Today’s topic is probably the one that I get into the most with my clients as we get beyond content creation and they know that the vision is going to become a reality… we’re discussing what is needed to effectively administer and deliver your online course.
Often the easiest part of an online course is the content – it’s really everything else that goes into the course that feels daunting. And that’s because it’s new and different and most course creators don’t have a strategist or mentor or adviser to help them get from idea to active selling.
And that’s really what we’re going to break down in this episode.
Part 1: Delivery
There are dozens of different tools that are designed to fulfill the delivery. And truly, the exact set of tools you choose will work and it could look different than someone else who is listening to this podcast right now. There is no one right set of tools. It’s more important to know what content we need to deliver and when we get to the second half of this episode, we’ll focus on tools more… Course delivery consists of content delivery, encouragement delivery, feedback delivery and over-delivery.
If you’ve listened to the podcast for any length of time, you know how much I love to overdeliver… but I really should talk about the other facets of delivery first.
This is where your actual course material is presented to your students. Course content is best delivered in a methodical, organized and logical manner. The first thing I have most of my clients do is to put their course outline into their course delivery platform of choice. This might be a WordPress site with a learning management plugin, an all-in-one platform that provides a course delivery mechanism or a dedicated course delivery platform. Once you have your outline in place, then it’s time to look at that outline and figure out how you’d like to guide and support your students through that outline.
- Are you going to give them the ability to jump around the material?
- Are you going to require them to finish everything in order.
- Perhaps you’ll have sections of content that they can do in whatever order makes sense to them and then they can move on by passing a quiz or completing a survey.
I like to have a good idea how people are going to progress through the outline so that I can identify where I might want to send encouragement emails, offer my feedback on their progress or otherwise.
When we put ourselves into the shoes of our students without getting sucked into the content itself, it’s much easier to create our administration plan. We can always add more administration as the course gets closer to launch. The key here is to identify when and how we’re going to give our students the material they need to succeed and take action.
Another part of course delivery is complimentary or tangential delivery mechanisms.
- What are we providing via email?
- Is content being presented in multiple formats?
- What is downloadable versus streaming only?
- Are there any other platforms that we are going to use within the course delivery. (this one is really asking if you’re going to do Zoom calls or Facebook Lives inside a group for your students to host Q&A sessions or office hours.)
I would really love to do a deep dive Q&A type episode on course delivery – what questions do you have? Send them over to me on Instagram @jaimeslutzky or via email to firstname.lastname@example.org – and if you would like to have your voice on air, send them over as an audio file 😊
Feedback, encouragement and over-delivery and what the heck I mean by them!
I was speaking with my friend Dana, she’s in LA and loves the idea of potentially learning from teachers in other parts of the country… but her biggest hesitation of not being in studio with her teacher is how to get the hands on and one-on-one feedback about her work in progress. And that’s really where I started to dig deep into how to do effective feedback with an online course.
I have come up with several mechanisms –
- An online community or forum where feedback can be provided by peers, mentors and instructors
- A structure for uploading work in progress within the framework of the course
- Unstructured but readily available upload functionality for students to use on their schedule
And of course, there is also the option to do a combination of the three. It somewhat depends on the topic of instruction and the type of work the students are creating. Ariane Cap that I interviewed back in the fall teaches the bass in her online course. She needs her students to be able to send her audio and video files for feedback. Whereas Mr. Mo who I also interviewed around the same time helps artists become storyboard artists – and he needs to see what his students are creating, so they need to be able to upload images and graphics.
Once the material is uploaded, how are you as the instructor going to provide feedback… it might be audio or video or image or text. And here again, this is why we want to define feedback delivery before students are begging for it!
Encouragement delivery is equally important. We want our students to continue to make their way through the content and it’s so easy for them to get sidetracked by life and shifting priorities. Knowing the most likely points where your students are going to appreciate “keep it going” type messages and “you did it” type messages. “You did it” messages help your students see that you care and that you are watching their progress where as “keep it going” messages might be the difference between someone putting your course on the backburner and pushing through a difficult module!
How good does it feel to know well in advance what sticking points will likely arise for your students and already have a plan for getting them through them?
And those times when we plan to over-deliver – well, those are giving bonus material that will help the student or a personal message or otherwise helping them get more out of their purchase. One or maybe two bonuses is all your students need to convert them into lifelong clients. One thing that makes over-delivery different than feedback and encouragement delivery is that you can have a pool of potential bonuses and pull them out on a student to student basis. One student might get a bonus lesson or bonus course based on the progress they have made in this course or another student might get a discount code for a one-on-one call with you because they are getting confused by a methodology or strategy that you are presenting.
I hope you can see how delivery and timing are important facets to administering your online course!
Let’s get into the second part of this episode which is the actual administration of the students, the platform and course progress.
I know, I know, you want me to tell you what platform to use. But I’m not going to. If you’re starting completely from scratch with absolutely nothing online yet, then we’ll evaluate Thinkific and MemberVault to determine which one of those is the best starting point for you. Those links are to podcast mini-series I did on each of these platforms. I generally recommend these two platforms above others because they check all the boxes for what you are going to want and need. They both are great for content delivery and integrate well with ConvertKit and ActiveCampaign which are my preferred email marketing platforms.
We need there to be a strong integration between the course content platform and the email marketing platform to be able to implement the delivery administration!
So, those are four platforms for you to start looking at.
Another reason I tend towards Thinkific and MemberVault is because those platforms have user password management functionality built in. If a student has the login url but cannot remember their password, it’s straightforward for students to be able to reset their password without involving you. This is a major headache we can absolutely avoid – you’re welcome!
Active administration means taking time each day or each week to review student progress or lack thereof, posing discussion questions in your Facebook group or other online forum, answering content and technology related questions, finding and patching holes, offering workarounds or advanced techniques. But most of all it’s a matter of making sure that you are visible – because the people who buy and enjoy your first course are far more likely to buy your next course and recommend you to their friends and family.
I personally like to have the tools in place to make it super easy to spot what I need to spot regarding student progress. While built in tools inside platforms work really well, I’ve found that spreadsheets often work that much better. Sometimes it’s just a matter of asking the platform to output a CSV file with student progress on it, other times I use Zapier to pull and organize the content for me.
When you’re just starting to administer your course, especially if your enrollment is people you already have a relationship with, it’s sometimes super challenging to push yourself to do it the way you developed in your systems and processes.
But it’s so worth it – when we put the foundations in right, it’s so much easier to grow and iterate. I cannot wait to see what you do with your courses and I’m totally open to answering any questions you have about administering your course or anything else related to getting your courses online! Just send me a message over on Instagram – I just changed my username to @jaimeslutzky ~ it would be amazing if you could send me a quick DM letting me know you saw the change!
I look forward to hearing about all your online successes. Thanks for listening and reading these notes! And I love getting to know podcast listeners, so connect with me on any of the platforms listed here: