How to Write a Successful Course Description

tips for Creating successful course descriptions

Inspire students to take your online course by explaining the career benefits

Continued learning is an integral part of the education system today. It provides students with an alternative education path that supports upskilling, career advancement and new employment opportunities. Our roster of online continued learning courses gives students options that weren’t previously available to them, connecting expert educators with students across the globe. 

We all have an expertise that’s worth sharing. Now’s the time to leverage that expertise into a course that can be taken and appreciated by university and college students, students forging their own educational path, employed workers looking for a promotion or a change, or someone who’s just curious to learn.

Writing the course description is equally as important as the course itself -- it’s what will sell your course to your desired audience. Here’s how to do it: 


Write for your audience 

The first step is to determine who will take your course and to write specifically for that group of prospective students. Don’t be afraid to tailor your course to a niche audience. It’s better to be clear about who the material is designed for than to be vague and assume it’s for everybody. You can include various professions that will benefit from your course. For example, if you are developing a course for understanding blockchain technology, you could tailor it to people involved or interested in logistics, financial systems, and computer networking. When you address your audience, speak personally by writing directly to them; refer to them as “you.” Even if the subject matter is complex, explain what your students will learn in relatable terms. 


Clarity of value 

Communicating the value that your course will deliver is absolutely key to the course being successful. You can define this for your students by clarifying what they will receive for taking the course; how will their lives be made better? This question can be answered by explaining what problem the course solves. Perhaps it provides an easy way to understand the complexities of blockchain technology that your students have been hearing about and need to understand for advancement in their industry. So, your course can provide a solution for career advancement and fulfillment. 

Value must be defined in order to receive a financial commitment. Provide your students with a clear outline of what the course will entail. In doing this, you’re highlighting the positive impact that the course can have towards improving a student’s life. Your outline should include the different aspects of the topic that you’ll cover and why those are important. You should also explain what the students will be able to do at the end of the course. For example, after taking this course, you’ll be able to identify the differences between various cryptocurrencies and define how blockchain technology operates and the potential benefits of the technology to complex financial and logistical systems. 


Do your research

Now that you have an outline for your course, you can take that understanding and compare it with how others have positioned their courses and evaluate if those methods were successful. Check the reviews of other courses and student forums to find out what students are looking for today in their online courses. This feedback can help you position your course effectively by speaking directly to what students need now. 


Timeline of learning

This is a practical piece that gives students an understanding of how your course will fit into their lives. Before they can consider the financial commitment, they need to feel confident that the material will support them and the timeline in which they’ll learn that material suits their availability. Be clear about any assignments or tests that are involved and the approximate hourly commitment, whether it is a one-time course or a commitment over a period of weeks or months. Break your course down over that time frame to demonstrate what the student will learn in each session or each week. 


Positive language

Finally, speak to your students in a positive tone. Focus on the net benefit of taking your course: students will learn critical new skills, expand their career opportunities and develop their knowledge and think critically about the subject. Speaking positively is important because you’re asking them to take on a financial and time commitment in order to improve their situation. Your course description should feel inspirational, focusing on the advantages.


Here’s how to set up your course description: 

  • Create a descriptive and catchy title. The title should be 10 - 60 characters.
  • Write a high level summary of what the course will cover and the benefits of that material. The short course description should be 150 - 250 characters.
  • Create an in-depth explanation of the course that outlines each of the sections or modules within the course and what those sections will teach.
  • Provide a timeline that breaks down the time commitment for the course, including the start and finish data and any tests or assignments involved.
  • Include keywords: capture the attention and imagination of your students by including keywords that signal what they’ll learn and what kinds of careers the material will support.


What not to include: 

  • Don’t include external links to other ODEM courses or outside material.
  • Try not to be “salesy.” We all know what it feels like to be sold to, and it breaks trust. Avoid positioning your course as a solution promising unrealistic results. Be honest and forthcoming about the benefits it can provide without over-exaggerating. Here’s an example of a course that provides a detailed explanation of all the things students will cover.


Ready to write your ODEM course description? Get started in our Educator Portal where educators can develop their courses and publish to our Education Marketplace

Learn more about ODEM and connect with the team on Telegram, LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.

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