There are many reasons that people choose to create online courses, including creating a source of passive income, building authority in a specific niche, and driving traffic to their business. Regardless of which reason is true for you, your success is based on your ability to be a great online educator.
Many people can build PowerPoint presentations and simply throw them up on a hosting site. But unless you’re also a great online educator, your course will fall flat. So what does being ‘great’ entail?
Here are some of the best ways to optimise your online teaching abilities and reach your goals as a result:
1. Know your stuff
It might seem obvious, but the best online educators are those who are experts in what they are teaching. It’s vital that when choosing topics for your online classes, you pick those you have the knowledge and experience to teach. There may be other high demand topics that you think you can pull off a course on, and maybe you can. But to deliver the best value and experience to e-learners, you need to genuinely know what you’re talking about.
You don’t need to have a university degree or 25 years of experience to build an online course. But you need to have something that gives you the authority on the subject. Otherwise, why should people trust you? For example, maybe you’ve raised three kids on a vegan diet and come up with tons of delicious recipes that are guilt-free, easy for busy mums and that kids love. You would then have the authority to teach an online course to new mums about how to cook nutritious and delicious vegan meals for kids.
Being an online educator is a relatively new concept for many people and very different from teaching a course in person. Everyone learns differently, and when you can’t be there to answer questions in real-time or guide those taking your course, it can definitely test your patience. In addition, you’ll likely be delivering your course via premade slides and videos, so if a student doesn’t fully understand something, you can’t always address it right away.
Instead, they may send seemingly obvious questions and take longer to complete modules as they wait for a response. Patience is a virtue in the online teaching space and one of the trade-offs for the freedom and flexibility to create online income from your course.
3. Basic tech skills
To be an effective online educator, you have to have at least a base level of technical know-how. The more technical skills you have, the easier it will be for you to host an effective and profitable course online. But, first, you need the skills to build your classes, which means using software to create high-quality presentations, slides, and videos. You’ll also need to navigate your way around your chosen hosting platform.
To keep students engaged in your online programmes, you need to diversify the content you use to teach. This means using a combination of slides, videos, tests and other interactive elements. Learning how to create different media types is essential if you want to be a great online educator. Brush up on your tech skills to deliver a more immersive and successful eLearning experience for your students.
4. Be accessible
Whilst you don’t need to be available 24/7 to answer your students’ requests, you must be accessible to provide support when it’s needed. You can choose how you’d like to do this, whether you’re accessible by email, online chat or via MycoLearn’s in-built discussion boards.
One of the goals of creating an online course is likely to generate a passive income stream. And whilst you can just host your online course and leave it to do its thing, if you want to be a great online educator, you need to ensure your students feel valued beyond just their financial investment. Being accessible is one of the ways you can do that.
Not only will that make eLearners respect you more, but it will also build trust and increase the chances of them recommending you to others. Beyond that, if you offer additional courses in the future, your students are more likely to continue taking them.
5. Build a community
Taking an online class can feel isolating. Enrolling in an in-person workshop or programme provides more than just a learning experience; it provides a community. Communities bring people together around a common interest, create accountability and foster motivation. Consider if you’re taking an online course on your own. The only person to hold you accountable is you. You have no one to discuss the topics or modules with, making it very hard to stay motivated.
By creating a community for your online students, you can encourage them to engage with and complete your course. An active community gives people a place to discuss what they are learning, ask questions and even make friends. You can create communities using forums, discussion boards or our favourite, Facebook Groups. That means people can continue to engage even after they finish your course, and you can also use the groups as a way to market your other classes, products or services.
6. Keep it simple
People have short attention spans, especially when doing things online. Remember that the topic you’re teaching is likely new to your students, and you need to keep your content as simple as possible so that it’s easy to digest. If it’s too complex, too much text to read, or not aesthetically pleasing, they will soon lose interest, and likely won’t complete your course.
Make sure your slides are engaging and easy on the eyes. Use clear and concise language and avoid using terms and phrases that not everyone will understand. Diversifying your content, using fun graphics, bullet points, bold fonts, tables, etc., will support your students through the learning process and reduce the time you spend answering their questions.
Become a great online educator
Anyone can be a fantastic online educator by investing a little bit of extra time into the six steps we mentioned above. You don’t need a teaching degree to teach effectively online. By understanding the challenges online learners face and supporting them through the process, those who take your course will have more positive outcomes. And a positive outcome for them means a positive outcome for you!