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4 Key PILLARS for Creating Professional Courses

This new online learning explosion;

awesome, isn’t it? The ability to learn anything, at any time. A heavenly new combination of accessibility, few regulations, and an abundance of information can’t possibly be a bad thing – can it?

It can, and it is.

If you’re worried that you don’t have a teaching or training qualification and you’re concerned about the impact this will make on your outcomes – you’re spot on. I’m definitely not suggesting that content creators without teaching qualifications shouldn’t be teaching or training – but what I do know you need is a framework inclusive of the hallmarks of a quality learning experience.

Universities have frameworks, High Schools have frameworks, even Kindergarten and Daycare facilities have solid, carefully considered frameworks for learning that they refer to for every single lesson (from Advanced Chemistry to Pack Away after Little Lunch!)

You don’t need a training qualification. You do need a framework. One that supports you to create professional training courses.

A framework gives you the confidence to deliver a quality learning experience.

And once you are able to recognise the 12 hallmarks of quality learning in your own offerings and others, you’re well on your way to creating incredible learning experiences for all your clients.

So why isn’t this the norm anymore?

It’s a whole new world of being able to access and provide information, to ‘learn’ and ‘teach’ without formal qualifications, and although there are some online learning platforms like Udemy that insist on a certain quality of sound and vision before courses can be released, there are few regulations surrounding the quality of the instruction, content or delivery.

What does that create for the consumer?

A myriad of choices, no real guarantees as to the quality or effectiveness of the learning experience, no official bodies or regulatory standards that would give warranty to your purchase, and the real possibility that you’re buying on impulse because the marketing is sexy on the sales page of the website.

And your reputation?

It’s judged on your ability to create a professional course – one that stands out from the crowd and delivers more than a flashy sales page. Something will help clients create the kind of change they’re looking for in their lives and businesses.

With so much “muck” online, consumers are getting increasingly savvy about where they’re spending their money. Online learning fatigue is increasing. In business forums the cries of ‘I don’t want another freaking e-Course, I just want someone to show me HOW to do it’ are met with resounding claps, cheers and ‘hear hear’s.

(Why e-Courses aren’t showing people ‘HOW to do it’ boggles my mind – but we’ll address that later).

Reality check.

For anyone who’s been in the corporate cage for any length of time, you know that there are rules and regulations, standards and procedures to make sure that you know what you’re paying for, and that you actually DO get what you’re paying for.

Now, I am CERTAINLY NOT SUGGESTING that we should all gather our skirts and form some sort of union or regulatory council (this is exactly what has created such a nightmare in the registered training world – too MUCH legislation).

What I AM suggesting, is that we find some sort of middle ground.

That we, as the consumers, expect a little more and stand for a little less.

That we, as facilitators of learning, give our clients what they’re after – not just more information, but a clear path to learning new information and being able to go away and apply it. Over the last few years of business training I have done some shocking courses – and this image sums it up entirely:

12

So how about we raise the standard?

How about we get really clear about what we’re actually delivering and what our clients are actually getting?

How about we take a look at the age old institutions that DO deliver quality learning experiences and take a few leaves out of their bureaucratic book? The initial intention of all those rules was to INSIST on quality.

Registered Training Organisations in Australia require teaching staff to hold an accredited Certificate IV in Training and Assessment, and major universities insist on basic training in the foundations of teaching and learning; here are a few examples of mandatory training for teaching academics at our leading Australian universities: Curtin UniversityAustralian National UniversityMacquarie University. All their programs are slightly different but if you really look into the content, they’re all essentially the same.

 Truth.

Look at any decent course you’ve been through, and they all have the same hallmarks. They’re all quality learning experiences – and they all have the kind of impact that creates real change in the lives of the people that take them. That IS why you’re here – right? To create a business that sells itself on the back of the results your clients get from your content?

Introducing the hallmarks of any Quality Learning Experience:

The 4 PILLARS: Connect, Create, Communicate and Critique.

I’ve been a teacher and a learner in hundreds of programs and courses over the years, from $50 online courses right through to Masters levels programs at sandstone universities, and regardless of whether it’s online, face to face, cheap or expensive, when it’s lacklustre, I can almost guarantee you that at least one of these 4 PILLARS is the problem.

PILLAR 1: CONNECT for effective Product Development

  1. EXPECTATIONS: Clearly stated
  2. OUTCOMES: Needs based, current, and solves a problem
  3. MATERIALS: Caters for various learning styles

1.3 Set ExpectationsWhat happens when some of these things are out of whack? You get grumpy clients who didn’t get what they expected and your referral based business looks to be sliding backwards.

