9 Steps to Developing a Course That is Educational and Engaging
Just because something is taught doesn't meant that it's learned.
This is one of the first things I learned when I became a curriculum developer, and if you're in the place in your business where you want to create an online course or information product, please take some time to read through the following. Not only will it streamline your course development, but it will also make sure that your customers get the value they're expecting out of your program, which only serves to boost the bottom line of your business.
1. Start with 5-10 key teaching points.
What are the themes that will be running throughout the whole course? What are the underlying beliefs/values of what you're teaching?
2. Make a list of all the things you think are important for them to learn.
This will help you outline the modules and the lessons within each module. It’s often helpful to write down all the things you want to teach on index cards, so, when you're outlining curriculum, you can move them around if one thing needs to be mastered before something else is introduced.
3. Create a list of learning objectives for the course.
What should the student be able to do at the end of the course? You created the course for a reason, to teach something. What is it that you want them to be able to DO?
This is a helpful resource to consider approaching different aspects of how people learn: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bloom%27s_taxonomy. (Not just “identify”, “name”, and “explain”, but also objectives that show more in-depth understanding than being able to recall terms).
4. Outline the modules.
When I say modules, I mean a cohort of lessons. So, if your course is 3 months long and you deliver information each week, you have 12 modules.
Based on what you determined you want to teach in the course, outline the modules. What comes first, second, and third? What do they need to know before they move on to the next thing?
You might consider starting with the concepts, then dive into the how tos. So this is the idea behind this part of the process, here’s how it works in theory, then here’s how you facilitate that.
5. Create module objectives.
Once you have the modules in order, create module objectives. What will they learn within this module? How does that tie into the overall course objectives? These objectives should tie into overall course objectives.
6. Build out of the lessons.
Then, build out the lessons. So if you’re teaching "Design Thinking Process”, your lessons might be: What is Design Thinking and Why Is It Useful? (an introduction), The Phases of Design Thinking (an overview), then a lesson on each of the phases of design thinking. Each lesson should communicate part of the module objectives.
7. Write the curriculum.
Obviously there was going to be a step in this process in which you actually write content. Try not to go wild here. Chances are, you are not trying to make someone an expert. There are going to be things that they discover over time, through their own practice of whatever it is that you're teaching. You don't need to cover every single scenario.
When you're writing curriculum, it helps to think of it in terms of:
- An intro (here's what you're going to learn in this)
- A couple teaching points, including examples, if you have them
- A recap of what was taught
Basically, you tell them what you're going to teach them, you teach them, then you tell them what you told them. Sound familiar? ;)
When it comes to case studies or examples, PICK ONE. Pick the one that makes the most sense/applies to the most scenarios. Remember, you're not trying to cover all possible options, but the most likely scenarios.
8. Review the curriculum.
Have someone else review your curriculum. Is it long-winded? Too short? Does it make sense? Are the examples good? Do they get what you're trying to say?
Have someone else read it through and ask questions. Then have them recap what they think they learned to see if it's on par with what you wanted them to take away from it.
Use what you learned to go back to the drawing board and hone your curriculum.
9. Revise the curriculum.
I'd be failing in my responsibility here if I told you that you could write curriculum once and be done with it. HAHAHAHAH. I just peed myself a little bit laughing.
Almost nothing doesn't change with time. Doesn't matter what you're teaching, there will be updates in your industry or field, and you'll want to revise your content to reflect those changes, or even your own personal experiences with what you're teaching.
You'll also get feedback from your students/customers that will help you further refine your content so it meets the needs of your audience. Like Derek Sivers says, "Nothing survives first contact with your customers."
I hope that these 9 steps have been helpful to you. I'd love to hear any questions or feedback, if you have it.