Once you have settled on your e-Course idea, the next step is all about structuring the content to suit different learning styles and writing the content. This is where the real work of translating your skills into something that people can learn from and be engaged by really takes place! So how can you organise your e-Course for success?
This is often the stage where people get stuck – they have loads of ideas in their head but don’t know how to evolve the ideas into a well-structured e-Course.
This is the time to start defining exactly what your e-Course will cover and it may end up looking different to what you first thought it would.
I go through three stages to do this including:
- Brainstorm – mind mapping or post-it note method
- Structure – developing my e-Course outline
- Define – developing my module outlines
Brainstorm your e-Course idea
a) Mind Mapping
Mind mapping is an extremely effective and efficient way to brainstorm the content you want to cover in your e-Course.
I use a mind map as a visual representation of all the ideas and concepts I could integrate into an e-Course. This begins with my e-Course topic in the centre and I then brainstorm the high-level steps, methodology or topics that I could cover. I try to let this process be as creative as possible and don’t impose boundaries such as I don’t know much about that topic – I just write down whatever comes into my head. Once I have these high-level topics or modules I try to break them down with key steps, important points, resources and potential activities.
b) Post-it Note Method
Another great method is brainstorming every topic and sub-topic, keywords, ideas, delivery method and really anything you can think of on individual post it notes.
Then find a big table or large window and start sorting different ideas into modules and moving them around until you are happy with the structure and contents. This is great as you can keep playing around with it until it is right without having to re-write it.
I used this method a lot in my past life as a strategic sourcing analyst and we would get all our ideas out of our head onto post-it notes and then order, categorise and prioritise them.
You can also take a photo when you are done and then translate that into your e-Course and Module outlines.
An example of the Post-it Note Method for e-Course organisation.
Trello is a free app that works brilliantly for organising your e-Course from the brainstorming stage right through to implementation. You can effectively use Trello for a digital version of the post-it note method but the real power with Trello comes from being able to expand the ideas further with checklists, links, attachments and implementing the calendar functionality for task reminders. Trello has drag and drop functionality meaning that you can move your lists and cards around as you work through the organisation process.
If you’d like to learn more about the above techniques check out the e-Course Idea Generator!
Structure your e-Course
Once the mind map or post-it note activity is complete I sit down and start typing what looks like a contents page for the entire e-Course using the best subject areas and sub-headings – otherwise known as a course outline. My favourite tool for this is Google docs as I find this the best collaboration software for my content.
Then I move around the order based on what would be the most effective sequence to teach to people in and/or what seems to be the most obvious order. I may add or take away points. If I have a set idea of how many weeks I want my e-Course to go for I may need to add or remove topics to achieve the desired length. The idea here is that you break the e-Course down into manageable chunks or topics/modules to prevent overwhelm. Each module or topic should be able to be done as a standalone but should also connect with the previous and following module.
Decide on your content delivery frequency
You need to decide on the best delivery timeframes for your e-Course and here are some examples:
- daily content release with small or micro actions and daily inspiration for a set timeframe (a week, a month, a year etc.)
- weekly content released for a set period (most common is somewhere between 4-8 weeks)
- monthly content release – this is generally used for a longer-term program such as a one year program
Example: An e-Course guiding women through pregnancy might have 40 weekly topics or 9 monthly topics.
Define your content
Once you have your e-Course outline it is time to plan out your modules.
As part of e-Course Launch Formula I have a Module Planner that gets you to name your module, describe your module, set learning objectives, list potential activities and additional resources and then to plan your content and delivery mechanisms. I still use this module planner when writing modules for new e-Courses or e-Programs. It really helps to spend time planning it out before I start writing.
I suggest using the 3-point approach for content when you are first planning a module. This means that for each topic within the module you have no more than three sub-topics. This helps to prevent you from writing too much and reduces overwhelm for the participant.
My preferred way of delivering e-Courses is with a detailed workbook at the centre of the delivery and other supporting methods. However, you don’t have to do it this way. I’ve participated in a number of e-Courses that use video or audio and the rest of the content was delivered as worksheets with written instructions. It really is up to you.
I find it much easier to start writing my content once I have used the module planner to set topics and sub-topics – it is more manageable and less overwhelming.
How much content should I include?
This is the million-dollar question!
There is no simple answer but there are several things you need to consider:
- be generous but not overwhelming – you don’t want people to get overwhelmed and quit (you want success stories)
- the positioning of your e-Course (basically this is about where this e-Course sits in relation to your other offerings and this will determine how much content you should include)
- provide enough content to meet the stated aims but do not “stuff” the content just to make it look better
- don’t give it all away – could you spread this knowledge out into multiple e-Courses or a high-level group program or mastermind?
- is this e-Course meant to be a lead-in offering to entice people to sign-up to one-on-one work? If so you don’t want to give everything away.
- let’s face it for a few hundred dollars or a few thousand your intellectual property is in the hands of many. You may want to think about which tools and processes you want to make this public and perhaps reserve your best stuff for one-on-one or your premium clients
Finally, ask yourself is this content useful, necessary and will it help people achieve the outcomes promised?
The e-Course Launch Formula is now open for year-round enrollment.