You have chosen your online course topic. Great! Now what? To create a winning course outline, you must encompass your course vision, details, and templates. Course outline sets the tone for the entire learning experience for the students and ensures they get the most out of their course.

well-designed course outline clearly defines what students can expect and how it can benefit them. Creating a course design template efficiently standardizes the online course outline and lays out a clear pathway for learning outcomes.

Wondering how to create a course outline that wins? Let’s explore all the key steps to create a winning course outline.

What is a Course Outline?

A course outline is a comprehensive document that includes information about the topics, objectives, and learning outcomes of a course. It is an essential tool that serves as a guide for both teachers and students during the course of study.

A course outline provides a roadmap for the students to stay on track and remain organized with their studies.

A clear and concise course outline acts as a framework for the assessment of student performance as they move through the course. You must know how to make a course outline that helps students construct and organize a learning flow in a sequential manner and provides a foundation before they enroll.

The Benefits of Having a Clear Course Outline

The purpose of the course outline is to support the learning process. A clearly structured course outline allows you to promote your course online with an organized roadmap for students. Let’s explore the key benefits of developing a clear course outline:

  • A clear course outline provides a structure and logical order and help students and teacher stay organized.
  • Explicitly outlines topics, concepts, activities, objectives, and resources for students.
  • Promote self-directed learning, and allow students to complete their coursework at their own pace and take responsibility for their learning.
  • Promotes student engagement to bolster learning and give them direction to track their progress

Key Elements in a Course Outline: An Overview

A course outline is an essential document for both student and instructor alike, as it ensures all objectives are covered and relevant information stated. While the course information and outline are filed away neatly in your brain, it is important to deliver in a format for students.

For this, you need to identify key elements in a course outline that are ordered in a way that sets out a promise for the student about their learning journey.

Let’s look at key elements in a course outline.

  • Course Title & Information: Provides a brief description of the subject matter covered in the course.
  • Course Objectives: Describes the broad learning outcomes for students.
  • Course Content: Relevant material for students such as study resources, information, videos, assigned readings, and all other data sources needed for learning.
  • Learning Outcomes: A statement that defines students at the beginning what they can expect, and what value they will gain as a result of taking a course.
  • Assessment & Evaluation: Determines the extent of learning for students from the course and provides goals and outcomes. 
  • Supporting Material: Information, and data not limited to lectures, study notes, and syllabus. It includes visual aid, images, diagram, external data resources, and access to journals, study guides, web-ready content, and educational software.
  • Course Schedule: Classifies topics for a specific course that will be taught in each week/module in detail.
  • Course Policies: Policies concerning attendance, assignment submission, re-submissions, participation, academic integrity, missed exams, recorded lectures, and other related guidelines.

For example, this Microsoft Word Basics course outline highlights all the essential information that relates to the course outline.

th ebest example of course outline that has been created by microsoft

How to Create an Effective Course Outline in 7 Easy Steps: An Overview

Sorting through piles of content and creating an entire course outline by yourself can be overwhelming. Ask yourself questions such as what unique elements you can add.

What will make your course stand out from others? And what difference in your course can benefit the students?

At this point, think about how you can best sell your course. Even if it’s manageable, you can take help from an online course promotion agency to get started.

1. Explore the Topic: A Brief Overview

It may seem obvious, but only the best instructors know how to explore the topic in-depth from different sources and create a comprehensive course outline.

Begin the process early, and give yourself plenty of time to explore the topic. Careful planning and continual refinement can set your course apart.

Explore Books on the Topic

There is a wide range of books written on your chosen course. You can always refer to them. It can become your key to further dividing the course outline into modules and lesson plans.

For example, as an online course instructor, you can explore a range of books available online to create a comprehensive course outline.

thsi image show how to explore the topicm for the course creation.

Case Studies from Relevant Industry

Case studies are the most effective way to get students to understand the practical application of the skills and knowledge developed during a course. Include case studies of the relevant industry to make students learn facts from real-world situations.

Instructors can visit different websites including online resources, and universities websites to explore case studies on diverse topic areas.

For example, MIT Sloan Management School has provided real-life organizational case studies for the subject of Accounting and Finance.

the example of the case studies for the course outline.

Analyze Similar Online Courses

SOURCE: MIT Sloan Management School 

Learning objectives for your course can be a bit different from what others are offering, still, you can prepare the right material by examining different courses of similar subject areas available on online learning platforms.

For example, platforms like Udemy provide access to thousands of courses online, where you can look for similar course content. Here you can see 10,000 results for SEO Courses.

this images shows how to analyze similar online courses fro outline


Search the Internet for High-Ranked Courses

Research, research, and research! The Internet is full of different online courses, make sure you go through some of the top courses on search engines to make notes about what you might want to add, or what can set your course apart.

Once you’ve sketched the outline, start putting the pieces together, considering SEO strategies for an online course to ensure it reaches the relevant audience.

For example, you can search “Python Development Course Online’ and Google will show results for the most high-ranked courses.

search intent is important part for the course outline, this images show the perfect example.

2. Defining Your Course Objectives: Setting the Direction

A clearly defined course objective will provide your students with an outline of what they can learn from the course. When defining your course objective, you must consider the learning outcome your target audience (students) wants to achieve.

