When it comes to your online course, do you find yourself doing the same tasks over and over again? Are you looking for ways to automate some of the repetitive tasks of your course? Let’s discuss how to cut the fat and make your online learning program more lean and efficient.
1. Start Here
The first step to streamlining your online learning or certification program is to understand your course’s main learning objective. Hint: Your course should be the ultimate solution to your student’s problem.
Articulate what your student will gain by taking your course.Get specific with your learning objective and focus in on its direct benefits to the student. Click To Tweet
Get specific with your learning objective and focus in on its direct benefits to the student. Whether the objective of your course is to help the student prepare for a new career or to learn a skill to help her excel at her current one, make sure that all of your course components align with that stated goal. Cut out any extra course material that may distract your students from accomplishing the main objective.
It may be difficult to know whether you’re hitting your stated objective. For this reason, welcome two different reviews:
The first review will be from a subject matter expert. This individual will be very familiar with the course material (but not the creator of the course). He or she should be able to tell you if your course is presenting the subject in a comprehensive and well-rounded manner.
The second review will be from a group of beta testers. Invite a small group of individuals who are not familiar with your course material to take the course. Ask for specific feedback that will determine if you’ve met your course’s objective.
2. Consider Hiring Outside Help
To teach your online course, you’ll likely use text and visuals. But what if you’re not a writer or a graphic designer?
Many course makers create the course anyway. They cobble together inferior visuals and boring text and end up creating an unappealing and ineffectual course.
Don’t let this common mistake happen to you.
You may be brilliant at conceptualizing ideas and developing a winning course, but not so brilliant at articulating your knowledge into the written word or creating compelling visuals to go with it.
Fortunately, you can hire someone to do that for you. Consider hiring a professional writer to transform your detailed outline into a student-friendly text. Then, hire a graphic designer to add visual context.
3. Set Up an Informative Landing Page
Where do prospective students go when they need to learn more about your certification program?
Ideally, you’ll create a landing page and direct interested traffic to this all-inclusive page. This landing page may be nestled within your website, or it may be its own one-page website (with a course-specific domain name, i.e. www.YourCertificationProgramName.com).
Provide your prospective students with the information they need to make an informed decision. Here are a few suggestions on what information and which elements to include on your landing page:
- The name of your certification program
- A compelling graphic (This can be an image of your course materials or a conceptual graphic that articulates one benefit to taking your course.)
- A testimonial from someone who’s completed the course (If your course is still new with no testimonials, use a testimonial about your company.)
- The course’s start date
- How much the course costs
- What types of payment you offer
- A list of frequently asked questions
- An introductory video
- A signup form (If you’re not accepting signups yet, include a form for collecting emails.)
- An invitation to share the page with others (Set up social media buttons with pre-written text to make it easy for your students to share.)
Whatever you use to setup your landing page, make sure you can at least view basic web traffic and conversion metrics to know if you’re successfully generating sign ups and where those are coming from. If you can find a tool that offers split A/B testing and keyword optimization, that’s even better.
4. Set Up an Automated Email Series
Automate as much of your course as possible. The best place to start is with email.
Email is crucial to communication. You can’t always wait for students to come to your site. Sometimes, you have to reach out to communicate. The inbox is a great way to keep students engaged with your course and support them along the way. Here’s how to streamline your emails to provide maximum benefit to your students:
Always send out a welcome email immediately after the new student has signed up for your course. The purpose of this welcome email isn’t simply to thank them (although do that, too). It’s also to prepare them for the upcoming course.
In this welcome email, provide a course syllabus and a schedule of classes. Also direct them to relevant resources, such as your help files, your course support, and any associated forum.
Finally, set expectations for how many emails you’ll send and when. It’s always a great idea to get started on the right foot.
On the day(s) before your lessons start, send out a reminder to your students. Share the link to the course material and remind them where they may go if they need help with the course.
After the lesson ends, you can also send any course material to the student. If you conducted a live class, you may opt to send the student a recording of that class, too.
Motivate Along the Way
If you offer a more flexible course where students work at their own pace, you can still keep them engaged. Send weekly emails that include relevant tips or videos to support the student.
You can also send any downloadable resources or deliverables via email. This includes course-related homework or study helps.
5. Invite Feedback
Feedback is perhaps the best way to know if your course is resonating with your students. Don’t just welcome feedback, actively pursue it.
At key milestones within your course, ask students the following questions:
- On a scale of 1-10, what overall rating would you give this course?
- Do you feel like this course is organized effectively?
- Do you feel like the instructions/ content in this course was clear?
- Do you feel like the assignments were clear?
- What do you feel is the biggest strength of this course?
- What do you feel is the biggest weakness of this course?
- Would you recommend this course to others?
- What feedback do you offer to help us improve this course for the future?
Alternatively, you can ask for this feedback via email, too. If you have the budget, think about offering some kind of monetary incentive for in-depth responses or interviews. If you don’t, you can always offer discounts on future courses instead.
6. Limit How Many Students You’ll Accept at One Time
Even if you don’t offer “live” classes with your certification program, you may benefit from limiting class size. When you try to accommodate a larger group of students, it can put a strain on your customer service or technical support. More students equals more questions, more tech problems, and more demand for your attention.
If you’re spread too thin, you won’t be able to offer quality service.
Consider limiting how many students you accept at one time. You may offer twice-a-year registration, for example. Or you can stagger your start dates so that not all of your students register (and overwhelm you) at once. This strategy will alleviate quite a bit of your pressure as an administrator.
As a sidenote, this type of exclusivity is a powerful motivator and may actually influence more prospective students to sign up for your course.
7. Secure Your Credentials
What type of certificates do you offer? This is another area to check for efficiency.
Instead of traditional paper certificates, issue digital certificates. Not only will this reduce your costs by up to 85%, it can also reduce labor. With a digital certificate, such as the ones we offer here at Accredible, issuance is automated. Certificates create themselves upon course completion. You don’t have to step in and manually create (and double check) certificates.
Another huge benefit of digital certificates is that you are in complete control. You can issue, revoke, and edit certificates from your account. Click here to learn more.
Over to You
What do you think is the most important consideration when streamlining your certification program? Let us know in the comments below.