If your ‘Connect’ is off, there’s a fair chance there wasn’t a complete picture of how the course will operate, including the complete user experience, how the teacher and learners will communicate, what will be included, how the content will be accessed, OR what the course, program or workshop series will achieve overall.

When you fail to really identify your client needs, the different ways people learn, and the exact expectations around the full user experience, you open yourself up to refund requests, mismatched expectations and a minefield of ‘but I thought I was getting X’ type complaints.

PILLAR 2: CREATE with systematic Curriculum Development

  1. CURRICULUM: Outcomes based
  2. LEARNING JOURNEY: Scaffolded appropriately
  3. MATERIALS: Organised and consistent

2.3 SystemsSomething that most formally qualified teachers take for granted, is a solid curriculum document. A curriculum document is part of the overall framework we were discussing earlier. Teachers use curriculum documents every single lesson, and with good reason. When they’re missing? Nightmare.

The content is disorganised, there doesn’t seem to be a consistent thread to follow, you’ve no idea what’s coming up next, the lesson is rambling or poorly connected, and the user experience leaves a LOT to be desired. We’ve all been a learner in THAT classroom – right?

If you run with a course like that your learners will know it, YOU will know it, and you’ll get to the end of the experience and completely rethink your plans to ever teach again. Forget feeling overwhelmed, confused and out of your depth. Have a plan that will keep you organised. Your learners (and your reputation) will thank you!

PILLAR 3: COMMUNICATE with effective Delivery Skills

  1. STRUCTURE: Engaging and scaffolded
  2. VISUAL AIDS: Clear and helpful
  3. DELIVERY: Engaging and client centred

3.2 Visual AidsBe they workshops, worksheets or online webinars, the structure of your content, visual aids and delivery mechanisms dictate whether or not you provide a user experience that will inspire and motivate your clients to engage with your materials, and stay engaged and actually apply the new knowledge to changing their lives for the better.

When you fail to create learning materials that cater to the different ways people learn, and basic best practice teaching and learning principles, your clients get bored, drop out, or never really engage with your content.  No one wants to be in that classroom – right? Worse still, you’re unlikely to get raving reviews or testimonials, your reputation may start to take a nose dive, and you may even begin to lose hope that your content is actually as powerful as you thought it could be. Don’t go there.

Sometimes it’s a simple as a few tweaks here and there to the way it’s presented, ordered or the questions you’ve asked to get them to open that document.

PILLAR 4: CRITIQUE for Continuous Improvement

  1. EVALUATIONS: Transparent and anonymous
  2. REVIEW: Regularly implemented
  3. UPDATES: Regular and stated

4.3 ReflectionAll courses that have 5 star ratings have a solid set of evaluations embedded to source timely feedback that can enhance the user experience.

There’s nothing worse than getting to the end of a course, then getting a tonne of feedback on items that could have been rectified in a heartbeat, saving frustration for a number of your clients.

There’s also nothing worse than being known as the type of professional who creates a bunch of content then just recycles it over and over, never adapting or improving the resources or adding any further value.

Clients can sense that sort of ‘professionalism’ (or lack thereof) from a mile off. Be sure you’re fitting into the right category.

What exactly are YOU delivering?

3.3 Delivery Techniques

Ready to create quality content that confirms you as the expert in your niche?

I’ve prepared a 12 Step Challenge for you – which includes a Blueprint, and 12 short videos that outline how and why it’s so important to apply the principles of best practice teaching and learning to your content.

The lesson is available here.

It’s located in the BASICS Level of the Library, in the Starter Pack course:

Lesson 3: Plan Quality Learning Experiences

Click on the above link to be taken directly to the Lesson. If you’re already  a member of the Starter Pack, make sure you’re logged in! If you’re not, you’ll be redirected to the page where you can become a member.

Lesson-3

Like the sound of all this?

Everything I do is based on the 4 PILLARS.

I have 4 short online courses where you can learn the basics, a Course Review service where I can nut out the parts of your content or delivery that could do with some help, and I also work with passionate professionals one on one to create content and materials that will engage, inspire and motivate clients to achieve the raving success you KNOW they’re capable of.

Click here to find out more about my services.

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Great content stuck in your head & hard drives?

So much to think about . . .

>> What to put in & leave out, in what order?

>> How to package it? Or deliver it? Online?

>> Will it just be a waste of time & money?

>> Will the content actually help people and help me build my reputation as the go-to-professional in my field?

My quiz can help!

Do this 3 minute quiz, and find out exactly which areas you need help with.

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