Planning Your Course Structure and Design: Part 3
Part 3 in our series on planning your course structure in design. No matter your subject matter, audience, or level of expertise, a course must be carefully plotted out to achieve its purpose successfully.
In Part 2, we introduced the eight categories of Course Structure and Design that are integral to planning your online course and broke down the first three categories:
✓ 1. Course Format
✓ 2. Technology
✓ 3. Communication & Support
✓ 4. Content Delivery
✓ 5. Assessment Strategy
Congratulations! You've made it to Part 3. In today's blog, we're tackling the final 3 categories:
➜ 6. Development Plan
➜ 7. Implementation Plan
➜ 8. Evaluation Plan
Remember, if you want a detailed, interactive look at these categories and other helpful course planning tips and tricks, pre-register for the first set of courses in the new C&T Academy. It's free if you sign up today!
6. Development Plan
The resources, logistics, and schedule you'll need to execute your course plan.
How much money will you need to carry out the plans you've made from the previous categories and the ones to follow? Where will you get this money? What's your expected ROI?
What team members do you need to carry out the plans you've made from the previous categories and the ones to follow? Do you need to hire someone new or can you recruit from an existing pool of employees? What will your roles and responsibilities be?
How long will it take for each team member to complete their elements of the project? When is the best time to launch your course? What is the best way to manage the project to ensure timely delivery? Who will be in charge of overall project management?
What kinds of tools will you need to keep your project on track (human resources, project management, etc.)?
Can you imagine trying to determine the budget you need before selecting your LMS and authoring tools? That type of craziness can be avoided by developing your Development Plan!
Many developers attempt to create a development plan before they walk through the previous 5 planning categories. We highly recommend completing those planning steps first, because it will help you create a more accurate plan.
Imagine the following scenarios:
➜ Inadequate Budget
You determined your budget before completing the initial planning steps and underestimated the cost associated with the technology needed to build your course.
➜ Incomplete Team
You picked your team members before selecting your delivery methods and didn't realize you'd need a videographer and video editor.
➜ Inaccurate Schedule
You set a launch date based on your audience's needs, without accounting for the time needed to develop the content in your preferred delivery methods.
7. Implementation Plan
The steps you will take to get your finished course into the hands of your eager audience.
➜ Course Management
Who will facilitate the synchronous elements (if you have any), answer student questions about the content, manage feedback, perform content updates, etc?
➜ Sales & Marketing
Who will set up your sales pages (course catalog, registration, course landing page, student dashboard, etc.)? How will you market the course to ensure max enrollments?
➜ Technical Support
Who will provide students with technical support during registration and/or throughout the course completion process?
Because you didn't spend all that time developing your course just to let it gather dust on your desktop. There's no course if you don't actually have a plan to implement it—hence the need for your Implementation Plan!
Imagine the following scenarios:
➜ It's too much!
You developed a wonderful synchronous course and the enrollments are pouring in! Only 1 week into the course you quickly realize that you've largely underestimated the amount of time it takes to manage the course, and you didn't plan out alternative support options.
➜ It manages itself, right?
You are super busy, so you created an asynchronous course that would 'manage itself'. You failed to consider that students may have content-related questions that require an expert answer, and you didn't think about the need for course fixes and updates.
➜ False start
You spend months building the perfect course that now sits empty on your LMS because you didn't start marketing until after you finished the content.
➜ Technical panic
You forgot that not all student questions are going to be about the content, and now you're frantically researching the internet to find solutions for your student who is struggling to log into the LMS.
8. Course Evaluation
The evaluation of student progress and experiences for the purpose of improving future iterations of the course.
➜ Capturing & Storing Data
How will you capture data about student progress and experiences in your course for the purposes of improving the course? What kind of information do you want to gather? Where will you store the data to ensure easy access?
➜ Analyzing & Applying Data
Who will analyze the data and determine if/how to apply it to the course content? Who will make the course improvements sparked by the analysis?
➜ Ongoing Course Improvement
How often will you make course improvements? What is your relaunch plan to ensure students don't get knocked out of previous versions?
➜ Customer Management
How will you address student complaints and associated requests for compensation? How will you respond to negative course reviews on your public site? How will you communicate with students to let them know when changes, improvements, and updates are being made to the course.
There's no success without improvement. Comprehensive evaluations of your product will only drive continuous improvements, making it better and stronger after each evaluation cycle.
It's rare (if not impossible) to get a course 'just right' the first time around. Your students will likely understand this and be ok with it as long as:
they feel heard and appreciated, and
they know that their feedback is being addressed
You can plan ahead for the inevitable issues that might cause student disruption, and how you'll respond to them (perks like free credits for other courses are helpful damage control tools), with your comprehensive Evaluation Plan.
Imagine the following scenarios:
➜ Bad Reviews
One of your interactive activities is malfunctioning and preventing students from progressing in your asynchronous course. Unfortunately, you didn't set up a clear method of gathering this type of feedback, so you didn't know what was happening until a bunch of negative reviews started popping up on your course website.
➜ Fumbled Survey
You were smart enough to set up a student survey at the end of your course, but the responses you are getting are too broad to work with because you didn't ask the right questions.
➜ Immediate Attention
You planned to update your course once a year but didn't consider that there may be updates that need immediate attention. Now you're stuck making those edits in your already overbooked schedule until you find someone who can help you out.
➜ Timing is Everything
You didn't set up a notification system when students provide feedback about your course, so it took you a month to respond to one student's frustrated review and request for a refund. Despite your willingness to oblige, the student did their best to make sure no one they knew took your courses.
Part 3 Conclusion
That concludes the What-Why breakdown of the final three categories! This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to these planning phases, so we hope you'll join us for the first set of courses in the new C&T Academy. It's free if you sign up today!