How to create online courses: an up-to-date, step-by-step guide

It’s no secret that online learning is a continuously growing trend in the world of business! In modern companies, e-learning courses are essential for training employees and enhancing their professional skills.

However, in order to create incredible e-learning courses, you need to do more than just utilize traditional, potentially repetitive training methods. Captivating employees with successful online training requires two key ingredients: quality, interesting content, and an engaging, interactive presentation style.

In this guide, you’ll discover all the skills and tools you need to create online courses easily and intuitively, as well as a host of tips and information to make them a lasting success. Don’t miss out on this valuable knowhow!

Why create online courses? Key benefits and opportunities

E-learning has had a profound impact on training centers, companies and above all, students, who make full use of its multiple advantages. In fact, such is its importance that it has become an indispensable tool for many organizations, but, what exactly are the benefits?

  • Enhanced flexibility: students can access training material at any time, allowing them to balance learning with other responsibilities.
  • Global access: e-learning eliminates any and all geographical barriers, allowing people to access content anywhere in the world.
  • A wide range of resources: online courses offer a wide array of resources designed to adapt to the specific needs of each student, facilitating better understanding of learning content.
  • Reduced costs: e-learning results in a significant reduction on training costs by eliminating issues such as travel, accommodation, and the need for printed material or physical space.
  • Greater professional development: the adaptability of online courses offers workers plentiful opportunities for professional improvement, with courses individually tailored to their needs.
  • Higher employee retention: following on from the above, a company that provides its employees with flexible development opportunities will inspire greater loyalty in them, thereby improving retention rates.

These advantages make online courses a fantastic modern choice for training, allowing students to acquire knowledge in a flexible and enjoyable way. And, although creating such courses is not as difficult as you may think, it’s important to consider several key techniques and strategies to ensure the success of the course.

How to create an online course, step-by-step

One of the first and possibly the main step is to have a usable and dynamic tool that allows you to be autonomous in creating your own e-learning content. In this way, you will not need to rely on external training services and you will be able to easily create all the courses you need.

Before blindly deciding on a particular software, it is important to study and test the existing technology on the market, in order to choose the most suitable one according to your needs. Each tool has its own characteristics and analyzing them will make it easier for you to know which one to choose. In this post we tell you what authoring tools are and what their main features are.

In addition, when choosing your software to create e-learning courses, go for one that allows you to design attractive, agile and interactive content that captures the user’s attention.

Some of these tools, such as isEazy Author, are specially designed to create attractive e-learning courses without previous experience. You don’t need to be an expert in programming or design to create a dynamic online course.
Also, isEazy Author has a FREE account to test its functionalities for an indefinite period of time, so you will be able to get to know all its possibilities when you start creating your first course.

1. Select the type of course you want to develop

The next step is to think about the type of course you want to create. Is it an extensive course with a host of subsections, or a shorter one that your audience can easily access from a mobile device? At isEazy Author, there are two types of courses available: classic, for more thorough, rigorous training, and express, designed so that your students can effortlessly browse your content just as they would using any app on their smartphone.

2. Decide the style of your course

The simplest and most intuitive authoring tools on the market base their editing process on one robust concept: slides. Slides are like a tapestry on which you can position all your content and resources, such as videos, exercises, games, graphics and more. In order to ensure that all these slides follow the same graphical pattern, you must first select the style and template that best suits your intentions. isEazy Author also offers you the chance to customize your course through a variety of color palettes. And, as if this weren’t enough, you can also create personalized corporate templates aligned with your brand image.

3. Create your course

After settling on the style of the course you wish to develop, it’s time to give it some structure. Start by creating a table of contents. Once ready, you can move on to designing your own content. Try to think of ideas that are simple, direct and attractive for students.

Typically, a course can be organized around 3 to 5 different modules, divided in turn into smaller topics of 3-6 minutes duration. These smaller modules give students the perception that they are progressing more quickly.

4. Add multimedia and interactive elements

When editing your slides, it’s crucial to remember the value of including interactive elements such as videos, podcasts, exercises or games. These types of resources can transform a good course into a fun, engaging and even exceptional one.

Resources such as exercises or games serve to break the monotony of the course and help students put into practice everything they have learned in a practical and entertaining way:

  • Improves the learning experience and, therefore, the results of the course.
  • Content becomes more pedagogical, motivating and enjoyable for students.
  • The student assumes the role of protagonist in their learning, allowing them to feel more involved and committed to their training.
  • A greater variety of tasks reinforces learning.
  • Feedback can be given to each participant constantly and consistently, confirming successes and correcting errors.

