5 Trending Tips for Teaching Online Courses
Teaching an online course, even for someone with a background in teaching or training, is not for the faint of heart. It’s a big undertaking involving knowledge and preparation that goes beyond what’s required to provide in-person training.
However, online courses are powerful tools that you can’t afford to overlook as a trainer. They’re being used these days for almost any training scenario you can think of — from corporate training to niche industry training. Online learning is a trend that’s not going away.
So, how do you create and teach online courses that will truly help your clients? We’ve compiled 5 trending tips for teaching online courses to help you provide real value through an online learning platform.
Teach Courses Online Tip #1: Know Your Training Platform or Learning Management System
Teaching a typical, in-person course or providing in-person training takes a lot of preparation — more than most people think. Teaching a course online requires even more preparation that’s specific to delivering the training through an online learning platform. Here are a few things you’ll need to do to teach an online course:
To effectively teach your course online, you’ll need to understand and choose the best-fit training technology you’ll use to interact with learners and present your program materials.
We’ve broken this down into a few key areas you’ll want to pay attention to when choosing the best-fit training software for you and your team:
1. Does the LMS offer flexible training delivery formats for diverse learners?
If your training technology is like Profi, you’ll be able to offer synchronous, or live one-on-one or group training, as well as asynchronous training in a variety of formats that benefit all types of learners, including:
- Visual learners (for example, embed quick videos into your lesson modules or Google or Canva presentations)
- Auditory learners (for example, embed video or audio/podcasts from your own Profi.io blog into lessons)
- Kinesthetic learners (show them how in a video, illustrated animated slide deck created in Google slides or Canva and embedded into your learning modules)
- Reading/writing learners (embed printable PDF versions of modules, checklists, or handwritten questionnaires in addition to Profi’s built-in follow-up questions feature)
- Hybrid learners who benefit from multiple mediums (incorporate some of the blended online learning strategies we cover in-depth in this article)
Want all the tools and resources we’ve shared in our essential guide so you can improve your learner experience design skills and get to designing? Download our learner experience design planner to cover the foundations and level up your learner design.
What about multisensory learners who may have trouble learning in the more common styles listed above? These learners may need teaching in the following sensory-conscious ways:
- Tactile teaching
- Sequential teaching
- Simultaneous teaching instruction
- Reflective/logical teaching
- Interactive teaching
- Indirect or direct experience teaching
- Rhythmic/melodic teaching, also known as musical teaching
Creatively combining asynchronous and synchronous lesson modules personalized to your client's learning style is one of the reasons online learning is so powerful — it reaches people when and where they are at.
With a platform like Profi, you’ll be able to create courses with dripped visual content you define, interactive or group video lessons, chat, and community cohort discussions (for Corporate and Network plan users).
2. Is the training software automatable?
Creating and teaching online courses can be time-consuming. So, be sure the training software you choose has some automation features that help you deliver your course content modules at pre-specified dates and times or based on your specific training program requirements.
Profi Tip: How much can you automate at a program settings and module settings level? Watch an overview of what you can automate in your course modules and program inside Profi.
Profi Tip: Can you automate course embedded forms, check-ins, and questionnaires? Watch an overview of where you can automate forms inside Profi.
3. Does it track learner engagement or behavior?
Another huge advantage of teaching courses online is that your virtual training platform should allow you to track the activities of learners, so you can see how they’re learning and using the materials. This is where you benefit from the learning as you create more future courses and improve them over time.
How do you track learner engagement in a learning management system like Profi.io?
- Export client follow-up responses to question modules in your program so you can work with your client’s direct module feedback in any tools you use outside of Profi: like a spreadsheet, analysis, or visualization tool.
- Give your client cohorts early access to introductory or orientation modules for free as soon as they’ve enrolled in your course or program and compare access by enrollment.
- As a Profi Corporate and Network plan administrator, view course Program reports across 13 data points, including learner completion rate and total revenue, and export your Program, Session, and Transaction reports as a CSV to analyze yourself or visualize to stakeholders or leadership to report on ROI.
3. Make sure you have a support system!
Lastly, before you invest in a training platform, be sure that the solution comes with robust tech support. And test it out during a free trial period. Pay attention to the speed and quality of training software support you receive. The team behind the product should be able to quickly and easily answer your questions and fix any issues you’re having so you can get back to teaching your course and helping your clients reach their potential. If they can’t, move on.
4. Can you create thoughtful, intuitive, bite-sized lessons?
As you start to create your course lessons, it’s important to keep in mind how people learn and retain information. Lessons should be purposeful and intuitive for learners to follow. And they should be offered in small, easy-to-consume modules.
Offering bite-sized, modularized lessons that are only about five to seven minutes long when the student needs the information is called microlearning. It’s a big trend in business training for good reason. The advantages to microlearning are numerous, including better retention and better engagement — and it’s backed by research.
Microlearning is based on Harvard psychologist George Miller’s concept of chunking. Miller discovered that the human brain can only retain between five and nine bits of information in working memory, and that information needs to be processed and put into long-term memory or it will not be retained.
As you create video lessons or plan your live training sessions, remember to keep them focused on a single topic so your students can easily digest the information and keep it stored in their memory.
Prepare your video recording and training space for teaching courses online
If your learning management system is a yes to all of the above, then it’s time to prepare to produce your course content. Whether you’re doing live training sessions or recording video lessons, you’ll need to prepare your space and have the right equipment to create valuable, learning modules for your clients.
A few questions to answer before preparing your video or audio lessons:
- Is the backdrop my students will see clean and inviting?
- Do I have the proper audio, video, and lighting to create a professional-looking video or live presentation?
