I have been teaching online courses for a few years now.\u00a0 Before that, I taught in-person for years.\u00a0 In addition, I also tutor students both online and in-person.\r\n\r\nTo teach online courses, there are some key steps you should take.\u00a0 First, decide what you will teach.\u00a0 Next, develop a syllabus for your course.\u00a0 Then, split the course into modules.\u00a0 Then, develop content for each module.\u00a0 Finally, advertise the course and enroll students.\r\n\r\nBelow, I detail some of the specifics for the steps above.\u00a0 I also provide examples from the courses I have developed and taught.\r\nDecide What to Teach\r\nBefore you do anything else, you need to decide what to teach!\u00a0 This will depend on a few factors.\u00a0 You should consider what you know.\u00a0 You should also consider what your audience wants to learn.\u00a0 Finally, you should check out the competition in your space.\r\nWhat do you Know - Formal Education\r\nFirst, think about your education.\u00a0 Perhaps you have a degree in a particular field.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nMake a list of the classes you took and the topics covered.\u00a0 Is there any material that people might want to learn in an online course?\u00a0 If so, do some research online or in the library to find good sources.\u00a0 Then, read as much as you can, and take notes on the important points.\u00a0 Keep all of this together for later!\r\nExample\r\nI have a Master's degree in Mathematics, and I have taken courses in Algebra, Analysis, Calculus, Statistics, and Probability.\r\nAlgebra and Statistics courses are always in high demand for students in many disciplines.\r\nIn fact, Algebra is the course I teach online most often.\u00a0 Many degree programs require Algebra, so there is always a solid enrollment in this course.\r\n\r\nWhat do you Know - Work Experience\r\nAlso, think about your work experience.\u00a0 Throughout the years, you have acquired skills from all the jobs you have had.\u00a0 Some of these skills might include project management, data analysis, copy writing, accounting, computer programming, and proofreading.\u00a0 Even if these skills are routine for you now, someone may need to learn them!\r\nExample\r\nIf you have experience as a video game programmer, you might be able to teach a course on game programming.\u00a0 The course could include game logic, graphics, artificial intelligence, and algorithms.\r\nYou could also include bonus material in your course.\u00a0 For example, you could provide sample code so that students can easily start making their own games. \u00a0 You could also offer a preview of your own side project.\r\nYou could also talk about what it is like to work on a video game team.\u00a0 As a manager, you could talk about how to manage a team of programmers, artists, and testers.\r\n\r\nWhat do you Know - Life Skills\r\nIn addition, you have learned many skills in your daily life, even if you don't realize it.\u00a0 There are people out there who would love to learn these things from you.\u00a0 Your course can help them to avoid months or years of dead-ends and wasted time!\r\nExample\r\nMaybe you have learned how to effortlessly strike up a conversation at a party.\r\nPerhaps you know how to ask people on a date with a high success rate.\r\nYou might even be an expert at cooking a few staple meals in your diet.\r\nRemember, you don't have to have to be the best in the world to teach others.\u00a0 All you need is a solid foundation in the skill or knowledge that you wish to teach.\u00a0 Create a great course that gives people what they are looking for, and they probably won't care how you learned it yourself.\r\nCredibility\r\nFinally, consider your credibility.\u00a0 You can't teach a topic unless you know it!\u00a0 However, don't let this discourage you.\u00a0 There are many ways to learn about a topic before you teach it.\u00a0 Also, remember that you don't need to have a Ph.D. in Math to teach people about arithmetic or algebra.\u00a0 You do need to know the material, but providing a helpful resource with accurate information is your main goal.\r\nWhat does the Audience Want to Learn?\r\nThis step involves doing some market research, to see if there is demand for your course.\u00a0 Let's say your idea is to teach people how to cook your favorite vegan meals.\u00a0 First, you should make sure that other people like these meals as well!\r\n\r\nYou should also make sure that enough people are looking to learn this skill.\u00a0 Ask if people you know have any interest in learning the skill.\u00a0 You should also check out forums online, to see if there is anyone asking about how to cook these meals.\u00a0 If so, you might be able to fill an unmet need with your course!\r\n\r\nIf there is enough interest in the material, you need to find out how much people are willing to pay.\u00a0 They might be fine dropping $5 for a short e-book with some interesting recipes.\u00a0 However, they will not be so quick to fork over $100 for a premium course.\r\n\r\nCheck out the competition to see how they are pricing their material, and make sure you are in the right ballpark.\u00a0 You need to have material that is significantly better if you want to charge a huge premium.\r\n\r\nEven if people are willing to pay, they will want to know that your material is good.\u00a0 This will require giving them some type of preview.