Online Course Curriculum Development: Enhance Learning

Our simple step-by-step method will help you develop a well-rounded curriculum, whether you charge a few hundred dollars or give your course away for free.

Online Course Curriculum Development: Enhance Learning

How to Create a Curriculum for a Course

A new online teacher may find it difficult to develop an online course curriculum, even if they are very knowledgeable about the topic being taught.

Fortunately, building an online course is quite simple with the right plan and tools. We're dedicated to helping you to create an online course curriculum that is easy to follow, educational and fun at the same time.

How do you design a course curriculum?

Our simple step-by-step method will help you develop a well-rounded curriculum, whether you charge a few hundred dollars or give your course away for free.

Determine the course's outcome

In short, the outcome of a course is that students learn the topic that you are teaching them.

The goal of an online course is for the teacher to deliver the desired outcome more conveniently than in-person courses.

Finishing up a meeting

The instructor will be successful when the target audience is trained in the certain skills necessary for success in the course topic and acquire a thorough knowledge of the subject.

Your target audience's problems and requirements may be quite different from your own. Your goal is to cure the difficulty by creating your curriculum.

If the online resources that you create aren't enough to address these concerns, they won't help your students succeed.

Online Student Learning Process Example

It's a good idea to think about your students' learning journey from start to finish before you start creating your curriculum. That means thinking about what you already expect your students to know and what you will teach them as they work through your curriculum.

That way you can discover the answers to two major questions.

How many courses will be in your curriculum?

First, you'll find out if your entire curriculum will consist of one course or many courses.

Counting hands

When you start to map out what you want to teach you'll get a good idea of how much knowledge you need to transfer to your students and get a rough idea of how many lessons you'll have to create.

If you have more than 50 lessons then you'll probably need to think about splitting your content into multiple classes. Students often have more to do than just working on your course so you should design your school so that they can complete their education in their allotted time.

In addition to knowing where they are in their learning journey, it's important to also consider demographic questions like income and other factors. Does your audience make enough money to be able to pay for multiple classes? Or will the first course help them make enough money to purchase the next one?

How will you teach your curriculum?

Second, you'll begin to think about what it will take to teach the knowledge and skills in your lessons to your students. Online classroom innovation has given us lots of different ways to create your class materials and one lesson can be taught quite differently than another.

New Teacher Curriculum Blindness

Since you're already an expert in the topic (after all, you wouldn't be teaching it if you weren't), it's sometimes difficult to place yourself back in your shoes when you didn't know as much as you do now. This is a common mistake made by new teachers.

Mature man squinting wearing eyeglasses

Unfortunately, we tend to think things are simple once we get more familiar with them. You might think something is simple, but your students may be seeing it for the first time.

It was new to you once too, but that was probably so long ago that it's difficult to remember the pain points that you experienced when you first learned the topic.

One of the intentions of mapping out the student learning journey from newbie to pro is to help you to overcome any expert blindness that you aren't even aware that you have.

Writing down each step of the process will help prevent you from missing any of the pain points that your students might experience while going through your methodology.

Planning Curriculum for an Online Course

The simplest way to map out the journey of your students is to start with a blank sheet of paper and flip it so it's in landscape orientation.

Draw a small box on each side of the paper. The left side is your brand new student. The right side is your expert graduate. The space in between is where you'll fill in the major steps your student will take along the way.

Curriculum Planning

It will sort of look like the example above. I've shown three boxes in between, but that's just so you can visualize what I'm talking about. Your topic might have more or fewer boxes.

Begin to write the main topic at the top of each box and then write some sub-topics underneath the main topic.

Instead of paper, use a whiteboard, post-it notes, or a computer document

You can also use a whiteboard, post-it notes, or a computer document like Microsoft Word, Apple Pages, or Google Docs instead of a sheet of paper when creating your boxes to map out the education plan for your curriculum. Some instructors even use mind-mapping software.

Post-it notes are even already shaped like boxes! The process of starting with the beginning and end and filling in the middle remains the same.

Feel free to use whichever method that works best for you. Personally, I like to start with a document and freely write down everything I can think of and then use that to fill out post-it notes. The suggested method is just a starting point. Feel free to customize it to what works best for you.

We've written much more about creating your course outline if you need more detailed help.

Mapping your new curriculum into a solid curriculum

As you fill in each box it's time to think about whether that box should be part of your course or an entirely new course.

Creating a digital marketing strategy course

Part of this process is to discover whether what you want to teach works best in single or multiple classes.

Keep in mind that students don't want to be overwhelmed by too much content or a course design that's time-consuming just for the sake of being time-consuming.

