Better Learning

The 4 biggest mistakes course creators make…

October 21, 2022

I can't believe it took me 10 years to read this book. I feel so seen! Yay to harnessing the quiet power of the introvert.

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I'm Sarah, The Learning Strategist and Catalyst. I'm here to help you create high quality workshops, courses, and programmes that get results.  

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..and what to do instead!

You’re a passionate, capable business owner with so much knowledge to share. You want to impact the world and increase your income in the process.

Taking an educated guess, because you’re reading this article, reaching more people involves teaching workshops, creating group programmes or online courses. The challenge is that the billion dollar course industry has convinced people that everyone can be a teacher but has done nothing to show you how.

As a result, entrepreneurs and business owners around the world are learning from each other and business gurus, rather than experts in learning. And that means they’re repeating the same mistakes. Here are a few of the most common ones with some tips from us (real learning experts) on how to avoid them!

#1 Your programme is confusing

You may have heard the marketing warning ‘a confused mind doesn’t buy’. Here’s the education version – a confused mind can’t learn!

Here are two key reasons your students may be confused:

You’re including too much content. In your well intentioned goal to help and support your clients, you want to give as much information as you can. Admirable; yes! A good plan; no!
You need to be ruthless in selecting the content – which should be just enough to get the transformation you’ve promised and in the quickest time possible.

You’re trying to do too much in one course. There’s a reason degrees take years – you finish an undergraduate course with a good level of knowledge in a subject, a masters with more, and a PhD with even more. You’re not going to get a similar level of learning in a 6 week programme – so get specific on the exact transformation your client needs and wants, and be laser focused on creating learning to reach that goal. Be ruthless and cut out everything else.

Keep asking yourself, what is the transformation I’m promising my students and how can I give them it in the shortest possible time?

#2 Focusing on telling rather than teaching

Your students are coming to you to learn and for a transformation not simply to be given information.

Teaching involves presenting information in a way that allows the brain to process it and this is where learning design and effective teaching and facilitation comes into play. Never lose sight of how people experience things and learn differently (see Mistake #4) and the structure and flow of your programme is also key.

Remember, teaching or creating a course is very different to working with someone 1:1 or writing a book or giving a presentation. And there’s a difference between telling someone something and teaching it to them. If that weren’t the case, we wouldn’t hear so many parents say ‘how many times have I told you…”

You need to tap into the art and science of learning so that you can move:

  • From telling to teaching
  • From ego to education
  • From transmission to transformation

#3 Not being clear on the learning outcomes

The third common mistake is not being clear on the learning outcomes. A fuzzy learning outcome is like saying to someone I’ll meet you in Africa! You need to get a whole lot more specific than that!

Learning outcomes clearly explain, with measurable verbs, what your students will be able to do, know and feel by the end of your course.

This is not about what you’re going to teach them; it’s not the content. It’s about what’s going to be different for them. For example:

  • What skills will they be able to demonstrate?
  • What new knowledge will they have obtained?
  • What feelings will they have moved away from or to?
  • Again, the more specific you can be the better!

#4 It’s not about you, it’s about your students

If your students are going to achieve the learning outcomes, your programme needs to be designed and taught in a way that helps people to learn.

A common mistake is to design learning in a way that you enjoy. However, everyone learns differently.

The common approach to online learning is to provide a video, some slides, and a worksheet. But there are so many other possibilities that can better engage and motivate your students and help them learn.

At the very least, try to include a range of options. For example, a video could be transcribed for those who prefer to read and then made into an audio file for those who like to listen on the go. You might also consider a checklist, a pdf, or a step by step guide to support learning.

The most important thing here is to provide multiple ways to access the learning BUT only provide supplementary materials that are directly linked to the learning outcome (see Mistakes #1 & 3) or your students can become confused and overwhelmed.

There are a number of other mistakes but in the spirit of Mistake #1 (keeping it simple and not causing confusion!) we’ll stick with these 4 for today.

If you’d like to learn more about how to eliminate these mistakes and others, we’d love to help you design and teach powerful and impactful programmes using research driven and proven methods, so you can easily stand out from the crowd, get your clients results, and grow a wildly successful business in the process.

Book your free call here.

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