It is now beyond debate that online learning is effective. No one’s saying remote learning programs will completely replace traditional, in-class sessions. However, there’s a general agreement that distance learning that leverages technology has transformed education and learning.

The key differentiator today, therefore, is not whether your university or training centre offers teaching through virtual classrooms. The differentiator is how you do it.

In this guide, we’ll help you understand how you can build a remote learning program. But first, let’s start with a very short recap of what we mean by virtual learning.

Understanding virtual learning

Virtual learning is an arrangement that uses digital devices to deliver and consume education over the internet.

While it continues to evolve, this model of online learning has matured enough to have a learning management system that facilitates not only learning but also evaluation and reporting. 

Digital learning can be asynchronous or synchronous. Asynchronous is the on-demand model, which uses prerecorded webinars and lectures to deliver the training. Synchronous learning is real-time learning, which means the trainers deliver their sessions to a live audience of learners like in a traditional classroom.

Often, sessions conducted for the synchronous model are recorded and later made available to learners. This enables self-paced learning for each learner and complete flexibility for the instructor.

Virtual classroom learning experience

A virtual classroom aims to infuse the benefits of technology without sacrificing the advantages of a conventional classroom. For instance, an online program will considerably automate how tutors track students’ performance. Simultaneously, it will bring in more evaluation criteria or provide a sharper, more detailed snapshot of how the student has fared.

Tutors can teach from the comfort of their homes. Source: EdisonOS YouTube channel

The elements of learning experience that a great virtual classroom focuses on includes:

  • Empowering the faculty to engage students with graphics and images as required
  • Collecting and processing relevant information of learners to improve feedback
  • Breaking down longer classes into smaller, bite-sized sessions for easy grasping
  • Unlocking levels and providing access to resources that advanced learners use to work faster
  • Permitting learners to enrol whenever they wish, without leaving gaps in lessons
  • Letting instructors answer questions like they'd do in traditional classrooms
  • Enabling swift, seamless, and reliable data collection on student performance
  • Making it easy for students to replay and repeat lessons, and ensure success

13 steps to create a remote course

Here are the 13 steps to create an online course:

1. Select your topic

Before you figure out how to create an online course, you want to zero in on the right topic to teach.

The ideal topic for a remote course lies at the intersection of your abilities, your passion, and market demand. For instance, you may be trained in healthcare, your passion may be numbers, and you see a market for business intelligence. Here, data science or analytics for pharma companies or hospitals might be a great course for you to teach. 

The only reliable way to find out if a course will make money is by way of market research. Which brings us to step #2 below.

2. Check market demand

Carrying out market research is more than just finding out if there’s an audience for your course. 

The below diagram well captures the essence of how to carry out market research to assess the demand of a course.

Understanding the viability of an online course

After you’ve created a list of topics to teach online, you’ll need to understand the market value of the topics. Here’s how:

  1. What questions are people asking? Comb through search engine searches and social sites like Quora, Reddit, and LinkedIn in particular. These are great pointers towards what problems people are trying to solve.
  2. Can I deliver this? You should be competent to deliver whatever you promise. In the case of specialized courses, say, like the ones related to medicine, you may be legally required to have a license or qualification.
  3. Will people pay for this? Make a point to speak to your target audience - emails, chats, phone calls… No point losing sleep over designing a curriculum no one’s willing to buy.
  4. What are my competitors missing? While it’s unlikely you’ll hit an idea no one’s ever thought about before, giving it a different spin will do the magic for you.

3. Know your audience

There are three big reasons why you need to know your audience before you launch an online course.

One, you want to precisely understand their pain points. That's the only way your course can address them head on and create value.

Two, learn their motivation behind taking such a course. Are they looking to build more self esteem? Are they trying to advance their career? Are they keen to improve their health?

And three, knowing them is the only way to sell them a course. Teachers can create compelling messages only when they know who exactly they are speaking to.

4. Define learning outcomes

While figuring out how to create an online course, defining learning outcomes becomes important because of how it impacts the success of the course. 

To begin with, poorly defined learning goals may not adequately showcase your expertise. Also, you will not be able to attract the right audience if your goals aren’t accurate. Worse still, you might end up tutoring the wrong audience who may quickly grow frustrated resulting in attrition, refund requests, and poor reviews.

When you define the learning outcomes of an online course you’ll teach, you’ll be able to accurately describe the before/after scenario for the learner. That includes improvements in the learner’s skills, efficiency, and ability to use the knowledge.

5. Create the course outline

One of the best ways of creating your course outline is to begin at the top. Begin by thinking about the overall concept you’ll teach. From there, work your way below. At each step, identify what you need to teach, and then break it down into smaller chunks. 

In this journey, pay particular attention to the parts that need some previous knowledge. Unless you expected the learners to come armed with that knowledge, make room to teach those parts in a separate lesson. 

Sure, this storyboard approach will need a few iterations till you come up with the final outline. But once you have the outline ready, it won’t take you long to draft individual lesson plans.

