How To Organize eCourse Lectures Into 6 Parts

The most crucial part of your online course is your lectures. Make sure that they are well structured and organized!

I'm going to make it super simple.

If writing essays in school was not your favorite pastime (like it was for me #nerd) then I'll give you an easy strategy that I use to outline my course lectures.

Part 1: Introduction

We all know what this is... and I'm sure you can guess Part 6 now too!

Here are some ideas for what to throw into your introduction:

  • Short history of the topic

  • Anecdote or personal story that relates your experience to the topic

  • The importance or significance of the topic

  • Quick summary of the topic if it can be summed up into 1-2 sentences

I love giving examples for illustration, so here we go! The example we'll use is an online course about "Artisan Coffee 101." The course will be made up of many different lectures, so let's say the specific lecture we're focusing on is about "Making Latte Art" (which I know nothing about, but I can still use it as an example). My introduction to the lesson could be a short history on latte art, where it comes from and who were the OGs of latte art design. My introduction could also or instead feature a short story about my own personal experience with latte art, why or how I started doing it. Or lastly, a significance / quick summary would be something like, "Latte art is a fun way to take your artisan coffee to the next level. All you need to create latte art is: perfectly thick and foamy milk, an understanding of the basic design patterns, and lots of practice. In this lecture, I will tell you how exactly to achieve each of those things."

The introduction should take up 1 or 2 slides max. Don't linger too long in your introduction because your students are probably eager to get to the meat of the lecture.

Part 2: Sub-Topic

After your introduction, you should have a smooth transition into a sub-topic. Your sub-topic is basically a topic within a topic to break down your teaching material. The sample lecture topic is "Making Latte Art," so the sample sub-topics would be "How to Create Perfectly Thick and Foamy Milk," "Understanding the Basic Design Patterns," "Tips for Practicing Your Latte Art Skills." Each sub-topic will be broken down even further.

Part 3: Discussion Points

The name of the each discussion point will be the header on its corresponding slide(s). Each discussion point should take up 1-3 slides max, as needed, until all of the information has been presented. You can change the layout of your slides while keeping the discussion point header the same to keep the lecture visually interesting while teaching the same discussion point.

Here are some discussion points that would be relevant in our sample sub-topic #1:

  • Machinery Needed for Milk Frothing

  • Preparing Your Milk

  • How to Froth Milk (4 steps)

  • Tips for Frothing Non-Dairy Milks

Part 4: Bullet Points

This part is exactly what it's called: the actual bullets on your slide. Each discussion point can be broken down into several bullets. Don't put too many bullets on a single slide, instead just continue on another slide. Sometimes the bullets will be substituted for a list of numbered steps.

Here are some bullet points that would be relevant in our sample discussion point #1:

Machinery Needed for Milk Frothing

  • Nespresso Milk Frother

  • IKEA Milk Frothers

  • Handheld Milk Frother

Part 5: Commentary

This part can be written or unwritten and just spoken. After each bullet point, you will want to provide some more information. If you choose to write it out, then it will be shown in an indented bullet or dash, and if not it can just be spoken in the voiceover to add commentary to the details or steps. Continuing with our example:

  • Nespresso Milk Frother

  • - Pros: Best quality

  • - Cons: Expensive and takes up lots of counter space

  • IKEA Milk Frothers

  • - Pros: Affordable and smaller appliance

  • - Cons: Lower quality and not made to last

  • Handheld Milk Frother

  • - Pros: Cheap and portable for on-the-go

  • - Cons: Poor quality and takes a longer time to froth milk

Part 6: Conclusion

Again, we all know what a conclusion is. Here are some elements to put in your conclusion to finish off the lecture strong.

  • Short summary of the topic

  • Next step suggestions or call to action

  • The ways that this topic transitions into the next topic

A short summary for our sample lecture might be, "We've discussed the most important element of latte art which is how to get the best, thickest, frothiest milk, I've showed you how to create the basic latte art designs, and I've given you tips to use when practicing your latte art." The next step suggestion or call to action would be, "Now all that's left to do is to go out there and practice your latte art! Perfect your craft in private and then impress your friends and family with beautiful hearts and leaf designs in their lattes." And a transition to the next topic could be something like, "For those of you that appreciated the tips for using vegan milk, you'll probably love the next lecture which is all about Using Sustainable Coffee and making sure that your coffee is sourced in a way that is good for the environment."

I hope you enjoyed my tips for organizing your lectures into 6 parts! The next steps would be plugging these bullets into your slides and then recording the lecture. There you'd have an easy module (which I wrote in about 10 minutes).