The 5Ws of Course Creation

December 21, 2021
A sign that reads "Come In We're Open."

Building a brand new online course can be overwhelming, especially for a first-time course creator. To achieve the right mindset for content creation, here are 5 questions we always ask ourselves here at SkillSuite before we begin building any course. The best part is that you already know these question. The 5Ws are the most basic questions that can be ask to understand nearly any subject.

Who, What, When, Where, and Why.

These question apply directly to understanding your audience, your course content, the direction of your content and copy, and why someone should take your course in the first place. By answering each of these questions, you will be ready to build an engaging online course.


A woman works on a laptop.

Who is this course intended for? What does this person do? What do they need from of this course, and how will it help them accomplish in their career and personal life goals?

"Who" is the question that encompasses your audience. The more you understand who you are making your course for, the more you can customize the content to fit your students wants and needs.


Three delicious cupcakes.

What is this course about? What are the course topics you will cover, and what kind of learning will be implemented? What strategies, technologies, methods, and theories will the student learn?

"What" focuses on the problem that is being solved. Once you understand the needs of your audience, you can can frame your content to solve that problem specifically. "What" simply asks what they will learn.


A person cracks an egg.

When should a person take this course? How advanced is this course? Is this an introductory, beginner, intermediate, or advanced course? Is this a seasonal course or training? Is this a time sensitive subject? How often should your student review this course?

"When" simply states when a student is ready to take this course. This answer is up to you and the experience you choose to teach to. If you determine that your audience is beginner, than your content should reflect that. If you want to teach to a more advanced audience, you should communicate that in your course description and frame your content to reflect that proficiency level.


A bakery shop counter.

Where is the student before they began taking this course, and where will they be after they finish taking this course? How much will your student grow? What will the student achieve, and where will it allow them to go? What is the future of the student?

"Where" might be framed in two parts. The position a student should be in to begin the course, and where the student will be by the end of the course. This framework allows you to decide how long your course should be, how many subjects you choose to cover, and how much work you believe a student should accomplish before completing the course. This is also a perfect question to ask if your course covers enough information to develop a certification of completion, and what a student should be able to prove to achieve that level of accomplishment.


A sign that reads "Come In We're Open."

Why are your students taking this course? Why are you teaching this course? How does this course serve you both? Why is this course being implemented and what do you hope to accomplish with it? What is the overall reason for this course?

"Why" simply appeals to the emotional state of the student and the expression of what they want. Likewise, "why" also allows us to ask what our own goals are in teaching this course. Up until now, we have been able to establish the what the student needs. "Why" allows us to define what the student wants. Doing so will allow you to communicate on a level of mutual understanding that will help your students get excited to take this course.

As you answer each of these questions, you will gain a clearer picture of what your course will become.

Sign up for SkillSuite and begin building your course today!