Best Course Creation Software 2021

What Makes a Good Online Course?

Creating a high quality online course can be challenging. In our guide, we discuss everything you need to achieve to make your course impactful and effective for your students.

Creating a course is hard, and creating a high quality course is even harder. There are certain key elements to consider when providing an effective and engaging course experience for your students.

Below, we’ve listed seven tips to creating a good online course:

  • Design Your Course Thoughtfully and Methodically
  • Accommodate a Wide Range of Learners
  • Use Multimedia in a Smart Way
  • Add Gamification
  • Pace Your Content at a Comfortable Speed
  • Consider Your Students’ Experience When Taking Your Course
  • Provide Your Students an Interactive and Collaborative Environment

Table of Contents

Design Your Course Thoughtfully and Methodically

How you design your course will have a big impact on how your students approach your content. By providing course goals, objectives, and assessments, your students will be in the best position to get the most out of your course.

Course Goals & Objectives

Course goals are general statements that describe what you want your students to learn. Course objectives are what you hope your students accomplish by the end of your course.

Course goals and objectives provide clarity and structure for your students. They also help them focus and direct their energy towards work that achieves the course goals and objectives.

We recommend describing these in an introductory video or in a few introductory slides. These should be presented before a student starts your course.


Assessments are used to examine how well a student is comprehending your content. They can indicate if you need to refine the way your course material is taught and presented. There are two main categories of assessment – formative and summative.

Formative assessments focus on monitoring student learning and providing feedback. They help students identify their strengths and weaknesses and are usually not graded. Some examples of formative assessments include:

  • Writing summaries of the content they just learned
  • Creating venn diagrams to compare and contrast topics
  • Extension projects – dioramas, posters, collages

Summative assessments evaluate student learning at the end of a course by comparing it against a benchmark or standard. They are often graded and used more often in a traditional school setting. Some examples of summative assessments include:

  • Midterms and finals
  • Pop quizzes
  • Project portfolios

While both assessment types are effective, we recommend implementing formative assessments. Oftentimes with summative assessments, students focus more on getting a high grade rather than focusing on learning the material. Summative assessments also induce more pressure in students to do well.

Accommodate a Wide Range of Learners

There are several different learning styles that students rely on. The main categories are:

  • Visual
  • Auditory
  • Linguistic – reading and writing
  • Kinesthetic – physical

Not every course can incorporate all of these learning styles. However, high-quality courses will take into consideration how their students learn best.

You can test out different learning styles if they seem appropriate for your course topic and see how your students respond. We also recommend seeing how your students perform on your assessments. If your students are performing well, you can feel confident in your teaching methods. However, if you students are not performing well, it can indicate that you might need to change your teaching style.


As a course instructor, it is important to design courses that are accessible to students who have different learning capabilities. Key accessibility features include:

  • Closed captioning or subtitles
  • Text transcripts of videos
  • Alt text for images

Some course creation platforms let you implement some, if not all of these accessibility features. If you choose not to use a course creation platform, here are some tools you can use for each accessibility feature:

Accessibility featureSoftware
Closed Captioning & Subtitles
  • YouTube
  • Video editing software – Adobe Premiere, Final Cut Pro X
Text transcriptsAudio to text transcribers –, Speechmatics
Alt textAlmost anywhere you upload your image has a space for you to add alt text

Use Multimedia in a Smart Way

The best courses use different forms of multimedia – videos, audio, slides – where they are most advantageous. Below we describe the strengths and the best course subjects to use each type of multimedia:

  • Interactive and engaging
  • Lets you include yourself in the teaching process
  • Physical disciplines – visual arts, crafts, dance, music, and exercise
  • Sciences – chemistry, biology, and physics
  • Works well for those who take courses on the go
  • Easier to produce than an entire video
  • Spoken language
  • Music
  • Works well at delivering text information, images, graphs, and charts
  • Easy for students to navigate at their own pace and sequence
  • Business
  • Mathematics
  • Literature

Read our article discussing how to create an online courseto learn tips and tricks when creating these different types of multimedia.

Add Gamification

Gamification in course creation is when you apply gaming mechanics to the course taking experience. Some of these gaming mechanisms include goals, statuses, community, tips & tricks, and rewards. Gamification motivates students to engage with your content and makes online learning interactive.


Goals provide direction and give students something to work towards. Oftentimes, goals are used to unlock new course content. Goals also help reinforce the material a student has just learned.

For example; let’s say you’re teaching a Spanish language course. You can create a goal where your student has to match the word in Spanish to its equivalent word in English before they can move on to the next lesson.


Statuses are what students can earn as they “level up” through your courses. You can assign statuses as students complete courses, course lessons, or certain assignments.

If you have multiple students and they can view each others’ profiles, statuses can induce healthy competition. This can encourage students to complete their course learning and at a faster pace in order to get ahead of their fellow students.


Instead of having students individually achieve a goal or status, you can have them achieve in a group. Students in teams can learn faster and achieve a deeper level of understanding of the content. Teamwork also creates intrinsic motivation to complete coursework because there are other students to consider.

Tips & Tricks

As students are moving through your course material, you can offer tips and tricks that help them complete their lessons and assignments. These can be especially useful for courses of an intimidating subject or courses that are content heavy.


