If a first-time online course contains 15+ hours of training content, does that impact its chances at launching successfully? It’s high-quality material that I’ve taught in person, but I don’t know how that translates to a more scalable model like e-learning. Forums are saying that a typical online course contains around 5-7 hours of content. Am I shooting myself in the foot?
Dear Concerned Overachiever,
Welcome to the raging debate, it’s good to have you! This is, unfortunately, an unanswerable question if you’re asking what works for “everyone.” The reality is that the ideal size of an online course depends on what you’re teaching.
It’s easy to look for a hard-and-fast rule, or research, that will say “have four modules, no more, no less,” but any guidance you get from asking that question will inevitably pigeon-hole you into making a less-than-ideal course.
The same thing happens when I hear people say things like, “you have to be on Twitter,” or “if you’re not running Facebook ads, you’re already behind.” Comments and guidance like that are bullshit and often ruthlessly mean. They make people who aren’t on Twitter or running Facebook ads feel like shit, and then when they finally throw their hands up in the air and get on those platforms, it doesn’t work. Why? Because those weren’t the right platforms for them.
The best guidance I can offer is this: organize your content in the same way you’ve taught it in the real world. Start there, and then ask for feedback as people complete the online version of the course. Only real feedback is going to show you how to make the course more consumable.
Of course, if there are major improvements that you’ve noticed about your in-person curriculum that you can integrate in to the new course, by all means do so. But don’t let hard-and-fast rules cause you to modify your existing curriculum. In a nutshell, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.