1. Be a student first
You wouldn't open a restaurant if you've never eaten out before, so why would you start an e-course without having experienced one yourself. Figure out your likes and dislikes of the e-course world by taking a few courses first! As you work through the course, try to notice details. Do you like the flow of lessons? Do you wish the instructor would respond to your questions faster? Do you like weekly lessons, or would you prefer to see something new everyday? After taking a few courses, you'll quickly realize there's no "right way" to design an e-course, but you can keep your experiences in mind when working on your course and make it something to be proud of.
2. Keep it short and sweet
Try to make each lesson easy to digest by covering only one or two major ideas at a time. Break down more complex subjects into a few smaller sessions. Within the lesson itself try to break up text with lists, headings, images and videos. Staring at a huge wall of text can be intimidating. Also, be conscious of how much of a time commitment you're asking for. If you release a lesson every weekday and each lesson (including videos) takes about 30 minutes to go through, that means you're asking people to commit 2.5 hours per week to the course. You should always make the course participants aware of the time commitment before they enroll so they know what to expect.
3. Proofread, proofread, proofread
To make sure your course is easy to understand and has a nice flow, you should read through the entire thing a couple times. If your course involves projects or patterns, work through each of them yourself to be sure there are no errors. Since there will always be little mistakes you won't notice, have a friend read through your course too. If it's in your budget, consider hiring an editor for a really polished finished product.
One of the best things about e-courses is the interaction between the course creator and the participants and between the participants themselves. Encourage people to upload photos at the bottom of the lessons to show their progress. Ask questions at the end of each lesson and invite participants to give their opinions or experience in the comments. Another important way to get participants interacting is to include assignments with each lesson. I'm not talking about assignments with a due date that you'll mark with a pass or fail. It can be something small like an idea to ponder for the next lesson, or something large like a page of brainstorming or a finished sewing project. However you choose to engage your participants, keep in mind that interactivity is a key component of a great e-course.
5. Be transparent
Make use of the 'course description' field and tell people exactly what to expect from your course. Here are some common questions people have that you should try to answer in some way:
- How long will the course take?
- What kind of time commitment should I expect?
- What materials will I need?
- Do I need to know anything about this subject before I take the course?
- How long will the course material be available?
- What experience do you have and what makes you a good teacher?
- What are some of the topics we'll be covering?
Being up front with people is one of the best ways you can ensure they'll have a good time taking your course. If you answer all of their questions right away they'll be more likely to sign up for the course and probably have more fun too!
I hope these tips help you create an e-course you can be proud of. If you have any other tips, feel free to leave them in the comments. I'd love to hear what you think!