News - Specialist Language Courses

The seven principles of outstanding online course design

Online courses with strong retention, high completion rates and consistently positive reviews are surprisingly rare. All too often online courses fail to engage. Obligatory courses on subjects such as compliance or inductions encouraging bored ‘zombie clicking’. Courses designed for a mass audience, such as MOOCs, video learning sites and language learning apps experience both early and high levels of dropouts.

Designing effective online courses is clearly not easy. It requires a very different approach to designing courses that are designed to be printed. It requires the application of several principles, each not difficult in their own right, but only when applied together do their accumulated strengths play out.

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Here are seven principles we apply to the courses we create and publish at SLC.

  1. Grab and hold on
  2. Cut to the chase
  3. Small is beautiful
  4. Provide clarity and structure
  5. Learning by doing
  6. Learning by exploring
  7. Add value

These, in our experience, are seven simple principles which when used together create powerful online courses. Engagement increases, dropout rates go down, completion levels are high, and feedback is strong.

Want to know what these principles look like in practice?

Download the White Paper now:

To speak to us about your courses or about partnership and distribution deals, contact Chris on


Written by Chris Moore

Chris works on SLC’s strategic direction, product development, course design and key partnerships with organisations including Health Education England, NHS Trusts and medical universities worldwide. He ensures that the work SLC does with healthcare professionals and students has a significant and lasting impact on patient care, medical research and international projects. Chris has worked in specialist English language training since graduating from Cambridge University in 1989 in teaching, academic management and commercial roles. In 2012, he founded SLC to provide training and resources to those who need to communicate in English in critical environments, using technology to reach learners around the world. Chris is also Trustee for Eaquals, the world’s leading international accreditation body for language teaching.

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