5. Distribute the course

When you have finished editing your course, it’s time to distribute it. With isEazy Author you can create your own accessible training environment or download your courses in SCORM or xAPI standard and upload them to your LMS to keep up to date with your learners’ progress. If you prefer, you can also share them by direct link or include them in your intranet or corporate website.

Essential skills to use when creating quality e-learning courses

When creating an online course, you need more than just the right tools and technology – you also need to utilize a set of key skills and practices to help make it truly effective and attractive for your students. Below, we share some of the most important.

Advanced Search: Locate the best information, faster

The convenience of the digital age (and the existence of Google in particular) has brought about a true revolution when it comes to accessing knowledge. It is now possible for anyone to access any type of information in just a few seconds. Thanks to this, trainers can easily find all the knowledge and references they need to bring their e-learning content to life.

However, it’s not enough simply to search randomly. You should be very clear about the concepts and keywords you want to focus on, so as not to waste time on content that takes you (or your audience) nowhere. Try drawing up a list of concepts and keywords before you start searching for content. In addition, make use of resources such as Google Scholar to ensure that your references are reliable.

Social networks such as Twitter or LinkedIn, where many of the sector’s professionals engage in lively debate, also form an almost inexhaustible source of information in terms of trends, innovation and shared knowledge. Take advantage of their great potential!

Communication skills: What does your audience need?

One of the most important preliminary points when designing a course is to understand your audience. Take into account the type of audience you wish to target and discern what their specific needs are. Doing this involves working out exactly who the course is aimed at, what motivates them, and what the best way to present your content is so that it resonates with students.

Awaken emotions: create your own stories

Imagine the scene. You catch sight of something that excites you, and suddenly your pupils dilate, the world around it disappears, and you start to focus all of your attention on it. In this moment, you feel something, and you have an emotional response to it. Awakening this type of response in your audience is the best way to open up any training session, to ensure that their attention is fixed on the learning content.

One of the simplest ways to achieve this is through storytelling, creating stories that attract, connect and make it easy for students to absorb information. What are some of the key techniques here? Start by creating contexts, characters and problems that your audience can easily identify with. Then, take things further by adding analogies and references that add meaning and value to the message of your training.

In this article, we go into more detail about how to carry out effective storytelling and transform your courses into memorable narratives.

Organizational skills: structure your content appropriately

Good organizational skills are important in all walks of life. However they become especially important when creating training content.

A common issue is that the content of a course may be very clear to the trainer or manager who designed it, but confusing and unclear for those who use it. To avoid this, structure content in a simple, visual way (using sections, subsections, etc.), so that there is no possibility of students ‘getting lost’ during the training. In addition, be sure to use short and direct sentences, as well as limit paragraph size, to make for a dynamic structure. This will allow for a smooth learning experience, and minimize any doubts or hesitation your students may encounter.

Make an impact: surprise your audience with your e-learning courses

Today, beyond simply developing quality e-learning content, it is essential to create authentic learning experiences that foster motivation, commitment and student engagement. To do this, you should include interactive, multimedia elements in your courses, such as podcasts, infographics or videos, which will help to make training more dynamic and interesting for students.

Moreover, if you make use of gamification dynamics, such as games, tests or exercises, you can also ensure that students are correctly understanding the concepts you want them to absorb. Gamification could prove one of your greatest allies in creating high-impact training.

Evaluate results: how are your users performing?

Evaluation is a key process in e-learning, but in two senses:

  • Evaluate yourself as a trainer. That is to say, carry out self-criticism. Does the content you offer fit the training needs of your company? Are you achieving the desired objectives? Does it resonate with your students? Can they apply what they learn practically?
  • Evaluate the knowledge absorbed by your students. Or rather, have them do it themselves, through entertaining exercises that test how much knowledge they have internalized.

Featuring a versatile evaluation system that you can configure and adjust yourself is essential to guaranteeing the effectiveness of your course content.

As a final suggestion, we recommend always being flexible in your training. Adaptability can become your greatest ally when training in the e-learning world. Online training offers infinite possibilities – be sure to take advantage of them!

