Course Writing Tips: A Beginner's Guide
Course Writing Tips: A Beginner’s Guide
Have you ever taken a college-level course and struggled to keep up with the material? Chances are, the course was taught by an amazing professor that inspired students to want to learn more than they thought possible. However, when it comes to creating your own courses, it can be difficult to know how to write your curriculum in such a way that inspires your students and helps them achieve success. Here are some tips for writing effective course materials.
Pick the right topic
It can be tempting to go off topic when you’re starting out. You might have a lot of ideas and want to talk about them all at once. It’s good to have ambition, but take it one step at a time. Narrow down your topics by identifying what you know well and what your audience wants to hear about. If you need help figuring out which topics will work best for you, try asking around or getting user feedback from a small group of friends. Ask them if they would like an in-depth post on a specific topic that relates to your site. Once you figure out what works, continue writing about those things as much as possible—it will help develop your voice and unique expertise as an author on that subject matter.
Know your target audience
Whether you’re writing a novel, an academic paper or a business report, knowing your audience is key. Once you understand your audience better, there are things that you can include in your writing that are more likely to make them interested and engaged. Take some time to learn about your target audience and ensure that what you are creating will have wide appeal or usefulness to them. You’ll be able to write with confidence knowing that they’ll like it.
Brainstorm before writing
It’s important to sit down with a pen and paper (or on your computer) and organize your thoughts before you start writing. Your final product will be better if you have time to collect your thoughts and put them in order, rather than having to fix problems as you go along. If you do write without planning first, make sure that you leave plenty of room for editing. You may end up having to do a lot of rewriting or cutting. Either way, it’s better to spend some time at the beginning getting it right than trying to fix something after you write it. That said, there is no one right way of doing things; different people work differently!
Aim for clarity and brevity
You need to get your point across quickly, and in a manner that is easy for students to understand. Your entire course should be easily read over in less than an hour. If it takes longer than that, you’re going too fast. When writing any of your course material, ask yourself if you would be able to explain something clearly and concisely to your friend or family member who is not familiar with your topic area. If you can’t explain it well enough for someone else, then keep working on making things clearer until they do make sense to someone else!
Define success criteria before you start writing
It’s easy to get bogged down and derailed when it comes to creating content. Before you start writing, take a step back and define what success looks like. What are your goals? What metrics will you track? By asking yourself these questions, you’ll be able to better manage your time and prioritize tasks.
Set yourself up for success
Before you get started on your course, make sure that you have all of your tools in place. You’ll need a solid microphone and some editing software, like Audacity or GarageBand. If possible, having a good pair of studio headphones is an even better investment; they’ll keep outside noises to a minimum and can really improve sound quality. (You can also record audio in a quiet room if you invest in some foam padding.) Furthermore, be sure to fully prepare your outline before writing begins! Many courses flounder when they run out of steam because their creators didn’t spend enough time planning out what they were going to teach.
Don’t get bogged down in technical details
Being a good teacher is about much more than knowing how to write. When you’re designing a course, technical perfection can distract from your real goal—enlightening and inspiring your students. It’s far better to create a simple, imperfect course that educates people rather than one that baffles them with confusing language and concepts. That said, there are still plenty of ways you can up your teaching game when it comes to writing. If you’re new to creating courses, here are some tips for making your first project go smoothly
Be confident about what you’re writing – but don’t be too cocky!
The key is confidence. If you feel confident about what you’re writing, your readers will too. But don’t be too cocky – no matter how many courses you’ve written in the past, there’s always a chance that something could go wrong and you’ll miss something. (Fortunately, it probably won’t.) Be ready to hit that revert button if anything looks off!
Share, share, share your work (feedback is key!)
It’s tough to improve without knowing where you need to improve, and often we can’t know where we need to work on something unless someone points it out. If you have a friend who is an experienced writer, try sharing your work with them and get some feedback. Another good way is to share it on social media and ask friends or family if they would be willing to give you some feedback too (not everyone feels comfortable giving their opinion though so don’t be offended if people choose not to). If there are specific areas of improvement in your writing style that you want feedback on, such as mechanics or content editing or grammar, share those sections only instead of sharing an entire assignment/piece of writing.
Keep going…don’t give up when the going gets tough!
When you’re in that flow state of mind, it can be hard to remember that things will get tough. If a challenge does arise, don’t let it distract you for too long. The goal is to minimize distractions and maintain your focus on your end goals. The key here is persistence–no one ever succeeded by giving up and not trying again. This is a marathon, not a sprint. It’ll take some time, but if you keep going after your goals with vigor and determination, you’ll cross that finish line sooner than later! Good luck!