• University of Edinburgh

How to Create an Online Course

Discover key skills and practical tools to create engaging online learning experiences.

4,418 enrolled on this course

How to Create an Online Course

Learn how to design and develop online learning materials.

Digital education is expanding faster than ever before, and learning online has become an essential part of how we teach and learn.

On this two-week course, you’ll learn how to create online learning materials that are open, accessible, and engaging.

You will complete practical activities to explore key topics such as target audience, writing style and narrative, active learning, and digital tools.

You’ll be equipped to create targeted, interactive, and inclusive content to thrive in the eLearning sector. The knowledge and skills you develop will enable you to confidently begin your own course design process.

Download video: standard

Skip to 0 minutes and 3 seconds Discover how to create an online course with experts from the University of Edinburgh’s online learning team. With a portfolio of more than 80 courses and almost four million learners globally, we share knowledge, guidance, and top tips to support you in creating your own online course. You’ll learn how to identify target audience, use narrative, and create active learning opportunities, as well as how to make your content engaging, open, and accessible, and use digital tools to enhance your learning materials. Whatever your role or knowledge in the field of digital education, this course will give you the practical tools and key building blocks to design interactive, inclusive, and enjoyable online learning experiences.

Skip to 0 minutes and 44 seconds Enrol today on ‘How to Create an Online Course’ from the University of Edinburgh.

What topics will you cover?

Understanding Your Learners - Discover what a persona is, what the characteristics of a typical online learner are and the differences between them. Identify how to create content that is targeted to your learner audience.

The Power of Active Learning and Narrative - Learn the differences between passive and active learning types, and examine storytelling techniques like narrative and readability.

How to Make Content Engaging - Explore ways to create content that is engaging to online learners. Practise techniques for producing materials that are bitesize, open and accessible.

Your Digital Toolbox - Find out how to use digital tools and media to enhance your learning materials, and explore useful resources for creating an online course.

When would you like to start?

Start straight away and learn at your own pace. If the course hasn’t started yet you’ll see the future date listed below.

  • Available now

Learning on this course

You can take this self-guided course and learn at your own pace. On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Create personas to gain a clear understanding of target audiences for short online courses.
  • Describe the value of active learning and narrative in digital education, and write concise content using appropriate language and tone.
  • Identify suitable formats for creating engaging online materials in line with accessibility and open licensing guidance.
  • Evaluate a range of current digital education tools and explain some of their benefits and limitations.

Who is the course for?

The course is designed for subject matter experts who want to create a short online course.

This is an introductory course to help you develop the key skills to produce engaging online learning materials.

Who will you learn with?

Lizzy is an Instructional Designer at the University of Edinburgh. She has a passion for promotion of active learning, creative approaches to teaching, and media production for online education.

Andrés is an Instructional Designer at the University of Edinburgh working on both short online courses and micro credential programmes. He has been working at the University since 2018.

Marcello is an Instructional Designer at the University of Edinburgh. He has an extensive background in both Further and Higher Education.

Jess is Learning Technology Team Manager for the University of Edinburgh's Instructional Designers and has worked in Higher Ed since 2008. She is passionate about making education accessible to all.

Stuart leads the Educational Design and Engagement section at the University of Edinburgh. He has been a learning technologist for over 20 years, and has a masters degree in digital education.

Who developed the course?

The University of Edinburgh

Founded in 1583, the University of Edinburgh is one of the world’s top universities and is globally recognised for research, innovation and high-quality teaching.

Join this course

Start this course for free, upgrade for extra benefits, or buy Unlimited to access this course and hundreds of other short courses for a year.



Join free and you will get:

  • Access to this course for 4 weeks



Upgrade this course and you will get:

  • Access to this course for as long as it’s on FutureLearn
  • A print and digital Certificate of Achievement once you’re eligible


$189.99 for one year

Buy Unlimited and you will get:

  • Access to this course, and hundreds of other FutureLearn short courses and tests for a year
  • A printable digital Certificate of Achievement on all short courses once you’re eligible
  • The freedom to keep access to any course you've achieved a digital Certificate of Achievement on, for as long as the course exists on FutureLearn
  • The flexibility to complete your choice of short courses in your own time within the year

Find out more about upgrades or Unlimited.

Available until 22 November 2021 at 23:59 (UTC). T&Cs apply.

Learning on FutureLearn

Your learning, your rules

  • Courses are split into weeks, activities, and steps, but you can complete them as quickly or slowly as you like
  • Learn through a mix of bite-sized videos, long- and short-form articles, audio, and practical activities
  • Stay motivated by using the Progress page to keep track of your step completion and assessment scores

Join a global classroom

  • Experience the power of social learning, and get inspired by an international network of learners
  • Share ideas with your peers and course educators on every step of the course
  • Join the conversation by reading, @ing, liking, bookmarking, and replying to comments from others

Map your progress

  • As you work through the course, use notifications and the Progress page to guide your learning
  • Whenever you’re ready, mark each step as complete, you’re in control
  • Complete 90% of course steps and all of the assessments to earn your certificate

Want to know more about learning on FutureLearn? Using FutureLearn

Learner reviews

Learner reviews cannot be loaded due to your cookie settings. Please and refresh the page to view this content.

Get a taste of this course

Find out what this course is like by previewing some of the course steps before you join:

Do you know someone who'd love this course? Tell them about it...