Some courses need to be taught only in a certain sequence. For instance, if you’re teaching Russian language 101, the only place to begin is the letters of the alphabet. 

Storyboard of a math course (EdisonOS)

Against that, if you’re teaching high school algebra, you have some freedom in where to start and what to teach. Finally, abstract subjects - e.g. appreciation of Oriental art - have almost no set pattern and you can devise the course outline pretty much the way you want.

That means your approach to how to create a course will heavily depend upon the course. The more intensive your course, the more you’ll need to break down into easier, smaller concepts.

6. Pre-sell the course

In any discussion on how to build a remote learning program, pre-selling is a critical step. It’s a strategy for mitigation as well as for course correction. 

From those who buy when you pre-sell, you’ll get some funds to begin course production. Conversations with them will also provide you feedback on how you can fine-tune the course to meet their expectations. 

Some platforms extend more support for your marketing and selling exercises than others do. Pre-selling will give you a better idea of what you want in a platform over which to sell and run the course. 

7. Choose the platform

Ideally, your online course platform should not only make learning and teaching easier but also support your marketing activities.

Some learning platforms are course-centric. A platform like Preply, for instance, is designed to learn and teach different languages. But it may not be the right choice if you plan to conduct a physics class or a coding course.

At the other end of the spectrum, you have EdisonOS. The interface is so course-agnostic, you can teach practically any course you can think of: financial planning, fitness, SAT, arts, academic courses for universities,... the list is nearly endless.

There are several reasons why more people than ever are choosing EdisonOS. You can design and launch your course, create dedicated website or landing pages, and carry out email marketing activities to promote your course. There is also an easy and secure payment gateway through which to collect your fees.

Screenshot: EdisonOS. You get granular-level analytics with EdisonOS so that you make data-backed decisions.

Your ideal platform should also let you build and manage communities, host live classes, conduct tests and polls, and assess student progress; EdisonOS does all this and more. In essence, EdisonOS becomes your one-stop solution for the remote learning online courses you have in mind.

8. Craft your landing page and sales funnel

Creating and selling a remote course is not difficult, but you certainly need proper systems to power you. A platform that lets you do this effortlessly - and effectively - is your best partner.

Your landing page is where you have complete control over how people see your course. The design, the UI, the copy, the fonts, the color combination, the images,... everything should be directed towards one single objective: conversion. Be sure you’re at your persuasive best, because it’s very difficult to regain visitors who leave without purchasing your course.

Screenshot: Salesforce website - a simplified illustration of how the sales funnel of Salesforce works

This landing page is actually a part of the larger process: the sales funnel. The goal of every step in the sales funnel is quite simple: to move the visitor to the next stage. So in case of people who have never heard about you or your course, your goal is to build awareness. Against that, people who are aware of your course and brand, the sales funnel aims to create in them a strong interest in your course.

9. Shape your business model

As you begin to explore and finalize your course outline and course platform, you’ll see a need to crystallize your business model.

Within a business model, you’ll make two decisions. The first one is regarding the fees, while the second is regarding the delivery of the course contents. 

Remote, online courses most commonly follow one of the three models for course fees :

  • One-time payment: Best suited for short courses that don’t need regular updates
  • Instalments: A single course with milestones where students pay fees in parts
  • Modules: Course divided in modules where students pick which module to buy

Against that, your course delivery may take one of the below forms:

  • Synchronous course: You teach in real-time. Recordings may or may not be provided.
  • Asynchronous courses: Your students learn from the recordings you provide them. There’s no live interaction with the students. 
  • Selectively synchronized courses: While most of the learning happens through recordings, you go live a certain number of times to teach additional stuff, bring in guest experts, assess progress, or answer questions.
  • Cohort-based courses: You teach in real-time or through recordings, but you review submissions, while students need to interact frequently.
  • Membership courses: You keep adding new modules at a set frequency. Learners get access to those modules till the time their membership is active.
  • Other types: You may design your own style. Typically, the first half of the learning is done only through recordings, while the second half is taught live.

10. Produce your course

Here’s where the excitement begins! With most of the homework behind you, now it’s time to get off to begin the production of your course. 

Here are the seven tips for video recording your course:

  • Person: People prefer learning from a human. You don’t have to be on the screen all the time, but make sure learners can see the instructor every once in a while.
  • Shooting angles: Use at least two angles to shoot your video from: front and side. This will bring a little variety and prevent monotony. 
  • Script: No matter your social skills or ability to communicate well, do not work without a script. A bound script makes sure you don’t miss anything. And it keeps the timeline under check.
  • Voice: Fuss over the quality of voice recording. Whether you’re speaking on the screen or providing a VO, your voice quality must be great.
  • Visual assets: Have all slides, images, or photographs ready. The less you have to do in real-time while shooting, the better it is.
  • Editing: Take help from a professional editor if required. That will keep your course crisper and more professional.
  • Rehearsals: Before you begin to shoot, practice. That will give you a very good idea about things like slide timings, pauses, audio-video quality, and transitions.

