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How to put a course online – things to ask your audience

You’ve got your course idea and you’ve got your rough plan but have you considered the needs of your audience?  Read these questions to establish your audience needs.

There are a few quite simple audience related needs that you have to establish before going too far into the creation of your course. These are incredibly important to the success of your participants.

Find a sample audience, this might be a mass email to friends and friends of friends, a post on Facebook or other social media sites, or asking a few specific groups on LinkedIn. Ask them these questions and any others that might relate to your course development.


1. Do you have internet access? (might seem like a silly question but it is a good one)

2. Are you comfortable surfing the net?

3. Are you comfortable downloading materials?

4. Do you have computer support if needed?

* ask any other tech related questions here. If your course requires downloading software establish that your targeted audience can do this.


5. Do you enjoy learning independently?

6. Are you able to put aside time to learn online?

7. Do you have a regular, comfortable space to use while doing this course?

* Ask any time commitment questions here. Establish the need to put aside time and have a regular learning space.


9. Are you comfortable emailing strangers

10. Are you familiar with online forums

11. Are you open to sharing ideas online?

* Establish participants willingness to come online and be part of a group. Sure we’re all ‘lurkers’ at some stage but through good facilitation people can be supported to join in further.


It’s easy to think that your audience fits your criteria perfectly, but remember, your audience is not the same as you so establish their needs rather than assume their needs.



Read more on course development:

How to put a course online, you’ve gotta crawl before you can walk

How to put a course online, second step, map it out

How to create online assessment – three golden rules




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2 Responses to How to put a course online – things to ask your audience

  1. Scott Johnson April 28, 2013 at 5:25 am #

    Good list. Comfort in emailing strangers is very important but I wonder how that fits with someone who’s an introvert? Maybe we could have list for course presenters on if they are ready to teach online? I find it possible to draw people out by being not my usual blustery self. Not easy to do the switch and I wonder if this would be a place for mentors? We have an instructor who contacts student before the class and establishes a relationship by asking a question and then asks for answers on the first day. Helps students get started.


  2. RebeccaOGM April 29, 2013 at 8:10 pm #

    Hi Scott, thanks for your reply. A check list for course presenters is a good point. Perhaps even a ‘change’ plan for course presenters. A few steps to take to start becoming familiar with online environments.

    I totally agree that mentors are a great idea, whether buddying up with someone in the course or having a mentor who has taken the course previously. Perhaps people who are shy online could partake in one on one activities to build up confidence and familiarity with the environment. The same goes for peer review/assessment – having a micro support system.

    For most people it’s first being able to navigate a course before even considering participating!

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