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Planning Your Course

This is an important step in the course creation process. With proper planning, the creation of the course will go smoothly and quickly. A little time here will save you a lot of time in the future. For a much more detailed how to, enroll in the course, “How to Create a Course Using VirversitY”.

How is the course going to be adapted from your book?

(For Instructors) There are several ways to convert your book into an online course, however, the term "convert" may not be accurate as it implies some kind of automated move from one format to another. Turning your book into an online course is more like adapting a book into a movie than converting a paperback book to an e-book. It is a manual process that involves some strategy.

Here are a few of the strategies that are the most common. I am sure there are more.

  • Word for Word. With the exception of replacing certain words and phrases such as "on page XX you will find..." or "in chapter X of this book," the online course uses the same text in your book either in audio or video format.
  • Casual Expansion. Use the book as a guideline, staying with the chapters and sections, but rather than read the content, talk about it casually and go into more detail than you do in the book.
  • Mastering. Go beyond the book. Use the book as a foundation for your course, but take the students to the next level.

Using your resources and talents

This online course software was designed in such a way that it could deliver high production-quality video content or lower-production quality image/audio based slide content. In other words, pretty much anyone can create a course, but the more talent and capabilities you have (or have access to), the higher quality the course. But if your course is a business opportunity, then you might want to keep production costs low if the expected revenues aren't very high. For example, for a couple of my courses, I use the multi-media presentation rather than videos because they are so easy to make, and I don't charge for them. I could spend weeks created high-quality videos if I wanted, but it simply wouldn't be worth it.

The following is the preferred content delivery methods.

Talking Head Video with Visual Data. This is where we see an instructor talking to the viewer, and off to the side there will be some graphics that support the points being made. This is similar to what we see newscasters use (think the Daily Show).
Instructor Teaching. This is when the video camera is pointed at the instructor(s) who is demonstrating or teaching.
Motion Screen Capture. This is a screen recording using one of the many third-party screen recording options available. Mac users can use Quicktime.
Visual Data Video. This is like a PowerPoint with voice over saved in video format. It can include animations, or just a bunch of static slides combined.
Image-based Slides with Voice Over. This uses our built-in presentation software. You simply create an image, upload the image, then record your voice talking about the image (the slide) or use our text-to-speech option to convert the slide text into human-sounding voice. Alternatively, you can use pre-recorded audiofiles, such as the audio version of your book. This is a decent solution because it is very efficient.
Text-based Slides with Voice Over. This uses our built-in presentation software. You simply type in your slide text then record your voice talking about the text (the slide) or use our text-to-speech option to convert the slide text into human-sounding voice. This is a decent solution because it is very efficient–even more so than the image-based slides.
Combination Presentation. Using our built-in presentation software, you can create a presentation using a combination of all of the above.

You can also create your course with one audio file, as a podcast. Not a great solution, but often better than nothing.

The instructors

Are you doing this alone? If you are offering an instructor-evaluated option (see below) it might get to the point where you need help. Or perhaps you are not interested in investing time into the course after it is created, but you still want the higher revenues associated with the instructor-evaluated option, consider adding another instructor. Unless you have a good reason to do otherwise, I would suggest starting with just one instructor and adding more as needed. People often overestimate the amount of work and time it takes with instructing an online course.

Make sure each instructor has a registered login. You will then need to know the instructor's e-mail address to add them to your course as an instructor.

Self-evaluated vs. instructor-evaluated options

One of the unique features of our online course software, is the self- vs instructor-valuated options. Most platforms use one or the other. For example, most commercial online course websites are the "self-service" type where the instructor is rarely involved when it comes to dealing with individual students. The online course software used by universities are the "instructor-evaluated" type where, like in a university setting, instructors work with students one-on-one by evaluating assignments and making themselves available for questions and answers. Typical online courses of the self-evaluated kind are either free or no more than about 50 bucks for a student to enroll. However, instructor-evaluated courses could warrant enrollment fees in the thousands of dollars, especially if the instructor is well-known.

You can offer just self-evaluated, just instructor-evaluated, or both. You can also change these options at any time, but you need to start with something.

Standard Learning Mode

This the default mode meant for traditional online courses that cater to either self-evaluated students, instructor-evaluated students, or both.

You would set this mode before the creation of the course (never after it has been created) in Instructor Menu > Setup Course > Course Setup > Standard Learning Mode or just do nothing, since this is the default mode. Selecting this option allows for all the features to be used.

