How to teach online courses - a practical guide from a pro
4.7 (40 ratings)
Course Ratings are calculated from individual students’ ratings and a variety of other signals, like age of rating and reliability, to ensure that they reflect course quality fairly and accurately.
977 students enrolled

How to teach online courses - a practical guide from a pro

Learn how to design and deliver online courses properly. Turn that idea in your head into an awesome course :)
4.7 (40 ratings)
Course Ratings are calculated from individual students’ ratings and a variety of other signals, like age of rating and reliability, to ensure that they reflect course quality fairly and accurately.
977 students enrolled
Created by Ricky Vuckovic
Last updated 8/2015
English [Auto-generated]
Current price: $20.99 Original price: $29.99 Discount: 30% off
5 hours left at this price!
30-Day Money-Back Guarantee
This course includes
  • 1 hour on-demand video
  • 8 mins on-demand audio
  • 1 article
  • 3 downloadable resources
  • Full lifetime access
  • Access on mobile and TV
  • Certificate of Completion
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What you'll learn
  • A solid foundation in great online course design skills, and a way to really engage with your students
  • Gain the skills to identify good online course ideas that you are passionate about and are marketable
  • You will better understand the mindset and motivations of your future students, and teach directly to those
  • Solid practical direction and examples on mapping out your sections and lessons
  • Make informed decisions on whether to go with head and shoulders direct to camera video, slideshows, screencasts, or something else completely
  • Confidence in knowing what to actually say in a lesson
  • Evaluate and reflect on course design and teaching approach
  • Handle both positive and negative feedback from students
  • A whole load of motivation, taught by an instructor who loves the job and wants to see you do well!
  • An interest in teaching online, and the passion to want to do it well :)

This course will give you the skills you need to teach online courses with confidence, even if you don't have a background in teaching.

Have you seen courses on Udemy, Skillshare and YouTube and thought, "hey, I could make a course about that!"... but then didn't follow through because you weren't sure of exactly how to approach the full learning design or structure or weren't sure about what sort of equipment you'd need?

Or perhaps you've seen all those "passive income" blurbs and suspected that there's probably a bit more to it than just shouting your general knowledge into a microphone?

This course will help you to plan, create and teach an amazing online course that students will love, and it's taught by someone who has over a decade of experience in creating online courses and teaching others how to do the same.

Why choose this course over any of the others?

The other top "teach on Udemy" courses are wonderful, and I have incredible respect for their instructors. This course stands out from the others through a much greater focus and detail on those starting steps for thinking of your ideas, connecting with your passions, and helping you understand how to best connect with your future students.

If you're considering taking multiple courses to best understand how to make online courses to sell through Udemy, then I suggest pairing this course with one of the others that focuses on marketing - that way you'll get a great educational approach for making a fantastic course here with these methods, and then follow with solid processes for marketing and launching your course with one of the others.


"Ricky takes a step-by-step approach to explaining how to plan and structure a course; how to design a course for maximum student engagement; and how to foster a good rapport with students throughout the course." - Autumn Gal ★★★★★

"Ricky showed me ... how to structure my course and how to make my courses engaging and interesting for all who will be watching." - Zoe Martin ★★★★★

You will discover how to create your course from start to finish in easy to understand and simple practical steps:
  • What to teach that connects with your passions and expertise
  • How to test if there's a market for your course idea
  • How to develop a teaching approach
  • How to develop a detailed course plan
  • Various ways to present lessons so that your students engage more
  • What to actually say in a lesson to improve your students' understanding
  • Essential production tips
  • Methods to evaluate your course
  • How to use student feedback to improve your course

Every lesson in this course has a practical skill that you can learn to develop your own course plan and teaching approach. You can get started pretty quickly and work on your own courses progressively while learning here.

So, if you'd like to teach online then take this course now, and I'll see you inside!

Who this course is for:
  • People looking to teach online but don't have confidence in their approach yet
  • Anybody wanting to teach -properly- and not simply talk into a microphone
  • This course is for people who want to learn good course design skills from an educational perspective, and not just learn about new tools and sites to store ideas
Course content
Expand all 31 lectures 01:17:43
+ Welcome
3 lectures 04:10

Welcome to the course, and thank you for signing up!

This welcome section will outline what you'll learn, who I am, and how to best approach this course.

My aim is to show you the steps to take a course idea floating around in your mind, and to come up with a solid course plan and teaching approach that your students will love.

Thanks again, and have a great time in this course on how to plan, design and teach online!

Preview 01:13

Hi again, here's a quick blurb about me:

I'm Ricky, and my background is in educational design, teacher support, and multimedia - particularly in online learning. I help people to teach online, and I've been doing this for years.

I also run a site named ...maybe that's how you found this course?

Pleased to meet you, and let's get going with the course!

Preview 00:59

This course is structured in a fairly chronological order, so it makes sense to go through the lessons in order from start to finish, rather than jumping all around the place and skipping lessons.

