How to Design Learning Pathways for Your Online Courses

Learn what learning pathways are, why they are important, and how to design them for your online courses using Certopus, a powerful and easy-to-use tool for creating learning paths.


Online courses are a great way to learn new things but can be overwhelming and confusing. How can you help your learners find the best courses for their goals and needs? One way is to create learning pathways for your online courses. In this article, you will learn what learning pathways are, why they are beneficial, how to design them, and how Certopus can help you create them.

What is a learning pathway?

Learning pathway illustration
Learning pathway illustration
A learning pathway is a course, module, or activity sequence that guides learners from a starting point to a desired outcome. A learning pathway can be linear, branching, or adaptive, depending on the flexibility and personalization you want to offer your learners.
  1. A linear learning pathway is the simplest and most straightforward type of learning pathway. It consists of a fixed order of courses or modules that learners have to complete one after another. A linear learning pathway is suitable for topics with a clear and logical progression, such as learning a new language or mastering a specific skill.
  1. A branching learning pathway is a more complex and dynamic type of learning pathway. It consists of multiple paths or options that learners can choose from based on their preferences, interests, or performance. A branching learning pathway is suitable for topics with different difficulty levels, complexity, or specialization, such as learning about a broad subject or exploring a diverse field.
  1. An adaptive learning pathway is the most advanced and personalized learning pathway. It consists of a customized and flexible sequence of courses or modules that learners can access based on their needs, goals, and progress. An adaptive learning pathway is suitable for topics with high variability, diversity, or interactivity, such as learning about a rapidly changing domain or developing a multifaceted competence.

What are the benefits of learning pathways?

Learning pathways have many benefits for both learners and course creators. Some of the benefits are:
  • Learning pathways give students a clear and organized road map for what to learn and how to study it, which helps them accomplish their learning goals more quickly and successfully.
  • Learning pathways provide guidance, feedback, and acknowledgment, all of which help students stay motivated and involved.
  • Learning pathways help learners develop a deeper and broader understanding of the topic by exposing them to various approaches and resources.
  • Learning pathways help course creators design and deliver more coherent and consistent learning experiences by aligning their course content.
  • Learning modules help course creators attract and retain more learners by catering to their diverse needs, preferences, and levels and showcasing the value and relevance of their courses or modules.

How do you design learning pathways for your online courses?

Designing learning pathways
Designing learning pathways
Designing learning pathways for your online courses is not a one-size-fits-all process. It depends on many factors, such as the nature and scope of your topic, the characteristics and expectations of your learners, and the resources and tools you have available. However, here are some general steps you can follow to design effective and engaging learning pathways for your online courses:
  1. Establish your learning goals and objectives: After finishing your courses or modules, what do you want your students to know, be able to accomplish, or experience? How will you assess their success and development in learning?
  1. Examine your students' requirements: What are the objectives, interests, and backgrounds of your students? What are their past attitudes, abilities, and knowledge? What are their preferences, difficulties, and learning styles?
  1. Identify and organize your learning content: What are the main topics, concepts, and skills that your learners need to learn? How can you divide them into smaller and manageable units or chunks? How can you sequence them in a logical and meaningful way?
  1. Choose your learning pathway type and format: Based on your learning objectives, outcomes, content, and learners, what type of learning pathway would be most suitable for your courses or modules? Linear, branching, or adaptive? How will you present and deliver your learning pathway to your learners? As a list, a map, a chart, or a dashboard?
  1. Design and develop your learning activities and assessments: What are the best ways to help your learners learn and practice your learning content? How will you engage and support your learners throughout your learning pathway? How will you check and evaluate their learning performance and achievement?
  1. Review and refine your learning pathway: How can you test and improve your learning pathway before launching it to your learners? How can you collect and analyze feedback and data from your learners and use them to enhance your learning pathway?

How have different MNCs created pathways for their course offerings?