\u00a0 More on that later in this article, under "Develop a Syllabus".\r\nHow is the Competition?\r\nAs in the previous step, you will want to do some market research here. \u00a0Check out the competition.\u00a0 You should look at online course websites such as Udemy, Coursera, and Lynda.\u00a0 You should also look at sites like YouTube.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nIs there any competition at all?\u00a0 It may be a bad sign if nobody has made a single course or video on your topic.\u00a0 It could also mean the topic is ripe for the taking.\u00a0 Use your best judgment here.\r\n\r\nIf there is too much competition, it may be hard for your course to stand out.\u00a0 In that case, consider a smaller or related topic, also known as a niche.\r\nExample\r\nYou want to create a course based on fitness, but you see that there is a ton of competition.\u00a0 After doing some research, you find numerous paid courses on Udemy.\u00a0 You also find several free videos on YouTube, which look very good.\u00a0 Even if you can create great content, potential students might not hear you above the noise from established players.\r\nYou decide to "niche down" to a smaller topic, and search for courses on body weight exercises.\u00a0 There are still quite a few courses out there, and some decent videos on YouTube.\r\nYou niche down even further, and look for courses on body weight exercises for pregnant women.\u00a0 There are only a few courses and videos that you can find, and the quality looks questionable.\u00a0 This is an area where you might be able to help people out with valuable content!\r\nIf finding a viable smaller niche proves impossible, then it might be time to find another idea.\u00a0 Very rarely will you find a topic with no competition at all.\u00a0 Instead, use your research on the competition to give you new ideas to work with.\r\n\r\nLook at the comments on existing courses or YouTube videos, and see what questions people are asking.\u00a0 Reach out to content creators and ask them what people want, but cannot find.\r\n\r\nRemember that in order to succeed, you must create a better resource than the competition.\u00a0 This means that you should have knowledge in the course you want to teach.\u00a0 If you don't know anything about workouts for pregnant women, then you should not create a course on them!\r\nPut it All Together\r\nTo create a successful and helpful online course, you need to find the intersection of the above three questions.\u00a0 Teach a topic you know, that people want to learn, where the competition is reasonable.\u00a0 Don't worry if some of your ideas fail this test.\u00a0 Keep on trying, and come up with new or related ideas.\u00a0 Also, try to think of a spin you could put on the material.\r\nDevelop a Syllabus\r\nYou should divide your syllabus into four main sections.\u00a0 They are the introduction, format, outcomes, and course calendar.\u00a0 The syllabus will most likely be publicly available, which allows potential buyers to get a preview of the course material.\u00a0 Of course, you can always leave out a few things and market them as bonus features, if you want to keep things hush.\r\nIntroduction\r\nThe introduction for your syllabus should contain the basic course information.\u00a0 Your introduction should include the course name, instructor name, contact information, course description, and prerequisites.\r\n\r\nThe course description should give an overview of what the course will cover.\u00a0 This is not the place to go into great detail.\u00a0 Instead, mention the high points and broader topics that the course will cover.\r\n\r\nYou should also mention any prerequisites, and any knowledge that you are assuming that students already have.\r\n\r\nThe following example gives a sense of what I include in the course introduction for my syllabus.\r\nExample - Introduction\r\nCourse: College Algebra\r\nInstructor: Jonathon D. Madore, M.A.\r\nContact Information: firstname.lastname@example.org\r\nDescription: This college level algebra course expands upon a student\u2019s knowledge by further developing algebraic concepts. Topics include graphing equations with an introduction to functions, factoring polynomials, operations on rational functions, simplifying rational exponents, and solving quadratic equations. Students must complete homework assignments using a web- based computer program.\r\nPrerequisite: Appropriate score on the placement test or successful completion of PreAlgebra.\r\n\r\nFormat\r\nThe format section of your course should include information on how you will deliver the course.\u00a0 First, you should include information about learning materials.\u00a0 This could include e-books, video and audio recordings, PDF or Word handouts, Excel spreadsheets, and PowerPoint slides.\r\n\r\nYou should also include a description of checkpoints to make sure that students are learning.\u00a0 This includes homework assignments, quizzes, tests, knowledge checks, and any other assessments.\u00a0 Quizzes are really to see what the students are learning, what they are missing, and what to review.\r\n\r\nIn addition, you should include any group exercises, activities, or forums that are part of the course.\u00a0 For example, there might be a Facebook or LinkedIn group with access confirmed by you.\u00a0 There could also be a component where students work together on an assignment, or offer each other constructive feedback.