The advancement of online education platforms has created an incredible opportunity for educators, instructional designers, and other experts. Now more than ever, it is easy to share expertise with others in the form of online courses in exchange for payment from students. The increasing demand for online educational programs is successfully being met with an increasing supply of affordable, online education platforms and professionals engaging in a side hustle of creating online courses. In the current labor market, 4 in 10 Americans have a side job (Dixon, 2018). Why wait? If you have expertise to share, and know of an interested population of students, start earning extra money fast by learning how to write an online training course that is effective.
Things to Consider Before You Create an Online Course on an Education Platform
- Understand Your Target Audience
- Do your due diligence and research your target audience (Iny, 2015). Learn about the language they use surrounding your online course topic, and adopt that rhetoric in your course content. Your course will be more engaging and approachable if you and your target audience speak the same language.
- Find your target audience in blogs and public, online discussion boards. Gauge what their interest might be in your potential course and what specific areas within that course sound especially appealing. Collecting and analyzing this qualitative data can help you optimize your course and increase your profits (Iny, 2015).
- Choose a Reliable Online Course Management Platform
- This is typically in the form of a cloud-based learning management system (LMS). With an LMS, you can create your dynamic courses online and deliver courses to students all in one platform.
- CertCentral is an easy-to-use, reliable LMS that can manage your new online course business. CertCentral can seamlessly integrate with your website to deliver multimedia-rich training courses.
How to Write an Online Training Course
- Create an Outline
- Creating a comprehensive course is a large endeavor. It is important to remain organized so that you group content in an easily digestible way for learners (Chan, 2018).
- To save time, don’t reinvent the wheel with brand new content. If you have previously published works (e.g., articles and eBooks) on the same topic as your course, simply copy and paste that content into your outline and eventual course modules (Chan, 2018).
- In your outline, ensure that you are using strong, current references. This way your course is relevant and it is easy to track where information is being gathered from to avoid plagiarism.
- Transfer Sections of Your Outline to Each Course Module
- Each course module is like a chapter of a book. Copy and paste content from your outline into each module in minutes.
- Incorporate Multimedia Resources Into Each Module
- Learning management systems easily support high-quality videos, PowerPoints, images, graphs, and other multimedia files. According to Kress, Jewitt, Ogborn, and Charalampos (2006), presenting each concept in different ways, through many mediums, improves learning outcomes (as cited in Nilson, 2010, p. 237). Therefore, incorporating videos, interactive presentations, images, and other forms of multimedia within each module can improve the learner experience.
- Upload original videos directly from your computer to your learning management system easily with your QuickTime Player, or upload video files from major video sharing platforms such as YouTube or Vimeo.
- Multimedia-rich courses are also more engaging. This will help your course gain a strong reputation, and will increase the likelihood that students refer peers to your program.
- Create Quizzes After Each Module
- Test student comprehension by creating questions to be delivered to students after viewing each module. These quizzes can help students retain knowledge shared in each module. In fact, according to Messineo, Gentile, and Allegra (2015), test-enhanced learning provides superior long-term retention when compared to simply re-reading course materials without testing.
- Create exams with multiple question types. Utilize multiple choice questions, true/false, and yes/no questions. Combining many question types ensures that students can recall and recognize information in a variety of ways. This improves learning outcomes.
- Price Your Course
- Once you have completed writing your online course, you must determine the cost of your course. To price your course effectively, consider the following questions.
- How much are courses on similar topics?
- Research other courses related to your course topic and see how much others are charging (Derek, n.d.). Additionally, research the authors of these courses and determine how their background and level of expertise affects the price set for their course. These factors will help you price your course.
- How much can you charge to make a profit?
- To determine the answer to this question, consider the amount you are paying for your learning management system per month. Then determine how many courses you must sell per month in order to make a profit.
- How much support are you willing to provide to your students?
- The higher the quality of student support given, the greater the amount you can charge for your course (Derek, n.d.). This may involve 24/7 instant message service, phone support, or email support. Depending on the support type you provide, price your course accordingly.
- How much are courses on similar topics?
- Share Your Course With the World!
- Unlike traditional in-person training courses, online training courses can reach learners from around the globe. Easily share your course with interested students through several means.
- Upload your online course to an online course library. This allows your course to be viewable by millions of online students who frequent that online course library. Though this might increase the visibility of your course, the downside is that an online course library will most likely receive a cut of the profits for each of the courses you sell (Loper, 2017). Take this pro and con into consideration before deciding to go this route.
- Post a link to your course to blogs and social media websites that your population of interest frequents.
- Market your course through online advertisements targeted at your audience of interest.
Chan, J. (2018, June 2). Foundr’s guide on how to successfully create an online course [Blog post]. Retrieved from https://foundr.com/create-a-online-course/
Derek. (n.d.). How to make money with an awesome online course: The complete guide [Blog post]. Retrieved from https://socialtriggers.com/online-courses-create-and-sell/
Dixon, A. (2018, June 25). The average side hustler earns $8k annually [Blog post]. Retrieved from https://www.bankrate.com/personal-finance/smart-money/side-hustles-survey-june-2018/
Iny, D. (2015, January 15). Turn your skills into cash: How to create and sell a short course [Blog post]. Retrieved from https://www.thepennyhoarder.com/make-money/side-gigs/how-to-create-and-sell-a-short-course/?aff_id=2&aff_sub2=how-to-create-online-courses
Loper, N. (2017, May 16). This math teacher found a way to make $1 million/ year. Here’s how he did it [Blog post]. Retrieved from https://www.thepennyhoarder.com/make-money/how-to-create-online-courses/
Messineo, L., Gentile, M., & Allegra, M. (2015). Test-enhanced learning: analysis of an experience with undergraduate nursing students. BMC Medical Education, 15, 1–7. doi:10.1186/s12909-015-0464-5
Nilson, L. (2010). Teaching at its best: A research-based resource for college instructors (3rd ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.