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Creating an Online Course
Gathering information to include within your online course can be a lot more tricky than it seems.
This is because it’s just as difficult to identify what information to exclude as it is to identify what information to include.
You don’t want your online course to be bloated with irrelevant information so it’s important to develop a process to determine which information is actually needed.
In this post, we will acquaint you with some techniques that will help you identify relevant content along with some helpful tools and how to use them.
We talked in the intro about how you need to be able to identify what content should not be included in your course as well as what should be included.
So, how do you identify what’s relevant information and what isn’t?
Simple. You refer to your course objectives and learning outcomes.
Course objectives and learning outcomes can be stated as skills that your students will have by the time they’re done with your course.
It’s a good idea to define your online course’s objectives and learning outcomes at this stage because they will help you out throughout your online course creation journey.
If you come across a piece of information for which you’re unsure of whether you should include it or not, you should refer back to your learning outcomes and ask yourself:
Does this information directly or indirectly serve my online course’s learning outcomes?
If the answer is yes, you should include it. If not, then you should move on.
There’s a ton of information available online but if you’re passionate about your field or are an expert in it, you’ll have a ton of information about it in your head too.
Hence, you’re going to have to employ a strategy that will effectively be able to gather all the information in your head and organize it onto a piece of paper or text software.
For this, a very simple method is to, again, think about your learning objectives and then start writing down all the information you have that could serve those objectives.
Try to group similar information together in the form of clusters. These would then go on to form modules within your online course.
If you want to learn more, we’ve made an entire post about information gathering techniques for online course creators that you can take advantage of.
There are a ton of different information-gathering tools online that you can use.
The most obvious of which is Google search. Of course, that’s the first thing you’re going to go to when you first start gathering information for your online course.
However, that will only take you so far.
In order to truly gather valuable information that will make your online course an effective one, you’re going to have to make use of some other tools as well.
Some examples are:
If you purchased Ahrefs in order to determine the marketability of your online course topic, you’ll be pleased to find that you can use Ahrefs for information gathering as well.
For this process, you’ll mainly make use of Ahrefs’ keyword and content explorers.
The keyword explorer will provide you with new keyword ideas which you can then use to perform Google searches in order to gain access to unexplored posts and articles.
You can also use these keyword ideas to enter them into Ahrefs’ content explorer.
The content explorer will then show you popular web pages for those keywords and thus, you can use that to gather information effectively too.
We did a comprehensive review of Ahrefs that you can check out as well to determine if it’s viable for you.
Organic communities such as subreddits and Facebook groups can also be great sources of information.
You have to be careful when pulling information from these communities though because there’s no regulation.
Anyone can say anything without evidence and you should always take everything people say on these communities with a grain of salt.
That being said, there are also well-respected members of the community that provide information with evidence and credible sources.
Furthermore, not only can such communities be a great source of information, but they can also serve as your first audience when you initially launch your online course.
You can check out our post on information-gathering tools for a more extensive list as well as details on how to use them.
Lastly, we have to talk about credibility and why you should always check your sources of information before including any content within your online course.
This may seem like an unnecessary step but it’s highly important because if you add incorrect or unreliable information within your online course, your students are going to notice and be put off by this.
If one of the pieces of information you’ve provided is incorrect, what are the chances that more of the information within your online course will also be incorrect?
This is what they’ll think and as a result, you may find that a vast majority of your students may leave your online course without even finishing it.
There are a number of different methods that you can use to judge the credibility of a source but the one we’ve discussed in detail in our fact-checking guide is RADAR.
It’s an easy-to-implement method that stands for Relevance, Authority, Date, Appearance and Reason.
In the end, we just have to say that information gathering can be quite intimidating, so it’s important to not get overwhelmed and take things step-by-step.
Classify information that’s relevant and irrelevant using your course objectives, utilize different tools at your disposal to effectively gather unexplored content and finally, take the time to analyze and determine whether the information you’ve gathered is credible or not.
If you take all of these steps, you’re sure to have an abundance of knowledge and information to include within your online course.
Let us know how you gather information to make content for your online courses in the comments below.