Outline your course

To create a successful course efficiently and effectively, structure your course based on your course goals. Plan out how and what you’ll cover in each section and lecture of your course. Generally, each section should map to one specific skill you’re teaching.

While mapping your outline, think about the format you’ll use for each lecture.

Follow the steps below and learn how to set up the foundation for your course. We’ve provided information and templates to get you going.

Use our recommended templates

There are 2 templates that you can use to create your course outline. You can download a spreadsheet template or a document template, make a copy of the template, and then start editing the template to create your course outline.

Build your own template

Your course has 3 parts—an introduction, a middle, and a conclusion. There are different best practices for each of them.

Introduction

This is the first 15 minutes or so of your course. The goal at the beginning of your course is to motivate and hook your students. Start your course with the following:

  • Intro lecture: It should not be more than 2–4 minutes. Introduce yourself and explain why you are the best person to be teaching this course. Set the right expectations, tell the students what they’ll learn from your course and what they’ll be able to do by the end of your course.
  • Quick win: Provide value right away by providing a “quick win” within the first 3 lectures in your course. This could be an exercise or reflection activity that is a way for students to prepare for the course or practice what they’ve already learned and dive right into the material.
  • Instructional lectures: Introduce the topic in these initial 1–-2 lectures.

Middle

This is the main part of your course, where you’ll teach the subject and train the students on the skills that they intend to learn at the end of your course. This part of your course should include sections, consisting of lectures, practice activities, and reference materials:

  • Sections: Focus on covering one new and relevant skill per section. Make sure all the sections add up together to deliver on all the skills your course promises to address in your course goals.
  • Lectures: Each section should ideally contain 3–5 lectures. Stick to 1 concept per lecture and give the students a chance to make progress every few lectures. Typically, a video should not be more than 2–6 minutes long. To create effective videos, choose the appropriate lecture format, based on the type of content you want to present.
  • Practice activity: Include at least 1 practice activity per section, to give students the opportunity to practice the skill/learning outcome of the section. As you create your course outline, consider different projects, quizzes and exercises you can integrate into your course to help students practice and build on the concepts they’ve learned.
  • Reference materials: Don’t forget to make a note of any additional resources you want to add in each section, like checklists, worksheets, templates, visual aids, pdf notes, and additional links, as necessary.

Conclusion

End your course with a strong finish that leaves students with a feeling of reward. Students who feel rewarded are more satisfied with the course and generally leave more positive reviews. To make an impactful end to your course, you can add a final and a bonus lecture at the end:

  • Final lecture: At minimum include a congratulations lecture at the end. But there are many other creative ideas for final lectures that delight students and leave them with a sense of accomplishment.
  • Bonus lecture: A bonus lecture is the last lecture of the course, typically after the concluding lecture. This is the place where you can market other courses or products. But make sure you are following our rules and guidelines for bonus lectures.

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