer use the typical classroom teaching method for the Internet. Recording a day-long class and publishing that video online is not going to be successful. Just look on YouTube for videos where the teacher is lecturing in front of a whiteboard. On a standard video wide-shot, the trainer will be one inch tall at most on the viewer screen. The whiteboard would be barely readable, and often the audio is of poor quality. How long can you stand it? You need to do better if you want to stand out and succeed in the competitive world of online learning, you can no longer assume that on the Internet, “if you build it, they will come.”
So, if your goal is to teach, and you are willing to learn and work smart, let’s get started.