Adding Resources to Your Online Course: How to Use Templates, Checklists, and Worksheets
We learn best when we’re not just passive recipients of information.
For online course creators, this means we can enhance our courses by offering resources beyond just video clips and blocks of text.
You can help your students master and implement your content by including a variety of resources that will encourage them to think about and apply what they've learned.
In today's blog post, we're going to cover the three most common types of course resources: templates, checklists, and worksheets. We'll cover how these types of materials are different and when each of them should be used in your courses.
First, let's talk about templates.
I love templates because they are a great way to make it easier for your learners to apply your content. As such, templates not only help learners use what they learn in your course, but they can also be a great selling point for your materials, simply because people love things that save time and make their lives easier.
Some examples of templates might include:
Pinterest Canva templates for courses on how to use Pinterest to grow your business
A sales page template for a course about launching a product
An email template on a course about email marketing.
I also include a variety of tools in the templates category, such as pre-populated Excel spreadsheets, project plans, Lightroom presets, and other similar materials.
When to use templates:
Essentially, templates are great tools for when learners are going to be creating content that follows a specific format or structure.
Templates are also useful when additional skills beyond the scope of what you're teaching in the course are necessary to achieve success.
For example, let's say I'm teaching a course on social media. My course might be focused on things like building relationships, knowing who it is I am speaking to, and posting consistently. None of these core skills require someone be good at graphic design, however it's much easier to be successful on social media if you have a set of visually appealing templates available to you to work from.
By providing my students with these templates, I help make it easier for them to apply what they have learned in my course and any kind of skill gap that they have in the area of graphic design won't get in the way of them applying my content successfully.
I primarily use checklists in my courses when my learners are going to create non-formulaic content that should include a certain set of elements. Checklists can also be useful for helping learners apply a set of principles.
An example of this might be something like a healthy eating checklist. I don't tell my students exactly what to eat In a day, however, I can give them basic guidelines for how to meet the requirements of their eating plan.
If you're deciding whether to include a template or a checklist, think about how much variation and customization your learners are likely to require.
For some types of documents, simple tweaks can allow learners to adapt them to their specific situations. However other types of materials are going to be totally unique, based on the learner’s needs. In these latter cases, a checklist is a better fit than a template because it outlines what people need to do, while giving them the flexibility to design something that works for them.
Worksheets are ideal for when you want learners to think through how something applies to their lives and businesses. Worksheets are useful when success with your topic involves analysis and in-depth thinking.
With a worksheet, you're not giving your learners the answers, rather you're providing them with a structure to help them come up with the answers themselves.
For example, if you're asking learners to identify their goals for why they want to learn a topic, a worksheet is an ideal fit, because in that case the information to needs come from themselves.
The key to creating a good worksheet is to structure the content in an organized way around the topic at hand. Like checklists, worksheets have a lot of flexibility and are also great fits for when your course has a wide variety of learners since they can easily adapt the materials to suit their needs.
How have you incorporated these types of resources into your courses?
I’m an instructional designer providing eCourse solutions for creative entrepreneurs. My focus is on helping you learn how to talk to your audience and validate your programs to take the uncertainty out of launching.
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