Want to know how I go about building an online course for a client? Of course you do! Let me walk you through the creative and technical aspects of the process…
My legions of fans (*cough* mostly my friends and family) often ask me, “Lisa, how DO you build an online course?!” To which I respond, “Chris Hemsworth (*cough* Aunty Thelma), it’ll be my pleasure to explain the various stages and steps to you.” I figured it was time to put all that juicy info in a blog post, so here we are.
There are three stages in the e-learning course development process: design, build and deliver. Here’s a breakdown of what each stage involves…
Stage 1: Design
During the design stage, I pick my clients’ brains, demand materials from them (I’m not afraid to crack the whip!), create a first draft of their course and ask for two rounds of feedback.
Step 1: Deep-dive session
The initial strategy session usually takes between one and two hours. We discuss my client’s target audience (who their students will be), their students’ goals, the structure of the course, the hierarchy of the modules, the materials they already have and the ones they (or I) need to create. Then, I set tight deadlines for them to deliver those materials. Time is money, baby!
Step 2: Storyboard design
This step is the core of the creative process. The storyboard I design is essentially a rough first draft of the course, so I put a lot of time and effort into nailing the colour scheme, look and feel, structure, written content, activities, quizzes, resources (PDFs and workbooks), and video content.
Step 3: Feedback cycle 1
I send the storyboard to my client and ask them to provide feedback within three to five days. I expect them to ask for any major structural changes at this stage and to let me know what they think of the voice, language, flow, structure and activities included in the course. I make all their changes within a day or two and add in more activities and quizzes if needed.
Step 4: Feedback cycle 2
This is the final approval stage and there are usually only minor changes to be made. After this stage is completed, I charge an hourly rate for further content changes.
Stage 2: Build
During stage two, I bust my butt developing the course. My co-workers know I’m in stage two when I have my headphones permanently stuck in my ears and I refuse to make eye contact.
Step 1: Put all the content on the platform
I start by designing a landing page within the online course platform (if necessary) and putting all the course content into modules and lessons. I input all the quizzes and assessments, organise voice-overs if they’re needed, and upload all the videos and resources.
Step 2: Feedback cycle 1
As in stage 1, I expect any important changes to be flagged now. Adjustments generally relate to how the course is structured rather than the wording or content at this point.
Step 3: Feedback cycle 2
I ask my clients to make any final changes now or expect a hefty hourly rate later! This helps the client keep on track and their course development moving forward rather than spending weeks procrastinating and the project stalling. I love decisive clients!
Stage 3: Test the course
The schmancy term for this stage is “user acceptance testing”. Two testers take the course and give me feedback on the design and text. I also get them to test all the videos and resources on various devices (mobile, tablet and laptop). Once I’ve made any necessary adjustments, I send the course to my client and ask them to test it. They might want to make some small changes, but my clients mostly have questions for me at this stage on how to use the platform and change their course in the future (if they need to). I can also show them how to make any final tweaks by themselves if they want to get a feel for the platform.
Stage 4: Deliver
Woohoo – the course is good to go! It’s time to hand the reins over to my client.
Step 1: Handover creation
I send a handover email to my client with all the login information, guides, documents and files they need. If training is included in their package, I also send them personalised videos demonstrating how to use the platform and the course.
Step 2: Ongoing support
I offer ongoing support to my clients for an hourly fee if they need it.
Voila! Now you know what a month (or so) in my life looks like. Each course is a labour of love and I always send my handover email off with a mix of elation and sadness.
Do you have any questions about building an online course? Book a chat with me 😊
Lisa Sparkle ✨
Lisa Listama is the owner and e-learning developer of Sparkle E-Learning.