\r\n\r\nFinally, you should include a description of how you will deliver the course.\u00a0 I deliver my online courses in Canvas.\u00a0 Canvas is a learning management system used by many colleges.\r\n\r\nYou could deliver your courses as a video lecture series on YouTube.\u00a0 You could keep the videos private, and give out the links only to members of the course.\u00a0 You could also create a course on Udemy or Lynda.\r\n\r\nAnother method is to give access to the course on your website.\u00a0 You could do this with some type of special access sign-in.\u00a0 You might even automatically email students every day and attach the assignments, reading material, etc.\r\nExample - Format\r\nThis is an online course. All aspects of the class will take place in the online portal rather than in a classroom each week. Instructional features include discussion questions, assignments, assessments, other activities, and opportunities for questions and answers. There are no on-campus meetings scheduled for this course.\r\nLectures: a weekly lecture will be posted for students to view.\r\nReadings: various readings from the textbook and other sources will be posted each week.\r\nDiscussion Questions: at least one discussion question will be posted each week. Students are expected to post a substantive response (250 words or more) by Sunday. One or more substantive responses to fellow classmates (150 words or more) should be posted by Tuesday.\r\nQuizzes, Tests, Exams, Papers, or Projects: various formative and summative assessments will be used in this course. See the Assignments list for specific items.\r\nThe web-based homework system called MyMathLab is required for this course.\u00a0 An access code is needed for the web-based system.\u00a0 It may be purchased with the textbook bundle at the College Bookstore.\r\nMyMathLab is accessed through Canvas.\r\nYou might also format the course so there is a component where students can interact with you in weekly or monthly coaching sessions.\u00a0 For more information about this, check out my article on how to coach someone remotely.\r\nOutcomes\r\nThe outcomes section of your course should make it clear how the course will transform or change the student.\u00a0 This may sound corny, but your goal as an educator is to change your students for the better.\r\n\r\nYou know those "before & after" photos you see in fitness and diet program advertisements?\u00a0 Well, you want to do something similar here.\u00a0 The outcomes should explain what students will know after completing the course.\u00a0 Then, students can compare "before" (current knowledge) and "after" (what they know after taking the course).\r\nExample - Outcomes\r\nAt the completion of this course, the student will be able to:\r\n\r\n\r\n \tGraph equations by plotting ordered pairs.\r\n \tGraph lines using the slope-intercept form.\r\n \tDetermine the slope of a line given any two points on the line.\r\n \tDetermine if two lines are parallel, perpendicular, or neither.\r\n \tWrite the equation of a line given various pieces of information.\r\n \tEvaluate a function using function notation.\r\n \tSolve a system of linear equations using the substitution or addition method.\r\n \tAdd, subtract, multiply, divide, and simplify polynomials.\r\n \tFactor quadratic expressions including special cases.\r\n \tAdd, subtract, multiply, divide, and simplify rational expressions.\r\n \tSolve rational equations.\r\n \tSimplify expressions with rational exponents.\r\n \tEvaluate radical expressions and functions.\r\n \tAdd, subtract, multiply, divide, and simplify radical expressions.\r\n \tSolve radical equations.\r\n \tAdd, subtract, multiply, divide, and simplify complex numbers.\r\n \tSolve quadratic equations by completing the square, or using the quadratic formula.\r\n\r\nPerhaps this example is a bit too academic, so here is something more concrete.\r\nExample - Outcomes\r\nAt the end of this course on website design from the ground up, you will be able to:\r\n\r\n\r\n \tBuy and register a domain name from Bluehost, GoDaddy, or other registrars.\r\n \tGet up and running with WordPress.\r\n \tInstall WordPress Themes.\r\n \tLearn how to format pages on your website to stop visitors from bouncing.\r\n \tMaster the art of keyword research, to find topics that people want to read about.\r\n \tDiscover the secret to writing killer content that keeps readers engaged.\r\n \tFigure out how to tweak WordPress settings to make your site run smoothly.\r\n \tSet up Google AdSense, Amazon Affiliates, and other monetization methods.\r\n\r\nWhatever you teach, make sure your students know what they are getting for their money.\r\nCourse Calendar\r\nThe course content section of your introduction should include specific information about what you will cover, and when.\u00a0 This means either a calendar, for a time-constrained course, or a timeline, for a more flexible course.\r\n\r\nThe following example shows the calendar for my online Algebra course.