If you’re thinking about, or in the midst of, creating a course, the chances are you’ve got a gazillion questions about what to include, when, and how! Not to mention the mind gremlins that can take hold. Create a course? What? Little old me? What was I thinking? I can’t do this!
And before you know it, you’ve opened the chocolates, a bottle of wine, and you’re scrolling through your social media feed looking for help.
And when you find something on social media promising to help with course creation, it’s nothing (and I mean nada, zip, zilch) about course creation – it’s all about the launch. (Did anybody else sing that line to Meghan Trainor’s It’s All About The Bass? Nope? Just me? 😂)
Anyway, here’s something a little bit different for you. Something not at all about launching but all about learning.
The Learning Design Co.’s 7Ds Framework for a brilliant course or program that will actually get your clients the results you promise and help you grow a wildly successful business in the process.
At the risk of this becoming an e-book rather than a blog post, I’ll be outlining the 7Ds for you and providing you with some prompts and questions so you can take action. That said, there’s a lot here, so you might want to grab your beverage of choice and find a comfy spot before reading!
By following the 7D framework you can feel safe in the knowledge that you’ll cover all the bases of effective learning design. The Ds are sequential but you might find yourself circling back to tweak and refine – that’s a perfectly normal part of the course creation process. We iterate to get great!
DREAM and DELIVER
These first two steps are all about getting clear on your engaging, impactful, and profitable idea.
Start with the end in mind. You don’t want to end up creating a course you’re not passionate about! You also don’t want to waste time and money developing a program that no one will use, so market research is necessary to ensure it’s viable.
Here are a few questions to help you get started:
Dream – Building your vision
- What do you love to talk about?
- What do people always ask you about?
- What could you give a 10 minute talk on right now?
- What qualifications and certifications do you have?
- What experience do you have and what do you have authority in?
- What is the impact you want to have?
Discover – Understanding the needs and wants of your clients
- Who are your ideal clients? Get as specific as possible.
- What limiting beliefs or challenges or fears are they facing?
- What is the OUTCOME they want instead?
- What have they already tried?
- What will your program provide that they can’t find on Google?
- What do they need to know, understand, or be able to do?
Now you’ve answered the DREAM and DISCOVER questions, read through your responses and draw out key themes and ideas and bring it all together before we dive into the next Ds.
DESIGN AND DEVELOP
Now you’re clear on your program and what you want it to achieve for your clients, it’s time to map out and design it in a way that your students will actually learn and get the transformation they desire.
Designing and developing a course or program is a lot like building a house. You don’t start by designing your rooms and picking your sofas or buying pots and plants.
Even before you start digging the foundations or hammering the first nail, there are lots of questions to be answered, for example:
- What kind of home are you building?
- How will it be laid out?
- How many bedrooms and bathrooms will it contain?
And you create detailed plans with an architect and employ an expert builder. Doing this means your house is much more likely to stand the test of time and achieve your dreams than if you were to just pick up a spade or hammer.
It’s the same with a program or course. Taking the time to focus on the design and development will mean that it’s much more likely to be successful and deliver on its transformational promise – meaning raving fans, repeat clients, and further building your expert status.
This part might feel overwhelming at first and you may be wondering:
- What do I want to teach?
- How do I break it down?
- I don’t want to leave anything out, but I’m not sure what to talk about first!
The industry advice is often to just brainstorm what you want to teach and then break it down into chunks.
The problem with this approach is that it’s teacher-centred and all great learning is learner-centred. So how do I make it learner-centred I hear you say? I’m glad you asked – here are the steps:
- Get clear on what exactly you want your students to learn.
- Craft clear learning outcomes to keep you (and your students) focused.
- Decide how to get your students to the outcomes in the fastest time and easiest way possible.
- Map out the best structure and sequence of topics to get them there – these will be your modules.
- Write learning outcomes for each module (ideally a maximum of 3).
- Consider the content for each learning outcome (from Step 5) and these will be your lessons or main teaching points.
This might seem like a lot of work but it will help you to:
- Meet your goals and outcomes.
- Clearly see the flow and content of your program so that you can create the best learning experience.
- Stay focused and clear when creating resources (workbooks, videos, audios – something we’ll be focusing on next).
- Write your sales page and create social media content.
Let’s pause for a moment and say a huge well done! You’re over half way there and making amazing progress.
DELIGHT AND DELIVER
The decisions you make in this step will have a massive effect on the enjoyment, confidence levels, and motivation of your students. And ultimately, how successful they’ll be at completing the course and achieving the learning outcomes you’ve established and that they want!
While I love to delve deeply into learning theories, I’ll stick to some need-to-knows that will make the biggest difference to you and the teaching and learning in your course.
The first need-to-know is that adults learn best when:
- They’re motivated to learn and understand why they’re doing so. They want to know how learning will help them better their lives and how it has immediate value for them – so consider how you can make this clear.
- Their previous experience and knowledge is taken into consideration – so consider how you can find this out beforehand.
- They’re able to take charge of the learning journey; they want to feel in control – so consider how you can let them make decisions throughout the learning process.
- They feel confident they can master the material and have positive experiences while learning – so consider how you can communicate expectations positively, provide fun engaging activities, and regular positive reinforcement.
- They receive feedback that supports their experience – so consider how you can provide this and celebrate their progress and achievement.
And the second, is to recognise that you’ll design your course in your preferred way of learning!
If you haven’t already taken our quiz to discover your Teaching Superpower, pause, and do that now. This will help you to identify your blindspots and help you design learning that meets the needs of all learners in your own inimitable style.
Now you know your Teaching Superpowers you can notice your natural tendency to design in a particular way and consider how you can better meet the needs of all learners.
There are many different kinds of methods of delivery to support learning including:
- Graphs, data, images
- PDF workbooks
- Templates and swipe files
- Screencast demos
- Challenges or competitions
- Role plays
- Projects and case studies
- Research projects
The bottom line is, when you’re selecting your course delivery methods, the best strategy is to think of everyone and a mixed method is best.
The final D is all about how to evaluate, refine, and improve your course both during the course (so you can provide support and guidance to current students), and at the end (so you can improve it for future students).
The online course industry often conflates testimonials with evaluation. While testimonials are great, they don’t help you to systematically gather feedback on the effectiveness of your program.
There are different levels at which to evaluate your course covering enjoyment, learning, change, and results. When you’re creating your evaluation, keep this four levels in mind and the following ideas for question design may help:
- Make sure questions are clear and direct.
- Use several question styles – short answer, multichoice, rating scale, open and closed.
- Provide and define any rating scales.
- Keep questions and the evaluation short!
Well done! You made it to the end.
You can feel safe in the knowledge that it was time well spent because by following the 7Ds Framework you’ll cover all the bases of effective learning design and your course will be created in a way that will actually get your clients the results you promise and help you grow a wildly successful business in the process.
We know that designing and delivering great learning experiences is not as easy as the billion dollar course industry and some coaches would have you believe – or at least it’s not easy to create a results-getting and reputation-building one!
At The Learning Design Co., we’re completely focused on helping you to design and teach brilliant courses, workshops, and programs that get results. Our done-with-you and done-for you course creation services might be just what you need to get your course out into the world as quickly, easefully, and confidently as possible.
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