10 Examples of Online Course Design To Inspire You

Are you someone that people turn to for advice, or for home cooking recipes, or even to troubleshoot an Excel sheet error?

If you’ve ever considered creating an online course to share your unique expertise with the world—now’s the time! Take some inspiration from these 10 course creators who have used OpenLearning’s course authoring tools to teach online and make an impact for thousands of learners worldwide. 

No matter which online course platform you choose, it might be useful to audit some, or all of these courses, and incorporate your favourite elements into your own learning community.

💡 Bonus: Get started now with a free OpenLearning trial and ready-made course template. Book a call with us to set it up.

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1. Bahasa Isyarat Malaysia (Malaysian Sign Language)

This course on Malaysian Sign Language by instructors at the Malaysian Federation of the Deaf makes a positive social impact by teaching learners how to communicate effectively and to be more inclusive towards the Deaf community. 


Why it’s great: Online alternative to face-to-face classes

This online learning community provides an alternative for those who are unable to physically attend classes. The course is based on their existing 7-week programme that teaches 250 basic signs in Malaysian Sign Language as well as essential knowledge of Deaf culture.

So far, they have attracted over 260 learners and the course is priced at RM100. They have continued to build more courses on OpenLearning, including a course on Islamic Knowledge in Malaysian Sign Language.

Sign Language Landing PageSign Language Activity

The ‘Bahasa Isyarat Malaysia’ (Malaysian Sign Language) course landing page (left) and an activity gallery showcasing video responses from learners in the course (right).

2. What Does Facebook Know About You?

What Does Facebook Know About You? is a free taster course offered by Dr Simon Knight and Dr Kirsty Kitto which forms part of a suite of taster versions of full-time courses at the University of Technology Sydney. 

Why it’s great: Try-before-you-buy taster courses

This course provides step-by-step activities and free tools for learners to study data privacy in their own lives. It’s a great way to show potential students what to expect in terms of teaching quality, should they enrol full-time at the university. 

Facebook Landing PageFacebook Course Homepage

The ‘What Does Facebook Know About You’ course landing page (left) and an introductory video by the course facilitators (right).

3. Connecting Through Talk

Connecting Through Talk is a series of three courses on compassionate communication. They are provided by Coaching to Clarity, a boutique education and coaching institution that specialises in delivering a range of communication programs. 

Why it’s great: 'Chunking' learning into a series of short courses

This program consists of three 5-hour courses, where the first course introduces the topic, the second course takes learners on a deeper exploration, and the final course brings it all together. Shorter courses like these could be less intimidating and give learners more motivation than a longer course might.

Connecting Through Talk Course 1Connecting Through Talk Courses

The ‘Connecting Through Talk - Introduction course landing page (left) and the portal landing page showing all three courses in the series (right).


4. Mastering Your Personal and Professional Growth

Mastering Your Personal and Professional Growth is a short course by Charles Sturt University. Through a series of reflection activities and worksheets, learners gain skills in time management, mentorship, and problem solving as a way of coping with stress and maintaining work-life balance.

Why it’s great: Learner-led learning experience

To encourage learning through discussion and reflection, this course asks open-ended questions based on a selection of videos and articles. Curating Open Educational Resources (OERs) in this way is one of our top tips for online course creators.

Mastering Growth Landing PageMastering Growth Activity

The ‘Mastering Your Personal and Professional Growth’ course landing page (left) and a warm-up activity that uses a TED-Ed video as a stimulus (right).


5. Interpersonal and Human Relations

This Interpersonal and Human Relations course is part of a series of soft skill courses in Bahasa Malaysia by Norizan Sharif for his personalised OpenLearning portal, Skorlah Online.

Why it’s great: Word-of-mouth marketing via personal channels and professional networks

This course attracted over 2,000 enrolments in its first month on OpenLearning. Beyond email marketing and search engine optimisation, the course was widely shared through learners’ personal channels and professional networks, with some learners posting their completion certificates on social media and encouraging others to enrol.

👉 Read more about marketing your course and download our free course marketing mind map here.

Skorlah PortalSkorlah Course

The ‘Interpersonal and Human Relations’ course landing page (left) and course homepage (right).

6. CS101: Programming and Computational Thinking

CS101 is a series of micro-credential courses created by OpenLearning to enable absolutely anyone, anywhere to learn Computer Science. Designed and facilitated by experts, the courses delve into programming, computational thinking, problem solving, automation, storage, and data.

Why it’s great: Building a learning community with consistent facilitation

The facilitators of this course are experts in the field who consistently respond to learner comments and post regular course announcements which keep learners in the loop, even after they have completed the course. This is a great way to build a learning community, and it’s exactly what OpenLearning is all about.  

