A course is like a party

And your job is to be the perfect host.

  • Does everyone know the address?
  • Did you give them foolproof instructions on how to get there, and tell them what to do if they get lost?
  • Do they know what time to arrive, and whether they should bring anything?
  • Do they know what the atmosphere is going to be like – loud and raucous? Fun and informal? Serious and thoughtful?
  • When your guests arrive, are you immediately making them feel welcome? Do they know where to put their coat and where to get a drink?
  • Have you introduced them to others to help them feel comfortable and make friends?
  • Have you noticed that guy alone in the corner who looks miserable? And did you rescue him and introduce him to the group nearby that’s getting on really well?
  • Is it freeform, or is there a structure everyone needs to follow, or are there specific activities to take part in?
  • Does everyone need to get involved, or is it OK to stand at the side of the room cradling a drink, if that’s what someone prefers?
  • What’s your plan if something goes wrong – an argument or fight breaks out, there’s a power cut, or you run out of food or drink?
  • And finally, how are you going to turn things around if you notice people glancing at their watches, and then they start leaving early?

I first came across this analogy as a tip for running Zoom workshops. And it immediately struck me as a great way to think about designing online learning experiences.

It’s your event, and you’re responsible for making sure that everyone who signed up has a positive experience.