8 min read
Tick. Tick. Tick. All you see is that awful cursor flickering on your screen to tell you what you already know…
You still have a blank page.
When you sit down to outline a course it can be a bit overwhelming. You have a million and one ideas. But where do you start? What should you say? What’s going to be the most helpful for your students?
So often we have a tendency to want to fill the page with fancy gimmicks and crazy adages, when really, your students just want results.
So before you write a lesson plan you have to start with two things.
Ultimately your course is about solving a problem- as much as it may be about teaching them how to use XYZ.
They don’t know how to do something. You do. And you need to figure out a clear way to communicate it.
To identify the problem you are solving, start with these 5 action items:
With your two main questions answered, now is time to get clear on the steps. If “Sam” wants to go from A to B, i.e. their current location, where they don’t know what to do, to this fancy schmancy destination, how are you going to get them there?
Keep in mind your students are taking your course to fast-track their results. So how can you both teach them everything they need to know and allow them to skip steps along the way. Write out all the steps. Generally there should only be 3 to 8 clear, concise steps to get there.
These steps – they turn into your modules.
Inside each module there are going to be things your student needs to know to progress on to the next step. Don’t assume anything about their previous knowledge or experience. Break down a single step into smaller bit size chunks that give them the literal roadmap.
While there is no limit to the amount of lessons you can have within each module, be mindful of a couple of things:
So yes, I did just tell you to not make too many. But also to break it up (I know you like to stuff it all in).
And while every course includes different tasks, lessons and teachings, here are a couple things that should be included in your modules:
Don’t be that teacher – you know that one that practically puts you to sleep – with monotone voices, advanced concepts, and way too much theory. Instead before you plan out your course think about how you can give them those tiny bites or mini-wins along the way.
Remember why you got these people here in the first place? They want to solve this problem. They want to have their cake and eat it too. So allow them to taste victory along the way. You need to give them mini-wins– tiny bites of what it will be like if they actually make it to the other side.
Allow them to visualize what life is like when they finish this course. Your content doesn’t have to be crazy long and your slides don’t have to be overly designed as long as you are delivering quality content.
In an online space it’s so easy to feel disjointed and alone from the rest of the world. And when taking a course online that isolation can be broken if we strive to foster community instead. It is your job as the instructor to create an environment ripe for feedback and discussion.
Consider allowing your students to not only interact with one another but direct future iterations of your product.
As you write your lesson plans, you are bound to have that lightbulb moment. Ya know when you remember that FABULOUS quote from that book you were just reading, or a blog post that your students would go gaga over.
It’s so easy to have these elements slip through the cracks, and by the time you are uploading your final materials you forget to include them. So make sure for every lesson to have a reference section. There you need to go ahead and track down the necessary links, awesome quotes or perhaps one of the following:
At this point you should know the main objective of your course. You should have defined all the modules and all the lessons. But now you need to think about what you will actually teach in each particular lesson.
For each lesson you need to:
Now that you have your course outline locked and loaded – it’s time to start creating!
Download ConvertKit’s Online Course Outline Template to take the next step in your course creating journey.
Download this issue of Tradecraft as a PDF to read and reference at your own pace.