How to structure an online course?

By Guest Author | online oourse | July 3, 2021

Teaching online classes can be overwhelming even for most experienced online tutors when they have to create new courses. Online learning is different from classroom learning in that it requires another guidance system from tutors. Online courses are more than texts and videos that students are expected to browse through; they are carefully drafted sequences of learning outcomes built around interactive course materials and activities. It needs a roadmap for the course content so that students understand how to move through it, exploring the learning experience the intended way. That is why it is essential to create a proper structure for online courses. 


While the final structure of your courses varies with different factors like the subject and your teaching style, having a general idea of structuring a course will help you simplify the task. By following the strategies, we are going to discuss, you can create an online course and structure it efficiently.

Develop a solid structure

To create an inviting online learning environment for your students, it is essential to develop a clear and consistent structure for your content. The course structuring plays a significant role in the navigation and student success. One effective way to develop a consistent structure for your content is through micro learning. Micro learning is the practice of presenting lessons through micro levels so that students learn through small learning units. 

Create a concept map of content

When you choose content for your online course, decide what topics you will include in the course. Developing a concept map of your online course content can help you visually understand the amount of information that needs to be categorized for your course. You can use a storyboard to organize the entire content of your course. It helps both tutors and students to see the connections between concepts in the course, especially when images, infographics, and videos are included. Make sure you categorize the information in a way it matches with all types of content (Both text and multimedia content) appropriately, and then proceed with creating storyboards. Review the content by drafting a map of the entire content so that you have an idea about the amount of information you are going to work with. 

Group content into modules

The best way to structure your content is to organize it into modules. Based on the similarity of subjects, you can categorize lessons into different modules. The modules can be of different sizes as well. For example, some modules can have five classes, and others might have fifteen. Once you group the lessons together, you must choose an order for the modules based on the difficulty. Make sure you structure all modules in the same way. The learning materials, tasks, tests, questions and answers, discussion boards, etc., must be placed in the exact location. When gathering content, it is vital to organize modules in a logical way to make navigation intuitive and straightforward for students. 

Decide the nature of the course

One major factor in structuring the modules of your online courses is deciding whether the teaching would be synchronous or asynchronous. Synchronous refers to the scenario where tutors and students would be interactive live in a virtual classroom or a Zoom room. Whereas asynchronous setup is where students would be working on the designated activity without directly interacting with tutors. If you plan to include a synchronous type of teaching in your online courses, you must include live classes in your module structure. For this, you can use any professional online tutoring software to power your live class meetings. 

Form a complete course outline

Prepare a complete draft of the outline for your online course’s structure. Analyze to ensure all concepts fall in place. See if there is any point that you have left out. Review the course outline to see if there is any need to add more sections or leave out any. Choosing what information to leave out is going to be the most challenging task than deciding what to include.

Analysing the type of content that is essential to student learning can help you declutter irrelevant content that doesn’t align with course learning outcomes. Having a proper outline of your course structure will help you create courses logically and step-by-step by recording one lesson at a time. Once the structure is ready, you can get started with creating your course content. 

Create course learning outcomes

Learning outcomes of your online course are nothing but the statements of what the learners should learn after completing the course. For example, the learning outcome of this blog is that the readers must be able to understand the importance of creating an online course and structure it. Likewise, formulate course learning outcomes for your students and conduct tests and assignments to review students’ knowledge.

Plan the weekly schedule for learners

Provide a weekly schedule for students by including notes, readable, activities, discussion posts, etc. Define what you want your students to complete each day of the week. You can organize the weekly schedule in a table with each section for notes, activities, assessment, etc., with a proper deadline. The weekly schedule helps your students to manage their time productively when taking your online course. You can also list the total hours you expect your students to spend on each module. 


From the beginning of the pandemic, most tutors have been active in creating online courses and moving to online teaching. While everything would get back to normal, it is expected that online education would become a permanent part of many teacher’s repertoires. Structures are the anchor of any online courses, and it determines the quality of the learning experience. An excellent online course focuses on creating engaging student learning experiences with the available content and concepts. Offering a solid learning experience that better serves all students helps in building a reputation for you as a tutor in the online education industry. Hope this guide to structure an online course will help you with your next course. Share your valuable feedback in the comment section below.