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5 Best Ways to Increase Online Course Completion Rates

Increasing your online course completion rates shouldn't be that complicated. Learn how to apply proven and actionable tips & techniques now.

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Today, increasing your online course completion rates can be challenging. Without the right formula for a successful online course, it would waste the effort you spent in designing your course.

Once you go over the internet, there are so many articles that will tell you how you can increase your online course completion rates.

In this article, I summarized the important tips and techniques that you can apply. Increasing your online course completion rates shouldn't be that complicated. You can find actionable and proven steps here.

But before that, let's explore what is it for you and why your students aren't completing your course.

Why should you care to increase your online course completion rates

As a course creator or trainer, why would you put the effort into increasing your completion rates? Does your work as a creator or trainer end after the course design?

In reality, it doesn’t end there. Course design is just the start. Completion rates or student transformation should be your end goal.

Whether you are creating a course for your audience or employees, it’s important to focus on transforming your students. Here are the reasons why:

  • Organic marketing. There’s a win-win outcome in course creation. Once you start doing what is right, your students will love it. They will talk about it, invite friends to join, then do the marketing for you! So there’s no way you shouldn’t give importance to giving your students a high-quality course that they would want to finish.
  • New opportunities will open up. Whether you are creating a course or training for your own business or for a company, new opportunities will open for you!
  • Your audience and revenue will grow
  • The new collaboration will open up!
  • Promotion might happen sometime soon
  • And more!
  • Greater impact. Education’s impact on a person is unlimited. Now that you are educating your students through courses and training, you are giving them a level up in their careers or life in general. You are not only getting revenue or making your executives happy. You are also creating a wider impact.

After discussing the benefits, let’s tackle the reasons why your students don’t complete your course. What you could have done better.

Why do you have low online course completion rates

Study shows only 15% of students have completed a MOOC. What happened to the 85%? Why do you think they didn’t complete it despite the fact that they pay or not for the course? Let’s find it out!

Poor course design

The biggest reason for a low completion rate is how the course is designed. If your course is not:

  • Engaging
  • Fun
  • Challenging (or with incentives)

There’s a high chance your students won’t stick to completing your course. Course design and content are critical. Getting the right mix of these 3 ingredients above will likely help you to increase your online course completion rates.

Later, we will get deeper into how to make your course design better.

No set reminders, notifications, schedules

People are busy—and so are your students. The internet is the busiest place where they can be. Scheduling your course content can be helpful for them to finish your course. You need to remind them that your course still exists and is worth finishing. Without this, your course will be buried somewhere in their email or bookmark bars.

Optional enrollment

Some courses are not mandatory. It depends if your course is for who—are you selling it for a specific audience on the internet? Or is it for your company’s employees, trainees, and executives?

In this way, optional enrollment can also affect the completion rate of your course. The motivation of your students to learn is at stake here.

If you cannot make your course mandatory, you should be able to increase your students’ interest to complete the course.

Expectations are not clear

This mostly happens because of fake marketing. Expectations are not usually met if you do hard selling on your course landing pages.

Make it crystal clear for your potential students what your course is all about, the course structure, and what will happen to them after taking the course. Because if not--you'll fail to set the expectations. In consequence, they won’t finish your course and you’ll get bad reviews.

No accountability partner

Online learning is lonely. There’s no physical interaction. You are learning with the content available in front of you.

That’s why self-paced learning mostly fails. It requires high motivation to succeed. No accountability partner can also affect why most students don’t finish a certain course. They lose motivation. They forget their learning goals.

Now that we tackled why students don't complete your course, let's move to the techniques you can apply to increase your online course completion rates.

5 Techniques to increase your online course completion rates

Gamify your course

Gamification is always the answer to making your training, workshops, and courses interactive, fun, and engaging. We learn best when it's challenging, fun, and with the feeling of belongingness.

Hence, there are several ways to apply gamification in training, courses, and workshops. You can do the basic application such as:

  • Creating milestones, leaderboards
  • Giving incentives (badges, rewards, providing certificates)
  • Team up your students for a more collaborative learning approach
  • and many more!

Chunk your course in bits

There's a popular rule called Rule of 10, where your course should have:

  • videos with no more than 10 minutes
  • modules with no more than 10 lessons
  • downloadable materials with no more than 10 pages

The optimal video length should be 6 minutes or less. Philip Guo researched this topic. See his findings below.

 Philip Guo research

Apparently, we got overwhelmed when we are learning new topics. As a trainer or course creator, it's important not to overwhelm your students with information. That's why chunking your course into micro-lessons is helpful to get students to retain learnings.

Make it personal

Personalization is key to effective online learning. Despite the fact that AI and automation are entering education technology, personalization is still important in digital learning.

You can make your course personal with these basic approaches:

  • Design your course based on your student's level of knowledge
  • Communicate directly and clearly
  • Continuously ask for feedback
  • Iterate if needed

Build a learning community

Today, building a learning community is a must-have for increasing online course completion rates. It adds up to making your course and training interactive, engaging, and flexible.

Here are helpful tips to create your minimum viable learning community:

  1. Start small. Start by creating WhatsApp or Telegram groups if your community members are <50.
  2. Create not more than 10 community rules. Make it clear why you build the community and what is it for.
  3. If you feel like creating your community in Slack, Discord or Facebook--where functionality can be unlimited, start by creating at least 3 important channels.
  4. Initiate conversations. Learning communities that are just starting up need some guidance!

Make it hybrid

Due to the low completion rates of MOOCs, cohort-based courses won the market. Cohort-based courses allow students to learn together in live sessions, led by an instructor.

Completion rates went up to 80-90% due to the fact that cohort-based learning supports peer-to-peer discussions, collaboration, and learn by doing approach which is important ingredients in successful training and courses.

However, the downside of cohort-based courses is the expensive pricing and the time and effort put by instructors and trainers in applying this model.

So how can you make your course more effective with little effort needed? We make it hybrid. A hybrid cohort-based course is a mixture of asynchronous and synchronous learning. Students learn on their own with a set of materials and meet 1-2x a week depending on the set schedule.

Teachfloor makes it easy for creators and corporate trainers to create this hybrid cohort-based courses with its scheduling functionality. You can try it for free.

This won't only make your online course increase the completion rates, but more importantly, it will make your course scalable by still providing high-quality and transformative courses.


You can increase your online course completion rates by implementing the techniques mentioned above. Although it requires effort and time, the result is surely much more than you can expect.

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