CS101 Built by ExpertsScreenshot 2023-02-14 at 2.38.43 PM

The ‘CS101: Programming and Computational Thinking’ course landing page (left) and the course announcements page which is regularly updated by facilitators (right).

7. Discussions at Work Made Easy 

This course on workplace communication by Mi-Chelle Leong at UOW Malaysia KDU provides free, comprehensive resources for learning how to present ideas, navigate discussions, and make group decisions at work.

Why it’s great: Free to learn, pay to certify

This course offers a paid OpenCred certificate of completion. However, learners are still able to join the course for free and access the course materials in their own time. When they are ready, learners can choose to pay to get certified by the course creator for their skills in workplace communication.

Discussions at Work Made Easy KDU Landing PageDiscussions at Work Made Easy KDU OpenCreds Blurb

The ‘Discussions at Work Made Easy’ course landing page (left) and OpenCreds classification (right).

8. OpenLearning Ambassador Program

The OpenLearning Ambassador Program is a qualification consisting of five online courses created by the OpenLearning team. It teaches the basics of using OpenLearning to teach online, ranging from course design to assessment design and facilitation.

Why it’s great: Earning qualifications with micro-credentials

Learners can be awarded up to three micro-credential badges for completing the final project of each course in this qualification. Their coursework becomes part of their portfolio, and they can use it to apply for the official micro-credential certificate which qualifies them as an OpenLearning Ambassador.

OpenLearning Ambassador QualificationOpenLearning Ambassador Courses

The ‘OpenLearning Ambassador Program' qualification landing page (left) and the list of courses included in the qualification (right).

Did you know?
‘Qualifications’ is a feature in OpenLearning that allows you to combine multiple courses into a single package. You can set up a qualification using courses in your institution.

9. A Beginner’s Guide to Coffee

In A Beginner’s Guide to Coffee by Sunway University, learners discover what goes into a good cup of coffee, from the history of the coffee bean to roasting techniques used around the world.

Why it’s great: Outcome-based learning

This course features a final activity which brings everything together for the “ultimate challenge”: to review your favourite coffee shop on a social media platform of your choice.

Learners are guided to develop the competencies needed to complete this final activity, where the learning outcomes include:

  • describing the history of coffee
  • identifying coffee-brewing mechanisms
  • discussing coffee products from different countries

As one of the first courses to be listed on the OpenLearning Marketplace, it continues to be an example that we reach for to explain outcome-based learning and incorporating real-world experiences into an online course.

Coffee Landing PageCoffee Homepage

The ‘A Beginner’s Guide to Coffee’ course landing page (left) and final activity page (right).

10. Developing Data-driven Marketing Campaigns

This Developing Data-driven Marketing Campaigns course by DeakinCo. is an OpenCreds course worth 2.5 hours of professional learning, which is recorded in the learner’s OpenLearning Portfolio.

Why it’s great: Micro-credentials that demonstrate specific skills

As an OpenCreds course, this course is the newest one on the list. It is also slightly different from other online courses as it is recognised by an accreditation body, but it’s still a good one to highlight. 

This course is the result of a collaboration between experts in the field of digital marketing and learning design, and it is accredited by DeakinCo. We want to highlight that course collaborations like these are a possibility—and if you are interested, you can learn more about OpenCreds here.

Deakin Landing PageDeakin Homepage

The ‘Developing Data-driven Marketing Campaigns’ course landing page (left) and course homepage (right).

11. Social and Emotional Learning on Teach.com.au

We promised you 10 example courses, but we’re mentioning this one as a bonus because it’s too good to be left out! The Social and Emotional Learning course by Teach.com.au is part of a suite of OpenCreds courses for teachers’ continuous professional development.

Why it’s great: Professional development with an online community of practice

This OpenCreds course, along with the growing suite of courses on the Teach.com.au portal, are developed by current and former educators. With a monthly subscription, teachers can join as many courses as they need, and interact with other teachers in meaningful ways towards fulfilling their professional development goals.

Teach.com.au Landing PageTeach.com.au Activity Page

The ‘Social and Emotional Learning’ course landing page (left) and a sharing activity within the course (right).



What do all of these courses have in common? 

All of these courses are home to a learning community. They provide a safe space for everyone in the course to collaborate, co-create experiences, express themselves, and be social as they learn with one another.

These courses are also built upon clear learning outcomes, which are the “goals” of the course. We’ve written about learning outcomes here (what they are, how to write one, and how to use them on OpenLearning)—but the important thing is that they are a promise to learners that by taking your course, they are going to be able to achieve these goals.

So, are you ready to start sharing your knowledge and skills online? Now that you have an idea of the strategies and styles that you may want to incorporate in your online course, we can start to look at the other aspects like making sure the learning outcomes are aligned, building your course, facilitation, and marketing. Click here to read the next post on how to outline your online course with our planning template.


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Topics: Course Design Tips

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