The Three “Hats” Smart Course Creators Wear

It seems like everyone and their dog wants to create an online course these days.

And you can understand why. The idea of packaging your knowledge into a sellable product is enticing. Instead of always exchanging your time for money, you can start building assets that work for you round the clock.

In reality though creating an online course, even a small one, is tough. When you look at the different skills required to produce a high-quality course, it looks more like a job for a team than an individual.

That said, if you are building a course on your own, you’ll get a better result if you can learn to switch perspectives from time to time. That way you’ll avoid the tunnel vision that can lead to a mediocre or even fundamentally flawed course.

That’s why smart course creators wear a variety of different “hats” to keep their course on track. Let’s take a look at each one.

Hat #1: The Visionary

The Visionary is the person who has the idea to create an online course in the first place.

It’s their job to choose the target audience and decide what problem the course will solve for that audience. Ideally, they’ll know the audience inside and out.

If you’re reading this article, there’s a good chance the Visionary is you.

That means you’re responsible for making sure there’s a market for your course. Because it doesn’t matter how good your course is if nobody wants to buy it.

In fact, many course creators make this basic mistake. They go ahead and start building the course they think people need instead of the course that people want. Then they emerge from months of course development only to discover nobody cares about what they made.

That’s why the Visionary hat is the first one to put on if you’re thinking of creating an online course.

Questions to Ask While Wearing the Visionary Hat

  • Who precisely is this course for?
  • What problems are they facing and which are they willing to pay to solve?
  • What specific transformation will be appealing to this group?
  • How will this course be different to other ways to solve this problem?

Visionary’s #1 Priority

With the Visionary hat on your top priority is creating a course that people want.

Hat #2: The Architect

The architect is responsible for designing an online course that brings the vision to life.

Looking at it another way, the Visionary decides what problems to solve (and who to solve them for) and the Architect decides how to solve them, drawing on the Visionary’s knowledge and experience as required.

These contrasting perspectives will help you build a better course. The Architect hat helps you ground the vision in reality and sometimes this might cause the vision to be scaled back or the scope reduced.

When a course is well-architected, students who complete the course have a great chance of getting the promised results.

Note: The Architect’s hat is the one that can most easily be handed over to someone else. Getting an experienced course architect to help you distill and organise your knowledge can be very effective and also give you a valuable external perspective.

Questions To Ask While Wearing The Architect Hat

  • What are the major milestones on the student’s journey to success?
  • What do students need to understand, believe and do to reach their goal?
  • What’s the logical order to present this information?
  • What’s the minimum required to achieve this transformation?
  • How can this material be broken up into manageable chunks?

The Architect’s #1 Priority

With the Architect hat on, your top priority is creating a course that gets results.

Hat #3: The Teacher

The Teacher, unsurprisingly, is the person who delivers the course material to students within the blueprint created by the Architect.

They design the lessons and create other materials such as resources and assignments. They narrate the lessons and present any “talking head” videos. If there’s a live element, such as Q&A calls or workshops, the Teacher will very likely be front and centre.

For students, the Teacher is the familiar face who guides students through the material. For larger courses, different teachers may take on different parts of the course but in most cases it’s the same person for the whole course.

Either way, it’s the Teacher’s job to ensure that the student experience is as positive as possible. Without a great experience, students will lose momentum and eventually stall, which is a problem for them and for you.

Questions To Ask While Wearing The Teacher Hat

  • Is this the best way to explain this concept?
  • What examples would help illustrate this idea?
  • What exercises will help the student build the skills they need?
  • How could I make this more engaging or entertaining?
  • What misconceptions or doubts might students have that I need to address?

The Teacher’s #1 Priority

With the Teacher hat on, your top priority is creating a course that students complete.

Ready to Try These Hats on for Size?

Creating an effective course is challenging, particularly if you’re doing everything yourself.

One way to insure against the risk of a blinkered view is to consciously switch perspectives from time to time.

The Visionary hat will save you from building a course that nobody wants.

The Architect hat will save you from building a course that doesn’t work.

And the Teacher hat will save you from building a course that nobody finishes.

Some hats will feel more comfortable than others. But lean into those that feel unfamiliar – they’re where you’ll find your biggest wins.

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