eLearning Strategies

5 Best Practices for Optimizing Your Online Course Structure

6 min
5 Best Practices for Optimizing the Structure of Your Online Course

Crafting a great online course structure is like putting together a sandwich – an analogy that might seem unconventional at first, but stay with me; this analogy packs a flavorful punch!

Imagine your course content as the delicious filling, rich in flavor and substance. Now, think of the course structure as the bread that holds it all together.

Just as a limp, soggy piece of bread can ruin the most delicious ingredients, If you toss everything haphazardly, you might end up with a poorly structured online course that leaves learners feeling like they’ve bitten into a virtual indigestible mayhem sandwich.

However, if you follow the right course creation recipe, your online course can become the succulent, well-structured sandwich of learning, with each layer enhancing the overall experience, much like a perfectly assembled gourmet sandwich.

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So, to create an online course structure that’s more scrumptious than a perfectly toasted slice of bread, we’ll reveal 5 best practices for structuring your online course that can turn your online education offerings into the kind of experience learners will savor, even asking for seconds!

And you know what’s even better? These best practices are universally applicable, spanning across various industries and online businesses, so online learning couldn’t be an exemption.

Whether you’re an entrepreneur developing online courses to educate your workforce, clients, or stakeholders, or you’re an individual, whether a first-time or a seasoned course creator, passionate about sharing your knowledge, these guidelines hold true for everyone.

5 Best Practices To Optimize Your Online Course Structure

We’ve researched and analyzed dozens of educational sources and consulted with course design experts to distill the most effective strategies for crafting an exceptional online course structure. Just as in life, efficiency is paramount.

Let’s dive right in!

1. Use learner-centered language

Incorporate learner-centric language into the structure and content of your online course syllabus to enhance the overall learning experience for your students.

By prioritizing the use of learner-centered language, you can create more engaging and inclusive course materials and a learning environment that caters to the diverse needs and preferences of your students.

A learner-centered approach in your syllabus means framing course objectives, expectations, and instructions with a focus on the student’s perspective. This involves using language that emphasizes their active role in the learning process, encourages their autonomy, and aligns with their motivations and goals.

💡 Here’s how you can practically implement learner-centered language in your online course syllabus:

Course objectives

Instead of simply listing what the course will cover, express the learning outcomes and learning objectives. in a way that highlights the benefits and relevance to the students.Start with clear What do you want your students to be able to do by the end of the course?

💁 For example, you can frame an objective like “By the end of this training course, learners will be able to critically analyze complex issues” as “By the end of this online course, you will be able to craft a podcast series about social media marketing for course creators.”

Expectations

When outlining expectations, use language that emphasizes the role of students in meeting those expectations.

💁 For instance, rather than saying, “Assignments must be submitted on time,” you can phrase it as “Your commitment to submitting assignments on time is crucial to your success in this high-level training.”

Assessment

Describe the assessment methods and criteria with clarity, and convey how these assessments will benefit the learners. Use a variety of assessment methods (e.g., quizzes, tests, essays, and projects). This will help you to measure student learning and progress.

💁 For example, “Graded discussions will help you enhance your communication skills and boost your in-depth understanding of course concepts.”

Feedback

Highlight the value of feedback as an opportunity for growth and improvement.

💁 For example, instead of saying, “Feedback will be provided on assignments,” you can state, “We will provide constructive real-time feedback on your assignments to support your learning and progress.”

Resources

Provide a comprehensive list of e-learning resources, making it clear how each resource can aid students in their learning journey. This type of content might include textbooks, articles, videos, or other materials.

Communication

Encourage active student engagement and communication between learners and instructors. Use language that fosters a collaborative and supportive learning community.

Accommodations

Be inclusive by including a section on accommodations for learners with specific needs. Show your commitment to creating an equitable learning environment.

2. Start with a welcome module

The “welcome module” is the first thing your online students will come across in your course. It’s like the course’s introduction, and it helps your learners understand what the course is all about.

💁 For example, you can include a learning activity that summarizes the following: “In this module, you’ll get a sneak peek of the course outline (that’s the syllabus), and there’s also a cool activity to get you thinking in a positive way.”

The purpose of this welcome module is not just to say ‘hi’ but to get your learners excited and ready for the course. It presents them with the course’s main topic and subtopics, the course idea, the end goal, what they’ll learn, and why it’s worth their time.

Plus, it breaks down how the course will work, like when assignments are due and how they’ll be graded.

