15 May Creating a Course is like Writing a Book
Creating a Course is like Writing a Book
Blog post by Janine L Phillips
15th May, 2023
Once upon a time….
I started my career in learning and development over ten years ago whilst seeking work that gave me more than just money. I craved inspiration. I craved a challenge. I wanted to be creative. And, I wanted to make a difference. Yes, it was a big call but after an intense General Management role I knew I needed to make a change. I was unwell, overweight, unsatisfied and in desperate need for less stress in my life.
My journey to be a learning designer was not linear. It was more like a roller-coaster and whilst that sounds fun, there were times when I wasn’t sure I made the right choice. I started as a teacher in the Vocational Education and Training (VET) sector teaching up to Diploma level in frontline management. You really put yourself out there when you stand in front of a class. Whilst I had no fear of public speaking, I was pretty green as a trainer so I had to learn a lot on-the-job. Eventually I found a rhythm and I enjoyed facilitating. It really felt good helping students grow and shift their mindsets.
From facilitation to course creation
After a few years, I was frustrated by the low-quality teaching resources available in the VET sector. I wanted more dynamic content. I started experimenting with ways of learning through games, activities and deeper conversations. As I evolved into learning design, I started to market myself to the corporate world as it’s a great place to earn-while-you-learn.
I loved creating courses. I thrived on finding fun ways to bring a concept to life. It’s called experiential learning: learning through doing. I’d found a new calling.
Delivering learning and creating courses always has a storytelling component. It’s a great opportunity to make learning ‘sticky’ and memorable.
Writing a course also needs to have memorable moments, high and lows, conflicts and breakthroughs.
I recently finished writing my first book; a memoir. Writing a book is a marathon. On a daily basis, you have to keep motivated. You face your fear of failure more often than not. You question your writing skills and worry you are not good enough. That said, any author will tell you I’m sure, it is also a rewarding experience. It is storytelling bliss.
While creating a course is on a smaller scale (and probably with really tight deadline) to me, it’s just another way to tell a story.
- There’s a beginning – the WHAT and WHY. This sets the framework of what you are teaching and why it’s important/interesting to know this subject.
- There’s the middle – The HOW, WHEN, WHO, ETC. This gets the participants into the details of the how and digs a little deeper into the detail.
- There’s the end – the CONCLUSION. The what’s in it for me (WIIFM), next steps and further learning opportunities.
I find the best facilitators are great storytellers. I find the best learning designers are great visual storytellers. I have had a lot of feedback over my life and one of the best was this. “Janine, you are an entertaining storyteller. Keep that up!” And, I have.
Set clear mico-goals! Whether writing a story or creating a course set yourself up for success with clear goals every week. I never miss a writing appointment I have set for myself – otherwise it won’t get done.
Challenge yourself! Any sort of writing is a work out for your whole self. Don’t over think it. Just write it all out and see what happens. Caution: I suggest don’t edit along the journey. Keep all your versions and edit later.
Love what you’re doing! Because there will be ups and downs but trust me, it will be worth it.
Janine recently launched her first book, a memoir: Wanderlust and Misadventures, inspired by an ill-fated European holiday Janine took just before COVID struck. Expecting to travel for months on the trip-of-a-lifetime, Janine packed up her life in Melbourne and bought a one-way ticket North. Instead, her trip was cut short after she came down with COVID in an igloo in Lapland. Instead of writing blog posts about her exciting holiday, Janine was now taking notes capturing her experiences and fears. She was stuck for weeks abroad before managing to dodge international border closures and get back to Australia.
About the Author
Janine Phillips has been a storyteller in one form or another for most of her adult life: blogging as Miss Meaningful, writing a column for a local Melbourne magazine, and bringing workshops to life with stories in her professional role as a learning designer.
Janine spends her days creating courses, writing blogs, walking her adorable toy poodle Foxy, participating in cultural activities and visiting all the wonderful places Melbourne has to offer.