Blockers to Finishing Your Online Course

#3 Cramming

It’s tempting, especially when we’re converting a face-to-face course into an online format to want to include everything from a day course into a single online version. It is possible to do this, but I can tell you from lots of experience, it’s rare that this works well – and even more rare for it to work profitably!

There are understandable reasons for cramming though – we want to ensure our learners receive great value for money, we’re used to delivering a ‘complete package’ when we train face-to-face, we figure that more is definitely better than less (usually because our face-to-face clients demand it), and we’re used to having complete control over what’s covered, in what order and for how long.

Michelle looking forwardDelivering in an online format requires a shift in mindset for face-to-face trainers that can sometimes be tricky to master – it certainly took me a while to get my head around it when I was first learning to put together (successful) online courses.

This is partly because of one of the key differences between online courses and face-to-face courses: learner-led control. Your online learners have almost complete control over when they pick your course up and when they put it down. This has implications not only for the size of your individual lessons, but also the tricks and techniques you need to use to keep them engaged!

And yet I still see so many trainers attempting to convince people to buy a (e.g.) 20-hour course that gives them ‘everything they need’. This strategy is folly – online learners don’t want to hear that something’s going to take them longer than they can stay awake, let alone concentrate for! It’s also highly unlikely that a single 20-hour course can deliver everything everyone taking it needs. The benefit just isn’t specific enough.

Here are some top tips for how to avoid cramming and deliver something more palatable:


Break your face-to-face course components down into the smallest possible chunks that could be delivered in isolation. You are looking to have a list of individual lessons, that could be packaged together in different volumes to fulfil different needs.


Do you have the ability to chunk your material into Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced sections? Each one of these is potentially a separate course. All too often we assume people want to know everything immediately. Learners don’t want what you know now (although they want to know they can get there eventually), they want to know their first step.


Could your individual course components be made to work in different contexts? For example, I teach how to set objectives in one face-to-face course I run on report writing. This individual component could apply to many different scenarios where objectives are useful to have. Do this to see if you actually have a mini-course that could be sold separately and as a bundle with other courses.


Think about all of the additional information you could potentially talk about around your specialist subject(s). Each new piece of information is a new lesson and possibly a ‘bonus’ resource you could offer. This works well if it’s a small extension to what you’ve already delivered, such as a deeper-dive into a particular subject.


Consider the length of each lesson as a way of constraining how much you’re trying to cram in. You should be aiming for a maximum lesson length of 5-7 minutes. Yep. You read that right.


Have you found a way around cramming? Share your thoughts in the comments: