One of the biggest mistakes you can make when creating online courses is underestimating how long it’ll take.

You’ve probably had the misfortune of experiencing a course that was created in just a few days or weeks. Odds are, you weren’t exactly impressed, though if it was free, it’s kind of hard to complain.

To create a great course, it takes time, but the real question here is – exactly how much time does it take? The answer is kind of vague – it takes as long as necessary to gather research, test, design and finally launch. 

It’s Like Writing A Book

In a Forbes interview with online course creator Lili Balfour, she compares creating a great course to writing a book. While some authors might write a book in a month during NaNoWriMo, it still takes time to edit and finalize the book. You wouldn’t expect to write the next great novel in just a week or two, would you? Though, if you could, that would be incredible!

Time Depends On Prior Preparation

Now, it’s important to think about one thing – prior preparation and knowledge. For instance, if you’ve taught a course for years, you already have all the research and material you need to create an online course. In fact, the only real time-consuming part is formatting the content for online consumption. Balfour addressed this in her interview. She said those who already had all their research done could potentially create a 2-3 hour course in a weekend. 

Remember, all the prep work is done, which is the longest part, of course.

Think Months Versus Weeks

One study found that it’s much more time consuming to create a great online course versus a face-to-face course. Part of this is because the instructor isn’t as engaged with students, so the online content has to make up for that fact. In the study, 29% of respondents said it took them over 100 hours, while 87% take up to 16 weeks to develop their course. A good rule of thumb is to allow 2-3 months to account for research, designing the course, testing with students and finalizing.

If you’re interested in an even more in-depth study, check out this study from Chapman Alliance which features data gathered from over 3,900 learning development professionals to help you create a great course.

Create A Strict Schedule

One last thing to keep in mind is your own schedule. If you only have a few hours a week to work on your course, it’s going to take longer. For best results, create a strict schedule that carves out time every day to develop your course. This gets your course out faster, while still ensuring it’s a great online course.

Ready to learn more about online education? Find out how I can help you earn more by creating online courses.

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