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Course Description Format


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An ideal course description makes the student want to attend the course. It conveys the message that the information obtained will help the student perform their job more effectively. The next page contains an outline that has worked well. This same course had marginal attendance or was canceled with another instructor's description. When Bob Nelson took over he rewrote the entire outline and suddenly attendance increased. The course is now presented 5 or 6 times a year.

A typical description has about 500 to 700 words. Write more words and then cut back. Much more will not fit on a single page. Much less than 500 words and you have not used the space effectively to market the benefits of your course to the students. The information is printed as a single page with 2 columns. We have more room for additional information on the web but a catalog page is limited to overall dimensions of 6 x 10.5", less margins. Try it out on an associate. Read every word and ask " why would the average professional be interested in this? What are the benefits? Promise and deliver a lot."

Please try to match the format closely. One good approach is to cut and paste your outline into the model Word document and then Save the file with the exact course title name. Then delete this explanatory text and save the file again. Please note that our outlines do not spread topics out in bullets, but rather include numbered topics with a main topic and then secondary topics included in the body. This allows us to put more Information for the single page. Many instructors (but not this model) make the numbering to correspond to each half day of the course, so that a four-day course has eight numbered bullets.. You can leave the mock up date and price and ATI will correct those when the dates are set. Make sure that we know whether the course is 2, 3 or 4 days long.

Major elements are:

Title ( Can only be 4 or 5 words to fit across the page in a large font. ) Subtitle: Recommend using the subtitle to convey more specific focus, benefits or "Applications to". This can be 8 to 10 words long as a smaller font is used. Subtitles are read by someone skimming a brochure and can catch their interest.

Summary ( this may be longer in other outlines than in the example) State the course length In the summary ( i.e. This three-day course). Notice the "illustrated by worked examples, using published data for actual satellite communication systems" and mentioning specific system names that are discussed. The student gets the message that the course will be applied to real systems and specific hard engineering data will be provided. Normally want to go from fundaments to " Current state-of-the art technology". If textbook or software is included mention it in the summary. Normally we do not give out textbooks unless the instructor is the author because of the logistics and costs of ordering books for an unknown and changing number of students. The students love to receive software and a list of key Internet sites. If you have a business related web site, include the address here or in the Instructor section.

Instructor: This must be brief, especially if there is more than one instructor. Less interest in your schools and history than your accomplishments, the systems that you worked on and books that you published. You want to convey the messages that you have X years of experience and worked on many successful systems.

Photograph: Normally we also include a head and shoulders publicity photo. Send this in a separate email, do not embed it in the document.

What you will learn: Very important. These bullets are the real world key items and information that the student expects to take away from the course and uses to help convince his boss to pay for the course. This should be 6 -10 bullets.Good words: "How to calculate, How to design, Specific system comparisons, Important, The latest, "Spend more space here and less on your resume. Best format would be in bullet form with 6-8 words. At end, state in one sentence the key message that motivates the student to take your class. How will it benefit the student/employee/employer. Try to develop such a sentence to highlight the basic reason for taking the course. Write several versions and I will help you select the most effective focus sentence.

Dates, Location and Tuition: ATI supplies, but this takes a quarter of the right hand column. Leave the current information as a place holder.

Course Outline: Divide into major topic areas. Many instructors assign a major topic to each half-day of the course. Good things to include explicitly are case studies, example of a systems design, emerging trends. Generic terms such as Introduction, History convey little information and should be avoided. The Satellite Communication Systems Engineering pushes the upper limit on the amount of material that can fit in the outline. Notice that the sub-topics appear in-line, not as separate lines for each sub-topic. Convey the information covered in some depth, but aim for about 250 to 350 words, depending on the number of separate topics. Each new major topic heading requires a new line, so you can get n more information if you limit yourself to 8 to 10 major topic headings and put the sub-topics in-line. Should not be sentences, but key words and phrases. Do not indicate in the outline AM or PM or the day count. Just number the 8-10 major subject areas.

Graphic Images and Videos: Do you have a course related image or video that would enhance the Internet page? Examples may include a cover from a text book that you wrote, Key summary figures from your notes or an interview that you've given. Graphics are especially good if they contain hard engineering reference data or system comparisons. Send these separately.

Good Words to Use: comprehensive, latest technology, state-of -the-art, practical, targeted, critical, new, proven, lessons learned, traps, avoid common mistakes, highlight, advances, optimize, master, survey, receive, system trade-offs, system comparisons, free software, free MATLAB code

Testimonials: Excerpt positive comments from previous attendees. Testimonials are best if we can attribute them to a named person from a specific company. We can use as many as you have on our web site and 2 or 3 in the brochure.

Download the model course description here. One successful approach is to make a copy of the course brochure page below that is in Word and just cut and paste directly into the page as a template. Many instructors use few numbered topic areas (say 8-10) in the course outline.

Before the course:

After the course:

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