\r\nExample\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nDate\r\n\r\n\r\nDetails\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nSun Jun 3, 2018\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n DQ - Week 1\r\ndue by 11:59pm\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nTue Jun 5, 2018\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n Homework Set 1\r\ndue by 11:59pm\r\n\r\n\r\n Quiz Chapter 1\r\ndue by 11:59pm\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nFri Jun 8, 2018\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n DQ - Week 2\r\ndue by 11:59pm\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nSun Jun 10, 2018\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n Homework Set 2\r\ndue by 11:59pm\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nTue Jun 12, 2018\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n DQ - Week 3\r\ndue by 11:59pm\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nThu Jun 14, 2018\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n Homework Set 3\r\ndue by 11:59pm\r\n\r\n\r\n Quiz Chapter 2\r\ndue by 11:59pm\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nSun Jun 17, 2018\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n DQ - Week 4\r\ndue by 11:59pm\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nTue Jun 19, 2018\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n Homework Set 4\r\ndue by 11:59pm\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nFri Jun 22, 2018\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n DQ - Week 5\r\ndue by 11:59pm\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nSun Jun 24, 2018\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n Homework Set 5\r\ndue by 11:59pm\r\n\r\n\r\n Quiz Chapter 3\r\ndue by 11:59pm\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nTue Jun 26, 2018\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n DQ - Week 6\r\ndue by 11:59pm\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nThu Jun 28, 2018\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n Homework Set 6\r\ndue by 11:59pm\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nSun Jul 1, 2018\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n DQ - Week 7\r\ndue by 11:59pm\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nTue Jul 3, 2018\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n Homework Set 7\r\ndue by 11:59pm\r\n\r\n\r\n Quiz Chapter 4\r\ndue by 11:59pm\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nFri Jul 6, 2018\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n DQ - Week 8\r\ndue by 11:59pm\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nSun Jul 8, 2018\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n Homework Set 8\r\ndue by 11:59pm\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nTue Jul 10, 2018\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n DQ - Week 9\r\ndue by 11:59pm\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nThu Jul 12, 2018\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n Homework Set 9\r\ndue by 11:59pm\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nSun Jul 15, 2018\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n DQ - Week 10\r\ndue by 11:59pm\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nTue Jul 17, 2018\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n Homework Set 10\r\ndue by 11:59pm\r\n\r\n\r\n Quiz Chapter 5\r\ndue by 11:59pm\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nFri Jul 20, 2018\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n DQ - Week 11\r\ndue by 11:59pm\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nSun Jul 22, 2018\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n Homework Set 11\r\ndue by 11:59pm\r\n\r\n\r\n Quiz Chapter 6\r\ndue by 11:59pm\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nTue Jul 24, 2018\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n DQ - Week 12\r\ndue by 11:59pm\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nThu Jul 26, 2018\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n Homework Set 12\r\ndue by 11:59pm\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nSun Jul 29, 2018\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n DQ - Week 13\r\ndue by 11:59pm\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nTue Jul 31, 2018\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n Homework Set 13\r\ndue by 11:59pm\r\n\r\n\r\n Quiz Chapter 7\r\ndue by 11:59pm\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nFri Aug 3, 2018\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n DQ - Week 14\r\ndue by 11:59pm\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nSun Aug 5, 2018\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n Homework Set 14\r\ndue by 11:59pm\r\n\r\n\r\n Quiz Chapter 8\r\ndue by 11:59pm\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nWed Aug 8, 2018\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n DQ - Week 15\r\ndue by 11:59pm\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nFri Aug 10, 2018\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n Final Exam\r\ndue by 11:59pm\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nSplit into Modules\r\nIn order to give your course structure, you should split it into modules.\u00a0 In the same way you divide a book into chapters, you divide a course into modules.\u00a0 Chapters make books easier to write and read.\u00a0 Modules make online courses easier to create and consume!\r\nModules as Outline\r\nThink of this as the "outline" for your course.\u00a0 Creating an outline is a little bit of work that goes a long way.\u00a0 An outline helps you to organize your thoughts on the course material.\u00a0 It also makes it easier for you to create content later on.