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Course Structure

There are a couple of options to consider for how to structure your course.

  • One-time
  • Modules & Lessons


Here is an example of a "one-time"...

You recorded a live presentation you gave at a conference, and you take that one recording and upload it as a course.

These are generally the least attractive and effective because it is obvious that the online student is not your primary audience. They are more like a fly on the wall, and so they feel less connected to your presentation.

However, it is better than not having a course at all. At least you can still share the information. 

These may be good to offer for free as a way to share the information and expose people to your personality and style of presenting (making them more interested in your future course/events).

Modules & Lessons

It is highly recommended to organize your course into modules and lessons. This is a much more digestible format for people, especially with the on-the-go lifestyle many of us live these days. 

Being knowledgeable in your topic means it should be fairly obvious which talking points can be grouped into modules.

Lessons should be relatively short, as to not give too much information at once. Try to keep each lesson to less than 5 to 7 minutes and just 1 or 2 key takeaways.

You can use this template on Google Drive to create your course outline.
ADL Course Outline Worksheet

NOTE: once the template opens, go to File > "Make a Copy" to save it to your Google Drive so you can edit it.


For both the One & Done and the Modules & Lessons, the length is something to consider. 

Typically, a One & Done is much longer and thus requires a much larger commitment from the student (which isn't usually desirable). It also can overwhelm them with too much information, which leads them to not applying what they learn and thus feeling frustrated rather than empowered by your course.

For Modules & Lessons, it is generally recommended to make the individual lessons "bite-sized" (around 5 minutes). This has multiple positive side effects...

  • The student can easily stop and continue the course, as needed, with clear stopping points when they have reached their capacity for how much information they can take in (on-demand style).
  • By completing lessons faster, students feel forward momentum and are much more likely to actually complete the course (roughly 80% of people who sign up for a course never actually finish it).
  • This positive perception encourages them and may actually make them more likely to take future courses.

Key Takeaway
Organize you course into modules and lessons whenever possible.

A version of the Course Outline Template for Microsoft Word, in case you prefer that format.

Last updated 29 Jul 2020.


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