This is one of the most common forms of gamification in course learning. Rewards can include badges and points and they help students feel like they are accomplishing something.


Achievements for rewards can include:

  • Becoming a new member of your school
  • Answering polls
  • Completing lessons
  • Performing social actions – including commenting, or sharing course material on social media

Pace Your Content at a Comfortable Speed

You want to pace your content so that your students are neither overloaded nor stagnant when learning. Pacing is subjective though, so it’s important to get your student’s feedback on what pace is comfortable with them. Two of the more popular content pacing methods are drip scheduling and self-pacing.

Drip Scheduling

Drip scheduling is a method used by instructors to publish certain sections of their courses at different times. Almost all course creation platforms offer a drip scheduling feature. Most allow you to drip schedule content based on a certain number of days, weeks, or months after a student’s enrollment date or start date.

Here’s an image of the drip scheduling settings in LearnWorlds.


Self-Paced Learning

Self-paced learning is when students can learn the material and complete assignments on their own time and at their own speed. Some of the advantages of self-paced learning include:

  • Suitable for different learning styles
  • Removes time pressure
  • Allows them to work when they feel most efficient

Consider Your Student's Experience When Taking Your Course

The quality of your course is heavily dependent on how your students are experiencing your course. Your course navigation system, your content display, your course on mobile, and your attentiveness as an instructor determine whether or not your course is worth taking.

Navigation System

It’s important that your students can easily navigate from lesson to lesson. Otherwise, the platform could be too intimidating and discourage your students from continuing your course.

Here are two main navigation features that enhance your student’s course taking experience:

  • Clear buttons that indicate and let students go to the previous or next lesson
  • Collapsible table of contents sidebar that lets students go to any lesson

Consider How Your Content is Displayed

Every part of your content should be laid out in an optimal manner. Students should not be overwhelmed by content, and your content layout should not distract their focus from learning. Here are some things to consider when laying out your content:

ContentLayout Considerations
  • Should not take up the entire page
  • Consider setting images and text side by side
  • Give students the ability to enlarge an image without disrupting the flow of your content
  • Text size should at least be 16px
  • Do not choose overly artistic fonts
  • Sentences should have space between each line
  • We do not recommend paragraphs longer than four sentences
VideosVideos are best fullscreen Videos should be on their own “line” on the webpage
You should also be wary if your students have to scroll a lot for a single lesson or piece of course content. It is better to divide up your content into more digestible chunks than to cram it all into one single course lesson.

Mobile App

With a mobile app, your students can take your courses on the go. Some course creation platforms let you design your courses with mobile in mind.

Teachable Mobile

Here are a few tips that optimize your course for mobile:

  • Make sure your courses don’t appear too content heavy
  • Have simple navigation – for example: arrows that move to the next lesson or swipe capabilities
  • Videos should have a scrubber, easy to press pause and play buttons, and have full-screen mode

Be an Attentive Instructor

Your students will be more inclined to take your course if they see that the instructor cares about the material and their learning progress. However, it can be difficult to be an attentive instructor when you and your students are not in the same room.

Hosting live classes is the best way to demonstrate attentiveness because you will be with your students in real time. You can answer any questions your students may have and discuss with them in the moment.

If you cannot host live classes, you can ask for feedback from your students at the end of each lesson. They can ask questions about the course material and offer suggestions on how to improve their course taking experience. Implementing these suggestions will demonstrate that your students are a priority.

Some course creation platforms offer student discussion and instant messaging features that allow you to respond and connect with your students directly. We describe these features in more detail below.

Provide Your Student an Interactive and Collaborative Environment

Having students interact encourages them to learn from one another and gives them a chance to articulate course content in their own words. Talking to other students can also motivate them to complete their lessons and coursework.

Online course solutions offer certain in-platform features that foster student engagement – including student discussions, student messaging, and messageboards. Having tools like these promote a sense of community.

Student Discussions

You can foster student discussion by simply implementing a commenting system. Students and instructors can comment their thoughts and others can like and even reply. You can also create a messageboard where students and instructors can quote and reference previous comments.

Some online course platforms offer advanced student discussion features like an activity feed. With it, students and instructors can create posts with attached images, videos, and links. You can even create polls and notify students of events that further increase engagement.

Here’s an image of Mighty Networks’ activity feed feature.

Mighty Networks Student Discussions

Student Messaging

Having students be able to message each other allows them to directly communicate and collaborate with one another. You can also use messaging to promptly answer questions your students have about the course material. This will show your students how attentive you are as an instructor and will ultimately enhance their experience.

Here’s an image of Mighty Networks’ student messaging feature.

Mighty Networks Student Messaging


While creating a good online course is challenging, it’s definitely achievable. If you follow the best practices we’ve detailed above, you can provide your students a course of the best value.

Amy Yang

Amy Yang is a Junior Research Analyst at SoftwarePundit, where she conducts in-depth analyses on software markets and products. Amy has expertise in content production and managing digital and social platforms. She has a Bachelor of Science in Communication & Media, and a Minor in Web Programming and Applications from NYU. You can connect with Amy on LinkedIn.

Amy is an expert in several software categories including:

  • Course creation software
  • Electronic signature software
  • Social media software
  • Website builder software

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