\r\n\r\nYou should also consider prerequisite modules or courses.\u00a0 Let's say that you want students to complete modules in a certain order.\u00a0 Set up the course so that Module 1 is a prerequisite for Module 2, and so forth.\r\n\r\nYou can also ask that students take a course, such as Algebra, before enrolling in your course.\u00a0 That way, they know what knowledge they need for the course.\r\nTime-Based Modules\r\nA module can be based on time periods, such as days, weeks, or months.\u00a0 This might make sense if the course is time-sensitive, or if a tight schedule is part of the course.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nFor instance, "Lose 10 Pounds in 5 Weeks" might require daily milestones for students to complete the course on time.\u00a0 In that case, it makes sense to break the course into 35 modules, one for each day.\r\nContent-Based Modules\r\nOn the other hand, you can also split up the material into modules based on subject matter.\u00a0 For instance, let's say you teach a "Calculus from the Start" course.\u00a0 You might start with a module on prerequisites, such as algebra, trigonometry, and geometry.\r\n\r\nThen, you could have a module on limits, one on derivatives, and one on integration.\u00a0 Finally, you could wrap up the course with applications of calculus in other subjects.\r\nExample\r\nModule 1: Prerequisites (Algebra, Trigonometry, Geometry)\r\nModule 2: Limits\r\nModule 3: Derivatives\r\nModule 4: Integration\r\nModule 5: Applications\r\nYou don't necessarily need to split hairs with the modules, because you can further divide each module into parts.\u00a0 Going back to the book analogy, you can split each chapter into subsections.\u00a0 This makes it even easier to read and digest your course content.\r\nCreate Content\r\nNow to the part that is fun, but also plenty of hard work!\u00a0 Creating content probably takes the longest time out of all the steps.\u00a0 However, if you started off with a good syllabus and outlined your material into modules, it will be much easier.\r\nFollow Your Outline\r\nStart off with the first module, and create the content you need.\u00a0 Make sure that the order you present your content makes sense.\r\n\r\nFor instance, you might have an introduction video explaining what the module contains.\u00a0 Then, you might have a video explaining Key Concept 1.\u00a0 You could follow this with a worksheet to see if students understand the concept.\u00a0 They should be able to check the answers to see if they are on the right track.\u00a0 Continue with a video explaining Key Concept 2, and then some type of worksheet or knowledge check.\r\n\r\nAt the end of a module, a quiz can ensure that students are learning the material.\r\nTake Time to Edit\r\nWriting text, recording audio and video, and creating other course content will take up a good chunk of time.\u00a0 Another task you should not ignore is editing.\u00a0 Make sure that your content is free from typos, mistakes, and outdated information.\r\n\r\nIf grammar is not your strength, consider hiring someone to go through the course and check for these mistakes.\u00a0 You want to make a good impression on your students throughout the course.\u00a0 Typos or other errors will prevent you from doing so.\u00a0 Take the extra time and effort to make your work perfect!\r\nAdvertise\r\nNow for the tricky part: advertising your course!\u00a0 For people to take your course, they have to find it somehow.\r\nChannels\r\nIf you have your own website, you can advertise the course on some (or all!) pages of your website.\u00a0 You can also ask others in your niche if they would be willing to promote your course on their websites.\u00a0 You will need to decide on a fair commission structure to offer if you go this route.\r\n\r\nIf you host your course on a site like Udemy, they will do the advertising for you.\u00a0 Of course, they will also take a commission for bringing the traffic to your course.\r\n\r\nYou can also try other traditional online advertising methods, such as Google AdSense and Facebook ads.\u00a0 You could also try to promote your course on YouTube, LinkedIn, or other social media channels.\r\n\r\n\r\nCopy\r\nRegardless of the channel you use to advertise your course, you will need to produce advertising copy.\u00a0 You can do this yourself, or hire someone to help you.\u00a0 One place to look for inspiration is your course description.\u00a0 If you can condense this into an advertisement, it might help to sell your course to people who see it.\r\n\r\nAnother place to look for inspiration is your course outcomes.\u00a0 You can even choose different outcomes to display in different ads.\u00a0 Then, see which ones bring you the most traffic, and use those to promote the course.\r\nConclusion\r\nCreating an online course takes a lot of work.\u00a0 However, if you have the patience and persistence, it can pay off.\u00a0 You can help students to learn about a topic, while also earning money for teaching what you know.\r\n\r\nUsing online courses, you have the potential to reach millions of students online.\u00a0 To help ensure their success, check out my article on how to succeed in online courses, and share some of the ideas if you find them helpful!\r\n\r\nI hope that this article gives you a good idea of where to start when creating an online course.\u00a0 If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below.