Introducing the first post from one of our newest guest bloggers, David Johns. I am personally excited to have him as a contributor on our blog due to his education expertise in developing exceptional Fire Officers and assisting hundreds in achieving their promotional goals. As an educator in his field since 1999, he explains his experiences with creating successful courses.
A business built on referrals has long-term staying power. We have taught our classes since 1999 and it was mainly promoted by word of mouth. As we expanded into the online classroom we were able to overcome so many obstacles. The main obstacle for us was distance. We can now train people anywhere in the world (in English for now). Many other benefits of online learning were scheduling, length of class, expense, students absorption capacity and attention span and many more. This new eLearning venue is allowing us to grow by word of mouth much faster now too.
Today's elearner has many options available to him with everyone expanding their training content online for a broader audience to expand their wallet. A program can be thrown together quickly, but to have long term staying power you have to have quality. There are multiple areas where you need to have quality and we will cover them over this series of blogs. First and foremost, you have to have quality content. This can't happen by throwing content together, so here are a few tips we use with our content.
The starting point for the ecourse you design should be in an area you are an expert. Don't try and develop a course where you have no experience or expertise. Also, don't minimize your experience. If you have worked in an area for a while and are proficient, there are enough learners out there that would want to get to your level and have your knowledge. You can also interview other experts in the field as a great way to deliver information via a Q & A session and add credibility to your program. Be sure to include "tips" and "tricks" and make use of personal stories and examples.
I'm sure most of you know the basics of starting with an outline. But before we do this we like to know and list what our learning objectives for the class are going to be. What does the student need to know and understand when they are done with your course? Once you have your objectives down, it's a good idea to place them in a logical order. Use the objectives like learning blocks, make sure you place them in the order of when or how you need to learn them. What basics are needed before moving along in the lesson?
Once you have your learning objectives in order you can start with listing the key learning points for each objective. The next step would be to put this in order just like you did the learning objectives and now you have your outline for each objective.
You are now on you way to writing the training content for each key point for each objective. If you are an expert in your field, which is recommended, this part should be easy. As mentioned earlier, the option for interviewing an expert in the field would require you to develop a list of questions.
Once you have your content down, there are three things we do. First review your content multiple times. Second, get away from it for a while and come back and take a second look. Third, have someone else look at it. You simply can't fully proof your own content.
Finally, you also need multiple eyes to see it before it goes live. We like to teach our class to a live audience so you can read the students and know when things are not clear and get feedback on the spot. Facial expressions or lack thereof are one of the greatest tools for the instructor. If you don't have your students' attention in person you won't have them online. This is how we fine-tune our material before we put it online. Make sure you use a test market of people who do not know the content to make sure all the objectives are understood and delivered in a way that the student walks away not only understanding the material but also referring your class.
In conclusion, to have long-term staying power, content is key and having your classes referred is the best advertisement you can get. By following the suggestions listed above you will be much closer to reaching your goal of happy students who refer your classes.