Build an Online Course 1By Gini Dietrich

Though this series of blog posts is mostly for me, I figured you could each learn from it, particularly if you ever do an online course.

This is a great way to track effectiveness, challenges, issues, and changes you need to make. If I tried to do it at the end, I’m certain I’d miss some things.

Speaking of online courses, we launched ours—The Modern Blogging Masterclass—on November 12 to a pilot group of 153.

(Registration is closed so this isn’t a blog post to solicit more students.)

What You Think vs. What is Real

Having done webinars every month for years now, I know exactly what you want out of your free online professional development.

  • It should be tactical, not based solely on theory.
  • It should show you how to do something so you feel like it’s an hour well spent.
  • It should be engaging and fun (the chat room is one of the best features).
  • It should be something not everyone else is talking about.
  • It should last no more than 45 minutes, with 15 minutes for Q&A.

But I also learned that, when you’re investing more time (and money) into something, you want more.

  • The live lessons to show the why and the what…in other words, the theory and they tactics.
  • You need follow-up materials and lots of instruction (particularly because this course is making right-brained creatives use their left brains).
  • You want step-by-step directions….with visuals is even better.
  • You’ll use a private community to get help and to ask questions.

Online Course Lessons

After our second lesson, we learned even more.

We learned:

  • A recap before the each class is welcomed and necessary.
  • The private Facebook group is treasure for feedback, interaction, brainstorming, and more.
  • Short intermediate videos explaining the difficult parts of the class are very valuable and help take some stress off students.
  • Having Jack Bauer present in class engages the audience more (he was sleeping under my desk and you could hear him snoring).
  • Having someone select and read the questions during the Q&A, while the host answers them, is ideal.
  • Sometimes going more than the last 15 minutes for Q&A is necessary.
  • Asking students to first watch the lesson—instead of trying to work alongside your instruction—is best. Sure, it creates more work for the student because they have to go back and watch again to do the homework, but it’s just like going to school: There is a lecture and there is homework.
  • Just because you have course materials and follow-up instructions and recordings of all the lessons and written answers to all of the questions does not mean everyone will go through that stuff first. You will repeat yourself. A lot. Be patient.

From a technical point-of-view, we are having lots of trouble with ClickWebinar, the software we use. Though I record in 1080 HD, when you upload to the platform, it condenses it. And then, when you download the recording, it condenses it again.

So we end up with words on screen that are hard-to-read. For this week’s lesson, I’m going to work with my screen at 200 percent and see if that helps the cause. But, when we publicly launch this course, we’ll have to figure out a different way to create the videos in HD….and keep them at that level.

There you have it. Lessons from our second online course.

(If you want to see the lessons from the first class, head on over to Build an Online Course: Lesson #1.)

Class number three is this week so let’s see if we get better at anticipating the needs of our students.

image credit: Kate Nolan, one of our students, who decided it was easier to throw me up on the big screen and drink through the lesson.

Gini Dietrich

Gini Dietrich is the founder, CEO, and author of Spin Sucks, host of the Spin Sucks podcast, and author of Spin Sucks (the book). She is the creator of the PESO Model and has crafted a certification for it in partnership with Syracuse University. She has run and grown an agency for the past 15 years. She is co-author of Marketing in the Round, co-host of Inside PR, and co-host of The Agency Leadership podcast.

View all posts by Gini Dietrich