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Welcome to Part 3 of my 5 Tips to Rock the Learner Experience in Your Online Courses blog post series.

This blog post series explores learner experience design issues that every course creator should know if they are serious about creating profitable, high-value online courses.

Learner experience design is the process of creating online learning that provides meaningful and personally relevant experiences for online learners.

Why? Because if you aren’t designing your courses with the learner in mind, then who the heck are you designing your online courses for?

The learner experience is the heart and soul of instructional design.

As the online course market becomes increasingly competitive, your need to create high-value courses becomes paramount. One way to distinguish your learning products from the masses is to make every effort to design your courses with an emphasis on your students’ learning experience.

So today we’re going to explore some basic tenets of learning design that will help you significantly improve the instructional experience for your online students.

But before we start, just a quick recap. In part 1 of this series, we dissected the Course Kick-Off Experience. In part 2 of this series, we examined the Course Visual Experience. And in the remaining posts in this series we’ll cover:

  • Part IV – The Course Social Experience

  • Part V – The Course Instructor Presence Experience

Okay, let’s get this show on the road.

Tip #3 – The Course Instructional Experience

Just how well are you supporting your learners online?

Take a moment and really consider your response to that question. Seriously, take out a sheet of paper and create a bullet list of all the support systems that you have built in to your online course.

Your list might include any of the following:

  • Course Orientation and Student Onboarding

  • Course syllabus

  • Learning module checklists (to mark completion of lessons and assignments)

  • Progress tracker

  • Virtual office hours

  • Peer support

  • Video tutorials for technology introduced in the course

  • Live (virtual) workshops or mastermind sessions as a bonus feature of the course

  • Small group coaching

  • One-to-One coaching

  • Evaluation and/or feedback of student work

  • Clearly stated learning outcomes for the course and clearly stated objectives for each module/lesson in the course

  • Implementation of an instructional design model appropriate to the learners, the course learning outcomes, and the course modules and lessons

Got your list completed?

How much support are you actually providing students in your online courses? How well does your list compare to the list above?

If you are missing items from this list, consider how you can add them to your course. This is important because these course features will greatly influence the instructional experience that your learners have in your course.

The better the course experience a) the more likely students are to complete your course, and b) the more likely students are to sign up for other courses and services that you offer.

Use your course to develop a relationship with your students.

In fact, your goal should be that when learners enter your course, they feel like you designed the course just for them. After all, your course is there to serve your learners – to help them achieve success in your course, so that they can apply this new learning to attain specific goals and ambitions that they have for themselves. They signed up for your course in the first place because they believed that you had something to offer them that would change their lives for the better.

In order to focus on your learners’ instructional experience in your course, you have to shift your perspective.

Instead of perceiving your course as a profit engine for or a product in your business, focus on your course as a manifestation of your desire to be a catalyst for change in your learners’ lives. Then, willingly suspend your knowledge and expertise, and do a walk-thru of your course.

As you do the walk-thru consider where you (as a student in your course) might want support or feedback.

Consider junctures in your course where you, as the learner, might get confused or stuck.

Ask yourself if there are enough opportunities to interact with peers in the course and with [you] the instructor or course support staff. If you are a student in your course…

How will you know if you are making progress?

How will you know if the quality of your work is unexceptional or exceptional?

Why would these things matter to you?

These are significant concerns that all students have! So make sure you honor and address these issues in your courses.

Okay, that wraps things up for Part 3 of this five part learner experience series. Be sure to tune in for the next installment in this series where we’ll look at the The Course Social Experience.

Please share your learning design for instructional experience tips in the comments section below. Have a question or comment? I’d love to hear from you.

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