Ever wondered what makes some courses just ‘click’ while others fizzle out?

Think it’s all about fancy graphics or just dumping information?

Think again!

Imagine a course where every lesson sticks, where students don’t just learn, they transform.

Sound like a dream?

Well, it’s not magic; it’s science!

Yes, you heard that right – the secret sauce to creating killer courses lies in understanding how our brains tick.

Get ready to dive into the world of course creation, where we merge science with teaching, psychology with education.

Buckle up!

Principle #1: Explain in first principles

This principle focuses on the importance of breaking down complex ideas into simple and relatable concepts that students can easily understand and remember.

It’s common for experts to forget that not everyone speaks their “expert language,” which is known as the “curse of knowledge.” To overcome this challenge, you need to step out of their specialized minds and explain concepts in terms that anyone can grasp.

Albert Einstein once said, “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.”

This statement serves as our guiding mantra.

But how do we make concepts simple?

One effective approach is to link concepts to natural phenomena or everyday experiences. By doing so, these ideas become more digestible and relatable. For example, instead of explaining mathematical formulas as abstract numbers, we can present them as patterns observed in nature.

Teaching should also follow a gradual progression, similar to leveling up in a video game.

You need to start with simple concepts, students can gradually tackle more challenging material as they improve their skills. This approach creates a sense of discovery and makes the learning process feel like an exciting journey rather than a tedious task.

Principle #2: Linking learning to life: Survival and well-being

Let’s dive into another powerful course design principle: linking key concepts to your students’ survival and well-being.


Because we remember what matters to us on a primal level.

Let’s explore how this works.

Humans are wired to remember what keeps us alive and thriving. It’s our survival instinct. When you connect learning material to something as essential as survival or well-being, students are more likely to retain and value the information.

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is a fantastic tool here. It ranges from basic needs like food and shelter to higher-level needs like self-esteem and self-actualization.

Your job?

Align your course content with these needs.

Let us look for some examples on how you can do this in your courses:

  • Video editing courses: Explain how does mastering a particular editing style elevate a student’s status or career prospects? Explain how high-quality editing (like in 4K) can set them apart professionally, appealing to their esteem needs.
  • Digital training for teachers: Show how innovative presentation styles can make their lectures more engaging, thus enhancing their reputation and effectiveness in the classroom. This taps into their desire for professional esteem and respect.

By linking concepts to students’ intrinsic desires for growth and recognition, you make the learning process much more meaningful and memorable.

It’s about making every lesson resonate on a personal level.

Principle #3: Teach in chunks

Let’s talk about a super effective teaching method: breaking down your content into smaller, more digestible pieces. This approach not only makes learning more manageable but also more memorable.

Let’s break this down (pun intended!).

Ever felt overwhelmed by too much information at once?

That’s exactly what we want to avoid for our students. By dividing your course material into logical modules and short lessons, you make the learning process more approachable and less intimidating.

Remember, everyone’s brain works differently. What makes sense to you might not click the same way for someone else. That’s why it’s crucial not to impose a one-size-fits-all structure on your content.

Instead, present your ideas in a way that lets students build their own understanding.

What to include and what to skip?

  • The importance of relevance: Focus on what’s truly important and unique about your subject. If something is easily available, like basic information readily found on YouTube, perhaps it’s not necessary to rehash it in your course.
  • Memorable, not just informative: Aim to deliver content that not only informs but sticks in the mind. Use engaging examples, stories, and analogies that resonate on a personal level.

Think of your course as a journey where each step logically leads to the next.

This logical progression helps students build a cohesive understanding of the topic, making the learning process feel natural and intuitive.

Principle #4: Facilitate active learning

This is about shifting from passive information absorption to engaging students in a way that fosters real understanding and transformation.

Let’s see how we can make this happen.

Think about the last time you really learned something.

Was it when you passively listened to a lecture, or when you actively engaged in an experiment or project?

Chances are, it’s the latter.

Active learning involves ‘doing’ – it’s about engaging with the material, not just hearing or reading it.

You need to facilitate Project-based learning.

Your course is not just about acquiring knowledge; it’s about transforming that knowledge into practical skills.

This method ensures that learning is not just memorized but internalized and applied.

It leads to transformations, and the number of transformations you can facilitate among your students truly determines the growth and success of your course.

You see, the transformations or success stories that you receive from your students is a key performance indicator of your course.

Methods to encourage active participation:

  • Quizzes and action steps: Incorporating quizzes and practical action steps enhances active learning by encouraging students to apply what they’ve learned and engage with the course material on a deeper level.
  • Building a learning community: Creating a sense of community among students reduces friction associated with implementing new knowledge. When learners feel part of a group, they’re more motivated to actively participate and hold each other accountable.
  • The role of accountability partners: Pairing students as accountability partners reinforces active learning by creating a sense of responsibility and commitment not only to their own learning but also to their partner’s progress.

Principle #5: Reinforce learnings to students

And here we are at the final, yet crucial part of crafting an effective course: reinforcement.

It’s not just about what students learn; it’s about ensuring they remember and apply it.

Let’s explore how to make your teaching stick.

Understanding spaced repetition

Have you ever noticed how quickly we forget things we don’t repeatedly engage with?

That’s where spaced repetition comes into play.

It’s a technique that involves revisiting key concepts at increasing intervals, effectively fighting the natural tendency to forget.

The key to effective spaced repetition is not just reminding students of what they learned but doing so in a way that’s engaging and adds value each time.

Whether it’s through interactive quizzes, practical assignments, or collaborative projects, make each repetition an opportunity for deeper understanding and application.

Practical ways to reinforce learning

  • Use lesson outlines and reminders: An effective way to implement this is by providing lesson summaries or outlines under each video. This allows students to quickly refresh their memory without rewatching the entire lesson. Pair this with scheduled email reminders to revisit the material, and you’ve got a solid reinforcement strategy.
  • Create engaging learning aids: Think about crafting illustrations, charts, or handouts that are not just informative but visually appealing. These materials can serve as quick references for students to reinforce what they’ve learned.
  • Leverage community and accountability: Don’t underestimate the power of a learning community. Encourage students to discuss, quiz each other, and hold each other accountable for revisiting and applying the course material. This communal reinforcement can significantly enhance the learning experience.

Wrapping up

What sets these principles apart is their foundation in well-established scientific theories and psychological understanding.

As course creators, our goal is not just to disseminate information but to facilitate a transformative learning experience.

By employing these scientifically-backed strategies, we’re not just teaching; we’re sculpting a learning journey that is both effective and deeply resonant with our students’ natural ways of processing and retaining information.

As we conclude, remember that the art of teaching is continually evolving.

Staying informed about educational research and understanding human psychology is crucial in refining our methods and making a lasting impact on our students’ lives.