LinkedIn Learning
LinkedIn Learning
Many multinational corporations (MNCs) have recognized the value and potential of learning pathways for their online course offerings. Here are some examples of how different MNCs have created pathways for their course offerings:
  • LinkedIn Learning provides thousands of classes and videos covering various subjects, including technology, business, and creative skills. By classifying its courses into collections according to shared objectives, roles, or topics, LinkedIn Learning has established learning pathways for its products. Learners can select from collections like "Become a Graphic Designer," "Become a Project Manager," or "Become a Data Analyst," for instance. Each collection comprises a carefully selected selection of courses covering the fundamental abilities and information for the selected role, objective, or theme. Students can also design their unique collections according to their demands and interests.
  • Coursera provides degrees, certificates, and courses from prestigious institutions and organizations worldwide. By classifying its course offerings into professional credentials and specializations based on particular subjects, abilities, or professions, Coursera has established learning pathways for its users. Students can select from specializations like "Data Science," "Machine Learning," or "Digital Marketing," for instance. The courses in each specialization cover the fundamental ideas and methods of the selected subject or ability. Professional credentials, including "Google IT Support," "IBM Data Science," and "Facebook Social Media Marketing," are also available for learners to select from. Each professional certificate program includes courses toward the appropriate industry-recognized certification or credential.
  • Udemy is a vast virtual education platform that provides classes on various subjects, from career skills to personal growth. Based on the primary subject areas and domains, Udemy has categorized its course offerings into topics and subtopics to establish learning pathways. For instance, students can select from subjects like "Design," "Development," or "Marketing." Every topic has a number of subtopics that address the various facets and subfields within the selected field of study. Additionally, students can peruse and look for courses using keywords, reviews, ratings, or teachers.

How can Certopus assist you in designing learning paths for your virtual courses?

Certopus Logo
Certopus Logo
Certopus is a powerful and innovative online platform that helps you create learning pathways for your online courses. Certopus allows you to:
  • Design beautiful and verifiable certificates and badges for your online courses.
  • Create pathways defining the order and prerequisites of the certificates and badges your learners need to earn.
  • Organize your pathways into stages that group related certificates and badges together.
  • Track the progress and completion of your learners on the pathways.
  • Award your learners a final certificate or badge when they complete the pathway.
Here is an example of how you can create a learning pathway for an online course on Python programming using Certopus:
  • Create an event in Certopus and name it “Python Programming Course”.
  • Create recipient categories for each module of your course, such as “Introduction to Python”, “Data Structures and Algorithms”, “Object-Oriented Programming”, “Web Development with Flask”, etc.
  • For each recipient category, save a design that will serve as a certificate or badge for that module.
  • In your event, open the Pathways section and enable the Pathway feature.
  • Create stages for your pathway, such as “Beginner”, “Intermediate”, “Advanced”, etc.
  • Drag and drop the recipient categories into the appropriate stages.
  • Assign a final certificate or badge for your pathway, such as “Python Programming Master”.
  • Save your pathway.
Now, you have a learning pathway for your online course that will motivate and reward your learners as they progress through the course. You can issue certificates and badges to your learners using Certopus's bulk generate, mass email, and white label features. You can verify and track your certificates and badges using Certopus's verification and analytics features. Certopus makes creating learning pathways for your online courses easy and fun.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is the difference between a learning pathway and a curriculum?
A learning pathway is a sequence of learning activities that guide learners toward a specific learning outcome or goal. A curriculum is a set of courses, topics, and standards that define the scope and sequence of learning for a subject or a program. A learning pathway can be part of a curriculum, or it can be independent of a curriculum.
How can I create a personalized learning pathway for my learners?
To create a personalized learning pathway for your learners, you need to understand your learners’ interests, goals, preferences, and needs. You can gather this information through surveys, interviews, assessments, or analytics. Then, you can use Certopus to create a personalized learning pathway for your learners. You can let your learners choose their own learning activities or recommend learning activities based on their data. You can also allow your learners to modify or create their own learning activities using Certopus.
What role do prerequisites play in designing learning pathways?
Prerequisites are crucial as they establish a baseline of knowledge or skills that learners should possess before advancing to the next stage. They ensure a progressive and coherent learning experience, preventing students from feeling overwhelmed.

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