Creating an Effective Online Course: Keeping Learners Engaged

In recent years, the internet has been used more and more for earning a living and starting a career. Along with others, online courses are now a huge part of this and the industry is now thought to be worth over $200 billion. For businesses and education institutions, e-learning is a fantastic resource which opens the door for content producers. However, the biggest challenge course creators face is not the formatting or distribution but rather keeping the content engaging. With this in mind, we have compiled a list of seven tips provided by the experts!

Clear Structure

If you want to keep your readers engaged, you need to have a clear structure with each element clearly labelled. For example, the introduction should explain the goals of the course as well as the benefits to the reader. At all times, the interface should be appealing and easy to use to prevent frustration and confusion. From here, all relevant information needs to be divided in a sensible manner before then adding any graphics and videos you need. Remember, the eyes are immediately attracted to visual sections so intersperse the information with interactive features. Finally, give the reader a chance to check on their progress and receive feedback.

All in the Mind

Did you know that the human brain will react differently to certain colors, shapes, words, and fonts? If you want to have a certain emotional response from the people taking the course, be sure to research this and dig a little deeper. By doing this, your message can have the right impact whilst constantly attracting new learners. Furthermore, the design of your course will play an important role. According to WishPond, a recent study suggests that conversion rates can increase by as much as 15% after the color of the CTA button changes. Whenever we see a color, our mind jumps to conclusions or feels different emotions so you need to use this fact to your advantage.

Add Power

According to a recent study from the Wharton University of Pennsylvania, there are two main factors that receive a positive emotion within learners and these are visual content and personalization. Of course, we have already spoken about the importance of visual content but how do you add personalization?

In short, you should be looking for power and this can come through certain words and sentences. For example, don’t just write to the world and hope that somebody picks up on it; instead, use ‘you’ because then it feels as though you are actually speaking to them. After this, you will find various persuasive words such as results, save, guarantee, etc. In truth, most learners make up their mind about your course within five seconds so don’t overload the first few pages with text. Also, keep the language simple because this will allow the learner to read quickly and effectively.

Remain Compelling

Leading on from the previous point, the information should be straightforward and you shouldn’t be adding a call-to-action (CTA) every other line. At this point, we should note the headlines are the first thing that each learner will see so make sure they follow some basic rules;

  • They need to be useful so the learners know exactly what is in the section.
  • They should always be clear and never misleading.
  • They should also have a sense of urgency and that your learner would be missing out by clicking away.

If you think about the headline in a newspaper, they also follow these rules because they give a short description of the story. This being said, it is equally important that your content delivers otherwise the learner will simply be left disappointed and this is the last thing you want. Once again, you can utilize color and even space to keep the layout clear and structured.

Choose Your CTA Carefully

If you have never created an online course before, there is a well-known rule that says you should only ever write one CTA per page. If your content is good enough, the reader will go looking for your CTAs themselves so put your attentions into high-quality content. Also, be sure to vary your CTAs to include questions or even interactive graphics because this will make them want to continue. Although you are probably getting bored of hearing it, color can be used here once again; remember the statistic we told you earlier (15% increase in conversion rate just by changing the color!).

Show Value

If a course is made up solely of text, it could be the most informative course in the world but you would still struggle to see success because it doesn’t have enough value and it won’t be engaging. Therefore, you should be looking to have video as one of the core features of your course. At first, this might be time-consuming and you might even struggle with the editing but there is nothing wrong with keeping the videos simple; you don’t have to win an Oscar!

Light the Flame

With a good course, they don’t just teach learners the right information; they light the flame and create a thirst for knowledge. Rather than feeling like a chore, the learners should want to complete your course and even keep researching beyond your course. Before we go, we should also mention the marketing stage because this is just as important as the course itself. If you write a course and just leave it to fend for itself, you will not see success no matter how good it is. Nowadays, you need to create a marketing campaign just as every author does too.

There we have it, some superb tips for keeping learners engaged and creating an effective online course. In truth, it all comes down to experience so get practicing today and you will only improve over time. Even if you start with a small course, this is better than doing nothing at all!

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