Tips For Designing Online Courses

Online Learning Systems

by Sameer Bhatia

A great course starts with a great design. Online learning management software makes it easy to design and launch courses online.

Just a few short years ago, learning management systems (LMSs) were huge, resource-intensive programs that only large organizations could afford. System administrators were required to maintain the software and educators needed the assistance of programmers and instructional designers to mount online courses. This is no longer the case. Today online learning management software, like Training Maker from ProProfs, makes it easy to create effective, engaging courses. Here are some features of LMS software that make it easy for you to design and launch your course online.

Customization, Navigation, and Templates

One of the most common frustrations in online courses is confusing navigation. Most LMS software has management tools that allow you to customize your course layout and streamline the navigation so that students always know exactly where they are and where the navigation buttons will take them. You can create a theme using fonts, colors, background images, widgets, and other elements that will appear throughout the course. Don’t want to create your own theme? No problem! Many LMSs also have a variety of templates that you can choose from so you can skip this step and just concentrate on the content.

Chapter-Based Course Design

The other most common frustration in online courses is unclear organization. Using a chapter-based course design can help students understand how the course is sequenced. Each chapter is divided into several pages, which constitute the main learning units. Students in online courses do not often have a whole hour, or even 30 minutes, of uninterrupted study time. To best cater to the needs of today’s students, break learning into 10- or 15-minute chunks. Ideally, each chunk should contain a short presentation of content (reading, video, etc.) followed by an activity that prompts the student to reflect on and engage with the content, such as review questions, a short quiz, or a discussion prompt. Chunking learning in this way has other advantages as well: it encourages students to login more often and develop a pattern of learning and it makes the course easier to update – when new information becomes available, you only have to rerecord a 10-minute video, not a 30-minute one.

Content Options

You can create and upload your own documents – text files, audio files, videos, PowerPoint presentations, screencasts, pencasts, you name it – or you can use web-based content like hyperlinks and YouTube videos. Many online learning management systems also allow you to integrate third-party learning tools, so you can always choose the best content and method of delivery for your course materials. To reduce the cost of your course, consider using open educational resources, which are licensed under a Creative Commons license and are free and available for anyone to reuse, revise, remix, and redistribute. LMS systems that support mobile applications will automatically convert all these materials into mobile-friendly formats so your students can access the course anytime anywhere.

Automated Assessment, Grading, and Feedback

Online assessment is a rapidly evolving field and there are many options available. Save time by using an online quiz-making application. Online quiz programs support many types of questions, from multiple-choice to essay, and provide automated grading. You can also configure the tools to provide feedback to students and generate completion or award certificates based on their grades.

Learning Analytics

One of the best features of online learning management systems is that they collect extensive data as students move through a course. You can track students’ progress, how they navigate through the course, how long they spend on each task, success rates on exam questions, and many other metrics. These data can be quickly summarized into reports that you can use to identify and fix any problems that might arise.

Online learning management software has many features to help educators create and launch pedagogically sound courses quickly and easily. Start designing your course today.

Author Sameer BhatiaAuthor Sameer Bhatia is founder & CEO of which is a leading provider of online learning tools for building, testing, and applying knowledge. Sameer has a background in technology with a Masters in Computer Science from USC (University Of Southern California) and is an ed-tech industry veteran. You can find Sameer on Google+ .

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