After deciding to create a course, one of the first steps is to set a well-structured course outline. A proper outline will serve as a roadmap for you to follow as you add content to your outline. 

To make your course stand out from the rest, you need to be able to set a proper course outline.

This is because when a user checks out your course, they will be judging your course outline. Your course outline is a snapshot that your potential audience will briefly scan to decide whether or not your course is of any value. 

So in today’s post, we will discuss how to create an online course outline so you can teach your audience how to learn a new skill.

Let’s begin!

What Is a Course Outline?

A course outline is like a roadmap for your online course. It’s a plan that shows what your course will cover, the order of topics, and how each part fits into the overall picture.

A well-crafted outline not only helps you stay organized as an instructor but also provides your students with a clear understanding of what to expect, making the learning process smoother and more effective.

Why Should I Know How to Create an Online Course Outline?

  • Clear Expectations:  Many learners begin a course with specific intentions. With a proper outline, your audience will be able to decide whether or not they will benefit from buying a course. They will specifically look at the learning objectives,  types of assignments, and assessments they will encounter. A course outline that mentions the expected outcome in your outline also sets clarity for students to understand what is expected of them and how they can succeed in the course.

  • Consistency and Fairness: Having a detailed course outline ensures consistency in teaching, especially if the course is taught by different instructors or across different sessions. It ensures that all students receive the same information and are assessed using the same criteria, which promotes fairness.

    Below is an example of a course on the YouTube channel Freecodecamp. This course is from Harvard University. 

    If you observe the courses they upload from other organizations, you will notice they only upload courses that have a proper course outline so the public can follow through easily. Courses listed on Freecodecamp are known to have one of the cleanest outlines and they only list courses that have an organized outline.

    You can check out Freecodecamp to have a look at the outlines of their tech courses. 
  • Resource for Absentees: There will be times when your learners will miss a class. Online classes become tricky when a student skips a class. There are no face-to-face meetups to know what lessons were missed. This is where your course outline will be used by students who missed your class. Another case is when students cover a few lessons and then leave the courses incomplete. It is not unusual for students to leave a course and come back to finish the course again. 

    In such a case, when the student returns, they will refer to the outline to catch up on missed work and understand the context of the material covered in their absence.
  • Assessment Alignment: Your outline should also align the assessments with your learning objectives so students will know what to expect. You as an instructor will also understand the mastery of your students completing your assignments. Many learners begin a course with specific intentions. With a proper outline, your audience will be able to decide whether or not they will benefit from buying a course. 

There is still more you need to go through when thinking about how to create an online course outline for your coaching business. This task involves researching your course topic.

Research for the Outline of Training Program

First, do thorough research on the topic that you wish to teach to your audience. You can look at the points below to assist you with your analysis.

  • Set the identity of your course

What is the name of the course topic? Which niche does your course topic belong to? These 2 questions will set the stage for you to do further research into your course and your course outline. You also want to judge yourself on how well you know about the chosen topic. If you feel you need to know more about the topic then you can study the course topic more in detail before setting your outline. 

  • Judge the Popularity of the Topic 

Is this topic popular? If yes, what is the amount of interest in this topic? You can find out the number of interests by browsing course platforms such as Udemy. You can also do SEO using an SEO tool to find how many users are searching for your topic of interest.

  • Ensure There is an Audience 

Do not create a course on a topic that does not have any audience. If you already have followers on social media you can ask them what course they would like for their development. 

There are already thousands of courses online, so it is important to find out if there is an audience that fits your course. Course creation today is a competitive sector. So it is important to do audience research first before creating a course outline. 

To properly conduct audience research for your course please check out this post on How to identify target audiences.

  • Invest in a Membership Platform

If you do not have followers online then you can still do your research as stated above. You can reach out to online groups such as Discord, Facebook groups, etc.  But be sure to eventually have your membership platform so that you can receive course feedback, manage your followers, and share premium resources such as e-books or any other files.

If you would like to start a membership platform, you can checkout this link

  • Categorize your Course

Is this a theory-based topic? If yes, you need to ensure the topic is presented engagingly so that users maintain interest.

