Outlining your lectures is the first step towards creating your course curriculum. To really make sure you’re providing the best possible learning experience for your students, you’ll want to make sure you’re also adding in practical examples, exercises, and resources that encourage students to engage with your teaching.
In this article we’ll go over how to self-diagnose your course to understand how you’re doing at reinforcing your students’ learning. We’ll talk about more than just adding quizzes, we’ll also go over how to include interaction throughout your course.
We’ll then go over some strategies for updating your clarity and organization -- we’ve broken down that section into The Quick Win and The Full Treatment. Quick Wins are just that -- quick ways to dramatically increase the quality of the student experience in your course. For those dedicated instructors who want to go all-in and take their course to the top tier we’ll go over larger updates in The Full Treatment.
Adding Practical Exercises and Resources
|What Students Appreciate (quotes from actual students)||What Students Recommend (quotes from actual students)|
|"There are lots of real life examples to demonstrate the lesson. The course shows off the instructor's knowledge and experience with the subject."||"Give better explanations of the terms & concepts. Examples of the usage of a concept would be much more helpful. Reading the slide isn't enough to give me an idea of what something means."|
|"It is very well planned, practical, well researched and has up to date techniques. Plus it has lots of resources. Thank you."||"Provide examples along with powerpoint slides - a little more interactivity would help with retention."|
|"Interesting and relevant. Useful tips I can use straight way."||"I'd like more concrete examples from your work with clients."|
|"Good examples, lots of content and an interesting, detailed approach to the topic."||
"Give more examples of how you use the concepts. This way we can see how you are applying the principles yourself."
Successful Instructors Do This
Here are some best practices that instructors have used to get students engaging in their course through practical exercises and learning activities:
- Include one practical exercise or activity per section. In each section of your course, include one learning activity (quiz, exercise, project, and/or discussion prompt) that helps a student apply the knowledge covered in that section. For example: you could end a section by offering an assignment students need to perform in the real world and a discussion prompt for them to report on their progress or the results of that assignment.
- Describe how the activity is relevant. Students need to know why they should take a quiz or complete an exercise. Describe how each activity is related to the content and what students should learn from completing it.
- Connect the activity to course goals. Students want to know that an activity is going to help them achieve their goals. Describe how each activity they complete will get them closer to their overall goals in the course. You could do this through a brief video introducing the activity (ex: setting up a quiz with the context for the questions in it), or by describing how the activity connects to the section level goal in the text of the description (ex: “this activity will challenge your ability to apply the concepts you just learned including…”)
- Provide all needed resources for each activity. One of the biggest complaints students have is when they don’t have the right resources for completing a project or exercise. Avoid this by providing all needed resources for students to easily start and complete each exercise. If the activity you’re providing is a quiz, stick with multiple choice questions and always include the feedback for each answer a student can select.
If you’re already doing these, great job! If you’d like to try them out or make improvements to your course in this area, here are a couple options for you.
The Quick Win (2 Hours or Less)
- Think about your course and what it covers. Do you already have learning activities that students don't know about? Are there 1-2 projects students could do as part of taking or completing your course?
- If you already have some quizzes, practical exercises, or other activities in your course, let students know about them and how they will help in your introductory lectures.
- If you don't have any yet, think of 1 or 2 ways that students could demonstrate they’d learned what you taught them in the course. For example, in one of your videos you could ask them to go out into the world and apply what they’ve learned, then have them start a discussion with what they discovered.
- Give them all the resources they would need to complete the exercise (ex: a spreadsheet of data in an Excel course, an image to manipulate in a photoshop course, or a series of poses to practice in a Yoga course)
- Make a new introductory video where you describe the activities you came up with above, why they are relevant to the course, and how students can get the most out of them.
The Full Treatment (Address the Majority of Student Concerns)
- For each section in your course, create a practical exercise that prompts the student to apply what they learned within a quiz, a project, or discussion.
- Use the steps listed above or ask your fellow instructors in the Udemy Studio if you want some inspiration in coming up with these.
Getting a Head Start on Your Next Course
Want to make it easier on yourself to design learning activities in your next course? Use this article to help you craft awesome learning activities students will appreciate and make sure to check out our Practice Activities: Quality Standards article as well.