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You're Designing Your Online Courses Wrong
6 easy-to-apply design hacks proven to 10X learner attraction, motivation & achievement
The world needs DOMS™️. Research shows that 83% of online courses fail to attract, motivate & retain learners in the way that their creators intended.
Using the six DOMS™️ principles to design your course is proven to 10X average levels of learner attraction, motivation & achievement.
Try DOMS™️ for yourself and see the results first hand!
🔚 DOMS™️ Principle #1. Optimise Outcomes
Learners learn better when all content & activity is aligned to robust learning outcomes which in turn are aligned to their goals.
Try making your outcomes more learner-centric. Outcomes are most effective when they are learner-centric. They should be constructed as statements of what the learner will be know and be able to do as a result of some learning experience. It should also include the why for learner: how does this help me, and why would I bother doing this? More on this below.
🥵 DOMS™️ Principle #2. Deliver Desirable Difficulty
Learners learn better when activities and content progress from simple to complex at an appropriate level of challenge for the learners in question.
Try defining your learners’ Zone of Proximal Development: Vygotsky found that there are some things that a learner can do without help and things that a learner can’t do even with help. Between those two extremes, in the “Zone of Proximal Development” (ZPD), there is a range of things a learner could do with help from an instructor or a more skilled peer: this is where you need to focus to optimise for motivation & achievement.
💜 DOMS™️ Principle #3. Drive Intrinsic Motivation
Learners learn better when they are driven more by internal reasons than external rewards or consequences.
Try getting into the heads & hearts of your learners: The more learners can map the learning experience to their own personal beliefs, drivers & values, the more likely they are to be intrinsically motivated and to engage with and benefit from the process of learning. Profile their pain & aspirations and map your design & comms accordingly. Make your course a painkiller (in the short term) and vitamin (in the mid-long term).
🧱 DOMS™️ Principle #4. Learn, Practice & Assess in Context
Learners learn best when the experience is as authentic as possible, i.e. the content, activities, assessments & modes replicate “close to real” scenarios.
Try pushing beyond content + quiz approaches and delivering content & activities which replicate real practice. For example: instead of talking about what project management is in the abstract, use a free-to-use tool like Airtable + their project plan templates to have learners create a project plan for real.
💬 DOMS™️ Principle #5. Encourage Metacognition
Learners learn better & are more motivated when they receive well-crafted & timely feedback.
Try verbalising feedback & focusing on the why: feedback works best when the learner gets information on both how well they did and how they can improve. For example, a knowledge check that explains why an answer is right or wrong is more effective than one that simply displays scores. There is also some evidence to show that the best feedback is verbal (recorded video, recorded audio, sync spoken feedback) rather than text-based - so get talking!
🧠 DOMS™️ Principle #6. Manage Cognitive Load
Learners learn better when information is minimised & presented in a way that doesn’t unnecessarily tax working memory.
Try using the Minimal Viable Content (MVC) Framework: The MVC Framework is a quick & easy way to manage the sheer amount of information that you convey to learners in any given learning experience. The approach manages extraneous load and - by putting more emphasis on activity than consumption - drives learner motivation & achievement.
I’d love to get your feedback on DOMS™️! Let me know your thoughts, musings & results in the comments below.
Happy designing! 👋
Want to learn more? Apply for up for my learning science bootcamp & design your course with me & a cohort of people like you using the DOMS™️ process.
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