What if your course is training-based? If so, then you need to ensure you have the resources for presenting the topic. For example, if you are going to teach cooking, you need to have the ingredients and cooking utensils to present the cooking techniques.

How to Create an Online Course Outline

Now let us begin setting the actual course outline. Follow the steps as shown below. 

  1. Course Title: Set a proper name for your course. If you are having difficulty setting a proper name for your course then you can look at other published courses for inspiration.  

  2. Instructor Information: The authenticity of your course will be highlighted by your profile as the course instructor. So be sure to mention your name, contact details, work experience, and any professional qualifications if you have any. If you have a membership platform then now is the best time to mention this. You can encourage your audience to join your membership platform for further help or to reach out to you for more information.

  3. Course Description: For this section, mention the main goal of your course by talking about the purpose and relevance of your course to your learners. Remember, this is going to be a brief description. 

  4. Learning Objectives or Outcomes: In this section, mention what value your students will have after completing your course. The value could be in the form of a new skill, knowledge, or competencies You can also mention what your objectives are as an instructor who wants to teach your learners.

  5. Prerequisites: State any skill or ability that the learner is required to have to reap the benefits of the course. Some courses such as Engineering require a person to know some basic skills such as Programming. Other courses such as a GRE course(Graduate Record Examinations) only require that a course-taker be a high school graduate.

    Depending on what your course requirements are, you need to set the prerequisites in your course outline. If you think there are no prerequisites, then simply mention the need for the students to have a computer with internet access.

  6. Course Format: For this section, briefly describe how you will deliver the course. Is it going to be online in real time? Or will your course include pre-recorded videos? You can also choose to keep your course hybrid. Hybrid courses are a mix of in-person and remote participation.

  7. Break down your course into modules and lessons: Now comes the most important section of your course outline- the modules and lessons of your course. Some students need to know how long it takes to complete a course especially if the course will take time to complete.  So make sure to include a tentative timeline for each. 

The format of your course curriculum is going to be as follows:

  • Main Topic
  • Main Topic
  • Quiz
  • Main Topic

In reality, the format will look like this:

  •  1. Introduction to English Literature
    1.1. What is Literature?
    1.2. What is the history of English Literature?
  • 2. Introduction to Popular English Literature Books
    2.2. The Great Gatsby
    2.3. The Lord of the Rings
  • 3. Quiz 
  • 4. Conclusion       

As you can see, this is what your course syllabus will look like. We have 2 more outline examples below. You can take a look at that if you want to be more clear. 

  1. Required and Recommended Materials: If your course requires any materials then you need to mention this. For example, some instructors mention the need for a user to have a particular textbook to follow through the course.

  2. Assessment and Evaluation: Most courses have a quiz or assignment to assess the understanding of a course-taker. If your courses have an assignment, then mention how they will be evaluated. Include any details of your course assignments that you think your students need to know.

  3. Attendance and Participation Policies: If you have any attendance rules regarding your courses then you need to state this clearly. Some courses operate on a subscription form. This means that the course access will disappear after the subscription ends. 

  4. Student Support Resources: Some course instructors provide additional resources for further studying. You can list them in the outline to make your course stand out more. 

  5. Conclusion: Finally remember to conclude your course. Remind them to contact you if they need any help and share any link to your membership platform or social media link if they have any questions or are looking forward to buying future courses. Encourage the audience to leave positive feedback with full ratings. And don’t forget to thank your audience for completing the course.

Sample Module Outline of Training Program

Now that you know how to create an online course outline. You can have a look at the sample below on a course outline for an IELTS course. 

outline of training program

Remember that the above example can be included with more lessons and assignments. Course outlines can be longer with more sections and sub-sections. This is just a simple demonstration of a course outline for you to understand. 

But we have another example of a much deeper breakdown of the same course listed above. 

Another Sample Module Outline of a Training Program

Course Title: IELTS Academic Success: Mastering the Essentials
Duration: 10 Weeks

Audience: Upper-intermediate to advanced-level English learners preparing for university admission
Course Objective: To equip students with the necessary skills and strategies to excel in the IELTS Academic test, focusing on academic language proficiency, test-taking strategies, and understanding the specific requirements of each section of the test.

