The Ultimate Guide to Designing Engaging Online Courses

April 25, 2023

Much of the content you find online is incredibly boring.

If you've ever taken an online course, you know how boring it can be. Most of the content is written by people who are not native English speakers and it's hard to engage with them. If you want to make sure that your course has high engagement and retention rates, then there are some things that you need to consider:

  • The first thing is learning how students learn best. You need to understand the different types of learners so that you can cater for each type in your course design.*
  • The second thing is understanding what makes content engaging or boring for learners.*

It's not easy to create engaging content

Creating an engaging online course is not easy. You need to be able to engage with your audience, convey your knowledge clearly and explain concepts in a way that is easy to understand. You also need to make the content relevant and useful for them.

Make the most of your strengths

If you're not a good teacher, find a friend who is. If you're not a good writer, find someone who is. And if you're not a good designer... well... There are plenty of people out there who are willing to help (on Upwork and similar sites).

This can be tricky because it involves bringing others into your project, but as long as they're up front about their skill sets and what they can provide in terms of support (designing graphics or creating graphics from scratch), then things should run smoothly without any issues arising later on down the road when it comes time for content updates or revisions based on user feedback from customers/students who took part in beta testing sessions before launching publicly available versions onto platforms like Udemy or Coursera

Use tools and templates to create an engaging course

  • Use tools to help you make your course. There are many different tools available that can help you create an engaging online course. Free options include Canva and PicMonkey, but if you're willing to spend a little money, there are plenty of paid options as well:
  • Templates that look professional will help give students confidence in the quality of what they're about to learn from your course. Use templates like this one from 99 Designs or this one from ThemeForest (which is actually a WordPress theme).

Focus on relevant topics, not just any topic with a large audience

When deciding what to teach, it's important to focus on relevant topics. Don't just pick any topic with a large audience; choose one that you're passionate about, that is in demand and that you can teach well.

For example, if you love gardening but know nothing about accounting or law, then don't try teaching those subjects! Instead, look for courses where your passion for gardening intersects with others' needs, for example: "Growing Herbs Indoors" or "Edible Landscaping."

Tell a story about how others have changed for the better after taking your course

Case studies are a great way to show how others have changed for the better after taking your course. They can be used as testimonials, or you could even create a case study video where you interview real people who have taken your online course.

Case study videos are also an excellent way to demonstrate how your product works in real life situations. In this example from Udemy's "Make Money Online: The Complete Guide For Newbies" course (which has over 2 million students), the instructor uses a case study video of someone who is making money from their blog:

Be personal, not formal

You are not just a teacher, you are a human. And your students will respond better if they see that you're human too. So don't be afraid to use your own experiences to help them relate and connect with the material you're teaching.

When I was learning about social media management, I asked my professor how she got her job as an instructor at our university. She told me that she had worked as an intern at several companies after graduating college and always found herself asking questions about how they did things differently than other companies, and why those differences existed in the first place, so when she saw an opening on their staff roster for someone who could teach social media management classes based on their experiences working in this field, she applied immediately (and got hired)!

It was obvious from the way she told this story that she was proud of her past experience working with these companies; but it wasn't until after class ended that I realised what made her story so effective: She didn't just talk about herself as though we were sitting around casually chatting about our lives together over coffee; instead, by sharing stories from her life experiences (both good ones), my professor showed us how being open minded can lead us down paths we never thought possible before!

With some effort, it's possible to make your courses more engaging for your students

So, how do you make your course more engaging? Here are some ideas:

  • Use videos. Videos can be a great way to teach concepts that are difficult to explain in words, or if you don't have time to spend writing out every single step of an exercise. Plus, they help students visualise what they're learning and keep them engaged throughout the course material. If possible, try filming yourself doing an activity or demonstration so that students can see how it's done rather than just reading about it, this will make their jobs easier when they have to repeat what they've learned!
  • Use pictures and diagrams instead of text-only explanations whenever possible; this helps keep things interesting while still giving them all the information they need at once (instead of having everything spelled out on one page). For example: "The following diagram shows how..." vs "In order for electricity to flow through this circuit..." This makes learning easier because we're able to see what's happening without having all those technical terms thrown around constantly!

FAQs on Creating Engaging Online Courses

Creating an engaging online course can be a complex and rewarding endeavour. To help you navigate this process, we've compiled a list of frequently asked questions (FAQs) that address common challenges and provide valuable insights into the world of online course design. Uncover the answers you need to create a truly impactful and captivating learning experience for your students.

Do I need my own website to create online courses?

If you are creating an online course for a specific audience, then it's important to know who they are and where they hang out. If your target market is primarily made up of people who are already on social media, then Facebook or Instagram may be the best places for you to share your content. On the other hand, if your audience tends to hang out in groups on private forums or Slack channels, those would be better platforms for posting videos than YouTube or Vimeo (although there could still be value in sharing some of those videos there).

If you don't have access to your own website or blog where people can sign up for newsletters, then using a free platform like Udemy might be enough, but it will probably mean having less control over how things look and feel than if you had set up something more customised yourself.

Should I create pre-recorded online courses?

When you're deciding whether or not to create pre-recorded online courses, the first question you should ask yourself is: do I want to be able to teach from anywhere? If the answer is yes, then creating a live course might not be for you.

When it comes down to it though, there are many pros and cons of both options. Here's a quick rundown of some things to consider before making your decision:

  • Pro: You'll be able to record your sessions as many times as needed without having anyone in attendance. This means that if something goes wrong during recording (e.g., someone coughs loudly), then no one will notice because they were never there!

What's a great way to make sure my online courses are engaging?

A great way to make sure your online courses are engaging is by creating a course that is relevant to your audience. Your students should be able to connect with the material and feel like they're getting something out of it.

You can use Udemy's Course Builder tool or Canva (a free graphic design tool) to create your own engaging course graphics, like infographics and slideshows.

Video, audio, and images are all great ways for you as the instructor to engage with students in an informal manner, for example: instead of just writing an explanation about how a certain process works on screen during class time, try recording yourself walking through those steps so that everyone has access after class ends; similarly if there's something complex being discussed in the lecture videos then consider adding an extra slide where it shows up visually instead of only verbally explaining it (this will help students who don't speak English natively).

Can I earn from creating online courses?

You can earn from creating online courses. It all depends on your skill and experience, but it's possible to make a full-time income from teaching online courses.


Creating engaging online courses is not easy, but it's worth the effort. You'll find that your students are more engaged with your material, and they'll be more likely to remember it. If you want to make money from your course, then you need to make sure that it has high production value and is as engaging as possible so people will want to buy it!

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