Simplify your online course creation by beginning with the end In mind.

Course creators can learn a lot about creating their course from the way traditional teachers plan their school year.

The key is to begin with the end in mind

Imagine planning a two week cross country trip without knowing your final destination. You might be able to get there, but if you know where you want to end up, getting there will be much easier.

As online course creators, we must keep in mind that our students want the shortest and quickest route to get to their final destination (AKA the solution to their problem)! They aren’t looking for the scenic route.

That’s why we need to create an easy-to-follow map that gets them to the end with the fewest detours or obstacles in the way.

Our focus needs to be on how to create the shortest route for them to learn what they need to know to get the end result.

Course planning using the backward design method

Follow these steps to create your online course and it will not only make creating your course simpler, it will also help your students.

Step 1:  Fully understand the end result your student hopes to achieve. Write that down and as you plan keep that first and foremost in mind. For everything you consider adding to your course ask yourself, “Will this help them solve (their problem)? If not, don’t include it!

Step 2: Make a list of all the BIG steps it will take them to reach that end result. Those become the course modules. Organize those into a logical order.

Step 3: Look at each module one at a time and list all the steps it will take your students to reach the goal for that module. Break each step down into its simplest form. Those become your lessons.

Ideally each lesson will cover ONE specific outcome or topic and be 5-15 minutes long. That’s about the focusing attention span of most people. If it needs to be longer, consider breaking up the lesson. 

Remember longer does NOT make it more valuable. In fact, it can deter students from moving forward.

Step 4: Determine the sequence that works best for each lesson. What order makes the most sense? What do they need to know first, second, third to make it as simple and logical as possible? 

Now you have worked your way backward to the individual lessons!

Step 5: For each lesson, determine the best way to teach that step? Video instruction? Worksheet? Written description? A combination? What will make it the easiest for your student to learn?  

Step 6: Write out the content for the slides for the video, the workbook or the written instruction. Keep it simple and easy to understand. Avoid industry talk and acronyms they may not understand. Students don’t want a long background or history on the topic. They want results, quickly!

Step 7: Let your work sit for a day or two and come back to it with fresh eyes. Edit your content critically. Is there anything that needs to be added? Can anything that can be shortened or taken away? Is there any place that is unclear or will leave the student confused?

One option to consider is to have someone who is not an expert look at your content and see if it makes sense to them. As experts, we sometimes assume our students know things that they don’t. It’s better to make it too simple rather than too complex because if students become confused or frustrated they quit.

Step 8: Now, and only now, are you ready to create the slides for your instructional video or design your workbook or written instructions. 

I use backward planning because it works!

You do the hard work up front and ensure that every single thing you put into your course leads to the ultimate goal.

It eliminates the fluff and leads your students to great results, faster. You can rest assured that you have a logical sequence of simple instructions to get your student from point A to point Z  without spinning their wheels or leaving in frustration.

Backward planning will save you time in the long run because it helps you maintain focus on what your students are learning and how each piece fits together. You will find that you have much fewer redos and can streamline your creation much easier.

Simplify your online course creation by beginning with the end In mind.

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