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5 Tips for Designing Effective Online Courses in 2024

Online Course Design

The global eLearning market is projected to grow U.S. $406 billion by 2024.

1 out of every 4 students in the U.S. is enrolled in online classes.

eLearning has led to an increase in income for 42% of U.S. organizations.

In short, online education is achieving new milestones every day. From MOOCs to live online classes, flipped classrooms, and 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 engaging and interesting than their earlier versions. This explains the rise in the number of participants in online courses and the corresponding increased demand for online courses.

But have you ever wondered how to design an online course or what goes into creating an online course that stands out from the numerous ones already available?

Watch: How to design an online course

In this post, we discuss some of the effective ways to come up with an effective online course design or online learning design.

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

Find Out What they Think

This is an essential step for creating an effective online syllabus.

  • Ask the learners what things they want to learn, and their ideal expectations from the course.
  • Conduct a market and training needs analysis to understand the knowledge gaps
  • You can do this by either adding a short survey form along with the enrollment form of your course or by contacting them via emails and social media.

Share Your Story

  • Tell your learners clearly about the objectives of the course, how your journey was, what your professional experience is, and how that course will be able to make a difference in their lives. (check out some amazing training survey question examples here)
  • 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 in developing the skill you are providing through the course.

2. Appropriate Course Content – Decide Your Plan of Action

As you start your online course design and build the course, gather all the information that you would like to share with the learners. This is one of the first rules on how to design online courses.

  • Make sure that your content is valuable and up-to-date. Back up your content and ideas with facts, if necessary.
  • Include rich media such as images, GIFs, videos, audio clips, animations and illustrations to create an impact.

Watch: How to Add Media to Your Online Courses

  • Design online course chapters to include examples wherever you can. Use your teaching skills to the maximum level to make your course effective.
  • Apart from providing high-quality materials to learners, make sure they walk out with a takeaway. Prepare relevant assignments, projects, questions or exercises that you would like to include in your course.
Read More: 15 Best eLearning Authoring Tools

3. Well Organized Course – Choose Microlearning


  • Learners may find it difficult to spare 2 to 3 hours for your course. That’s where microlearning can help.
  • Microlearning refers to delivery of content in small modules lasting no more than 10 minutes.
  • To create an effective microlearning course, just divide your content into different parts or modules, define their objectives, and prepare the content accordingly.
  • Create online training modules in such a way that they explain a topic effectively, even as a standalone course.
  • Include all the relevant information about the topic, but do not overwhelm the learners by cramming everything in one module or session.
  • At the end of each section, provide a summary to the learners so that they can remember the important points 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 theory.

Read More: 9 Experts Explain Why eLearning Success Depends on Microlearning

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 objectives of the course, any prerequisites, the complete syllabus and the complete structure of the course modules.
  • These guidelines provide an overview to the learners and so, they must be clear and precise.
  • This should be the first thing presented to your learners so that you can connect with them from the beginning of the course.

Module Guidelines

  • Apart from providing a course overview, you should also offer an outline of every module. This not only makes your course look well planned and organized, but also lets the learners 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 Learners Engaged Throughout the Course

Online Course Interactive Design

You need participation from learners not only before the starting of the course, but throughout the course. That’s why, creating a course in an effective manner is quite crucial and it should be an integral part of your overall online course design.

Ask Questions

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

Include Projects

You can ask learners to submit a project at the end of a course. This will allow them to apply the knowledge that they have gained through the course. Moreover, this practice can boost the motivation of the learners.

Encourage Discussions

Make sure that you allow your learners to interact in your virtual classroom. Let them clear their doubts, share their thoughts, and discuss their ideas. You can facilitate interactions among learners via:

  • Learner communities
  • Q&A sessions
  • Discussion forums
  • Social media

Also, as an instructor you can interact with your learners through the following effective ways. This will serve as an answer to your quest for how to be an effective online instructor:

  • Including comments section on the course
  • Emails

Include Interactive Elements

Create interactive training modules through the following ideas:

  • Include interactive questions such as multiple-choice questions, objective type questions or activities.
  • Encourage learners 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 interaction with your learners and solve their problems on the fly.
  • Include practical knowledge as much as you can. Back theories up with real life situations and stories. This will keep the learners engaged and make your course more interesting.

Read More: Accelerate Your Online Course Success Rate With Gamification

The USP of a course or an online training design is the instructor’s ability to not just deliver knowledge to the target audience effectively, but ensuring learner success after they enroll in your course. They should get some value out of the course that positively impacts their education or career.

Along with this, remember to put emphasis on the outcome of the course. At the end of the day, you’re creating a course through which learners can achieve something sooner or later.

Interesting Read: Best Litmos Alternative

Designing Online Courses? Go For Effective Online Course Design

Training learners online is no less challenging than training in a physical classroom. Instructors need to learn and apply new technologies such as online course design software to create an effective course. Online instructors should always keep evaluating themselves and find out ways through which they can make online learning more valuable and effective.

Are there any additional tips you would like suggest on how to design an effective online course or how to design an online course professionally? Then we’d love to hear from you. Do share your views in the comments section below.

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About the author

Kamy Anderson is an online training expert and a product manager. He leads the product vision and strategy of ProProfs Training Maker. Kamy blogs about trends in eLearning, online training, employee training, gamification, LMS, AI, and more. His articles are published in eLearningIndustry, TrainingMag, Training Zone, and Learning Solutions Magazine. You can connect with Kamy on LinkedIn.