The quality of your next online course is determined by the ending of your previous

Fully meeting your students' expectations can determine how many students you attract in the future. This week we talk about surveying your students.

The quality of your next online course is determined by the ending of your previous

This week saw the end of quite a few 4 month long courses and got me thinking about how best to wrap them up. It also got me thinking about starting new courses and how best to determine and meet student expectations (or better yet, wow them).

Imagine, for a moment, beginning each new online course from scratch. Each time you ran a course, you'd have no idea what your students expect, what problems they have or what even motivated them to sign up in the first place. You would be uncertain of your students' likes or annoyances over the learning process. You wouldn't know what was stopping them from implementing all your wonderful lessons into their lives. That sound like a big heavy lift and a lot of hard work every time you need to run a course, but there's an easier way.

How you end an online course is just as important as how you began it

The quality of your next day is determined at the end of your previous day, but that's also when your willpower and energy are at the lowest. So, how do you set yourself up for the highest chance of success in the evening when you're not going to be super motivated like you are in the morning? — Nat Eliason

The same is true for the quality of the next instance of your online course; it is determined by how well you ended the previous instance. Have a think about the type of information you need to make informed changes and improvements to your course. While it's true that students might not know about educational theory, they are experts on themselves. They know what is applicable to their lives and how they have learnt most efficiently in the past. The trick then is to tease out the right information near the end of the course so improvements can be made to the whole course.

The types of information you might need:

  • The parts of the course you need to keep intact and as they are because they work
  • The parts that were most memorable (perhaps we could replicate that in other parts)
  • The parts that should change (from not making sense, disconnected, or any other reason)
  • The parts they think are most applicable in their lives
  • Whether the pace should be adjusted
  • Whether the learning outcomes need to be adjusted
  • Material that you could use for promotional purposes (e.g. testimonials and recommendations).
  • The next course topic as a follow-on from this course

The problem with using the wording above, is that the students will be drawn out of their own thinking. They are being expected to think like a course designer or teacher. At best these statements will draw blank stares and empty surveys. While you need the above information, we need to ask the questions in terms of what the student experienced.

Try rephrasing to these questions:

  • The parts of the course you need to keep intact and as they are because they work
  • What went well?
  • The parts that were most memorable (perhaps we could replicate that in other parts)
  • What did you learn?
  • The parts that should change (from not making sense, disconnected, or any other reason)
  • What could we do better? or What would you liked to have done differently or see done differently during the course?
  • The parts they think are most applicable in their lives
  • What will you take into practice from the course?
  • Whether the pace should be adjusted
  • How was the scheduling? Too fast paced, too slow paced?
  • Whether the learning outcomes need to be adjusted
  • What did you expect of this online course? Were these expectations fulfilled at the end of the course?
  • Material that you could use for promotional purposes (e.g. testimonials and recommendations).
  • Why would / wouldn't you recommend this online course to others?
  • The next course topic as a follow-on from this course
  • What's your next challenge? or What's your next step that you feel like you'd need help with?

By rephrasing the questions using the students perspective, you have made it easy for them to express their opinions and thoughts. While it is possible you'll get some data that is less relevant, you will get data, if asked at the right time.

Related articles

Course Beginnings and Endings
In this week’s newsletter, course retrospectives, new worksheets and Notion templates, Loom and more.
5 Steps to Run a Course Retrospective (and reasons why you should)
When end of course emotions are high, a 4 Ls Course Retrospective lets you know how to improve the course and what actions to take.

I’ve been learning self-growth, productivity, online education and various eclectic interests for quite a few years now, picking up incredible, life-long lessons along that way. I have decided to document some of my insights weekly in the form of one short-form article about 2-3 minutes in reading time which is enough time to finish your coffee/tea.

I’d love to have you join us!