Week 1-2: Introduction and Academic Reading Skills

  • Session 1:
    • Course Introduction
    • Overview of the IELTS Academic Format
    • Introduction to the Academic Reading section
    • Strategies for different question types (e.g., true/false/not given, matching headings)
  • Session 2:
    • Advanced reading skills (critical reading, identifying arguments)
    • Practice with academic texts (journals, articles, reports)

Week 3-4: Academic Writing Skills

  • Session 3:
    • Introduction to the Academic Writing section
    • Understanding Task 1: Summarizing and describing graphical data
    • Academic vocabulary and formal writing style
  • Session 4:
    • Understanding Task 2: Essay writing for academic topics

Week 5-6: Listening Skills

  • Session 5:
    • Introduction to the Listening section
    • Listening strategies for academic lectures and conversations
    • Note-taking and summarizing spoken information

Week 7-8: Speaking Skills

  • Session 7:
    • Introduction to the Speaking section
    • Pronunciation and fluency exercises
  • Session 8:
    • Speaking on academic and abstract topics
    • Mock speaking test and personalized feedback

Week 9: Review and Exam Strategies

  • Session 9:
    • Full-length IELTS Academic practice test

Additional Components:

  • Access to online resources, sample tests, and academic articles


  • Regular quizzes and in-class activities for ongoing assessment
  • End-of-course simulated IELTS Academic exam

NOTE: This is how the core modules will look like for a real course. Yours does not have to be the same as the one made above. No 2-course module is the same. As long as your module arrangements make sense, both you and your audience will benefit from it. 

Tips on How to Create a Course Curriculum

You can stop here if your focus is only on how to create an online course outline.  

But if you are curious on what are the next steps after creating a course outline then this section will now show how to create a course curriculum.

It is now time to follow the steps below to create your actual course. Check the list below to follow along:

  • Fill in the Details of your Course Outline

After completing your course outline, start by creating the lessons based on your outline. You will need to thoroughly study and set the content of your course. Begin by expanding the outlined topics into detailed content by creating videos or conducting live sessions. Within your lessons, you can include links to other files for the students to read further such as e-books, notes that you have prepared separately, and so on. 

Also, do not forget to continuously keep in touch with your audience. You can do this if your course is already integrated with a membership platform. Staying in touch will allow you to update and improve your course. 

  • Set Course Duration

Time is short. A basic course such as one that includes theory may take around only 3 days. But a complex course, such as one that teaches you a new skill, will take around 2 months to complete. This estimation assumes that you work full-time on this course development.

Also, when creating course content, refer constantly to the summary you made for each module as described above. The summary will help you stay on track which will help you to complete the course.

  • Course Content Matters

If the course is too long, then remember to keep it engaging. Longer courses tend to lose viewers faster than shorter courses.

Have you ever completed a course on Google Analytics? You will see their courses are highly interactive with the learner. Of course, such courses are made using a whole team. The point is, that you need to keep your courses interesting even if it is a basic short course.

  • You can use Pre-recorded Videos

Most courses are pre-recorded videos with media formats such as images with videos. But remember to make good use of other media formats such as videos, blogs, images, diagrams, e-books, surveys, slides, and so on.

  • Theory-based Courses Are Different 

Theory-based courses are made quickly when using ready-made slides. We highly recommend using ready-made slides where editing is minimal. You can use Canva and Google Slides to make your slides and include them in your videos.

  • Get Help Where Needed

You can also get help to edit your videos-it will help speed up your progress. Video-based courses tend to take a long time to edit especially if it is a masterclass course for advanced users.

If you are using BuddyBoss to manage your course resources such as mobile apps and tools to manage your membership community then you can always check out the Youtube channel for more help.

  • Include Tests to Test Your Learner’s Understanding 

Do not forget to test your users who are using your courses. Of course, you do not want to make it too tough. These tests will give you an understanding of how attentive a user was to your course. You can also have exercises but please do not forget to include the answers to these exercises! You do not want your students to be skipping your courses!