Tips for creating a successful online course

In addition to your skills as a course creator, there are a number of other variables to consider, as their influence on training can be decisive:

1. Define a topic that interests your audience

Choose an option from the range of subjects you have mastered that has a genuine potential interest for a specific audience. To gain objective data about possible interest in your course, you can try working on the following:

  • Analyze your audience and observe how many people might be interested in your new course.
  • Take into account the type of audience you are targeting and their specific needs and interests. In order for your e-learning courses to be a success, you should know who you are targeting and what interests them. Furthermore, you must keep in mind that the learning process is not unilateral. You may already have the knowledge, but it’s your audience who will need to absorb and apply it later. For this reason, it is crucial that communication is two-way.
  • Create a survey to gauge people’s interest in the course.
  • Visit platforms where your chosen topic is discussed and assess the level of engagement they inspire. For example, you could check the number of views on relevant YouTube videos.
  • Present your idea in webinars or other formats, and interact with your students directly, taking feedback and acting accordingly.

2. Think about your students

Relating to the previous point, remember to always keep in mind that the protagonists of any learning process are the students themselves. Be sure to provide them with attractive and enjoyable resources so that they never think about abandoning their training. Designing these elements effectively is easier than it seems.

Authoring tools like isEazyAuthor offer a wide range of options to help you create entertaining and enriching courses. Specifically, it comes with over 25 types of interactive elements and games so you can keep your students motivated. Additionally, it allows you to include accessible games so you can offer equal learning experiences to your entire audience, regardless of any disability.

3. Study competing courses

Carry out market research to check if your competition is already offering a course similar to the one you have in mind. It’s important at this stage to analyze what content is being offered and exactly and how it is presented. Based on this information, you will then be able to determine if the chosen path is the correct one.

4. If you want your online course to succeed, create a good design!

When creating an online course, it’s best to ensure that all its contents are high-quality, relevant to the user, and also aesthetically pleasing. If content is unclear or poorly designed, it can significantly hinder learning. Factors such as color, typography or font size, and resources such as images and videos are all relevant to the user experience and have a high impact on the quality of the course.

In fact, studies from the universities of Newcastle and Sheffield illustrate that 94% of people who interact with digital content judge it by its design.

5. Ensure that your course is accessible

Making your course accessible is a design feature that can truly make a difference. Although there are more than 1.3 billion people in the world with some type of disability (according to the WHO), only 16% of training courses are currently accessible.
Therefore, providing an accessible version of your training will help you to really stand out from the rest.

And while it may at first seem like a complex task, preparing an accessible version of your course content is easy with the right authoring tool. isEazy Author creates an accessible version of your course automatically, complying with level AA and up to 80% of level AAA of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). And all this without any compromise on interactivity!

You can even enable a dual mode so that your students can access the course in the mode they prefer, without having to worry about problems with colors or fonts during the switch. Additionally, the tool offers focused help in course creation, allowing you to develop the highest quality accessible training.

Common mistakes when creating an online course

Your role as course manager does not end once you’ve published and distributed your course. There are several key mistakes you could make at this stage, which you should try to avoid if you want your trai

Error 1: A non-existent teacher-student relationship

One of the weak points of online training is that students can end up feeling alone, and ultimately abandon the course. For this reason, it’s very important that, during its development, you strive to show your students that you genuinely care about their performance.

Use any available media to communicate with students and consistently demonstrate your commitment. You can organize tutorials over video conference software, encourage participation in forums, or use internal messaging to quickly reach your entire audience.
Fluid communication between trainer and students is essential for enriching the quality of learning.

Error 2: Not fully understanding the course technology you use

As the individual responsible for training, you must not only be an expert in your subject, but also in the tools and technology that you decide to use. Not all students are digital natives and may require your help to navigate course content. Therefore, you’ll need a thorough understanding of how your chosen tool works in case of any student query.

You can however overcome this issue with a tool like isEazy Author, which allows you to develop a simple, intuitive, and easy-to-understand learning environment.

Error 3: Carelessly converting a face-to-face course to a digital format

E-learning is a specific educational medium that involves different needs, methods and objectives from in-person learning. Therefore, it is a crucial mistake to directly convert the contents of a traditional course to an online one, without making the proper adjustments in form, function and presentation.

Error 4: Over-complicating your material

Keep it brief. Too much course material, improperly presented, can overwhelm your students. Rely on concise, impactful didactic and pedagogical resources with which students can interact, such as images, videos or games.

Error 5: Not paying sufficient attention to audio and video quality

To ensure that your content is attractive, it’s vital to offer content with high audio and video quality, to maintain student interest in the course.
Make sure that anything you film or photograph is done with good equipment, and take care of the appearance you present on camera.

As you can see, creating an online course is a task that requires preparation and work, but its development is easier using an intuitive authoring tool with interactive resources that make the difference. Try isEazy Author for free! The #1 software for e-learning content creation.

Yolanda Amores
Yolanda Amores
Chief Marketing Officer at isEazy

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