- Do I have a strong internet connection?
While the technology side of teaching an online course can seem daunting, you don’t need
an expensive studio or fancy equipment to create great-looking videos or present yourself professionally. A clean, dedicated space, some basic equipment, a bit of knowledge about lighting, and a reliable internet connection will do.
Teach Courses Online Tip #2: Optimize Student Engagement
In the physical classroom, we have ways of telling whether adult and team learners are paying attention and engaging with us and the materials. Reading body language and noting when people speak up — or don’t speak up — in person comes naturally to many good trainers. Teaching courses online creates unique student engagement challenges. But, luckily there are solutions for optimizing student engagement that work. We’ve even made you an essential guide for learner experience design to walk you through all the details (+ an LxD planner to get you from zero to roadmap in no time!)
Want all the tools and resources we’ve shared in our essential guide so you can improve your LxD skills and get to designing? Download our learner experience design planner to cover the foundations and level up your learner design.
Ask questions that spark conversation
Whether it’s on an asynchronous discussion board or during a live training session, asking deliberate — and sometimes provocative — questions can be a good way to get students talking about the topic at hand.
Use your training platform tools
Your training platform should come with robust engagement tools, such as a chat function, integrated messaging, a community discussion board, quizzes, and certifications. Get to know all that your platform has to offer and use them to your advantage.
Teach Courses Online Tip #3: Communicate the Expectations for Your Online Course
As is the case with any form of teaching, you need to communicate regularly with the people you’re training.
Tell students what is expected of them before and during the online course
Let your students know upfront what they need to do to get the most out of the online course you’re teaching. Learners should have a clear understanding of the value they’re about to receive. Make sure they know how to use the learning portal. And, if you’re offering certification or other motivating rewards, make it clear what students need to do to earn them.
Regularly communicate expectations throughout your online course — not just at the beginning. Reminders of tasks and assignments are helpful to adult learners living busy lives and can be a way to keep them engaged.
Firmly communicate your limits and boundaries
Be sure your learners are aware of your communication rules of engagement: when and how they can communicate with you best. If you are available and willing to chat with them during certain hours, they need to know it. Can they schedule a one-on-one session with you? If so, what’s the best format? Training software like Profi makes it easy for your learners to schedule in-person, phone, virtual one-on-one, or group sessions online through its flexible Calendar feature.
Being clear about your availability is also a friendly way to set up your boundaries. If you ever need to handle a situation where someone tries to connect with you outside of set times and formats, you can lean back on the materials you’ve provided to reinforce your limits.
Teach Courses Online Tip #4: Provide Access to Additional Resources
Many training clients will appreciate being given access to additional resources that go beyond your teachings. No matter who is paying you to teach your online course, they want to feel like they’re getting a good deal. Bonus materials help you provide value to your clients. Here are a few teaching resources you can offer to go the extra mile:
1. Downloadable worksheets
Downloadable Google or Canva worksheets or PDFs can help students who learn best by taking notes. They can also be used to provide additional information and help clients work out problems that are specific to their life or business circumstances.
2. Third-party article and video links
Providing links to third-party sources of content including written, audio or video deepens your credibility. At the same time, it can give your student a way of accessing additional information on a topic that your course may not fully cover. The life-long learners in the group will appreciate this kind of access to additional, vetted knowledge.
3. Reading lists
You’ll likely have students who want to dive much deeper into a topic than you have time to teach in your online course. Suggesting books, videos, or podcasts by credible authors on each topic is an easy way for you to add value to your course.
Profi Tip: For all of these value-adds, simply embed the files into your lesson modules to provide next-level value to your client learners.
Teach Courses Online Tip #5: Ask for Student Feedback and Help from Other Pros
While you’re teaching an online course, it’s best to keep your ears and mind open to how the course is going and how you might do it better next time.
1. Listen to student feedback to improve your online courses
Ultimately, your goal is to give your students a great learning experience and provide them with value. They’re the ones who will know best if you’re accomplishing your goal. If you ask for feedback, your students will tell you everything from how they think they learn best to whether or not a particular module gave them what they needed to know.
2. Ask other professionals for help when you need it
There may be times when you are uncertain about how to accomplish something with your online course. It might be how to format a module or present a particular topic in a lively way. Whatever it is, don’t be afraid to reach out to other professionals who may have the know-how you need.
Profi Team plan users can share and co-host services, programs, and training modules, catch up one-on-one, and use Profi’s secure messaging to get feedback. Corporate and Network plan users can utilize our Peerboard community integration to cross-cultivate a feedback culture and knowledge-sharing across trainers on a team like our customer, Innovation Experts, does to prevent knowledge leakage and promote networking.
For more on how Profi helps Innovation Experts' consulting pros prevent knowledge leakage read the full customer story.
3. Use the tools your training platform offers
A big advantage of teaching courses online is that there’s a digital record of how students engage with materials. The training platform you choose may provide tools designed to help you see what’s working and what’s not. Be sure to use these tools to understand your students and how to present your training in the future.
Choose a Training Platform for Teaching Online Courses that Helps You Help Others
One of the easiest ways to make your online courses valuable is to start by choosing an intuitive training platform that goes beyond letting you create pre-recorded videos. Profi is an award-winning training software platform and learning management system that supports live and asynchronous learning. Profi helps you help others with 1:1 and one-to-many training sessions, the ability to collaborate with other trainers, flexible monetization, and more.
Profi lets you ditch the dozens of individual online course tools in favor of a single, easy-to-use training platform with all of the course building, community building, collaboration, and client management tools you need.
Want to see how Profi can make teaching an online course simple? Book a Demo with one of our Product Coaches today.
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