Guidelines for Creating Online Course Content
When it comes to developing content for your online course, there are many strategies and methods that you can use. Some concentrate more on the formatting of the content, some on the content itself, and some on the instructional methods. Rather than discuss them all, we decided to write a brief article that lists and discusses general guidelines that can be used to develop online content.
Chunk content. It can be intimidating for students to see a long content page, so it’s better to chunk content.
Use bullet points when disseminating lists or steps. It helps to break down complex content and information into digestible chunks.
Use bolding strategically to highlight essential terms. You should also avoid using blue text because students may confuse it with a hyperlink. Only bold text to highlight key terms and phrases.
Shorten the line length. When text is too long, it takes longer to read because your eye has to cover more ground going from the screen’s left. This is why newspapers use columns. However, online pages don’t use columns. You can shorten the line length by developing tables with text in one column and images or videos in the other column.
Left-justify text. When left-justify text is centered, it can make it difficult for students to read because it’s a little harder to find the line. As a result, it’s better to left-justify all paragraph text.
Use images, symbols, and icons strategically. Images can be an outstanding teaching tool that engages students. Not all pages should have an image, and too many images can be distracting, especially when not all pages. Icons and symbols can also be repeated to demonstrate certain tasks.
Embed videos. Embed instead of linking out to videos directly into the page unless viewing the video isn’t mandatory.
Embrace headings and white space. Break up long paragraphs into shorter paragraphs. Headings can also help cue students to themes and ideas. White space between concepts can also help to break up the content.
Avoid small text. The text should be at least 12- point type and larger if you have younger students.
Use intuitive navigation. Make sure that there is a sense of flow in your course navigation. We don’t want students feeling lost in your course. You also don’t want students not knowing what to do next. Beginning each page with an opening and ending with a description of and link to what comes next can be helpful.