Professional course designers have mad skills at creating courses. It is what they do for a living. These folks specialize in learning strategies, methods and techniques.
Course designers know course platforms and can plan your course to maximize what each platform can do. These professionals often have education credentials, know "adult learning theory" and can apply learning theories in innovative ways.
The end goal of a course designer is to help students learn.
Many entrepreneurs are experts in a particular field. These experts are also known as Subject Matter Experts or SMEs. These guys and gals have years of experience in fields like engineering, content marketing or life coaching.
They care a ton about their content and know a ton more about it. These experts may have experience and/or credentials in their field.
The end goal of a SME is to transfer their knowledge to someone else.
It isn't easy to do what a course builder does. Yet, that doesn't mean that you cannot but it will take more time and effort for you to get it done well.
When SME's put together a course, instructional designers often find them too long, too complicated too technical or use methods that don't help learners learn.
Most small business and entrepreneurs tend to "do-it-yourself". Anything from websites to marketing to training materials, you are motivated to make it work for you and your clients.
Unless you have training in both of these roles, you don't need to fill both of these roles.
While either one of these professionals can create courses, a collaboration between the two is the best way to build courses.
How can a course designer help a SME?
Use questioning and interview strategies to determine the most important information.
Coach through decisions like course platforms, content delivery methods and levels of interactivity.
Take thoughts, ideas and content and create easy-to-learn materials for clients.
Create graphic organizers, images, infographics and media to help students learn and remember the material.
Create assignments, activities, homework and assessments that allow students to apply the material.
Evaluate the course before, during and after implementation to make adjustments on the fly.
Although a course designer may not be in your niche, he or she is an expert in learning and teaching. The best course designers can make any content and any subject easy to learn for any audience.
It actually can be helpful to hire a course designer outside of your niche. They will approach the content like a complete newbie - in the same mindset as a student taking your course.
Unlike a student, the course designer will know the inside scoop on how people learn and approach it objectively.
Your course designer will know the best ways to format and deliver content to your students.
Hiring a course designer does cost money. You are paying for their expertise, for the course completions you will have and for the repeat business you will get.
Figure in your time as well. Dr. Kelly Edmonds does a terrific job of breaking down the costs in her blog. You will need to decide if that is an investment you are willing to make.
So which are you? A course designer, a SME or both?