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There are many different forms that an online course can take. At their most basic level, the thing they all share in common is that they teach knowledge or skills to the person taking them. Online courses are delivered via a website and can be viewed on a mobile device, tablet, or web browser. This lets students conveniently access them anywhere and at any time. They can take many forms, including educational videos, audio files, images, worksheets or other documents. Most online courses also have discussion forums, community groups or messaging options, enabling some way for students to communicate with each other and or the teacher.

Typically, lessons are designed and pre-recorded before being uploaded and arranged on the course website in to a collection of lessons and modules. They are usually laid out in a sequential order for the student to follow. There may be some form of grading to measure a student’s performance and achievements, or the course might be completely self-guided.

Above all, an online course needs to be engaging so that the person learning enjoys the lessons and is able to retain the information and apply it in their own life.

A great course is one where the student feels invested in the learning process and has a sense of community with fellow students and the teacher(s). For a course to be successful, it should have an interactive component that helps bring the learning alive.

Quality Content

Above all else, a course needs to have high-quality content and deliver what it promises. Without this, you might step away from an online course not feeling like you received the knowledge and skills you expected to. Or it might just come across as bland and boring without any real insights.

High-quality content makes learning something that you want to do, while low-quality content makes it into a chore and makes it difficult to retain what you’re trying to learn.

The best online courses will have content that an expert in the field would recommend, whether it’s taught in an online format or in person.

Use Of Multimedia

We aren’t limited to just textbooks and chalkboards anymore. With technology, there are so many great and engaging ways to present information to students. An online course should use things like videos, podcasts, interactive web pages, and even mobile apps to really engage students. That makes learning much more enjoyable than simply reading a long document.

Everyone learns a bit differently. Some people are very visually oriented, while others need to hear information for them to retain it. Integrating a variety of mediums will make sure every student has some way of learning in the course that works for them.

But don’t just add multimedia for its own sake. It needs to be done purposefully in a way that makes sense.

Correct Pacing

An online course needs to be finely tuned so that students are neither overwhelmed nor bored. Information should be broken down into lesson sizes that make sense. If there any projects in the course, enough time needs to be given to complete them to avoid making students anxious or stressed. Smaller assignments should have a reason behind them and not simply be assigned to keep students busy.


In a classroom setting, there’s a lot of interaction not only between students and their teacher but among their peers as well. That’s one thing that can be lacking in an online course if not properly planned for.

Online courses can make students feel isolated if not implemented correctly. It can be as simple as a message board with an off-topic section where students can chat. There should also be a way for students to ask for guidance if they have questions or run into any problems.

Intuitive Navigation

The best course in the world is no good if it’s difficult to navigate. Students shouldn’t need to contact tech support to figure out how to access their information. The layout should be easy to follow and clearly marked.

There shouldn’t be any doubt about what a student has to do next, and any resources or related information should be easily accessible.

Sometimes courses can try to be too flashy or use the latest technology, which means students might need to sign up for external services, download a bunch of plugins, or other things that can degrade the user experience. Make your course as universally supported and reliable as possible.

Self Directed

Online courses work best when they give students some autonomy to make their own decisions and be responsible for their own education.

Try to give your students freedom and don’t overly micromanage them, but at the same time it can be a good idea to have follow up email sequences alongside the core course material to address common roadblocks and get feedback about how students are getting on.

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The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Exodus University.

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