Basic Bones of an Effective Online Course

Any veteran teacher will tell you that planning is the key to a successful course. Not all e-learning courses are taught by veteran teachers, however. Even if you don’t have years in the classroom, you can still follow some basic guidelines to develop a course that helps your learners get what they need. Here are five essential elements that benefit most online courses.

Technical Backgrounder

Some of your learners may be pros at navigating an online environment, but many won’t be. Even if they’re addicted to their iPad, they still may need help understanding your online learning environment. We build and host courses in ATutor, which is extremely intuitive, but we still provide a set of instructions that explains how everything works. Do this for any of your online courses, and make sure you cover any other kinds of technical requirements, such as a need for third-party software like Adobe Acrobat.

Syllabus or Overview

Set expectations early, and everyone will be more satisfied with the outcome. Tell your learners what you’ll be covering in the course, broken down by chapter or module. Include objectives and lend a preview into upcoming assignments or what you’re expecting from participants.


This is the filling in your online learning sandwich. Be organized when you structure what your learners are to be learning. Some people call these modules.

Course Wrap-Up

When the course is over, summarize the key information covered. I think it’s effective to add a few bullet points that tell learners what steps they can take next to put what they learned into effect.

Final Survey

Always ask for feedback. What your learners say about the course will prove invaluable when you offer your course the next time. Also ask your instructors to provide an evaluation. This will help you make educated revisions from a different viewpoint.

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