How to Design an Effective Online Course That Gets Results For Students?

elearning online courses

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The effective online course design is exactly what it sounds like – students get results that they expect, and you get ROI. In our view, the best online courses are actionable, as those are more likely to deliver results. Therefore, you want to give your learners actionable steps to take toward a successful learning experience. The following crucial steps will show you how to design an effective online course that will delight your learners. 

Step #1. Start With a Learner Transformation Statement 

An effective online course design starts with a learner transformation statement (LTS). This statement outlines where your learners are right now and where they should be at the end of the course. It highlights their transformation or journey from point A to point Z. 

The LTS is crucial because it creates an actionable path for your learners to follow to get the desired results. If you need more help with creating LTS for your program, watch our free MasterClass, where we help you take the first steps in creating your eLearning program or online course. 

Step #2. Create Actionable Milestones 

As you create your LTS, you will want to divide the Learners’ journey into several actionable milestones. Think of these as the action steps that your learners take throughout the course. To be actionable, each milestone will require a specific task for your learner to complete. 

For example, assume you are creating an online course for weight loss. One actionable milestone could be tracking calories. The next could be reducing caloric intake by 100 calories a day. Another action-based milestone could be drinking a certain amount of water each day. All these action items build towards achieving your Learner’s overall weight loss goal.

Step #3. Include Accountability 

Finally, an effective online course design should include an accountability structure. Hold your learners accountable for completing each actionable milestone so that they can progress through their journey. 

Let’s use the weight loss course example again. For the first milestone on tracking calories, don’t just ask your learners to track calories mentally. A tangible action is to have them record their calories. With their caloric intake on record, they can share the data with you as the coach and their peer group. 

Accountability could mean giving access to the course material weekly, so that your students can focus on one week’s assignments versus getting overwhelmed by the entire course. Once they completed the first week’s assignments, the next week’s material opens up. 

Another way is to include interaction with your learners, such as over Zoom calls. However, direct real-time interaction isn’t necessary. 

You can ask learners to submit their progress for your review or share it with the community of other learners. Through a community board, an email, or automated email sequences that prompt learners to respond with their progress reports, you can establish a culture of accountability. 

Provide Feedback

Incorporating accountability into your course does more than just ensure that your learners complete the milestones. It also gives you a chance to offer feedback, whether in written or video format. The feedback can help learners get even more value from the course. You can also ask for your Learner's feedback in return to help you improve your program over time. You can use a tool such as VideoAsk to accomplish this easily. 


To create an effective online course design, start with your learner transformation statement. Once you know your points A and Z, develop actionable milestones that your learners must reach throughout their journey. Finally, hold them accountable for reaching those milestones. Remember that you get an ROI when your Learners are happy with the results they are getting and telling others about an effective program you’ve created for them. 

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