Happy New Year of the Rat—Time for Online Instructors to Get Busy!

Reviewing the design of your online course is critical if you want to keep students engaged (and coming back!).

Most of us start the new year with BIG ideas—intentions! goals! enthusiasm!—and then, because we are humans, that energy tends to fade. Usually by February (and here we are). February 2020 also rings in the Year of the Rat, which brings with it inspiration for riding that new year energy wave a little bit longer.

Just as you might have reflected on all your good fortune from the previous year, this is a great time to assess what you’ve already accomplished professionally. This will help keep your focus and energy at a premium, and help you maintain good habits to make teaching your online courses rewarding for your audiences (and for you). Fun fact: Rats are independent and creative, and you are, too! So let’s get to it!

Calling All Online Instructors: Assess Your Work

You know how important it is to regularly check in with your program participants to gauge what’s working and what’s not while in an e-course. You also conduct e-learning post-mortems when an online training ends, and capture helpful feedback for future motivation. In addition to that practice, it can be super helpful to investigate what worked well last year for your online learning environments—both the curricula and people—to help guide decision-making while planning your next course. [ProTip: You can easily design this activity for your online participants so they can set new goals for their own learning this year—a great first activity when meeting a new group and a terrific way to start building that online community.]

Make a quick list of successes you had with materials, formats, and directions used to guide your people towards learning outcomes. Next, make a list of missed opportunities and misfires. Set those lists aside and come back to them with fresh eyes. Now ask: What factors contributed to the successes? What assisted in really nailing it? Timing? Resources? Strategy and careful planning? Are there any through-threads to these successful outcomes? Most likely there are, so write down that new list.

Now for the more painful observations: What factors contributed to not achieving? Are there any through-threads in this list? Maybe. Or maybe it was a hodge-podge: timing was off; directions were muddy; strategy went haywire. Whatever the reasons, make these lists and see if there’s a common denominator.

The Power of the List

Conducting assessments for your online trainings is an easy way to review and document progress, and (obvs) learn from mistakes. You know what to do next, you amazing human (rat?!) with drive to make improvements (and assist your participants with their learning goals, too). With your new insights in hand, create an actual list of best practices for creating better, faster, stronger courses and materials and learning environments. Keep the list short and action-oriented for maximum impact. Review often, especially before creating new materials and trainings.

List-making and reviewing is such an easy tool for both you and your program participants to help boost energy, maintain focus, and make improvements—terrific goals for any new year!

ABOUT Eve Connell

Eve spends most billable hours writing, editing and helping professionals of all stripes with communication skills and leadership development. With degrees in French literature, philosophy, and linguistics, she also enjoys helping businesses and entrepreneurs develop their brands. Fancying herself a successful worm rancher, singer and flower arranger, Eve also lends her talent and expertise to several non-profit arts and educational organizations.