online courses

13 Characteristics of a successful online course

Many top brands out there have excellent learning centers, including Shopify, Uber, and The Economist. These top brands have built their online learning centers on a set of principles that make clients keep returning to their websites for more. If you are an entrepreneur looking for the characteristics of a successful online course, you have come to the right place. Today’s clients are looking for nothing short of the best, and to avoid refunds, here are some of the qualities that your online course should have:

Course is tailored to meet target clients’ needs

A high-quality course is built with the needs of the learner in mind, rather than the convenience of the teacher. You must, therefore, understand your target clients and get examples, illustrations, and reference materials that they can identify with. You should also create a course whose language and jargon are quickly understood by the students. Creating a course that the learners identify with helps them feel valued, and opens up communication channels between teachers and students.

Is flexible

The primary reason why learners choose to study online is because of the flexibility and ability to learn at their own pace, time, and location. Failing to offer this advantage could cause loss of clientele. Your course should be available to study and revise 24/7 and across various reading devices.

Makes use of various media

The internet is not a place where people go to scroll through thousands of documents. Podcasts, video channels, and interactive chats are what keep the internet going, which is why you should incorporate them into your course as well. Images, videos, and audio are impactful methods of delivery that enable students to retain attention and keep things interesting. These forms of media also help in making lasting impressions in their memories. Different students have different learning styles, and these forms of media will appeal to the visual and kinesthetic types. Ensure that the media you use in class is relevant to the topic and informative.

online courses

Readily accessible

Your students should be able to quickly find your content and obtain the files and materials they need. They should not have to strain or go through numerous pages on your website to access the learning center. Embed a link to the learning portal on your home page, and promote the content on social media, your app, emails, and texts. Your website user interface should also be uncluttered and quick to load. A clean UI eliminates distractions and helps students focus on their courses. Navigation to specific areas should also be smooth. Needless to say, your website must also be mobile-responsive, so your students can access your material on the go.


As the owner of the course, you may not be able to isolate any problems, gaps, or inaccuracies in your course content. Getting an outside opinion regarding your program is an excellent way to ensure that your content is up to par and fits industry standards. Having a peer-reviewed course will also improve client trust and bring you more students.

Self-directed assignments

Excellent online classes facilitate the selection of projects and assignments by students themselves. This way, they will be able to focus on a topic they enjoy or identify with most, then improve their comprehension in it further by pursuing a project in it. These courses are not overly scripted; it is vital to let adult learners make some choices for themselves.

Proceeds at a student-friendly pace

A great course will find the delicate balance between overwhelming the students with coursework and assessment and spacing them out so far that they get bored and start forgetting their learned content. Ensure that you space out your classes and offer sufficient time for students to perform major assignments and prepare for exams.

Offers practical and actionable content

Offering knowledge that has some form of practical and actionable relevance motivates the students to keep learning, as hard work will be associated with better outcomes. Practical content is also easier to transfer, as learners will be able to associate your material with the real world.

Uses the Microlearning approach

The Microlearning approach is all about dividing the volume of a course into smaller fragments. These smaller segments will enable the students to understand concepts better, reduce stress and cognitive overload, and make delivery easier and effective for you. Students also tend to have shorter attention spans, which is why information is better relayed in small bits.

Offers a sense of community

Your students should not feel alienated from you or each other. Welcome your students to the program, encourage them often, and set up an off-topic discussion board where students can interact. You can also offer group assignments or ask students to post real photos of themselves as their avatars. Such strong communities promote togetherness and enable them to ask for help.

Involves meaningful assessment

Assessments help determine the efficacy of your online training program. They will help you determine if your students have learned anything, assess weak points in content delivery or comprehension, and offer additional assistance to students. Online learning assessment can be done via exams, quizzes, assignments, projects, games, and other methods to test their retained knowledge.

Collects learners’ feedback

Continuous improvement and learning more about your trainees can be facilitated through feedback. Asking for feedback regarding your course also helps the students to feel valued. The best feedback is best provided voluntarily rather than via coercion. Such feedback is genuine and will help you determine areas that need improvement, complaints, or compliments.

Is engaging

Keep students’ attention and curiosity piqued with engaging, fun, and intuitive content. Add an element of surprise every once in a while to break the routine and give them new opportunities to utilize their new skills.


The characteristics above will help you design a successful course that will empower learners and bring you profits. If learners have a positive experience, they may also recommend friends and colleagues, which will be a major boost in your revenues as well.

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