In parts 1 and 2 of the series we spent time exploring the initial steps of creating your first online course, including preliminary research, creating learning objectives, positioning your course and choosing activity types.
In this 3rd and final installment, we’ll pick up where we left off by discussing ideas for student collaboration, techniques to keep students motivated and tips to help you bring your completed course to market. Hang in there - by the end of this post, you'll be ready to start teaching online!
Collaboration is the bedrock of a quality education, so it’s no surprise that this is where most online learning skeptics derive their concerns. I’d like to challenge the claim that online collaboration falls short by providing ideas and examples for incorporating collaboration into your course development process.
If you’re an educator using the SchoolKeep platform to build your first course, have no fear. Thanks to a recent Disqus integration, we’ve enabled our educators to incentivize course-wide discussion and collaboration on all course activities. Take a look at this post about improving the online learning experience with discussion tools.
In addition to incorporating discussion boards or a similar discussion feature, you should consider these other opportunities for collaboration:
- Social bookmarking (using sites like delicious.com)
- Relevant Twitter chats
- Peer review
- Socratic seminars
Any work you do to increase collaboration will return itself to you in the form of student motivation and improved completion rates. Now it’s time to motivate your students to take advantage of these opportunities.
Increasing Student Motivation
For students, staying motivated is the key to completing any kind of structured learning activity. For online educators, judging a student’s level of motivation is hard, especially since we have no visual cues to work with, like the expression on a learner’s face, for instance.
Luckily, there are plenty of ways to build motivational techniques into the course itself. Here are a few of those techniques:
- Create asynchronous courses that allow students to learn when it’s convenient for them
- Remind students about their learning objectives and what they’ll be able to do as a result of completing the course
- Include quizzes, polls and other forms of interactivity
- Include gamification and/or learning games
- Provide individualized follow up
- Offer a completion certificate
- Switch up the delivery format (video, rich text, slideshow, audio, etc)
As online educators, we need to be sure we’re doing everything we can to deliver an enjoyable learning experience to our students. Happy and motivated students lead to repeat enrollments and word of mouth marketing for your course.
Now Go Recruit Some Students
Congratulations on checking all the proverbial boxes and following this series through to the end! The best marketing strategy starts with a solid product, and if you used the points in our series, you should be in good shape.
Now since you’re ready to launch your school, you should start thinking about how you’ll drive the right kind of traffic to your course page. There are some things you can do to ensure your course gets the eyes it deserves from your target audience and a broader network of professional connections.
Get started by:
- Growing a following on social media (If you need some guidance, check out our guide on Social Media Marketing for Your Online School)
- Exporting a CSV of your Linkedin connections and sending them an action-driven email with information about your course (consider using MailChimp or Yet Another Mail Merge)
- Becoming a thought leader in your field through guest blog posts or a blog of your own, where you tactfully promote your course offering
- Add some video tutorials or micro-lessons of your course to Youtube and use the description to drive viewers to your course page
- Explore advertising using Google Adwords and social networks like Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin
I hope you enjoyed the series and feel ready to start teaching online! If you get stuck anywhere on your course-creation journey, feel free to reach out to me on Twitter @rabeckakrill. I’d be happy to help!