Improve your online course

Spring is almost here and do you know what that means? It’s time to do some “spring cleaning” and improve your online course (s)! It’s easy to think that after a successful holiday and/or Udemy January sales run that there’s no need to improve your online course. After all, your course is selling right? (Or, perhaps it’s not?)

Why You Must Improve Your Online Course

The reality is that you can’t just create a course and sit back. New competitors are always looking at ways to improve upon your online course and are creating courses of their own! In addition, prospective students want to see that a course has been updated in recent months. Particularly if there is a lot of competition for your course, they will use this as one criteria.

Sales Funnel, Marketing, Plan, Funnel
Improving your sales funnel is one reason to improve your course now.

Finally, you want to keep your existing students engaged and subscribing to your future courses.  By improving your existing online course you are giving them something extra for nothing. This builds loyalty – remember the sales funnel?

In this article we’ve put together 8 important areas of online course creation and selling that we think you should revisit sometime soon for all of your courses. Think of it as a checklist.

8 Tips to Improve Your Online Course

Checklist, Check, List, Marker, Checked
Think of these 8 tips as a checklist to think through and for making notes on how to improve your course.

1. Incorporate Feedback

Over the course of many months if you have been engaging correctly with students you will have garnered feedback from them. Presumably, some of this feedback will – you guessed it – suggest ways to improve your online course!

If you haven’t already done so, go back through your emails from students, re-read reviews and even look at comments on social media or other places. Also, look at your competitors’ courses reviews to get ideas about what students like and don’t like.

Then make a list of input, suggestions, etc. and prioritize which ones you can execute in your course in a reasonable amount of time.

Another way to incorporate feedback into your course improvement process is to ask for input from other experts in your chosen topic field. In fact, you might even consider bringing in a subject matter expert as a partner to help improve your course and launch new ones. You see this often with successful course instructors on Udemy such as Phil Ebiner.

2. Review and improve course objectives

Look at your course objectives and targeted learning outcomes again. Are they clear? Is your online course lacking something important to achieving these course objectives?

Look back at your course objectives and identify where in the course that those objectives are addressed. Review your overall course design to make sure that it matches your stated learning outcomes. Maybe there’s a project, resource, quiz or example that could enhance learning outcomes and help students to better meet course objectives.

3. Create new content and update content

This is a no brainer for improving your course. New content shows that you are actively engaged in the materials that you are teaching. If your resources look outdated you will lose credibility.  If you’ve included references to dates or events or anything that could date your teaching, go back and update these. Additionally if you’ve been referencing any software or technologies throughout your course, these have likely evolved. Make sure your commentary and teaching about these is still relevant.

One of the easiest ways to create new content is to add learning resources throughout the course.  Create new checklists or downloads. Incorporate new videos.

4. Review your landing and sales page

Landing pages are sometimes an afterthought in the rush to launch a course. So now’s a good time to stop and think.

It’s always a good idea to think about your course title again. How similar is it to (new) competitors? Can you improve your online course’s title to convert more students, for example by making it less ambiguous? Does it accurately reflect the content that you ended up putting into your course?  Did you include your main SEO keyword? Does it reflect the most current year if it has a year in it’s title?

What about your course introduction? Does it contain keywords? Is it missing any key selling points? Is the language geared to convert students?

Part of your landing page is your course introductory video. Perhaps when you first did it you were feeling less confident or less experienced. Ask yourself, does the video give you credibility that you deserve now that you have sold a few courses? Is there anything you left out previously?  If you are going to improve or change the structure or content of your course, does the introductory video accurately reflect these improvements?

5. Review student outcomes

It’s a good time to review your analytics and look for areas of improvement.

What percent of students are doing the quizzes and finishing your course? What percent of students leave reviews and ratings? What are your ratings and what is the trend? How many competitors do you have now vs. when you started?  It’s critical to review these types of analytics so that you can decide what the best course of action is to improve them.

Also, look at what questions your students have been asking along the way. Does it indicate that something could be explained better or some videos eliminated in your course? Is there too much information in your modules?

6. Review your online course structure

Course structure is everything. If you’ve had any negative feedback, ask yourself if it’s due to poor course organization or structure. Are any lessons too long? Do you have enough microlearning opportunities?

Most importantly, assess if the course material flows and builds up to the learning objectives?  Even just one section that jumps around too much can negate the learning value of your course.

Look at the course navigation, too. Are topics that are similar near each other? Can you offer more links and shortcuts to related materials and lessons to improve course navigation?

Make sure that you have included learning objectives and outcomes at the beginning of each module. Then be sure to have a summary of what was learned at the end. These kinds of small improvement in your online course can make a big difference.

7. Improve Your Online Course Engagement Aspects

You should continuously strive to engage students through a variety of tactics.  We’ve written about some of them previously in our blog on best practices.  Engagement happens both inside of your course and outside of it.

Inside the course, engagement is driven by your presentation skills, assessments, projects and resources, even gamification techniques if you can build those in.  Having a really good module introduction or a course summary at the end can also enhance student engagement.

Externally, engagement involves your communication with students through Q&A, feedback and in social media forums or on your website, for example.  Email marketing and push notifications (educational messages on Udemy) about new courses, new content, discounts, surveys for feedback and so forth are also forms of engagement.

8. Evaluate

Image result for addie model

Traditional instructors use a 5 phase framework knowns as “ADDIE” to guide the design of their course. ADDIE stands for analyze, design, develop, implement and evaluate.  You’ve gone through the first four steps to get your online course launched.  Now’s the time for the last step, evaluate. 

Take a step back from your course.  Really evaluate the effort you’ve put into it and what the outcome is. Have you been successful? Why or why not? What can you do better or differently to improve your online course quality and income trajectory? Make notes and prioritize changes and ideas.

Remember too, to periodically look at the courses you are developing through the lens of best practices. Reflect on these and revise accordingly. Spring is the perfect time to do this!

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