Course Creation

HOW TO CREATE COURSE

Create professional content everybody will love

The first step in creating a great course is deciding exactly what you’ll teach, who you’re creating your course for, and what those students are looking to accomplish.

It’s not just picking a course topic – instead, you’ll specify your course goals and target student to understand exactly who you’re hoping to teach. Defining your target student and course goal helps you create a solid foundation for building a successful course.

Define your target students


Who is your course for? Many instructors say “my course is for everyone. Anyone can take it!” But if your course is for “everyone”, it actually means that it’s tailored to no one in particular. Think about it: a course for beginners would have to include a lot of introductory material that just wouldn’t be applicable to people with experience. That means there will be a lot of information in your course that will only apply to a small number of students. If students have to sit through irrelevant information they’re likely to leave low reviews. Too broad a focus will also make your course creation more difficult as you won’t know what to leave out so you’ll try to include everything. 

Narrow it down. Courses that speak to a specific audience have a higher enrollment rate and more positive reviews. If you identify a specific target student, that student, when looking at your course description and curriculum will recognize themselves and they’ll know, without a doubt, “Yes, this is the right course is for me.”

It’s easier to narrow things down by first deciding who your course is NOT for. This would be someone who’s interested in your topic, but they want it for a specific purpose, at a certain level, and taught in a particular style that doesn’t match what you’re going to offer.

Student pain point. What pain point, need, or desire is your student coming to your course with? This is important to think about because this is the motivation for your students to take the course in the first place.

It can be hard to put yourself in a students mindset. We suggest talking to people you know who might be interested in or benefit from learning more about your topic. Ask them a few questions about why they might consider taking your course. What is their biggest problem with your topic and what do they want to know more about?

Define your target student. What problem does your course solve? Think about the pain points or needs people have on a day-to-day basis. What projects or tasks do your students hope to accomplish after taking your course? Ask yourself: why should my course exist?

Take students to Transformation


Remember why people take courses in the first place – they want to change something about their life. They believe that if they take your course, they’re going to get a solution to a problem aka they’ll experience a change or transformation in what they know.

The key to a good course is that there is a transformation and by the end of the course your students knows something they didn’t before.

Successful course is a short and sweet shortcut to an outcome. You don’t have to worry about how long your content is or how beautiful your slides are as long as someone learns from your course. You simply have to get them to the transformation, and preferably in the fastest time possible. With this said, whenever you have questions while you are creating your course simply ask yourself, “Will this affect whether my students make it to the transformation or not?” If it is a yes, do it. If it is a no, then don’t worry about it.

If you want your students to stay with you in your course and maximize completion rates you want to keep them excited throughout the course.

Outline Your Course The Right Way


When you sit down to break up your course into sections and lectures remember that your end goal is to take students to a transformation. Every section should be a big step to the goal and you can create small lectures within each section.

To get them to that transformation make a check-list of skills they need to have and then place them in order of achievement/learning – this is your outline. Your outline will most de nitely evolve as you make the course and you’ll add lectures that you forgot about to connect the others.

Creating Course Outline


Any course has 3 parts – a beginning, middle and end. There are different best practices for each of them.

The first 15 minutes:
The goal at the beginning of your course is to motivate and hook your students. You do this with a compelling intro video and by immediately providing value.

  • Intro lecture. The intro lecture should be 2-4 minutes, and answer the following questions:
    • What am I going to learn in this course?
    • What will I be able to do by the end of the course?
    • Who is this instructor and why is she the best person to be teaching this course?
    • Will this course be fun and engaging?
  • Provide value right away by providing a “quick win” within the first three lectures. This is something that is easy enough for beginner students to do, yet provides them with a feeling that they’ve progressed in a topic early on.

The middle of your course:

This is the main part of your course, where you teach the topic and skills that your students came to learn.

  • Address one skill per section. Give students a chance to make progress every few lectures. A section should ideally contain 3-5 lectures and focus on helping students acquire one new relevant skill.
  • Stick to one concept per lecture. Don’t try to cover too much in a single lecture. One video should be 2-6 minutes long.
  • Make sure your sections add up to the course goals. While each section should help students acquire one new skill, all the sections together should add up to deliver on all the skills your course promises to address in your course goals.
  • Add at least 1 practice activity per section. Students want, more than anything, to apply what they’ve learned. As you map out your course outline, consider different projects, quizzes and exercises you can integrate into your course to help students practice and build on concepts they’ve learned.
  • Include additional resources. Don’t forget to make a note of additional resources you want to add, like checklists, worksheets, or templates.

The end of your course:
End your course with a strong finish that leaves students with a feeling of reward. Students who feel rewarded are more satisfied with the course and generally leave more positive reviews.

