The Secret Sauce Your Course is Missing: Quality Content

How you present course content is as important as what learning objectives you select. Quality content can help engage. Here’s how to make it.

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When it comes to course design, how you present information is as important as what information you present. It’s no exaggeration to say that your content choices determine whether your course achieves its objectives. That doesn’t mean that every course needs flashy graphics or a huge development budget. It does mean that you should invest in quality content. That might mean bringing in a freelancer, upskilling members of your team, or hiring a content expert.

How Important Is Course Content?

Content is one of those words that gets tossed around a lot. If you’ve taken any interest in marketing news over the last decade, you may have heard that content is king. It’s used to engage potential customers and convince them to buy. In the education space, content is a little different. It’s still used to engage, but the goal is to help students learn.

Still, the underlying idea — that content should be interesting, compelling, and engaging — holds true whether you’re writing blog posts or crafting course content. Yet many trainings and university programs seem to treat course content as an afterthought. They assume that presenting accurate information is enough. That’s why you see so many courses that are little more than recorded lectures or digitized textbooks.

Content Can Make Or Break Your Course

If learning objectives and curriculum are what your course teaches, content is how that information is taught. It’s the packaging around the essential knowledge you want students to learn.

Think of your course as a set of antique dishes handed down to you by your grandmother. If you wanted to pass those dishes on to another member of your family, you probably wouldn’t just drop them in any old box, stick them in the mail, and hope for the best. You would carefully wrap each one and maybe even add some Fragile stickers to make sure your heirlooms arrive in one piece.

Your content does the same thing for your learning objectives. It packages concepts so they can reach their intended destination — the minds of your learners.

3 Forms Of Course Content

Although other options exist, most courses are built around three basic types of content: text, video and audio, and graphics or images. When all three forms of content work together, you’re able to deliver a high-quality, accessible course.

1- Written Content For Courses

Whether your course is mostly text-based or relies on video, written content often forms the foundation. Experienced content writers help you craft text-based content as well as scripts for video and audio. You want someone who can break down complex ideas and can write readable courses appropriate for your audience.

Some programs make the mistake of relying too heavily on Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) for content creation. It’s true that SMEs have deep knowledge of their subject and may be able to pass on insights that would take students years to learn on their own. But they may also need some help conveying that information in a way students can understand. Experts steeped in their subject may struggle to remember what it was like to be new in the field. They might use jargon or assume understanding that students just don’t have yet.

Content writers can help turn expert insight into digestible content for students. They use their knowledge of language, tone, and audience to create quality written content for courses. Writers should work closely with SMEs and learning designers to develop text or scripts that convey essential information in accessible ways.

2- Images And Graphics Make Courses More Engaging

Few students enjoy being confronted with a wall of text. But you can’t just slap a few stock photos into your course and call it good. Well, you can, but you won’t be doing your learners or your course any favors.

Even if your course relies heavily on video or audio elements, the right graphics can still make a big difference. Well-designed graphics can improve understanding, make your course look more professional, and unobtrusively promote your brand.

Diagrams, charts, and illustrations help students sort through what they’re reading and improve their understanding. Plus, the right color and design choices can help add continuity to your courses.

Look for graphic designers with a strong portfolio and good technical skills. They should demonstrate an understanding of color, user experience, and accessibility. Graphic designers can collaborate with Instructional Designers and other content creators to develop graphics that illustrate and illuminate your learning objectives.

3- Video And Audio

Video represents a powerful opportunity to engage students. There’s some evidence to suggest that video is more effective than other mediums, possibly because people learn better when more of their senses are engaged.

You don’t necessarily need custom animations or fancy camera angles, but you do need to make sure that the medium supports the curriculum rather than distracting learners. That means high quality audio and video is essential.

In most cases, you’ll need to do more than just point a camera at an instructor or SME. Video and audio experts can help you create high-quality recordings that present information in clear and accessible ways. Depending on how much video you create, you may need a media producer, multimedia project manager, or learning content producer on your team.

Look for someone who understands story structure and has the technical skills to produce high-quality video content. They may need to coach SMEs and instructors on how to best use the equipment.

How To Tell If Your Course Content Needs Improvement

All this talk about content might have you wondering if your course content needs improvement. With finite time and budgets, do you need to invest in content right now? The following questions can help you decide:

• Do learners seem disengaged or dissatisfied?

• Are assessment scores lower than you expect?

• Must students consistently seek help outside the course in order to succeed?

• Are learners asking questions you thought were already answered by course content?

If you answered yes to any of those questions it might be time to invest in more quality content. Teamed can help you find the course content creator you need. Contact us today to get started.

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