It's often best to break up the learning goals into more manageable chunks that represent the clear objectives or key steps of your new curriculum.

Whether those chunks are entire classes or modules for one course are up to your specific topic and your teaching style and it can vary for each individual class that you begin to teach.

One Course Curriculum Example

Single surfboard on the beach

You may choose to have one course that covers the entire curriculum. This is a popular choice for online courses because it allows for a more cohesive learning experience. By having all of the content in one place, you can control how the information is presented and make sure that students can move from one topic to the next without any interruptions.

However, if you feel that your course is getting too long or is too overwhelming for students it's time to break things up into multiple classes.

Not only does offering multiple classes help teach students because the content can be more easily consumed, but it can also increase your bottom line because you'll have more courses to sell.

Multiple Course Curriculum Example

A rack of rental surfboards

If you're teaching a complex topic, or if you want students to have more of an introduction and overview before getting into the details, you may choose to have many courses in your curriculum.

One way to approach this is to have a primary course, which will be the focus of most of the students' attention, and then have related courses that support the main course.

For example, if you're teaching a programming language, you might have a course on fundamentals, one on intermediate topics, and one on advanced features.

Or, if you're teaching history, you might have a course on world history, one on American history, and one on European history.

You can also be inspired by the teachers in the public school system in San Francisco, teach to state standards, and arrange your content by grade level.

San Francisco

By having multiple courses, you can give students a more complete introduction to the topic, and also allow them to focus on specific areas that interest them.

Why San Francisco? Why not? Notice how that oddly specific example caught your attention. Students need to stay engaged and adding content that's a bit jarring at times can help them wake up if they are not paying attention. But don't worry: you won't have to worry about making sure your course meets arbitrary goals like state standards (unless, of course, you do work for a public school system).

Online Course Curriculum Lesson Planning

Once you've determined the big goals of your course, it's time to get into the details and start planning out your lessons. This part can get really fun.

Remember how we drew out a plan on a piece of paper earlier? Well, we can do that same thing when we plan out our lessons, but this time we have a different starting point and ending point.

All of the boxes on that sheet of paper for that plan will become the learning objectives that will assist you as you create your course.

Business people planning resources

Try to think of ways that you can evaluate students through the curriculum as you plan your course outline. In the education world, the activities that actually evaluate students (think tests, quizzes, or other assignments) are called assessments.

Assessments will help you to know whether your teaching methods are helping your students to achieve their learning goals because they provide an objective measure of what your students have learned.

You'll also want to be sure that your course lessons are presented in a logical way that makes sense.

Course planning can sometimes be difficult for a new teacher, but our other resources can help. Our goal is to help other teachers to develop their online classrooms so that their schools become their primary business.

Curriculum Development

After you finish the last step of your course plan, you'll almost have your own curriculum developed just by developing your learning objectives.

The new goal is to figure out which type of content to use for each lesson to best reach that lesson's learning objective.

Different teaching methods work for different types of content and the way we implement different teaching methods online is through using different content types in our online course lessons.

The most common types of content are video, audio, text, and assessments. Most learning management systems support these types at a minimum and some allow you to create more.

Mature influencer woman recording autio

Does your topic need a demonstration? Then a video lesson content type will probably best help your target audience learn the appropriate skills.

Do you need to check your students’ understanding before you teach the next lesson? Then you probably need to implement an assessment like a quiz in your lessons so you can see how your students are doing.

And if you don’t need to know how they are doing, then you can implement assessments where students can grade themselves. That way they can decide whether or not they are ready to move on to the next class materials. If they're not ready then they can take u-turns back to the content that they need to review.

U turn permitted

The main point is that students need lessons made up of different types of content and that content might include practice so that your students can be successful in your class.

Develop Engaging Materials

Try to make your lesson content so engaging that your audience hangs on your every written or spoken word.

Employee paying attention

You want your students to be as eager to read your content as eager as they are to read Instagram stories, but your content doesn't have the advantage of time scarcity because it's not going to disappear. In other words, there's no time pressure for them to get to the content quickly.

There are many types of course content for your online course and picking the right ones will help your students to be successful.

Bonus Benefits of Developing Your Own Curriculum

Benefits word on 3d wooden letters

It might seem overwhelming the first time that you start the process of creating your curriculum for your online class, but the skills that you learn the first time through will help you to develop the content for your next online classroom. addition, once you become more comfortable with the process of developing your curriculum, you'll find that you are able to develop new skills and knowledge in other areas.

It might seem a bit strange to think about it this way, but you're learning curriculum development skills as you are developing your curriculum. You might not be in an actual classroom like your students will be, but everyone in a school learns, including the teachers.

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