Ten Lessons We Have Learned From Writing Online Courses

No matter how long you have been in education, there is one essential point, you should never stop learning!

ACS Distance Education has been around since 1979 and we can honestly say that we have not stopped learning.  We have developed over 700 courses and 150 eBooks. 

We thought we would share with you just what we have learned from developing those courses!


1.      Updating

It is essential to keep updating your courses. A course developed in 1979 would probably not be very relevant today. Think just how much has changed in the last 43 years.  Courses must be, and are, updated regularly.  

The world keeps changing and knowledge keeps changing. Theories change.  New information comes into being. New products. New viewpoints. It is essential that we incorporate these in our learning.  Just ten years ago, there was no uber, Instagram, Pinterest or iPads. That’s ten years ago, think just what changed in the last 40 years. So it’s no good developing a course and leaving it at that.


Lesson - Courses must remain up to date.


2.     Writers and Writers

It is important to have more than one writer when developing a course. People have their own ideas, their own thoughts on what is important for a student to learn.  That’s great, but they may be biased or lack information on some areas that are important. Therefore, we always have more than one writer on our courses to ensure a balanced and wide range to the course.

Different writers also have different experiences that they can share with their students.

Having different writers is also useful for the writers themselves. By engaging with other writers, this helps our writers to stay up to date and be open to new ideas.


Lesson – Have more than one writer.


3.     Pay Attention to Students

Listen to what your students have to say. We are writing courses for the students. We want them to learn and develop. We want them to come away from the course having had a positive experience. So we listen to what they have to say.

We listen to their feedback.

We want to know what they think is bad and how we can improve it.

We want to know what they think is good, so we can carry on doing it.


Students can teach us a lot about what works and what doesn’t. So always pay attention to what they have to say.


It is not just about existing courses either. Students often have good ideas about what courses they want in the future. They might recognise that there is a gap in the market where new training courses might be required. So listen to their ideas too. 


Lesson – Listen To Your Students.


4.      Pay Attention To Your Tutors

Pay attention to your tutors too. Your tutors are working on these courses. They can give helpful feedback on what works and what doesn’t. So, again, pay attention to what they have to say. They can help to improve your courses. Tutors are also the ones doing the teaching, so they may also have ideas on current issues, trends and new knowledge as well.

Our tutors are well-read, experienced and highly knowledgeable in their fields. They know what is going on, so we listen to them. 

We use this knowledge to improve our existing courses, but again, also to see if there are gaps in the market to enable us to develop further courses.


Lesson – Listen To Your Tutors


5.      Pay Attention to Business Partners and Affiliates

If you work with other organisations, affiliates or business partners, then listen to them too. They are working with you for a reason. Presumably they like the courses you develop and the way that you operate, but it is also important to get feedback from them on what works well and what doesn’t in the courses.  They may also suggest new courses and areas where the courses could be updated.


Lesson – Listen To Your Partners


6.      Share Your Passion

Lots of people can write a course, but does that make it a good course? A good course will share the writer’s passion and enthusiasm for their subject. It will hopefully make the student want to learn more and develop their own passion for the topic. We believe it is important that, as well as being knowledgeable and experienced, our writers are also passionate and enthusiastic about  their field.


Lesson – Share Your Passion


7.      Go Outside Your Comfort Zone

Good course writers should also be prepared to go outside their comfort zone. Sometimes topics can be controversial or uncomfortable, but if we are to really give someone unbiased and well-informed information, we will sometimes have to discuss things that are not that nice and pleasant.  Coming outside our comfort zone is the only way that writers, students and teachers can continue to grow and develop.

We also need to be prepared to change and sometimes that can take us outside our comfort zone. We develop courses in a certain way and sometimes it becomes obvious that they might work better if we did something else, or added more content, or changed the way the courses are presented. Sometimes, we have to smash that comfort zone and make changes. It is no good thinking our courses and wonderful and should never change. That will result in stale and useless courses. So we continue to improve content, but also how we offer the courses.


Lesson – Smash Through That Comfort Zone


8.      Have Patience

When developing and writing courses, things don’t always go according to plan –

Sometimes people are ill or not able to write as quickly as they usually do.

Courses may not sell as quickly as you anticipated.

It is about having patience. A good course will take time to develop properly.  A good course may not sell straight away, but that doesn’t mean it won’t in the future, so keep making the effort, keep trying to sell your course.


Lesson – Be Patient


9.      Expect the Unexpected and Roll With It

Who could have predicted the COVID-19 pandemic and the impact it had on the educational industry? Things change. The unexpected does happen. We can’t always predict what is going to happen, but we can react quickly when things do change.

The pandemic brought about rapid changes in the educational industry and ACS needed to change with it. We were lucky. We already operated as online and distance learning providers, so there was less impact to us than traditional education providers. However, many students were suddenly studying online when they never had before. This was a sharp learning curve for them, but we were there to help them every step of the way with our courses.


Lesson – Deal with the Unexpected


10. Take Risks

The final lesson – sometimes it is important to take risks. ACS DE was established by John Mason, our Principal, in 1979. If he had not taken that risk to develop that very first course, we would not be here now. We have written a lot of courses, as we have already said. Some have gone very well. Occasionally a course is not successful, but we have to take risks. We have to develop new courses, write new eBooks. We want to provide courses that our students want. Sometimes we get it wrong and no one wants the course, but the vast majority of the time, we get it right! We take risks all of the time, developing new products, new software, new courses, new eBooks and new ways of working. 



In the last 43 years, we have learned a great deal from writing courses –

The importance of listening to other people

The importance of updating our knowledge and skills

The importance of taking risks and going out of our comfort zones

Things change. The world is changing. What students want and how they want it is changing.

We have been at the forefront of distance education and online learning for the last 43 years and we are going to continue to be leaders in developing new and innovative courses and methods of course presentation.


If you would like to work with ACS and offer our courses to your students,

please get in touch and find out more.

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What our clients say

We've been working with ACS over the course of the last three years. Being able to mix and match content to suit our students' needs has been extremely useful. With their material in combination with our own in house tutor service we have been able to provide a complete online learning service which has helped us expand our student cohort and advance our teaching techniques! We are thankful that we have had them as a partner throughout our time in the industry and look forward to many more years of growth together.

Jason T - Director, ACS Partner College (Affiliate)

ACS Distance Education have been fantastic to work with over our first 12 months as a start-up online short education affiliate.
They provided immense support in the foundation period ensuring we setup the best support mechanisms for students and engaging quality tutors.
ACS have continued to be receptive to feedback and promptly moved to make improvements wherever required.

David C - Director, ACS Partner College (Affiliate)

Having access to ACS' extensive library of digitalised education content has allowed us to scale our business quickly and efficiently. Their LMS is easy to access and manage, whilst also providing the consumer (student) with a professional and easy to use experience. John and Kate have always been a pleasure to work with and are quick to provide support when it is required."

Andrew O - Director, ACS Partner College (Affiliate)

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