Course Purpose

Before starting a course, it's always a good idea to identify the key customers/students for the course and what the course objective is.  

Target Audience

Be clear on who the course target audience are and what you already expect students to know before they enroll in the course.  Make sure you also communicate this to the students through the course.  This may seem obvious but I have seen lots of instructors create a course without thinking first on the potential students/customers.

Course Objective

I mainly design all of my courses to "save students time".  I measure how effective my course is based on how much time I am able to save students time in terms of learning the concepts.  What took me for example X years, I want to create a course that teaches students that in X days is my goal.  My goal is also always to build self sufficiency in my students, meaning they have the skills and the confidence to learn anything within that technology, even if I didn't directly teach or introduce certain concepts to them.  By focusing on the core building blocks for that technology, I remove distractions for the students and try to help them save enormous amount of time, where at the end, they are feeling confident and where they feel like everything they learned was so simple.

Often, I see new instructors create a course where they want to teach everything they've learned and where they create a very comprehensive course.  I find that often, these feed the ego of the instructor but does not help the students that much.  It builds confidence for the teachers but students lose confidence navigating through a complex course where they feel lost.

Often, when I create a course, it's also quite simple, and intentionally so.   Yet, when new instructor looks at the course, they don't understand how much effort was put into making the course look so simple that they keep adding a lot of other 'nice to knows'.  Over time, my course gets polluted with too many details, the assignment landscape looks messy, and the course loses simplicity.  The student may feel like they are learning a lot more, but almost always, I find that when the course loses its original simplicity, the course effectiveness goes down, student confidence goes down, and the course becomes just like any other courses that are out there.  That's sad and it breaks my heart.