Once the course overview has been defined, the organizing of content into manageable “chunks” is the next step. The best way to do this is to take your objectives and put them in an outline format. This “skeletal system” is an important component to building a successful course as it defines how the course will be broken down in a logical structure, giving order and flow to the information being presented. In addition, it helps the course stay on track with its purpose and outcomes, while allowing the course developer to identify excessive details that should be taken out in an effort to prevent cognitive overload (Meux, 1999).

Constructing an Outline

  1. Review the course objectives and identify the topic from each.
  2. Assemble the topics into the order in which they will be discussed.
  3. List subtopics under each topic.
  4. List additional points under subtopics, as needed.

Structuring course content in this way is like the method used in journalistic writing, known as the Inverted Pyramid. This method guides journalists to present crucial information at the beginning and taper down to the less important details. This is important in journalism for two reasons; the audience could stop reading at any given time, and when fitting articles into newspapers and magazines, the less important details can easily be cut without losing the story’s integrity. Similarly, the “additional points” in a course outline could sometimes be considered as less important details. It is up to the course developer to determine if these points align with the purpose and outcomes of the course, or if they are merely excessive details that can be discarded.


Meux, C. (1999). How to write a course outline. Retrieved January 7, 2011, from http://www.ehow.com/how_2151340_write-course-outline.html