  • Final lecture. At the very least you should include a congratulations lecture. But there are many other creative ideas for final lectures that delight students and leave them with a sense of accomplishment.
  • Bonus lecture. A bonus lecture is the last lecture of the course, typically after the concluding lecture. This is the place where you can market other courses or products.

 

POLISHING YOUR OUTLINE


Review your outline one more time: Are you starting strong, and exciting students in the first 15 minutes? Do all of your sections build on each other, and help students reach the goal?

Are your sections well-rounded with a motivating beginning and end? Do you have strong lectures, activities, and additional resources to help students learn the skills well? Are you ending on a high note?

Review your outline before jumping into the next steps of course creation. This will ensure the rest of your journey will run smoothly.

Get Your Students Results Early


It’s common for teachers to drown their students in theory and advanced concepts early on. Don’t be this teacher. Instead, when you plan your course out, which we’ll do soon, make sure to get them on a journey of consistent little wins.

For example:

• A course on meditation: Have your students sit down and meditate for 5 minutes (they’ll feel like they’re doing something)

• A course on vegetarian cooking: Have students cook something so easy they can’t mess it up and is delicious. Or show them different chopping styles and have them cut something up in those different styles. They’ll see progress in front of them.

Highlight Student Progress


Make sure to point out the progress your students are making. Remind them of how far they’ve come. Set up your course so students can’t fail. The best way to do this is start with small achievable tasks, doing competence checks and moving on to more difficult things. Be sure to point on the progress they are making. If you’re on a lesson in the middle of your course, you could point out how what they learned in lessons 1 has become second nature.

Be encouraging and positive whenever possible. Leave students coming out of your course feeling like they can do it versus they have homework.

Set Reasonable Expectations


Don’t overpromise to your students. Let them know they won’t be a pro the first time they try something new and communicate how much progress they should be making at each point. If you don’t then your students may turn to you as an example, which might be too far advanced for the course, or they’ll feel confused about if they’re succeeding or not. No brainer, you want them to feel like they’re succeeding.

Don’t overpromise to your students. Let them know they won’t be a pro the rst time they try some- thing new and communicate how much progress they should be making at each point. If you don’t

– your students may turn to you as an example, which might be too far advanced for the course, or they’ll feel confused about if they’re succeeding or not. No brainer, you want them to feel like they’re succeeding.

Don’t overpromise to your students. Let them know they won’t be a pro the rst time they try some- thing new and communicate how much progress they should be making at each point. If you don’t

– your students may turn to you as an example, which might be too far advanced for the course, or they’ll feel confused about if they’re succeeding or not. No brainer, you want them to feel like they’re succeeding.

Keep the students involved


Keep students involved in your course by giving them small achievable tasks after each lecture. You can even directly ask students to comment or paste their projects so they can discuss with others.

This does a number of things. First it makes students feel invested and thus attached to the course if they’ve been producing things along the way. When you engage students with you, the course and other students, it makes them feel like a part of something – and to be honest, they are.

Shorten Your Lecture Lengths


It’s very rare that people’s lectures are too short. It is much more common for lectures to be too long and drawn out. BUT a course is supposed to be a SHORTcut to an outcome.

People take your course to quickly learn something rather than trying to aggregate data online. You’ll win no bonus points for making the course longer than it should be.

While there are variations on what’s right and always exceptions, we generally keep lectures under 15 minutes and 5-8 minutes gives enough time
to talk through something without losing student attention spans. All the time, we have people say “but my video has to be longer.” Ask yourself – can you break it up?

Pretend you’re a student, you’re probably learning late at night or on the weekends, you are tired and you get to the next lecture. “Dang, this lecture is 40 minutes?!” Even at 20 minutes they’re asking themselves if they can make that time investment and wondering if they need to push until the next day. If they come into your course and each lecture is just five minutes – well, that’s quick. There is minimal time investment on their part and next thing they know they have finished four lessons back to back because they are easily digestible.

Try to keep each lesson to 1-2 key concepts. Break up longer video recordings into smaller segments. Don’t be overwhelming.

Title Your Lectures


Your lecture titles matter. First of all, your lecture titles help sell your course. When potential students land on your course landing page – they want to know what they’ll learn and previews the names of your sections and lectures.

When someone buys your course, they’re going to navigate around and see what the course looks like. Clear and value-forward titles enhance the idea you’re providing value. You can write them like sales copy: “Create mouthwatering content that leaves your students wanting more” for a lecture on creating content.

Practice activities for your students


Are you looking for more advanced training to really help you take your course to the next level? Learn how to add practice activities throughout your course to truly engage your students.

What is a Practice activity?
Practice activities can be anything that makes a student apply their learning. It can be a reflection question, project, worksheet, or quiz.

Why should you care?
We all know how it feels to be lectured endlessly on theory without any opportunities to actually get your hands dirty. Practice Activities help you make your content relatable for students. Practice activities can be anything that makes a student apply their learning. It can be a reflection question, coding exercise, project, worksheet, or quiz.

