If you're reading this, you probably have 1 million ideas floating around in your head. But we've got to start somewhere. How are we going to present our contact? And what's gonna be most beneficial to the students?
Then I remember, our students are not here for fancy gimmicks and Hollywood style video. They're taking your courses because they want/need a transformation. There is something that they want or need to do and your class presents the best option to achieve that goal efficiently.
RELATED: Custom Course Development
Take a little pressure off yourself and set those flashy features aside. Let's focus on content...
Solve a destination marketing problem
So before you write a lesson plan you have to start with two things.
Who is this for?
What are they struggling with?
Adult learners are looking to solve a problem - as much as they may be looking to understand a concept.
They don’t know how to do something. You do. And you need to figure out a clear way to communicate it, providing them with that "transformation" from unskilled to working knowledge.
To identify the problem you are solving, start with these 5 action items:
Identify your target client: Who do you already know that is someone you consider your ideal client?
Setup 5 brief interviews: Pick up the phone or send an email to someone you think might be interested in your course. Ask them what they would be looking for in an online course. This is where you'll really start identifying the core issues they are having.
Ask your target clients anchor questions: What would you be hoping to do after taking a course on ___ that you can't do now? How would this knowledge help you at work and/or personally? What is something that you and/or your team struggle with? Identify their pain points and how you could potentially help them.
Find commonalities: What themes came up again and again when you compare the notes from all of your interviews? Where do people need the most help?
Focus the problem and solution: These common themes point you in the right direction toward a course that will solve the students' problems and lessen their pain. Is there any specific skill students will need to master during your course?
Map out the tourism ambassador journey
Already, you've answered the two main questions. It's time to map out your course journey. If the student wants to transform from A (what they know and can do now) to B (what they'll know and can do after), what is your path to that point?
Efficiency is key with adult learners and the data prove it. Let's stick to the most direct path with just 3 to 8 clear, concise steps to get there.
These steps become your course sections.
RELATED: Easily Outline Your Online Course w/ Free Template
Give students and tourism ambassadors the roadmap
Each section will include things your student needs to know before moving on to the next step. Most students are taking your course because they don't have the previous knowledge and experience that you offer. Break up each of the steps (course sections) into smaller chunks (lessons) that combine to form your roadmap (curriculum).
While there is no limit to the amount of lessons you can have within each module, be mindful of a couple of important time stamps:
24 Minutes - The typical professional has just 24 minutes a week to train so being concise is key. Making your course accessible means being aware of the students' needs and presenting your content so that they have the best chance at success. Students are more engaged, more satisfied and more likely to finish the full course when they can hit realistic benchmarks along the way. Being able to complete a section in under 24 minutes is a great benchmark.
3-5 Minutes - The typical worker is distracted as often as every 5 minutes and knowledge retention takes a nosedive when the lesson is longer than 10-15 minutes. Help your students focus with bite sized bits of content and engagement prompts every 3-5 minutes.
Learn and feel good about learning
The best way to make sure your students don't fall asleep is to give them information in tiny bites with opportunities to feel accomplished frequently along the way.
Remember why your students are here in the first place. They have a problem they need to solve and they want to do it efficiently. Those little tastes of victory along the way and reminders of what their life will be like when they finish the course keep motivation and engagement high.
Focus less on lengthy lectures and advanced concepts. Put more emphasis on the transformation. Your horse doesn't need to be incredibly long and you won't need a ton of slides so long as you're delivering quality content.
A course on marketing photography: Have your students get out and take pictures right away, even if they don’t totally get what ISO is, or how to set up their camera.
A course on creating memorable experiences: Ask your students to interview one of the shopkeepers from their local farmers market, relating to people is a key component.
A course on productivity: Include a couple template so they can get started right away.
A course on business writing: Help your students create a quick business message in less than five minutes. The students are engaged and actively "doing something" even if the writing sample may never be used.
Give community members & stakeholders what they want
Give your students a chance to interact with each other and remind them how their feedback contributes to future courses and updates to the one they just finished.
- Include a Community or Forum: As we've done with The Tourism Academy's Facebook group for students (there's one for instructors too), and the internal communication tools accessed through your profile at tourismacademy.org, make sure your students have a place where they can communicate with each other and with you as the instructor.
- Be open to comments, questions or concerns: If your students run into trouble throughout your course consider ways you will allow them to connect with you – uaw comments on individual lessons, emails or even live chat
Relevant references and "learn more" tools
As you think about your lesson plans, you're bound to come across a whole bunch of amazing quotes, videos, articles and all kinds of goodies that your students may enjoy.
It's easy to let these go to waste or, even worse to put them all in there and overwhelm the student. Instead, offer "Additional Resources" with each lesson our course section. Those who want to learn more and dive deep into the topic, will jump at the opportunity AND your course is still concise for those on a time crunch.
Here are a few you might come across:
Awesome TED talk
A how-to blog post
Relevant guest experts
Scholarly reports, journals, and data sources
Anything you referenced or promised inside your video lessons
KISS – Keep it simple sweetheart
At this point, you should have a clear understanding of your courses main objective. You should've been able to define your sections and lessons. Now, what are you going to teach in each lesson?
Consider the following for each lesson:
Define the medium: Video (of just your face), Video (slides & audio overlay), Video (walkthrough of an app, software or service), Video Combo (all of the above), Quiz, Written Text, Worksheets, etc.
Outline talking points: what will you cover inside each lesson
Organize your ideas: how can you take that outline and organize it in a way so that you are creating concepts and rules rather than just thoughts – perhaps it is a formula to copy + paste, rules to follow, or hypotheticals for illustrative purposes
Title your lessons: title your lessons so your students actual want to complete them – make them mouthwatering, sexy, and click-worthy
Now that you have your course outline locked and loaded – it’s time to start creating!