Information Gathering Techniques for Online Courses – Full Overview, Examples, Tips & More

Once you’ve decided on a topic for your online course, it’s time for you to gather information for it.

The internet has an infinite wealth of knowledge but you need to know how to scoop out relevant information in order to create an effective course

In this post, we’ll provide you with an in-depth guide to effectively gather information so you don’t miss out on any valuable content you can provide to your students.

Identify What You Need 

It’s very tempting to just jump right in and start writing down everything you know about your online course topic but it’s highly important to stay focused here. 

Bombarding your students with information is not the way to make an effective online course.

Hence, it’s very important that you outline your online course’s goals and learning objectives/outcomes first before you actually start to gather information

Once you come up with clear and thorough course objectives, it will be much clearer what type of content want to include within your course. 

And thus, it will be easy to identify and delete any content that does not apply to your course’s learning objectives and to your audience. 

Always resist the urge to include unimportant/irrelevant content just because it’s available. Let your course objectives drive what content you choose to include within your course, not the other way around. 

Brainstorming Chapter/Module Ideas 

We’ve talked about brainstorming before when we talked about how to come up with ideas for your online course’s topic. The same idea applies here. 

Think about what your course is about: 

  • Is it dealing with a specific problem and presenting a solution to it? 
  • Is it detailing a process or technique? 
  • Is it just a general course related to a specific niche? 

Based on what type of online course it is, you’re going to have to come up with different chapters or modules for it. 

No one is going to want to buy your online course if it’s just a mess of unorganized information. 

Hence, it’s important that you come up with subtopics in order to effectively organize the content within your online course. 

This goes without saying but you should, of course, write everything down on a piece of paper. 

It’s understandable that you may just want to breeze through the information-gathering stage of your online course journey so you can get to the actual writing of course content. 

However, we urge you that you take your time when gathering information

Gathering the Information In Your Head 

Before we actually talk about how to gather information online, let’s talk about how to organize information that you already have inside your head. 

For this, you’ll have to first refer back to the list of modules you’ve made. 

For each subtopic or module that you’ve written down, you should: 

  1. Write down everything you know about that module.
  2. Think of a quick tip or technique to include within each module.
  3. Repeat this process until you’ve exhausted everything you know about each module.

By the end of this process, hopefully, you’ll have huge chunks of information for each module that you’re ready to organize into a meaningful course. 

Digging Up Information You may Have Forgotten About 

If you’re already an expert in your field, chances are that you’ve been in that field for a long time. 

As a result, there might be certain sub-topics or information that you may have forgotten about or that may not have occurred to you during your brainstorming sessions. 

One great way to jog your memory related to your online course topic is to go through listicles already available on the internet. 

You can easily find listicles by searching “way to <your online course topic>”. 

By going through these listicles, you may come across a sub-topic, technique, skill or problem that you may have forgotten about during your brainstorming session that we described above. 

Identify these, add them to your list and then, do the same process for these that you did for the sub-topics you’d already written down. 

Once you’ve decided on what your online course’s topic is going to be, the next step is to start scouring the internet for relevant information. 

Luckily, there are many information-gathering tools and software you can utilize to make your job a whole lot easier. 

We’ve compiled them all in one guide for you.

Gathering Information Online 

Before we talk about this, let’s get one thing straight: plagiarizing someone else’s content is unethical and morally wrong. That’s not the goal of what we’re doing here. 

The reason why we gather information online is so that you can structure your online course better. 

You may already be an expert but you have to know that things are always evolving. 

Researching your course topic online can help you identify what students online are asking for and what sub-topic should have more of a focus within your online course. 

Doing this will help you find more sub-topics, find new literature related to whatever you want to teach as well as information to other helpful content such as infographics, helpful links, etc. 

We shouldn’t need to say this but you should always cite your sources whenever you’re including someone else’s content within your online course. 

Where do I Gather Information From? 

As for where you should gather information, the first option is always Google. 

Other than that, community forums online related to your topic can be a great way to gather information as well as get a feel for what students’ problems are and what they might be expecting out of an online course like yours. 

Subreddits related to your online course topic can be a great place to look at and social media groups are also something worth exploring. 

Other than that, if you invested in a keyword research tool like Ahrefs when searching course topic ideas, that tool can help you here as well. 

If you search for your online course topic on a keyword research tool like Ahrefs, it will come up with tons of keyword suggestions for you. 

You can utilize these keyword suggestions in two ways: 

  • Use keyword variations of your online course topic suggested by Ahrefs in your online course to help it rank better. 
  • Use keyword suggestions of Ahrefs to identify further sub-topic areas to add to your brainstorming ideas list. 

You can check out our post on information-gathering tools if you want the details on how to use tools like Ahrefs to gather content for your online course.

Take a look at our website to learn all there is to start an online course business.

information gathering

Wrapping Things Up…

Gathering information for your online course topic can definitely become overwhelming if you don’t plan things out. 

This is because people often cannot identify what information to exclude and what to include within their course. 

We’ve gone over how you can efficiently gather information and also, how to identify what information NOT to include within your course. 

Let us know in the comments what techniques you use to gather information for your online courses.