If you want to create a successful online course, think strategically about handling the biggest hurdles.
Every online educator dreams of creating a course that helps earners fulfill their goals. However, taking a course idea and turning it into a thoughtful, engaging piece of online content can be more difficult than it looks. While the hard work is often worth it, going into the task unprepared can cause many new instructional designers feeling disheartened.
That’s why, before discouragement sets in, when your course idea still fills you with optimism, it’s a good idea to take a hard look at some likely future setbacks and create an action plan for how to tackle them when they arise. Knowing how to approach these problems proactively will keep you from being caught off guard, and will give you the steps you need to push forward without losing momentum.
Here are the top seven challenges instructional designers face when creating a new course.
1. Creating engaging content for learners.
Of course, the first and most complex challenge instructional designers face is creating a course that will appeal to their audiences. This is what the entire instructional design field is based on, after all. (If you don’t know where to start with instructional design, we recommend our blog roundup of some of our top posts from the past few years.)
The key to creating engaging content online is to remember that your learners will need to engage with it in different ways. There needs to be a reason for an online course to be the delivery method for your educational material—instead of a book or a video. Engagement can come through quizzes, community, or gamification (among other things), but that element of interactivity is essential for learners to come back for more content.
2. Accommodating the busy schedules of learners.
Online courses are different from in-person courses in that online courses don’t usually have an assigned time. (This is also known as “synchronous” vs. “asynchronous” learning.) For many learners, not having to show up at a physical location at an assigned time is the primary benefit. It gives them a chance to take courses according to whatever schedule is convenient for them.
But the lack of a schedule can also make it difficult for learners to dedicate the time they need to the course. They may be overly optimistic about what they can do, and may end up struggling to fit in a lesson between other tasks also demanding their attention. Finding ways to keep your content bite-sized will make it easier for learners to fit it in where they can, or binge if they have a solid block available.
3. Overcoming technical challenges among
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