After a few lessons, remember to include quizzes to test your learner’s understanding. Make sure these quizzes align with your course objectives. 

  • Check and Cross-Check

Lastly, you want to review and test your course constantly before publishing the course. You can get someone else to take a look at your course for a more thorough check-up. Please remember that when thinking about how to create an online course outline you need to update your course and notify your audience so students will get an impression of your staying up-to-date. 

How Successful Can I Be With a Course?

Not much needs to be explained about how successful you can be by selling courses. Many today mentor people by selling their courses. Have a look at the image below of more than 30 users of the BuddyBoss platform to create courses. If you would like to know how they each found their success with BuddyBoss, then click the link to find out more!

I have taught many users on my YouTube channel how to create a WordPress site. However, I got my best results by having a course site because it eliminated competition from other course creators. It also allowed me to better organize my courses and learners.

But by using the BuddyBoss platform you also get a mobile app developed for you to list your courses and manage your learners who are on your platform. 

FAQ on How to Create an Online Course Outline

  1. Is it ok to teach a course live?

You can do live session courses with your audience. There is no hard rule for having only pre-recorded videos as part of your course. You can charge more if you coach your audience in real-time. Just make sure you plan and practice ahead before you go live with your learning session. 

  1. Are there any other ways to make money with courses?

You can also create hybrid courses. Here, you combine the use of pre-recorded lessons along with real-time meetings with your audience. For this to work, you will need to enroll your audience at a specific date and then close the enrollment. Then, you start working only with the audience who enrolled in your course.

  1. How can I stay in the course creation business?

For you to stay in business, you need to keep your audience engaged even after they have completed your course. One way is to create more courses. Another way is to have your own membership community which you can constantly use by sharing your blogs and status with your group members.

This is a great way to eventually share your courses and possibly with a discount so that you can maximize your sales.

  1. How can I keep my audience engaged after they complete my course?

You can also keep your users engaged on your course site by publishing e-books, and podcasts and even sharing some slides from your course. These types of content can be shared only with your premium members who have bought your course.

Pay special attention to your courses, if your audience benefits from your course, they will move to try other courses on your course site.

You will likely be using slides. So use one that has good designs so that you can make your explanations stand out better. Again, check Canva and Google Slides to find ready-made slides.

  1. How can I make my courses more interesting?

If you think your courses need to be more lively, then try including a separate module where you are analyzing a debatable topic. You can make this stand out by using a proper heading for such a video.

For example, for a programming course, you can include a video where you are discussing whether or not a beginner needs to be good with math. This is a popular discussion in the coding community. So for your videos, try to include topics that need a discussion.

There are other ways to make your courses lively. Such as, by using quotes, sharing client success with those who used your course, light-hearted jokes and even sharing your own experience. It is really up to you how you want to make your course engaging.

Lastly, do not forget to share your profile as an instructor, such as your academic education, contact details, and any certification you have that is relevant to your instructor profile.

Final Thoughts

A well-prepared course outline reflects professionalism in teaching and can be a requirement for accreditation processes. It demonstrates that the course is well-thought-out and meets educational standards.

For students, a course outline aids in long-term academic planning. They can see how the course fits into their overall program of study and how it will help them achieve their academic and career goals.

It is extremely rewarding as an instructor to watch your learners complete your courses and do wonders. You will know this when your audience leaves a positive impression in the rating and comments section of your course. 

If you are looking to start your course site and your membership platform to interact with your audience then do follow the link and start your course outline as described above. 

To conclude, do share your thoughts on how to create an online course outline. How would you create an outline of a training program? Would you plan it all with a pen and paper? Or would you start drafting it all on an online document file such as Google Docs? Do let us know in the comments and don’t forget to check the link if you are looking to jumpstart your online course with a ready-made online course website to begin your course right away.

Author Arshadina Najib I am a WordPress enthusiast who creates Technical Content for WordPress users. If you ever need help starting your own course site or your own membership community, feel free to check out my content at BuddyBoss where we help influencers and experts start their own courses.
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