You’ve got your course outline done. You’ve recorded your video. Maybe you’ve even started setting up your course in Kajabi, Kartra, Clickfunnels, Teachable, or one of the other online course delivery platforms. You’re on your way!
Until one question stops you in your tracks. Are you going to drip your content to your students, or give it to them all at once?
When you drip your content out, you release it on a predetermined schedule or once a student meets certain criteria. For example, you might release one module per week, or require a student to complete Module A before Module B is accessible.
If you don’t drip your content, then you just release it all at once. In this situation, the student has access to all content immediately, so they can jump around in the content and not follow a specific order.
There are pros and cons to both methods, and what’s right for you really depends on your content, your audience, and your preference.
Here are some questions you can ask yourself to help determine the best method for your course:
- What’s the nature of your course content?
Do the modules build on each other? Is it imperative that the student follows the syllabus exactly? Would skipping around negatively impact their understanding of the subject? For example, if you had an online phlebotomy course, you wouldn’t want a student sticking a needle in someone’s vein without ensuring that they knew how to properly apply a tourniquet – that could cause some serious problems. So you might want to drip that content and ensure that the student completed the tourniquet module before moving on.
- Who is your audience, and how do they want (or need) to experience your content?
Is your audience the type that will want to make sure they’re getting their money’s worth, so they’ll want to see that all the content is available now? Are they brand-new to your topic and feeling a lot of apprehension? Would they be easily overwhelmed by all the content in the course? Would they feel better taking it step-by-step?
For example, let’s say your course helps business owners set up their bookkeeping practices. You may want to ensure that they understand the basic principles before diving into QuickBooks Online, so you might drip that content to ensure that everyone is on the same page before you start teaching QBO.
- How much control do you want over the student’s experience?
Do you want to have weekly discussion threads or Facebook Lives about that week’s course module? Do you anticipate that your students will have a lot of questions on the content, so it would benefit everyone if they were all on the same module at the same time? Are you planning special guests that coincide with certain weeks?
Let’s say you have an evergreen course, one that students can join at any time. You may have a Facebook community to support them, but since they have all come into your course at different times, nobody will be on the same module at the same time. Releasing the course content immediate makes the most sense here.
***Note: That doesn’t mean that you can’t talk about specific topics or course modules in your Facebook lives in the group, though! That interaction and facetime with you are important to your students, especially in an evergreen course!
One way I’ve found to bridge the gap between dripping your content and releasing it all is to do the following:
- When the course opens, make all the content available. Don’t drip through the platform.
- Explain to the students that each week, you’ll be sending them an email that relates to that week’s module. Then let them know that while they can “work ahead,” they will want to pay attention to the course syllabus or agenda so they don’t miss anything important for each module.
- On the same day each week (I’d recommend Monday unless you have a compelling reason for another day), send your students that email. It’ll have additional content, videos, questions, links to special events in the FB group,etc…whatever makes sense to beef up that particular module’s content.
- You could even do a live Q&A later in the week after everyone has had time to complete the course module. Set the expectation that the questions should be focused on that module’s content (you could even ask for questions ahead of time and publish a partial list in the Facebook group on Thursday). That way, if a student feels like they need more understanding of that module, they can participate live or even submit a question, but if they’ve got it down, they don’t have to attend the live Q&A and watch the replay.
In my experience, this email solution is the best of all possible worlds – it guides those who want the guidance but doesn’t inhibit those who want all the access immediately.
But what if your course modules don’t really build on each other? What if your content is more topic-based than a traditional curriculum?
In this case, dripping the content probably doesn’t make a lot of sense. You want the student to be able to access the material they need when they need it, and you can’t anticipate that.
In this case, consider offering “tracks” or levels within the course to guide the student around the content.
For example, let’s say you teach people how to use social media for their small businesses. If you have massive amounts of content, they may freeze and not know what to do first. So tell them! Have a Start Here page that gives them the most important modules or videos to watch first (and in what order, if necessary). Your brand-new business owner may not need to understand Facebook ad strategy yet, so direct him to the Facebook Basics module first. On the other hand, you may have more advanced students who are only interested in Facebook ads content, so make sure that content is organized in a way that makes it very clear where the content is and the order in which to consume the content.
Dripping your course content can be a great way to guide your students through your course content, giving you a higher-touch experience with them and preventing them from feeling overwhelmed or lost.
But if dripping the content itself doesn’t make sense for your course or audience, then at least consider a timed email sequence that will guide and support them as they navigate your course material.