Online Courses Part I: How to Create and Structure Your Online Course Content 

online courses

This article about online courses is written in paid partnership with Thinkific. Get one month of Thinkific for free with our special offer link. We reached out to Thinkific to form this partnership because we personally use their platform and wouldn’t recommend any other online course hosting platform to the creators in our network.  

When Steve and I were first starting InfluenceLogic, a great mentor shared, “The content business is really simple when you think about it. There are only three components: content creation, content distribution, and content monetization. Everything you do in this business fits into one of these categories.” 

Through that lens, this article is the first of InfluenceLogic’s three part series on online courses. This first post will focus exclusively on how to create content and structure it into a great online course. In order to help creators in our network be as successful as possible, we have invested thousands of dollars to learn about course creation from multiple experts. In this article, my goal is to show you the most important lessons I’ve learned about authoring and publishing a wildly successful online course. 

Structuring Your Course:

Your goal should be to produce an online course that people (1) value and (2) complete from start to finish. To create a course people are able to finish, you must structure your course into consumable bites. The structure we recommend includes sections called modules and lessons. 

Modules are a collection of lessons around a relevant subject. Generally there are about six modules in a consumable online course. 

Lessons are the educational content that make up a module. Generally there are about six lessons in each module. A lesson should take no more than 15 minutes to complete. 

So if you are doing this right, your course will consist of six modules that take 90 minutes to complete (15 minutes x 6 lessons). The entire course should take about 9 hours to complete (6 modules x 90 minutes). Here is an example of a module with lessons might look like: 

Module 1: Turning On And Driving A Motor Vehicle

  • Lesson 1: The Motor Vehicle Exterior
  • Lesson 2: The Motor Vehicle Engine
  • Lesson 3: Entering the Motor Vehicle
  • Lesson 4: Turning on the Motor Vehicle
  • Lesson 5: Maneuvering a Motor Vehicle
  • Lesson 6: The Rules of the Road

Forming Great Lessons for your Online Course

Lessons seem straightforward. However if you overload people with “the what” of the material, they’ll quit your course. You must consider the motivation of the student at all times. Great lessons are made up of the following components: 

  • Lesson Introduction: At the beginning of every single lesson in your course, you should start by saying, “By the end of this lesson, you should be able to ____.” For example, by the end of this lesson, you should know how to properly start a car.” 
  • Key Statistic or Shocking Statement: Once again, we need to make sure that your students understand why they are about to invest 10 to 15 minutes into this lesson. Using a key statistic or shocking statement that highlights the importance of the lesson is integral to creating a course people complete. For example, “Did you know that improperly starting a car can increase your chances of engine failure by 15%?” 
  • The “Meat”: Here your domain expertise shines and you share the knowledge with your students that is relevant to the lesson. 
  • Reinforcement Questions: At the end of each lesson, you want to ask your students two or three questions to reinforce their understanding of the lesson. Reinforcement questions should generally start with “How” or Why.” These types of questions students can better internalize compared to fact-based questions starting with “What.”

Getting Started on Thinkific 

Thinkific is the perfect lesson hosting platform for video content creators. We first came to love the platform when we helped two creators in our network, Dr. Les Carter and Laura Charanza, build out their online courses, Free to Be and Girl Get Out. Inspired to help as many creators in our network succeed with online courses, we reached out to Thinkific to form a partnership.

Thinkific is a powerful, all-in-one platform that makes it easy to share your knowledge, grow your audience, and scale the business you love. Easily upload videos, build quizzes, and organize all your learning content with our drag and drop builder. With Thinkific, you can set pricing, schedule lessons, and automate your content to curate a learning experience your students will love.

Whether you’re educating 10 students or 10 million, feel confident that you’ve got the easiest technology and best support in the business. There is no coding needed — no permission required! Thinkific is a video first learning platform, perfect for visual learners. 

Thinkific is also shockingly affordable for the value. For one, you can start entirely risk free with their free product. Or if you want a more complete set of features, you can take advantage of our special 30 day free trial. And if you decide you don’t need all of the Thinkific features, you’ll be able to start for as low as $49 a month and scale up to as many customers as you need. Some great features of Thinkific include: 

  • Instant access to your funds
  • Student notifications
  • Full e-Commerce
  • Upsell offers
  • Easy drag and drop Course Builder
  • Discussion forums
  • Build out your entire website
  • Secure cloud hosting
  • Multiple instructor profiles
  • Choose your site language
  • Easy, built-in SSL certificates
  • Email and phone support

Free InfluenceLogic Course Consultation : At InfluenceLogic, our mission is to help content creators make money by working with brands that make a positive impact. We want you to be wildly successful with Thinkific. And so, if you are considering making a course on the platform, please let me know by emailing Joel at influencelogic.com. I’d love to sync up with you for a 30 minute call to talk about your course idea and share how I’d recommend you set up the module / lesson structure. We aren’t looking for a cut of your profits either. We just want you to be successful. So email me know if you’re considering starting an online course: Joel at influencelogic.com

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