11. Price it right

While there’s no one system to decide how to price your virtual learning course, there are several pointers. One obvious place to check is your competitors. Contrary to popular belief, it may not be a great idea to replicate the pricing of your closest competitors. If you do that, you lose an opportunity to differentiate. For instance, if you set a lower price, you can project your course as an ‘affordable course’; if you set a higher price, you can position your course as a ‘high-value course’.

Remember, more than what people pay for your course, it’s the deliverables that matter. So if people find value in your course, they won’t complain about the price too much. Against that, if they don’t see the value they expected, they’ll be an embittered lot who feels cheated.

12. Launch the course - and market it

It’s okay if you’re a bit jittery, because you’re about to launch your course!

The good news is that most of what goes into marketing your course will be repeated. As a result, you can templatize things and keep improving them, thereby saving time. 

Start by learning how you can use the following to drive sales:

  • Your existing network
  • Influencer marketing
  • Email marketing
  • Paid ads
  • Blogs
  • Webinars
  • Social media
  • Affiliate marketing
  • Previous students (if any)

13. Collect feedback and form communities

After you've launched the course, don't forget to collect testimonials and feedback from your students.

Document their journey and showcase their before/after case. If your course deals with higher education, you can show how students benefited from the resources other than academics that you shared. With younger students, you can also have the parents talk about how their ward did better at academics.

Facilitate building and running communities where your learners can exchange ideas, offer suggestions, and share personal experiences with other learners.

Remote programs: Summarizing a broad outline

The below action points capture the key activities you need to focus on while building a course:

Design, Develop, Deliver, Distribute

Design the outline, develop details of each session, and start creating the relevant content, images, videos, and quizzes.

After that, deliver the course. Don't wait for everything to be perfect. When required, you can make changes on the go.

Finally, pay attention to distribution and marketing. Focus your energy on how you'll bring learners to your program.

Choose the right partner

Let's say you run courses on financial planning.

At EdisonOS, we help course creators do things effortlessly: website building, email marketing, carrying out chat sessions, managing communities, full-fledged LMS, integrations, and more. With EdisonOS, you'll only need to focus on teaching financial planning; the rest of the activities - launch, promotion, analytics, integrations - are practically all drag-and-drop.

Run your online courses. Under your brand 

Build a community

People learning online can really grow when there’s an active community of members ready and happy to help one another. No amount of course material can substitute the sharing of tips among the learners.

The power and reach of digital learning multiplies when students learn from other students. Which is why you want to focus on building a vibrant community.

Ensure success: Conquer online learning problems

Online courses have their unique challenges. Merely recording and delivering online classes on a subject doesn't even begin to address these challenges.

Here are the four challenges unique to online learning, along with the recommended ways to overcome them:

  1. Time management skills: With self-paced programs, students might never complete the entire course.
  2. What you can do: Set and enforce assignment submission deadlines. Suggest study plans and goals for your learners.
  3. Distractions: Social media lower students' concentration and reduce their attention span.
  4. What you can do: Offer lessons of different sizes. That will allow students to learn in small chunks. Keep the students engaged with hypothetical questions, multimedia, and other stuff. Work towards accountability.
  5. Isolation: Online education may create a feeling of isolation. A student may have little or no interaction with peers unlike in regular classes.
  6. What you can do: Use different opportunities like polls, open-ended questions, and other activities to ensure students engage with and derive value from their peers.
  7. Personal barriers: Online education can attract a wide spectrum of students. That means they come with different issues, like hearing impairment or autism.
  8. What you can do: Practice inclusivity. For example, you can use captions along with speech, and voice-overs to describe images.

Frequently asked questions about remote learning

Is remote learning the same as homeschooling?

There are several ways homeschooling differs from online learning. One, remote learning is centred around the use of technology and digital devices. Against that, for homeschooling, devices may be merely incidental, if they are used at all.

Two, remote, online learning is not restricted to school-going children. Adult learners and working professionals are two of the largest target audience in this model. Homeschooling, on the other hand, is restricted to children and learners of school-going age.

And three, distance learning may cover virtually any topic that can be taught and learned. It's not limited to academics. Homeschooling, in contrast, aims at mostly mirroring what might have been taught at school, had the pupil been attending school. That makes homeschooling focused only on academics.

What are the popular programs that digital learning covers?

Digital learning is suitable for virtually all sorts of programs. Digital learning courses may offer tutoring sessions that support the regular education of a conventional school or college. Then, there may be programs aimed at admission-focused exams like the SAT or the GRE.

Another, highly popular segment is online programs for working professionals aiming to learn a new skill or augment an existing one. For instance, a construction industry professional may wish to learn more about personal investing.

Finally, there could be courses that intersect with languages, performing arts, or hobbies. Courses for origami, yoga, foreign languages, or learning to play the violin can also be effectively delivered using the digital model.

Technology's flexibility to virtual learning helps learners realize their full potential without sacrificing their other commitments.

Mayank Batavia
Content Strategist
Table of Content
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