As course authors, we spend a ton of time and energy thinking about cultivating relationships with students, getting them onboard with our course’s promises, and then delivering through the educational journey.
Unfortunately, many course authors do not balance this with design time towards the course offboarding process.
In the moment of student success, there are great opportunities for you to celebrate with them, guide them, and show them how to give back to the community.
When a student successfully navigates your course and finds success, it is an excellent opportunity to celebrate their accomplishments individually and with your greater community.
Individual celebrations could come in the form of a printable certificate, alum badge, special chat access, access to free stickers, or a handwritten card sent to them in the mail. These need not be extravagant efforts; we are just looking for small, genuine, human signals that say, hey, I’m the teacher who built this 20-hour course, and I know you sacrificed a lot to work through it all; this is a great moment for you. Congrats!
You could also share the student’s success in a community announcement. Have a monthly email going out? Why not call out the recent students and celebrate them in public? This kind of awareness can also be a helpful signal to current students with self-doubt or struggling. Yes. You can do it too!
Help them find their next steps.
The other significant opportunity is helping students figure out what is next for them. You might provide general links and resources at the end of your course materials, but in this moment, you can help this student specifically understand what options lie before them based on their unique interests and background.
Those recommended options might be more advanced courses you offer but could just as well be resources of others. Be like Santa, and don’t limit your recommendations to your own stores.
Capture course feedback.
And I’m not just talking about the testimonials you might want to include on your marketing pages. I mean real actionable feedback.
Don’t ask them if they liked the course; that’s not a good question. Ask detailed questions about the past: which areas they got stuck in, what did they do to solve for it, what surprises did they run into (good and bad), etc. For more on asking good questions, I recommend The Mom Test.
After completing the course, they could become a helpful mentor to the other students. Make it clear how they might partake, what’s involved, and why it’s helpful (to them and others). As someone who is still new-ish, they might be able to relate to the current students even better than you.
Not everyone will take you up on the offer, but this will be key if there is hope to generate a self-sustaining community around your offerings. You can’t do it all yourself.
Hopefully, those ideas help spark some experiment ideas in your course offboarding efforts. You might even consider retro actively trying to apply them to past student success.