Make sure objectives and learning outcomes are SMART, specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound.

Identifying Your Goals & Outcomes

When designing your online course creation template, firstly identify your goals and outcomes. It can also help your better sell course online to the right target audience.

Some questions to consider:

  • Who are your learners?
  • What they want to achieve?
  • What different can you offer?
  • How will your course benefit their learning?

Once you’ve answered these question, you can sharpen your focus and stay on track to create an inclusive course outline.

Aligning Objectives with the Curriculum Framework

It is equally important to ensure your course curriculum is aligned with the objectives. An aligned course curriculum ensures students reach the milestones outlined during the course module.

It can guide students to stay connected and achieve the desired learning objective from your online course.

Setting Clear & Measurable Learning Objectives

It can be achieved by identifying the level of knowledge necessary to achieve the learning objectives and precisely intending to accomplish the course.

Each learning objective involves a measurable outcome for the expanded growth of students with each module or lesson plan.

3. Outlining the Course Content

Constructing a course outline is an essential piece when designing any course. As an instructor, you can go through numerous course outline examples related to the topic on the internet.

The prerequisite and the co-requisite will establish a link and align students with the outcomes mapped out in the shape of course content.

Dividing the Course into Modules or Units

Dividing your course into modules and learning units is always the best choice as it creates a sequence of course content. It can help students identify under what module or unit knowledge will be demonstrated and the criteria for performance.

Modules or units support students throughout the course, as they help them organize the assessments, and learning activities.

Arranging the Content in a Logical Sequence

The logical sequence in online course content refers to all forms of delivery that will be used, including videos, lectures, readings, case studies, explanations, and assessments. It may sound simple, but it isn’t easy to set up and arrange online course content.

  • Sit down, draw objectives
  • Define learning outcomes
  • Create draft course outline 
  • Get curriculum organized and planned
  • Finalize assessments

Estimating the Time Allotment for Each Module

While there is no exact formula to calculate the time allotment for each module, it can take about 3 days to 2 months to create course modules, depending on the complexity of the course.

Defining the Learning Outcomes for each module

Learning outcomes for each module clearly define students with statements that demonstrate content from the start till the end of the course. Module-level learning outcomes showcase the complete learning process and experience that students will undertake by enrolling in this course.

Deciding on the Appropriate Teaching Methods for each module

Once you’ve set out the course objectives and goals, it’s time to decide on the most appropriate teaching methods. As an instructor, you need to employ different teaching methods for a balanced provision of lecture delivery.

However, it’s always better to ask yourself certain questions before making the decision. For example:

  • Who are the learners?
  • What is the objective of the course?
  • What are the gaps you’re fulfilling through this course?
  • What resources students will require during the course?

4. Content is King: Building the Core of Your Course

High-quality course content helps you build credibility and gain the trust of students. Until students see potential in your online course, they’re not likely to opt for it. Make sure your content is designed to create an impact, attract students and generate profitable leads. 

Well, only focusing on the content can certainly help you achieve relevance for the students, but marketing affiliate programs for online course promotion can increase your reach and conversions.

Without any doubt, we all know that Google loves quality content. Thus, you must exactly know what it takes to get in the good graces of search engines and rank on the first page.

Conducting a Comprehensive Content Audit

Now that you know how to create an online course outline, you need to systematically review all the content that you have organized for the course.

The content audit enables you to closely review the content, instantly optimize the quality of content and align it with the course objective that you’ve already defined.

You can conduct a content audit by undertaking following steps:

  1. Define the course metrics
  2. Measure inventory of your content
  3. Analyze the organized content
  4. Draw up a clear action plan

Choosing the Most Relevant Topics to Cover

When it comes to topic selection, it can be tricky. Some course instructors struggle to organize relevant topics in their course outlines. A fail-proof online course requires an efficient content marketing strategy to arrive at a coherent outcome.

Here are five pro tips you must keep in mind while choosing the most relevant topics to cover in an online course:

  • Choose topics that attract the right number of students
  • Choose topics that provide clear direction for learners
  • Choose topics that sets the pace for learning
  • Choose topics that engage more learners online
  • Choose topics that impact the course significance to make it relevant

5. Incorporating Supporting Materials

Supporting materials and resources are significant for learners, as they assist them throughout the course. Commonly available supporting materials for your online course include textbooks, software, reading materials, videos, and recorded lectures.

Choosing the Right Format for Supporting Materials

It’s time to learn how to create a course outline that includes the right format of support materials. Your supporting materials must engage the learners, and offer ease of use, meeting their ability to perform the course tasks.

As an instructor, you need to make sure that the format for supporting material is audient appropriate, and offers all relevant information they will need throughout the course.

Integrating Supporting Materials into the Course Outline

Supporting materials such as examples, narratives, definitions, statistical data, facts & figures, and testimony are significant for the learners and must be integrated into the course outline.

Relevant supporting materials in course content emphasize the learner on the outcomes and enable them to believe in the course. 

Including Assessments and Evaluations in the Outline 

Assessments and evaluation plans in online course outline template sets out a standard for the learners and helps them determine whether or not the goals, of course, are being met as per their requirement.

