Actually recording and making your online course is a step that a lot of people fear. They're concerned about technology issues, or not knowing how to create an online course that looks professional.
This article will help you with both these issues and more.
Before we get started on this though I want to say one thing for you to keep firmly in mind:
Keep It Simple And Get It Done!
It's absolutely possible to make a great entry level online course in a relatively short space of time if you stay focussed.
It’s easy to get lost creating a course with too much detail – a common problem when you know a lot about a subject.
As I discussed in the previous article about how to structure your online course, you should deliver your course's one big outcome or transformation in a simple, clear and easy way, and in the shortest time possible.
As you’re creating the course material, continue to ask yourself – is this particular bit vital to teaching the overall outcome. If it’s not, then discard. Don’t make your course any longer or more complicated than it needs to be.
You are aiming for clarity, simplicity, structure; detail where it matters – all delivered with your own unique personality, knowledge and experience to back it up.
Ok, so with that all firmly in mind, how do you actually create your course?
The core output of your course creation should be a set of videos.
The reason for this is simple: video is a great medium for learning - it’s the closest thing to learning in person.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ve got to stand there in front of a camera and film yourself teaching the course like you would in a class (although for some people this might be how you want to do it).
There are two basic approaches here and which one you should take comes down to what you’re teaching:
This will work for most people, especially if you are teaching knowledge or concept-based information. It’s a simple, cheap and quick way to make a good quality course.
1) You make a PowerPoint or Keynote presentation for each module
2) Play the slideshow on your computer and talk over the top of the slides as you go – as if you are giving the lesson for that module
3) Use a good microphone (see recommended tools) combined with some screen capture software (Camtasia for PC, ScreenFlow for Mac) to record your slides & voice
4) The software will then produce a video file as the output for each lesson of your course, which is then uploaded to whichever online course platform you use.
If this sounds complicated, don’t worry it isn’t - there are free demos at the following links showing how to use both Camtasia and ScreenFlow and there are plenty of tips about how to make good PowerPoint and Keynote slides out there on the internet too. Check this out for starters
This way of recording your course is quite simple and intuitive - you don't even need a camera and you don't need to film yourself if you don't want.
Just focus on delivering great course content and you can have it made relatively fast.
This is more suitable if you are teaching a practical technique and need to show it in the flesh.
For example if you’re teaching something like cooking techniques, yoga or art.
To make sure your videos look good like this, you’ll probably need to either pay a film maker for a few days’ of work (easiest option!), or get a camera and learn how to do it yourself (more difficult and time consuming option!).
I made my mushroom growing course mostly using Powerpoint Slides & Screen Capture software, so I’m afraid this is not something I know a lot about.
I do know that lighting, camera angle and backgrounds are important, and that you can make pretty good quality videos on your smartphone even.
If this is the route you want to go down, check out a guy called Caleb Wojcik - aka The DIY Video Guy - who teaches how to make your own quality videos.
He has a good free webinar he made for Teachable about how to create videos for your online course - just skip the beginning & start at around 9 minutes in.
You can, of course, mix and match these two broad approaches to creating your course by making and then embedding some short film clips into your PowerPoint/Keynote presentations.
That’s what we did with our mushroom growing course and it’s quite simple to do. We paid a local film maker for 2 days of his time to film and edit some particular practical techniques and then just dropped them in the relevant spots amongst our slides.
The average attention span of an adult is just 8 seconds, and while the people who join your course will stay focussed on your lessons for longer than that, it's really important to keep each video lesson short and shard to keep people engaged.
Ideally, no individual lesson should be longer than around 20 minutes. If it is, you should split it up into separate lessons.
Depending on your course content, you should be able to make most lessons between 5-10 minutes long.
If you do this your students will thank you for and be much more engaged in your course.
Sure, you might end up with quite a few lessons for each module, but this can actually help to create structure in your course and make it easier for your students to work their way through it and come back to find particular parts again at a later date.
It also makes it easier for you to feel like you're making progress as you record each lesson.
A large part of the process for creating your online course will consist of a number of hours editing whatever material you record.
You can do this is Camtasia or Screenflow before producing the final video files. Again there are tutorials out there about how to do this or you could even consider outsourcing the process to a freelancer from your local community, or online from somewhere like Upwork.com.
The main thing you’ll need to do is cut out any long pauses, mistakes or ummms and errrs so that the final videos flow well. You can also add in bits you may have missed the first time around by re-recording and then splicing these bits in.
It's incredibly important to make sure you actually just get the editting done and produce the final videos that make up your course.
It's tempting to keep editting over and over and trying to perfect everything. Remember that people want to learn from you and your individual style is part of that.
It doesn't need to be absolutely perfect - it's completely fine to be a little rough round the edges..especially if it's a starter course you're making.
· Microphone: Snowball Ice by Blue Microphones
Very important to have a good microphone or your course will have a low quality feel to it. I can recommend the above as a quality but low cost option, or the Rode Podcaster if you’ve got a bit more money to spend and want to create studio quality sound.
Even if you’re not filming much of your course on camera, you probably still want a decent webcam to record yourself speaking directly to your audience/course subscribers, for example when making short introduction videos or final messages at the end of a course.
· Screen Capture Software
I hope this module doesn’t leave you feeling overwhelmed.
There’s no doubt that it requires work and some investment to carry out, and it can seem like a huge task.
But, really, it’s not rocket science. It’s something almost anyone could learn to do with a little time and effort.
Don’t get too bogged down worrying about how exactly it all works or thinking you’re not capable.
Just know that you can do it.
And take things one step at a time.
It’s important to build momentum and complete the process in small stages.
Bit by bit, it comes together, and then all of a sudden you'll realise the work is done.
You have a course ready to put up online & sell!