Learn 5 Types of Online Courses and When to Use Them

There are 5 types of online courses. Are you creating the one that matches your goals? In today’s episode, Tara breaks down the 5 types and gives examples of when to use them.

About the Course Building Secrets® podcast:

My name is Tara Bryan. I help business owners break into the next level of success by packaging their expertise into an online course experience. It’s my passion to help to find the fastest path to results to create a greater impact and income for you and your tribe.

Check out my free Step-by-Step guide to building your online course. In it are the top steps and questions you need to ask before you get started. Check it out here: https://goto.taralbryan.com/step-by-step-guide

This group is 100% focused on support, knowledge and example sharing, and building a community of online course builders who are passionate about building awesome learning experiences.

In this community, we are passionate about building learning experiences that produce results for our learners. We do that by building engaging, motivating, gamified, and learner-centered courses. We come up with ideas and strategies to ensure that our learners can thrive and succeed in our product.

To learn more:

Find us at https://www.Taralbryan.com

Here are two ways we can help you grow and scale your online course business:


Join LEARN ACADEMY – Learn Academy is the best Done-with-you Step-by-step Implementation program that will help you create, sell, and launch your online course. 


Join THE COURSE EDIT – The Course Edit is a program that will assess your current online course to take it to the next level. Maybe you have a course that isn’t selling or one that people aren’t completing (therefore not remaining customers) then it is time for THE COURSE EDIT


Hey everybody, welcome to Course Building Secrets®. Today I want to talk about the five different types of online courses and when you would use each one.

So the first online course is just an information course, this is just a course where you are there giving information or you've kind of a, a front end piece to what your signature program is, right? It's not your signature program, it's just information. Sometimes, you'll use this in the sales process, where it's like a mini-course that you're just using to highlight your framework or highlight a couple of things. Usually, it's short. And it is knowledge-based.

And ways that you could use this again, as in the sales process, and use this as a supplement to a bigger program that you're doing right just to either tee it up, give them some baseline knowledge, or you may use it as a way to supplement a book or, again, something else, that's your bigger program, it's not meant to be that your signature, service or product that you put out there. So that's the first one is just an information-based course.

The second most common one along the continuum is an informative course with a workbook or some sort of way that they can follow along. And, and this, again, is a passive form of an online course. And usually best for using it for sales or using it to supplement a larger is also the closest thing that usually people do when they're transitioning from either doing classroom-based training or doing a presentation or event live, that usually, the sort of closest way to turn that into an online course or an online program is using some type of work. And so that's a lot of times where people start is in that place of the information and workbook type, of course.

Okay, so then we start moving into number three, which is making your online course interactive. And what that means is that you're really spending the time thinking about how somebody is going to engage, make decisions, and how they're going to learn as it's a process of going through the course. So this tends to have more interactive elements, quiz questions, or different sorts of decision-making questions, right? Where you can put them in a scenario, what would you do in this situation? A, B, C, or D? Those kinds of questions. It could be an interactive video, you show a video and then ask a question, show a video, ask a question. And what you're really trying to do is you're trying to put people into the place where they are engaging or interacting, you're doing this as if you're doing live training, you may have a pole, or you may have ways that you're asking throughout your training, to get them engaged in what you're teaching. And when you're doing this online, they're not in front of you anymore. So you anticipate that. So that's the third kind is adding in some type of automated interaction, where they're really able to make decisions and really start to come into play.

Then you have the next kind, which is the fourth kind of online course. And that is more of an in the simulated learning experience. And so this takes that interactive to the next level, and really puts a person in a simulated environment into a scenario where they're making decisions they're practicing. And the goal is actually to get them to be able to do the thing that you want them to do in a simulator in this scenario, and think about, you know, some type of training may be that you've taken in the past where, you know, you're maybe at a call center, and they're asking you to practice how to make calls. That is a simulated environment, you're doing that online, and you can actually automate that experience for people, they can get results. If you're an airline pilot.

You do not learn how to fly your plane by getting a whole slew of passengers and going in and learning how to fly the plane. You actually learn in a simulated environment you learn in a flight simulator. So if you think about a flight simulator, you are literally in In the situation where you feel like you're in an airplane, you see around you that it looks like you're an airplane, you can actually create courses and experiences online, that, that simulate that for whatever your pic is to help your people get results. So this is really where you start looking at how do you have full online experience for your learners? How do you look at what they need to do? And not only put interactivity, right questions, and scenarios and different things but how do you simulate what they're gonna do in the real world? For example, if you want to teach somebody to sell something, how do you simulate that? So they're practicing how to sell a real thing? Either their thing or somebody else's thing? How do you in that situation where you're literally walking them through step by step in terms of what they would do, so they are getting results? So that is the fourth kind is really thinking about the full learner's experience. This is where a lot of businesses struggle, because they, you know, start an information course, get some people into it, and they're not retaining their customers, or people aren't actually taking the full course.

And so this is where they get stuck a lot of times is thinking about, what is that next step. And the next step is starting to move down this continuum of making it more engaging, making it more interactive, and making it into something that feels like it's a simulated environment. So people want to come back, they want to be engaged, they want to be a part of a community, they want to persist, they want to be involved. So they can actually be successful at the thing that they're trying to do.

So if you're struggling with people staying in your course, or maybe taking it in the first place, start moving down this continuum, then the fifth one is really creating a certification program. And a certification program is where you take that simulated experience to the next level, where you're actually certifying people because they've gotten results because they have taken steps that you've asked them to do. And then you can go and, and help them to maybe get a job or get a promotion, or get a new project or get a new client or whatever that is. And that is the certification program where you're kind of tying it all together. And they're getting credit, or they're getting some type of certificate or, or whatever, for doing what you're doing. So you've seen a lot of these programs, how many out there where it's a series, or says it's a series of programs, that once they've completed them and proved that they are competent, in whatever that is, then they get a certification. And then they can, you know, do that session, but it's proof that they've been able to apply what you've taught in their course. So that is the fifth.

The fifth type that you can put together, a lot of times people think about just teaching to the information or to that topic, but you can actually take your expertise. Other people become experts, where they can, they can apply it in whatever way you want them to apply it. That is that certification. So don't be afraid to think about that as you're building courses, because sometimes your end audience needs the course. But people who want to do what you do could also need a certification program. So you could create kind of that, that separate program that helps people do what you what you're an expert in, and you're training them which then elevates your status more because you're certifying people to do these things.

Alright, so those are the five different types of online courses. Okay, so I challenge you today to really look at your course, your program, or the course or program that you want to create. And think about

how you can create more engagement more interactivity, and move it down the continuum of making it just an information or information and workbook type course to something that real people get results, meaning moving it into more than simulation that's scenario-based training something that really puts people in practice so you can confidently tell them that they can get the results that they are looking for.

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