Designing an Effective Online Course


Online education is achieving new milestones every day. From MOOCs to live online classes or flipped classrooms to hybrid courses, a number of options are available for online courses. Previously, online courses could be accessed only on desktops, which is no longer the case. The present day online courses are much more flexible and responsive, the reason why the participation of students in online courses has drastically improved. On top of that, a leading  report suggests that one out of every 4 students in US is enrolled in online classes today. As there is a huge demand for online courses, instructors are now expected to create courses that are not only valuable, but also interactive and engaging.

How Can You Make Your Online Course Stand Out?

The USP of a course is the instructor’s ability to effectively deliver the ideas and knowledge to the target audience. That said, the instructors must be able to transfer that energy and enthusiasm to the students through the virtual environment.

Apart from this, we present some of the possible ways to design your course effectively.

  1. Participation – Make Sure that Students Participate in Your Online Course


Generate Curiosity

You need to build curiosity among students about the course even before it starts.

  • Present the agenda of your course in an easy to understand manner. Be clear about the purpose and objective of the course from the beginning.
  • Describe the value offered by the course along with a persuasive reason to enroll.

Find out What they Think

  • Ask the students why they want to join the course, what things they want to learn and their ideal expectations from the course.
  • You can do this by either adding up a short form with the enrollment form of your course or you can also contact them via communities such as social media and emails.

Share your Story

  • Tell students why you are teaching this course, how your journey was, what your professional experience is and how this skill will be able to make a difference in your life.
  • For instance, if you are blogging for 10 years now and you want to share your knowledge about blogging through a course, you can easily explain your story about how you became a blogger, the challenges you faced and how you overcame them.
  • Inspire people with your story. Share interesting facts that will make them interested to develop the skill you are providing through the course.

2. Clear and Appropriate Course Content – Decide Your Plan of Action

As you build the course, first gather all the information that you would like to share with the students.

  • Make sure that your content is valuable and up to date. Backup your content and ideas with facts, if necessary.
  • Include rich media such as images, GIF, videos, audio clips, animations and illustrations to create an impact.
  • Include examples wherever you can. Use your teaching skills effectively to make your course effective.
  • Apart from providing high-quality material to the students, it’s your responsibility to ensure that they learn and walk out with a takeaway. Hence, prepare appropriate assignments, projects, questions or exercises that you would like to include in your course.

3. Well Organized Course – Choose Micro-Learning!


  • Students are expected to accomplish a lot of things every day whether it’s about attending classes, preparing assignments or study for an exam. That said, your students may find it difficult to spare 2 to 3 hours for your course. Hence, choose micro-learning to organize your course.
  • In a nutshell, Micro-learning refers to delivering the content in small modules in no more than 10 minutes.
  • To create an effective micro-learning course, just divide your content into different parts on modules, define their objectives and then, prepare the content accordingly.
  • Design each module in a way that it can explain a topic effectively, even as a standalone course. Include all the relevant and important information about the topic, but do not overwhelm the students by including everything in one module or session.
  • At the end of every section, provide a summary to the students so that they can remember the important points and terminologies easily.
  • Include exercises or questions related to the topic to keep them engaged while learning the course. You can also include separate sections for practice tests after the theoretical sections.

4. Clear Objectives – Provide Clear and Precise Guidelines

Course guidelines

  • The first module of your course should describe the guidelines of your course. It should include the objective of the course, any prerequisites, the complete syllabus and the complete structure of the course modules.
  • These guidelines will provide an overview to the students and therefore,  they must be clear and precise. Also, this should be the first thing so that you can connect with the students from the beginning of the course.

Module Guidelines

  • Apart from providing a course overview, you should also offer an outline of every module. This will not only make your course look organized and well planned, but will also let the students identify the highlights of every module.
  • You can name all the important concepts or topics of the module in these guidelines. All the module guidelines should be presented just before starting the module.   

5. Interactive design – Keep Students Engaged Throughout the Course



designYou need participation from students not only before the starting of the course, but throughout the course. Hence, creating the course in an effective manner is quite crucial.

Ask Questions

Include questions and  debates in your course that would make students think beyond the syllabus. You can also make them research on a particular topic.

Include Projects

You can ask students to submit a project at the end of the course. This will allow them to apply the knowledge that they have gained through the course. Moreover, this practice would also help in giving a motivation boost for the students and the instructors.


Make sure that you allow your students to interact in your virtual classroom. Let them clear their doubts, share their thoughts and discuss their ideas. You can interact with the students by:

  • Including comments section after every section
  • Including comments section on the course
  • Emails
  • Social media communities
  • Forums

Include interactive elements  

  • Do not include boring assignment questions in the course. Rather, include interactive questions such as multiple choice questions, objective type questions or some activities.
  • Encourage students to develop a course connection with their instructor. After they have completed every module, appreciate their work and motivate them.
  • You can also conduct webinars or live sessions to increase the interaction with the students and solve their problems on the fly.
  • Include practical knowledge as much as you can. Backup theory with real life situations and stories. Doing this will keep the students engaged and make your course more interesting.

Teaching online is no less challenging than teaching in a physical classroom. Instructors need to learn and apply new technologies to create an effective course. Online instructors should always keep evaluating themselves and find out ways through which they can make online learning more effective and memorable. What tips would you suggest in the above list to make online classes more effective?

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