Besides, you can think of the “welcome module” as a way to kick things off positively and build a sense of community with your online students and the instructor.

3. Set a clear course duration

The duration of your course is a fundamental consideration and you have to make it crystal clear right from the start when structuring your course outline. It plays a pivotal role in ensuring an effective learning experience.

To maximize engagement and comprehension, it’s essential to structure your course in a way that delivers content in easily digestible chunks.

One key guideline for setting the course duration is to arrange your modules into concise segments, each lasting no longer than 30 minutes. This approach aligns your content delivery with the typical attention spans of your learners.

By following this rule, you set clear and achievable expectations for your audience about the specific amount of time they will need to reserve for their learning. Also, you are making it easier for them to focus on the learning process, and grasp and retain the content, no matter the subject matter or the learning style you will use.

4. Create personalized learning paths

Crafting customized learning paths and seamlessly integrating them into your online course isn’t just about education; it’s about creating meaningful connections with your learners and turning the learning journey into an exciting and enjoyable exploration.

By masterfully designing these personalized pathways, you’ll empower your learners to embark on their unique learning quests with enthusiasm and purpose.

Think of your online course as a thrilling adventure map rather than a standard textbook. A well-structured course isn’t just about imparting knowledge; it’s like designing a captivating video game, complete with engaging quests and secret treasures.

When you create personalized learning paths, you’re essentially building a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure story where each learner is the hero!

Your learners, like intrepid explorers, come with their own interests, preferences, and abilities. With personalized learning paths, you give them the superpower to navigate through the course like a true hero, picking the challenges they’re most excited about and the skills they want to acquire.

It’s like being the captain of their educational ship, steering through the exciting waters of knowledge!

To make it even more fun, think of adding to your online course structure strategies like unlocking achievements and earning badges. Offer ‘side quests’ or bonus content for those who want an extra challenge, like hidden bonus levels in a game.

And, of course, keep communication crystal clear and as friendly as a user-friendly video game interface. Provide them with a roadmap that guides them to their personalized learning journey, and explain the rewards of customization – better learning outcomes and a more enjoyable learning adventure.

💡 Watch our on-demand webinar and discover how to transform your online teaching and online course creation with learning-centered microflows tailored to your audience’s needs.

Employ a learning management system (LMS) to streamline course organization and delivery. LMS features like online forums, assignment submission, and grade tracking enhance the overall learning experience.

5. Create a consistent design and course layout

Consistency in your overall course design and your online course’s structure is crucial to improving the overall learning experience.

When your lesson plan maintains a concise structure, it’s easier for learners to follow and understand the course topic’s material. This not only makes learning more enjoyable but also increases engagement and retention.

To achieve this, start by creating a style guide at the beginning of your eLearning development process. This step-by-step guide should include all the visual elements you plan to use, like colors, buttons, icons, images, and typography. It sets the visual tone for your course, ensuring a cohesive look and feel.

However, it’s important to stay open to changes as you develop the course. If you find that certain visual elements aren’t working as well as you expected, don’t hesitate to make adjustments. Just make sure these changes align with your established style guide.

Consistently refer back to your style guide during the development process. This ensures that each part of your course maintains a consistent and cohesive look. It not only saves you time but also provides learners with a smooth and enjoyable learning experience.

Maintain a uniform design and layout throughout your course. Clear headings, subheadings, and bullet points, along with multimedia content, enhance the visual appeal and ease of navigation.

Cook Up an Unforgettable Online Course Experience!

Crafting an online course is like cooking up a flavorful sandwich – and in this blog post, we’ve just presented you with a recipe for an unforgettable educational feast.

From using engaging learner-centered language to setting clear course durations, each tip adds a dash of excitement.

The welcome module is the appetizer, and personalized learning paths turn your course into a thrilling adventure, with achievements and bonus content as the cherry on top. Consistent design is the secret seasoning, ensuring your course is a delightful blend of flavors and experiences.

So, gear up, follow the recipe, and serve an online course that leaves learners craving more.

Don’t forget your trusty sidekick, the learning management system (LMS), to streamline the experience𑁋leverage LearnWorlds 30-day free trial for an extra boost!

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Rosemary is LearnWorlds’ Content Marketing Manager. She has over 2 decades of experience in omnichannel marketing and content writing for the IT and SaaS industry. Her expertise lies in crafting effective content marketing strategies that attract, engage, and nurture customers, enabling LearnWorlds to reach its target audiences with precision.