In this course, we will:

  • Look at what you are thinking of teaching
  • Figure out an approach and plan for your online course idea
  • Check out some different ways of presenting video lessons
  • Explore how you actually teach a video lesson
  • Discuss ways to keep your students active and engaged
  • Touch on the process of creating and delivering online courses
  • Evaluate and reflect on your course and feedback from students

Don't forget to use the discussion spaces and messaging tools if you're ever confused or want to discuss something further. Or... you can use it now just to say hello!

How to approach this course for maximum benefit
+ What are you going to teach?
5 lectures 11:04

Everybody is a wealth of knowledge on so many topics, be it a programming language, how to make amazing pastry, embroidery, a language... you don't need to be a super-expert, you just need to know more than the people you're hoping to teach.

The one major thing you do need is an absolute passion for what you want to teach - if you're not interested in your own course, why should anybody else be?

You also need enough substance in the topic to create a course of decent depth, so if you've got a passionate topic in mind, see if you can come up with at least 5 different things that a student needs to know.

Preview 03:54

So, you've got a topic you're passionate about, and some substance behind it... now we need to see if there's anybody out there actually interested in doing a course on this topic.

The process of checking out whether there's a market for an idea is called "idea validation", and in this lesson we're going to do some really basic idea validation by testing our idea against the search engines inside of Udemy, and YouTube.

If we can find an existing pool of courses on a similar (or exact same) topic with students/viewers in them, then we know that our idea definitely has a target audience interested in this topic.

How to validate your ideas to ensure a successful course

Should you be worried if someone else is already teaching a successful course on the topic you want to teach?


  • It shows you a clear proven market for your course
  • You'll have something unique and wonderful about your take on the topic
  • You'll attract the kind of students who like to take multiple courses in the same topic for greater depth of information.

Don't stress :)

What if other people are already teaching the same thing?

So, you've thought of a topic that you're passionate about and has substance and a market of potential students?

Yay! Good job!

Have a short break, then be ready to knuckle down and get into the next section on planning your approach.

You are awesome!

This checklist runs through the main themes of this section on figuring out what you are going to teach. Completing the questions in this list will help you have a better definition of your course idea, as well as check the market for potential students.

Checklist for testing your course idea
1 page
+ Your approach
6 lectures 13:32

Teaching, in any form, is all about your students. It probably sounds obvious, but I want you to keep it in mind as you design your course.

It's really hard to think up a course that is going to be suitable for absolutely everybody - some will find it too basic, some too advanced, others won't see any relevance to their needs. Instead, decide on a particular type of audience to teach to - beginners, start-up business entrepreneurs, non-techy seniors, etc...

Once you have decided on an ideal target student, you can think about why they are doing your course (looking for techniques to make a product, lifestyle skills, etc) and you'll be able to teach directly to those motivations and needs.

Who are your students and how can you best relate to them?

This checklist goes through a few questions to help you better decide on and define your ideal target student. This will help you teach directly to these needs and motivations.

Checklist for knowing your target students
1 page

To figure out what your students need to learn, you need to figure out two things:

  • What is the overall aim of your course? What can a student say in one sentence if they had to tell a friend, "Hey, I just did a course on..." ?
  • Come up with three or four specific new skills, knowledge, of ways of thinking that your students will be able to work at and achieve. We call these "learning outcomes".

Everything you teach or test should be directly relevant to your learning outcomes.

Think of the broad topics you need to teach in order for your student to achieve each of those learning outcomes. No need for specific lesson content yet, just the broad themes at this stage.

Preview 03:59

This quick checklist will help you note down the key themes of your course - the course aim, and the learning outcomes.

Preview 1 page

Now let's have a look at individual lessons to go into those broad topics.The topics will become your sections, and the lessons become individual videos.

It's always good to start with a sequence of welcome lessons:

  • Lesson 1: Hello and welcome to the course
  • Lesson 2: About your instructor
  • Lesson 3: What to expect in this course / how to work through the course.

You should also end your course with a summary and thank you.

When coming up with lesson videos, stick to one single idea or topic per lesson.

How to map out your course for best results

According to extensive research by Udemy, they suggest a single video should be 5-10 minutes in length.

According to extensive research by edX, they suggest a single video should be 6 minutes.

Based on these, I recommend you chunk your videos down into 5-6 minute video lessons.

Ideal length of a video lesson
+ Presentation styles
5 lectures 09:49

This is an example of a video recording of a person speaking. I believe that this is the warmest and most personal feeling way to deliver a course.

It's tricky memorising all the lines in order to maintain eye contact with the camera, but if you can remember short bursts of lines, you can cut to another angle between each set of lines you say, making it look more like one continuous sequence.

Try have a clean background if you're recording yourself talking to camera.

Video presentation example - what makes a good live video?

Screen captures are a great way to demonstrate how to use a piece of software or web service. There's a variety of programs around like Camtasia Studio, Screenflow, CamStudio... have a look around and experiment with their free trials to make sure they suit your needs before laying out the cash to purchase them.

Screen capture example - great for software and website tutorials

Slides can often be the easiest way to come up with visuals for a lesson, but you need to make sure you put some effort into their design.

Even if you pay for a beautiful professional PowerPoint template, it's still up to you to make sure the content of each slide stays minimal

Slides work their best when they are kept really simple, and act as visual markers for what your voice is saying.

