Wondering how to create profitable online courses? Selling and maintaining a successful e-learning course requires student retention. You can attract and retain high-quality, happy students through delivering helpful content, engaging students in an interesting and captivating way, and providing superior services (like customer service!).
When creating an e-learning course that retains customers, you’re up against one major roadblock: students’ attention spans.
In the world of 280 character tweets and 60 second TikTok videos, attention spans are anything but long… and fighting for and maintaining consumers' attention is harder than ever.
That’s why the length of your e-learning course is crucial to the overall success of your business venture. So, how long should an e-learning course be? Well, let’s take a look.
How Long Should an e-Learning Course Be?
When it comes to determining the best length for your online course, experts don’t agree on a time frame. Some claim the shorter the better (like 5 minutes!); others don’t mind longer course lengths — as long as they don’t exceed an hour and a half.
Now that’s confusing…
At the end of the day, the ideal length of time for your course will be personal to your industry and audience. There’s no perfect one-size-fits all approach to creating course content.
Your e-learning video course should be as long as needed to effectively communicate your information but short enough to avoid “filler” or “fluff.”
Consider these figures:
- TV sitcoms range from 20 to 40 minutes in length.
- 7 to 15 minute videos, in general, perform best on Youtube. You’ll see many popular Youtubers producing 10-minute videos.
- According to Buzzsprout, the average podcast ranges from 20 to 40 minutes.
These are the average lengths of time across some of the most popular mediums for video/audio content.
That’s why they’re helpful to keep in mind when creating a course. Even if you’re teaching students a more in-depth topic that requires a longer course, you’ll likely want to block content into short time frames, like 15 to 20 minute videos, for example.
However, keeping your content short and sweet can be easier said than done. It’s easy, especially when you don’t have a firm plan or outline, to take up more time than needed to effectively communicate a point. That’s where storyboarding comes in.
How to Storyboard an e-Learning Course for Ideal Length
In order to stay on track and create the highest quality, most effective e-learning course possible, we recommend using a tool called “storyboarding.”
Storyboarding is the process of creating a visual sequence of your narrative. Imagine writing each key point of your course down on a notecard and then arranging them on your desk in the most logical, cohesive order. That’s storyboarding! Now, you can create a digital storyboard using Word, Powerpoint, or other programs.
This process helps eliminate rambling and is a helpful tool for estimating e-learning course length. To make the most effective storyboard, follow these simple steps:
1. Understand Your Audience
Knowing your audience, including their education level, basic understanding of the topic you’re teaching, preferred learning style, and current related skills, will greatly increase the likelihood of creating an impactful course with high student retention.
To learn more about your target audience, you can conduct surveys, focus groups, and individual interviews to gather as accurate information as possible.
2. Solidify Goals and Objectives
Knowing what you want your students to achieve with your e-learning course will shape the direction you take your content. Create one primary goal for your course and other secondary learning objectives.
When you begin the storyboarding process, you’ll want to ensure all of your content relates back to these goals you’ve laid out.
3. Create Content and Put It in a Logical Sequence
Once you’ve solidified your primary goal and secondary objectives, it’s time to start creating your content topics! For each objective, create key talking points you want to cover. When you’re first working on these bullet points, don’t worry about putting them in logical order. You can do that after!
Once you’ve finished noting key talking points, you’ll want to organize your topics in order from broad to specific, least complicated to most complicated. By creating a clear, logical path for your students to follow, you’ll eliminate confusion and increase your chances of retaining happy customers.
4. Add Engaging Elements
To captivate your audience’s attention, add engaging elements. Use transitions, images, animations, assessments, and video to keep your audience focused on your presentation. Let’s face it: focusing on simple text for 90 minutes is a lot harder than focusing on a video or presentation with dynamic content.
Other Tips to Keep in Mind When Considering Your eLearning Course Length
Storyboarding can act as an effective tool to create an online course that is long enough to deliver the necessary content but short enough to avoid an excess of unnecessary or unhelpful information. However, while a storyboard serves as a good foundation for determining the length of your content, there are other helpful tips to keep in mind as well:
- If needed, create a script! Know yourself. If you could talk for hours about your course topic without pausing to take a breath, it may be helpful if you lay out exactly what you’re going to say.
- When in doubt, ask your audience. If you’re creating a course for your pre-existing audience, the best thing you can do before you start building a course is to ask your potential buyers what they’d like to see and how they’d enjoy completing your course.
- Don’t overthink it! Focus on creating quality content — not a certain length of content. If you focus on quality, you’re more likely to deliver a product your students will rave about.
Customer retention is a complex and multifaceted concern, but it starts with delivering a superior course. To make the most effective e-learning course possible, you’ll have to consider your content, layout, and length.
Though there is no one-size-fits-all approach to timing your course, considering statistics for TV, podcasts, Youtube, and more can give you insight into consumer attention spans. At the end of the day, you’ll want to also identify and glean insights into your own target audience most of all.