It can also help learners to improve practice, develop reflective habits, and meet the standard learning outcome of the course.

6. Types of Content for Creating A Course Outline

It’s no wonder that online courses consume less energy than face-to-face teaching, but you need to pick the right course content to sell a great learning experience.

You can produce content for online courses in more than one format, usually, the one preferred by students. 

Now let’s take a deep dive into the types of content an online course outline must include.

Lecture Content

Lecture content refers to the information and topic that you plan to teach the learners.

1. Online Lectures: As an online course instructor, you can deliver lectures online, in real-time, and in form of recorded videos.

2. Text-based Content: Designing course content with a text-based approach ensures a better understanding of the subject matter, and provides explanations for every topic. It can be in form of study notes, case studies, research papers, and other text-based materials.

Reading Material

Reading material refers to anything designed for the purpose of being read by the learners. It can be in different forms, depending upon the objective and goal of the course.

1. Textbooks: Online courses can include e-textbooks for student study reference, and in-depth understanding of the topic.

2. Online Articles: Including online articles in the course outline extend learning options for learners and provide comprehensive information on the topic.

Multimedia Content

Multimedia content refers to any content that utilizes a combination of text, images, visuals, videos, and audio to deliver lecture.

1. Videos: The most commonly used multimedia content format by online course instructors is videos. As an instructor, you can pre-record lectures in form of videos or deliver live lectures in video format.

2. Audio Recordings: It is one of the most efficient ways to deliver course content to students, as they get greater flexibility to process information at their own pace.

3. Interactive Activities: It helps learners retain information faster, and develop communication skills. Immersive and engaging interactive activities along with other learning formats can drive more engagement, and attention, and promote retention.

Assessments and Evaluations

Assessments and evaluations refer to the diagnostic tools that focus on the learning of individual students during the course. Evaluation can determine the extent to which the learner has been able to achieve pre-defined course objectives and goals.

1. Quizzes: It provides a quick and informal assessment of the knowledge of the learners. The result of quizzes determines whether the student has been able to comprehend the course content and where the gap exists.

2. Exams: To improve the learning and ability to retain information, exams serve as the most efficient way to evaluate the learning outcome.

3. Group Projects: Online courses often include group projects to ensure learners can develop teamwork, collaboration, analytical thinking, and critical analysis skills while tackling conflicts and managing project tasks.

7. Planning for Assessment and Evaluation to Measure Success for Student

Assessment and evaluation are the heart of the learning process. There is a lot more than what you think when it comes to testing the knowledge and skills students have gained throughout the course.

To assess and evaluate the learning from your online course, you can set clear criteria and clarify expectations from the students. Learning from online courses can be measured through:

  • Percentile ranking
  • Scores
  • Standard scores
  • Completion progress

Tips for Crafting a Successful Course Outline: Overview

When you are creating an online course to sell online, you must create excitement, curiosity, and engagement among the students whom you plan to target.

Fortunately, there are steps that you can take to create content for an online course, and put together a winning course outline. Establish a uniquely crafted course outline and build a sales funnel for your online course.

Read on and get ready to craft a successful course outline.

Keep it Organized & Structured

Keep your online course outline interesting for the students, provide a piece of solid course information, and define a clear roadmap with outcomes. Keeping it organized will help students know what to expect and get prepared for it. 

Test the Outline

Make sure you validate your online course outline before the final launch. Refine your course outline by answering the following questions yourself:

  • If I were the student, would I have paid to enroll in this course?
  • What pain points does it address for the learners?
  • What outcomes learner expect after completion of course?

Most importantly, go through other online courses to understand the offerings in the market, and make your online course unique.

Selecting the Right Tool for Your Course

Teaching tools are vitally important to help you stay more organized, and make your course easier for learners. Numerous tools can make your course delivery fast and efficient, but you need to evaluate the options that fit best with your course requirements.

It doesn’t matter how you’ve organized everything for your online course until you’ve finalized the right tools. 7 high-demanding course tools include following:

  1. Google Docs
  2. Microsoft Word
  3. Microsoft Note
  4. Toodledo
  5. Smartsheet
  6. CarbonFun
  7. Cloud Outliner

Frequently Asked Questions:

How do you write an outline for an online course?

Step 1: Understand the topic

Step 2: Understand your target audience

Step 3: Define learning objectives and goals

Step 4: Organize your core content

Step 5: Select online course delivery methods

How do I evaluate and refine my course outline as I create it?

  1. Review course outline from student perspective
  2. Assess information covered & materials
  3. Justify the learning outcomes
  4. Align learning objectives with course content

How do I keep my course outline up-to-date and relevant?

  1. Explore the topic
  2. Stay relevant and accurate
  3. Define content types
  4. Validate your course outline
  5. Optimize content for learning

Final Words

It’s time to put all the wisdom that you’ve gained from here to practice. You’re on your journey to create a successful online course outline to deliver a great learning experience for your students.

Ensure you develop engaging and enticing online course content that excites learners to enroll and generate more sign-ups. Remember, the most important part is to stay relevant, organized, and focused on a topic and make it easier for learners.