Preview 02:41

Animations are great and the tools for making them are getting really cheap.

Animation is all about story and rhythm, and they need to be scripted really well to keep moving along and keep your students engaged.

Unless you are doing truly remarkable expensive original animated content, I suggest keeping animations under two minutes in length, and using them only once per course intro or major section intro.

Animation example - what makes a good animation?

Now that you've seen some examples of presentation styles, are there any that feel like a natural fit for your course? As you've seen in this course, there's nothing wrong with using a combination of methods if you like.

However, if you are planning a software or web service course that is going to rely on screencasts and slides, I strongly recommend that you film at least a short welcome video of your talking head, just to put a face to the instructor name they see on their course, and build closer rapport with you.

What presentation style works for you?
+ Delivering a lesson
5 lectures 15:41

A suggested structure for each lesson:

  • Start with a quick hello, and introduce the name of the topic you're about to cover.
  • If this lesson builds on anything the student learnt previously, you can say a quick one-liner to remind them of that lesson.
  • Follow it with a one line description of what you're going to cover in this lesson.
  • Then get into your lesson content.
  • At the end of the lesson, let people know they've reached the end of that particular topic, and summarise the most important points of the lesson in 10 seconds or less.
  • Finally, say thank you or some other sort of positive encouragement, and tell them that you look forward to seeing them in the next lesson.
Structure of a lesson - a useful approach

What do you say in a lesson? Well, "Hello" is a good start!

  • Keep the tone really conversational.
  • Confident but casual.
  • Use case studies or personal stories to illustrate things if you can.
  • Give solid proof to back up any grand sweeping statements that your students might hesitate to automatically follow you on.
What do you say? Tone and proof






  • practice
  1. practice



I know we've covered heaps about structuring and presenting lessons to make it easy for students to view and understand... but don't forget that learning is really an active verb - we should be getting our students to actually do something every now and then.

A good place in your lessons to stick deep questions, activities and action points is at the end of a lesson. Students can watch your lesson, get something to do, work on it, then come back and watch the next lesson.

Keep your students active and engaged with things to do

There are great Udemy resources and specific courses around on recording videos, making screen captures, marketing, etc...

If you're at the point of having everything scripted and you're now about to press record on your first lesson, then congratulations!

Make sure you take good care of your audio. Students will often forgive a poorly composed visual, or animation that isn't Pixar quality, but they've got a low tolerance for bad audio.

Make sure you check out as many resources as you can about marketing your course. No point making an awesome course if nobody knows it exists!

Once your course has launched - stay involved! Track how it's going, answer questions, look for opportunities to add updates.

Make it, launch it, take care of your course
+ Evaluation
2 lectures 09:22

Once your course is up and running, you need to make time for formal evaluation

  • Does the course achieve the overall aim you set in your designs?
  • Do your lessons actually help your students reach the learning outcomes you came up with?

Find a balance between looking to make sure your course is good, but not being way too over-perfectionist.

Look for opportunities to add in little bonus videos, as well as possibly some whole new course ideas (don't forget to validate the ideas though!)

Self-evaluation - take the time to review your course against your aims

If you get great reviews, then yay well done! It's rare for people to take the time to leave a good review, so be grateful and enjoy them when they come.

Bad reviews: they'll happen. Some students give silly bad reviews simply because they didn't even read your course description and then they rant that it's not what they thought - not much you can do about that.

Legitimate bad reviews might be disheartening, but they can be a great source of information on what needs fixing up in your course. Make private contact with the student through the messaging tools, tell them you're sorry they had a bad experience but thank them for the feedback, and ask if they'd like to give any more detail so that you can improve the course better. You'll not only have good info to fix up your course, but you might turn that 1 star review around into a 5 star based on your fixes and the time you took to politely work with the student.

Reviews from students - Enjoy the good, appreciate and work with the negative
+ And finally...
2 lectures 02:43

Phew! We're at the end of the course!

Thank you for taking part, and if you've planned, designed and started teaching an online course, then that's fantastic and I hope it's going really well for you :)

If you have finished this course and enjoyed it, then please leave a positive review.

If you have finished this course and are confused or find something lacking, then please use the messaging tools to make contact with me first, and let's see if I can help you in some way.

Please check back every now and then to catch any updates I add, and stay engaged through the forum, messages, and you can also reach me on my site at

Thanks for taking the course, and I hope to see your amazing work online sometime soon!

:) Ricky

You made it! Yay!

Although I tightly scripted and practiced this course before filming, I still ended up with about five and a half hours of footage just to make this one hour course.

Here's a fun blooper reel of some of the mistakes along the way :)

Bonus: Bloopers
+ Bonus: Audio summaries
3 lectures 08:22
About the audio summaries

Welcome to this audio summary version of the course. These are quick concise summaries of each section (not simply the audio ripped from the video and re-posted) that you can download and listen to as a quick portable reference guide once you have finished the video lessons.

Audio summary: Welcome and introduction

This is an audio summary of the "What are you going to teach?" section from the video lessons.

Audio summary: What are you going to teach?