Testing 1-2-3: Reframing How to Test Your Online Course

What's the best way to approach testing your online course before its launch? And how can you reframe this crucial step to take it from tedious to totally manageable?


Testing your online course before you launch is a lot like brushing your teeth. It’s tempting to skip it, but that makes things a lot more painful (and expensive) down the road. Testing is an essential step before launching a successful course (or a chunk of the course, if you’re working iteratively). So what’s the best (and least painful) way to approach testing? Focusing on what it’s like to be a student taking the course.


1: Test from the Student Perspective

Testing a course involves going through it in its entirety. This means combing through every lesson and module, looking for missing or misplaced elements. It means confirming that all the components such as audio, video, and handouts appear as expected. It involves clicking on all the links to make sure they’re working and confirming navigation to ensure everything flows. Sounds tedious? It is. Instead of thinking of testing as a chore, it’s helpful to reframe it with the student’s experience in mind. After all, they are the reason for building the course in the first place.


We want our students to feel engaged, gain knowledge, and feel supported during the learning process. If we fail at these, then our course has failed. Reframing testing as a way to increase the likelihood of student success gives purpose to our actions.


Testing is also more effective when conducted from the perspective of a student taking the course. Unlike the course development team, the student has a fresh set of eyes.


To adopt the student perspective, ask yourself questions such as:

  • What is confusing?

  • What is surprising?

  • Does anything seem inconsistent?

  • Is it clear