How to Develop an Online Course: Turning Your Expertise into Content for Self-Publishing or Corporate Support


Bernard Aschwanden
President, Publishing Smarter
Liz Herman


Online Courses

How to Develop an Online Course: Turning Your Expertise into Content for Self-Publishing or Corporate Support

14 March-18 April 2017 (Tuesdays) | 10:30-11:30 AM EDT (GMT-4)

There are abundant opportunities for technical communicators to share their expertise with a broader audience in an online environment. STC, for example, offers technical communicators this opportunity with its online course offerings. An STC member presents a topic where the length of the course is around six weeks and participants meet virtually each week for 60 to 90 minutes to learn from the presenter. Other companies like are displaying asynchronous online courses developed by technical communicators. Colleges and universities are seeking additional course developers and presenters as the migration to online classes continue.

Do you have a favorite topic you want to share with others? Can you offer expertise in an area of interest to other communicators? Are you unsure how to start developing your topic into a course? Can you add value to your organization and reduce training costs by developing courses? How to Develop an Online Course is for you. Taught by two long-time technical communication instructors entrenched in online training, this course helps you develop meaningful content that you can present to others. It is designed for writers creating course materials, tutorials, and other educational content. We will emphasize course development over a “train-the-trainer” or “learn how to teach” focus. Applicable to those developing courses in business (including non-profit), education, communication, engineering, etc.

Specific topics include:

  • Identifying your core audience.
  • Writing so that it is best geared towards learning.
  • Writing course outlines that clearly express a title, overview, prerequisites, objectives, further learning opportunities, and delivery type.
  • Writing topics identifying learner objectives, requirements to meet objectives, prerequisites, tasks, and ways to test comprehension of these ideas.
  • Understanding who should influence course development.
  • Testing and evaluating materials.

Session Descriptions

In this session, you will learn:

  • How to determine the role your audience plays in course development.
  • Who influences course development.

In this session, you will learn:

  • How to develop a comprehensive course outline.
  • Why the course outline is critical to being offered the opportunity to teach.

In this session, you will learn:

  • Necessary steps in the writing process that will benefit your learner or participant.
  • Sequencing and chunking content for optimal engagement and retention.

In this session, you will learn:

  • How to validate the concepts included in your online course.
  • Options for assessing knowledge in synchronous and asynchronous courses.

In this session, you will learn:

  • What to include in your instructor notes and what to include in your notes to learners.
  • Why you should consider supplemental materials.

In this session, you will learn:

  • How to ensure your course is final and ready for consumption.
  • Course wrap-up.


Bernard Aschwanden is a recognized publishing technologies expert. He is an Adobe Certified Expert, a Certified Technical Trainer, and the author of numerous articles on xml-based publishing and single sourcing. He is the founder and President of Publishing Smarter. In addition to his publishing background and speaking tours, Bernard teaches a variety of courses. These include XML, DITA, CMS tools and related technologies, best practices for structured authoring, content management, and tools such as FrameMaker and XMetaL. He also works with clients to convert legacy content, analyze documentation, review workflows, and identify best practices in technical communications. Bernard is past President of the Society for Technical Communication and a past President of the Toronto STC. He is a professor in the continuing education Technical Communications program with Seneca@York, on the advisory board for the Humber College Technical Communications program, and remains active in the STC delivering in-person seminars and online webinars to members around the world. He has helped hundreds of companies implement successful publishing solutions.

Liz Herman, PhD, PMP, CPTC, is Director of Health and Consumer Solutions in Battelle’s Arlington, VA office where she focuses primarily on Health and Human Services (HHS) accounts and serves as the Centers for Medicare Medicaid Services (CMS) account manager. Her extensive experience with CMS crosses beneficiaries, consumers, providers, community health partners, and CMS staff. She has been directly involved with implementation of the Medicare Prescription Drug program, the Durable Medical Equipment Competitive Bidding program, and the Affordable Care Act. Her project management work spans business development, operations, training, content management, communications, and outreach. Dr. Herman holds a PhD in Business from Walden University, an MA in English from Iowa State University, and a BA in Journalism from the University of Iowa. Dr. Herman is a senior member of the Society for Technical Communication (STC), where she has served in various leadership roles in the Eastern Iowa and Washington DC chapters. She is currently serving as a Director at Large on STC’s Board of Directors. She is also an active member of the Project Management Institute and the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society.

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