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Unlike traditional academic settings, where students often use the same standardized text year after year, the ever-changing world of digital learning means online students will quickly become disengaged from courses they see as outdated or irrelevant.

As such, students have high expectations of the timeliness, practicality, and relevance of their eLearning courses, which (in theory) can be updated in real-time. This means course creators and instructional designers must continually curate the content and delivery of their training and courses from year to year and even semester to semester, to ensure they’re meeting the current needs and tastes of their students, employees, or customers.

Educational Content Must Adapt to Real World Situations

Regardless of your course’s focus – from accounting to health and safety or chemistry to marketing – the real-world environment related to those subjects is continually changing. New techniques emerge, better processes are discovered, and technology evolves. As a result, in order to keep your course relevant, instructional designers must change their content to keep up with current trends, references, and best practices.

Content Must Match Curriculum

Often, those who set the curriculum (college boards, governing bodies, boards of directors, senior corporate executives) may mandate certain changes to the curriculum — especially if legal or scientific changes to the field affect the lessons. Unless course content is reviewed periodically (either annually or after each course session) and appropriate changes are introduced, the content may easily fall out of compliance with the ‘then-current’ prescribed curriculum.

Content Must Engage and Challenge Students

Student aptitude evolves over time, not just as their individual experience grows but also as our collective cultural aptitude advances. (Consider the tech adoption curve, and how difficult it may have seemed to program a VCR in 1985 vs. how easily we operate phone-sized computers today.) As such, from classroom studies to professional-grade training, instructional designers must produce content that challenges and engages learners or their courses will soon become irrelevant. What may have seemed complex or challenging when a course was designed may now seem easy or obvious.

Some Lessons Need to Be Repeated… but Not Literally

Whether a student is taking a refresher course or annual compliance training, if someone repeating a course (or at least its core concepts) finds the same old “stale” content being delivered, he/she might “tune out” (or drop out) completely.

Stop Cheaters Before They Start

If your tests and assignments remain stagnant year-over-year, students may “borrow” the answers from others who have previously completed the same course. When this happens, students aren’t really learning the material; they’re just figuring out which buttons to press in order to advance to the next level.

Content Evolution Makes Student Feedback a Priority

Most well-structured courses include a feedback component where students may offer insights into what they found lacking or exceptional about the course, and offer suggestions on ways the course could be improved or lessons could be made more clear or resonant. It is important for instructional designers to give due consideration to such feedback, and incorporate any appropriate content changes in order to make their courses more engaging for the next semester.

Adult learners often maintain informal lines of communication with current, past and future fellow students. If learners from previous semesters find that their feedback isn’t being incorporated into content developed for subsequent batches of students, it will give rise to negative expectations about the course through the grapevine.

How CourseArc Can Help

CourseArc makes it easy to redesign your courses and update your content on the fly. You can use pre-designed blocks for various types of content (like text, videos, quizzes, etc.) and simply modify the relevant parts of your course for each successive semester while leaving the rest of your course untouched. This feature makes updating your courses fast and easy, and saves you from the time-consuming process of redesigning your courses from scratch.

While you may not need to make extensive changes to your content from one semester to the next, crucial updates like new legislation, changing compliance standards, or newer technologies and references must regularly be integrated. By choosing an online course creation tool like CourseArc, instructional designers can make modifications quickly and easily, ensuring that your courses are never outdated.