When you’re designing an online course, there are many things that can go right and wrong. Sure, you could potentially spend hours, weeks, or months perfecting it – only to have a poor turnout of students or bad reviews. We’d be lying if we told you it was easy to build your first course. However, once you build your first online course – it gets much easier. To get started, we’ve rounded up 5 instructional design tips to make you look like a pro.

  1. Know your audience (and your subject matter)
    This may be a no-brainer for some, but for many this tip is often overlooked. It is the most important factor in building any sort of e-Learning content. How will you successfully put content together without knowing your target audience? Or if you aren’t an expert in your subject matter? Do your research – know who will be taking your course, what type of content you’ll be teaching, and become an expert in your subject matter. Once your students see that you are an expert, they will appreciate your content even more.
  2. Stick to a theme
    We often times see online courses that are made up of great content, but lack the visual aesthetic. Sometimes the handouts and PDFs are all different fonts, or the presentations are made up of different slide templates with no unifying color scheme. Instead of trying to go over-the-top with your overall course design, let’s simplify it. Stick to one unifying theme throughout the entire course – that includes fonts, templates, and colors. Remember, you want your content to be the focal point of your course, not the bright PPT slides.
  3. Mix up your media
    It is easy to get into a rut when designing e-Learning content. Maybe you’ve proven to have success in the past with your simple PPT presentations, audio recordings, and PDF handouts. It’s time to try something new. To replace your boring audio recordings and PPT presentations, try to do a video recording. Your students will appreciate the fresh take on your content and you may even have a spike in student engagement because of it. There are tons of ways to mix up your media within your course – videos are just one example. Get online and start brainstorming to find something that will work for you and your budget!
  4. Gamify
    Gamification is a topic in the e-Learning industry that has continued to grow in popularity over the years. There are many tools to help you “gamify” your online course. What are the benefits? Well, gamification has proven to boost productivity, build engagement, create learning retention and more. Learn how to successfully “gamify” your course.
  5. Assess your learners
    After you have created your online content, it is important to create a test or survey to assess your learners. If your students need a certain grade in order to pass the course, tests are a great way to evaluate them. Perhaps you don’t need to grade your students, but would like some feedback? Create an end-of-course survey or test to gather as much feedback as you can. Don’t worry, not all of your feedback will be negative!

These are just 5 (of the many) instructional design tips to make you look like a pro. Hopefully, with these, instructional design will be a breeze!



Sarah Bright is currently the communications director, content editor, and social media voice for DigitalChalk, an Online Training Software Company. She graduated from Southern Polytechnic State University and has a background in customer service. She has found her niche in blogging and writing about the e-Learning industry and sharing tips and tricks for building successful online courses.

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