So, how do you create a course outline? In this post, we’re going to talk about how to create a course outline, as well as how to organize your online course curriculum. Creating an outline and getting your online course curriculum organized will make creating your online course so much easier.
Choosing Your Tools
Personally I like to create my online course outline in Trello, but that doesn’t mean that you have to. You can use some post-its on the wall. You can use a platform like Miro that has whiteboard and brainstorming templates, or whatever works for you.
Here are some different tools that clients of mine love to use for this purpose.
- Google Sheets
- Directly in a Learning Management System
- On a whiteboard with Post-its.
The thing you want to consider is a balance between what allows your creative brain to flow best and, how easy it will be to get that list into a project manager and then into your LMS. It is not about where you create your course outline, but more about what goes into your outline.
Where To Start With Your Online Course Outline
So, to get started with organizing your online course, the first thing you need to know is your end goal. What do you want people to be able to do by the end of your online course? Without a goal in mind, you don’t have a focus to build toward. Think about this a lot before you put it down. The goal of your online course is not only crucial in creating an outline, it is crucial to market your online course.
I’m going to be using building a WordPress website for beginners as an example. The end goal for this course is your students are going to be able to build their own WordPress website. That is a simple and very desirable goal that a lot of people have.
Now that I have the end goal, I want to put where they’re going to start from. Are they going to start out as an absolute beginner? Do you want them to have the basics down, and you want to teach more advanced skills? For this example course, they are beginners. They know nothing.
Now granted, when you’re starting with an absolute beginner, you’re not going to want to teach them everything there is about building a website, you’re just going to teach them the basics of how to go from absolute beginner to having a website on WordPress.
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Filling In Your Online Course Outline
Once you have a beginning and an end, now you need to come up with what goes in between. This is where you are going to brainstorm and dump ideas. You can do this as a list or on a bunch of post-its. Whatever works best for you. The idea is to get everything out of your head. We will worry about putting these things in order later.
Think about all the things you would need to teach your ideal student to get from where they are starting to the goal at the end. As you are doing this, there are a lot of things that are going to pop up easily. Other things you will forget, but will be figured out later when we start putting things in order.
In the example of building a website on WordPress these are a few of the things I might include.
- Finding A Domain Name
- Getting Website Hosting
- How To Install WordPress
- Picking A Theme For Your Website
- How To Create Pages
- How To Create Posts
- How To Create Menus
And the list goes on. Just keep dumping everything you think about until you feel that you have it all.
Organizing Your Course Curriculum
Now that you have everything out of your brain where you can look at it, start rearranging things so that they will make sense. Not all online courses have a linear path. Some of them will be able to be more flexible. With the website building course, you would need to teach people how to get hosting before teaching them how to install WordPress. That is an easy choice to make in your outline.
What if the choice is not so apparent? There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to what order you teach some things. If you were teaching a course on social media marketing, it would not matter if you started with Twitter, Facebook or Pinterest. However, the first step in each one of those modules would be, ‘How To Set Up Your Account’ or ‘Who Is This Platform For?’
As you work your way through this process, you will notice things that need to be added for your students to reach the goal you set. Go ahead and add those as needed. We are not worried about the size of the course just yet. That is coming later in this process. Just go over your outline a couple of times, thinking through each lesson and what they may need to be able to move on to the next lesson.
Looking For A Little Extra Help?
There is a place where online course creators can go to get the help they need while working on their online course. We call it the Insider’s Community.
Paring Down Your Online Course
Congratulations. You now have a nightmare sized course that is going to take you a year to create. Your students are going to run in terror when they see the length of your online course. Let’s fix this, shall we?
If you thought coming up with all those steps was hard, paring down is just a little bit harder. Most online course creators want their potential students to see the value of the online course. A few years back, that would have meant loading your course down with a ton of extras. Times have changed. We live in a world of busy people and short attention spans. If you really want to give them value, you will want to find the shortest distance from where they are now, to reaching that goal.
Just like when the director of a movie creates this amazing 5-hour saga of a movie, the editor goes in with his scissors and cuts out everything that is not necessary to tell the story. You get to be an editor now and start chopping. If it is not needed, it does not go in your online course.
I can hear you over there waling about this great content getting cut. I do understand. It is amazing stuff. That amazing stuff has a place in all this. Set it aside for now. It can be used as bonus material, as a lead magnet for your course, for marketing materials and even as an upsell. Yes, that could go in the pro version of your online course.
Don’t Forget These In Your Online Course
Don’t forget the welcome section. The first thing you always want to start with in any course, is the welcome section. In the welcome section, you’re going to have a welcome video and a brief description of what your student needs to know before starting the course. You might want to have a course map, which is also called a syllabus. This is something that you can put in there as a visual aid. It’s a little PDF that they can download. You can do it in the form of a checklist, you can make a little fancy map, or anything that they can follow as they move through the course. This shows them where they are and where they are going next.
One thing that’s very important to do that a lot of online course creators forget to do is to put in a call to action at the end of your course. You may want to include bonus material at the end of your online course, but you definitely want to include a call to action. What do you want your students to do next? Do you have other products that would be a good fit for these students? Do you offer services or coaching that would help them even more? You want to let them know that if they need some extra help, where they can go to get it.
An online course can be a great marketing and sales tool that leads people to other services that you offer. So don’t forget to put that call to action in there. Students that are happy with your course will want to know what to purchase next.
If you are struggling to get your online course in order, consider getting on a call with me. I offer 1-on-1 consulting calls to answer your questions and help you get your online course launched.