See an example course in this mode: Know the Five Signs

Passive Microlearning Mode

One of the challenges in the marketing of online courses is getting prospective students to commit to doing the work needed to complete a course. While interactivity is great for learning, some people just prefer the more passive types of learning where information is "fed" to them. For this reason, we have the passive microlearning mode. This mode only allows for self-evaluated students since interaction is very limited.

You would set this mode before the creation of the course (never after it has been created) in Instructor Menu > Setup Course > Course Setup > Passive Microlearning Mode. Selecting this option limits the course interactivity but sends students the lessons by e-mail, one each day. The course content will be limited to HTML content and an optional one video per day/lesson.

See an example course in this mode: Cognitive-Bias-a-Day

Goal-oriented Mode

Imagine being able to walk anyone through an otherwise complex or technical process with the purpose of achieving a goal. These aren't students; they are participants in the process. You may not be the instructor; but perhaps the "life coach," "academic advisor," or any other title that makes it clear that you are there to help them. And instead of breaking a course up into lessons with assignments, your course is broken up by objectives with action items. When the course is not about learning or education, but it is about getting something done, you will want the goal-oriented mode. This mode only allows for instructor-evaluated students since interaction is the key component of this mode.

You would set this mode before the creation of the course (never after it has been created) in Instructor Menu > Setup Course > Course Setup > Goal-oriented Mode. Selecting this option changes the terms used associated with the course and limits learning features.

See an example course in this mode: Let's Create Your Course

Free vs. paid courses

Why in the world would you offer a free course? Free courses could be great for exposure either to you as an expert in your field or a business that you run.

Courses that are too heavily used for marketing other services or attempted upsells will not be allowed. You MUST be providing something of value. It is okay to market and self-promote, but there is a fine line between acceptable promotion and spamming. While there are no hard rules or guidelines, keep this in mind and be sure to provide content with value to the students.

Offering a free self-evaluated option and a paid instructor-evaluated option is an excellent marketing strategy since the platform encourages upgrades. However, sometimes even a small fee is better than free—especially if you are interested in serious students who want to learn. There is something about "free" cheapening the product. Students that access courses for free (either by free courses or free promotion codes) see Virversity advertising, which advertises our platform and other courses.

How much to charge?

This is entirely up to you. You could offer a free course, but if you are charging, the minimum is $9.95, and while there is no maximum, if you are charging more than a hundred dollars or so, you may be asked to provide some additional details to us. We need to do this to prevent fraud. I suggest that you Google courses like yours and see what others are charging. Then, based on how your course compares to your competition, set your price accordingly.

Quality graphic design

Just like people judge your book by its cover, people judge the quality of your course by the quality of the design. If you don't have a good eye for these things, get the assistance of someone who does. Make sure your images are sharp and look great. If you need help and don't use our service, there are still many graphic designers on the Internet who do great work for very little money.

Contact information

Aside from the instructor contact information given to instructor-evaluated students, contact information is needed for some administrative tasks. You will want to use an email address that goes to a valid mailbox that is often read, but also one that you don't mind students getting their hands on. You will also need a physical address and a phone number if you are planning on using the announcements tool to send messages to your students.

Marketing information

This is the information that is used for the homepage of your course. If it is not good, people won't join your course! Sometimes this is easier to write after your have completed the course, or sometimes writing it first helps you to complete the course. Your call. We will go over this information in detail in the "Course Setup" section.

Required / suggested texts

You generally will want to associate your book with the course (if your course is based on your book), even if the course is another delivery format with virtually identical content. If this is the case, be sure to make it clear that the book is optional and not a requirement. If students are paying for the course, they will not be happy about also paying for a book. You can have up to three books associated with your course. This is done in the "Course Textbooks" section of the course setup screen.

Separating your content into "lessons"

Think about how you will transform your book content into lessons. Generally, one chapter = one lesson works well, but you might find a better way to organize your course.

You can have multiple videos and/or slides per lesson, and there are no time constraints. You might find that many 5 minute lessons work well, or that one big lesson will suffice. Based on learning preferences, most people prefer lessons that are about 20 minutes of watching or reading (not including assignments).

Registered User Comments

Ruthven J. Roy, DMin
Friday, May 05, 2017 - 11:16:44 PM
Truly appreciative of all the general information and the attention given to the details. No major questions yet.

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