When you help students take the content they’ve learned and apply it to their own world, it makes the content much more engaging and valuable. Helping your students apply their knowledge in real-world ways is the most important part of teaching.

Students come to your course because they want to learn things that will impact their day-to-day life and see results. In fact, a lack of practical activities is the biggest reason why students leave negative reviews.

COURSE QUALITY

Checklists & Details

Minimum Requirements Checklist


A complete course has:

  • At least 30 minutes of video content
  • At least 5 separate lectures
  • Valuable educational content HD video quality (720p or 1080p)
  • Audio that comes out of both channels and is synced to video Audio quality that is not distracting to students

 

A complete course landing page has:

  • A high-quality course image (min. 2048×1152 pixels)
  • A well-written course title and subtitle that includes relevant keywords
  • A brief, honest, well-written course description
  • Clear course goals, target audience, and requirements that are easy and understand
  • A credible and complete instructor bio and profile picture

Student Experience Checklist


Students value quality content first and foremost. To create a course that satisfies students, we strongly recommend you familiarize yourself with course creation best practices in 3 key areas.

When taking your course, students judge professionalism on:

AUDIO QUALITY.

When students pay for a digital product, they tend to expect a certain level of professional polish.

Good audio has:

  • No background noises or hums (usually comes from electronics, appliances, environmental noise, and mic setup issues)
  • Little to no echo (usually comes from un-dampened hard surfaces in your recording space or from recording in too big a space)
  • No distracting “popping” sounds on “p” and “t” sounds (not all voices and mics have this problem, but if you do, a pop filter helps)

Adequate base volume that comes out of both headphone buds

VIDEO QUALITY.

HD video is now a universal expectation. Beyond that, students ability to see what’s on screen directly impacts the quality of their learning experience.

Good video is:

  • In HD, 720p or 1080p with 16:9 aspect ratio
  • Clear, not blurry, so students can see you and your learning material easily
  • Steady, not shaky
  • Well-framed and zoomed-in appropriately so students can easily follow along with what’s on screen
  • Well-lit and free of distractions in the video frame, so that it looks like you took a few minutes to tidy up and present yourself in a friendly and professional light

DELIVERY QUALITY.

Students expect you to sound like you know what you are talking about.

Good delivery includes:

  • Straightforward speaking style with very few “umms” and “ahhs”
  • The enthusiastic and energetic tone of voice. Recording equipment can strip some energy from your performance – aim to deliver a little more enthusiasm than usual
  • Clear pronunciation of words and use of pauses to emphasize important points

Learning Experience Checklist


When taking your course, students learn better when:

  • A 2-5 minute introductory lecture tells them what to expect in the course and each section
  • You challenge them with a quick win action within the first 3 lectures (or first 15 minutes)
  • You share useful content early in the course, avoiding spending too much time on background
  • Each section has a clear goal or primary skill, with all lectures building to reach that subgoal
  • Each lecture has 1 main concept and message (not 5!)
  • Each section has at least 1 learning activity, such as an exercise, project, or quiz to give students a chance to apply what they’ve learned
  • Lectures are between 2-6 minutes in length (exceptions: yoga or meditation)
  • Lecture formats vary throughout the course. Too much screencast or talking head can become tedious. Choose your lecture format based on the material you are teaching. Article (text) lectures and practice activities are great too.
  • They relate to the instructor. Talking head lectures build rapport, particularly early in a course. It’s easy to find the resources they need. Provide all needed resources, downloads, and links for each practice activity (ex. worksheets, practice files, etc.).

Clear Marketing


When deciding whether to take your course, students want to know:

  • What skills they will learn in your course. Start your course goals with strong action words that complete the sentence, “At the end of the course, you will be able to…”
  • Who the course is made for.Use descriptors such as level, industry, and learning intent to differentiate your target student. Saying your course is for “everyone” really means it’s for no one.
  • What kind of experience you’ll provide. A 2-3 minute promo video gives students a taste of your teaching style. We recommend summarizing the goals of the course and sharing what’s exciting and different about your course, so that students feel more confident in their purchase decision.
  • That it’s good value for the money. Your course price should be comparable to other courses in similar topics, length of content, and style of teaching. If it’s priced differently, explain why.
  • What key lectures will cover. Lecture descriptions add a layer of polish to your course curriculum and can make students more confident in their purchase decision.

CONTENT CREATION BASICS

Let’s start creating content

Remember that when creating your content, you should keep your audience wants and needs first. What we mean is choose the best content type to convey your point. Each content type has strengths and weaknesses.

Video content is extremely engaging, conveys emotions and helps you connect with your audience. By comparison, it can be quick to produce pretty good videos and time intensive to create “perfect” videos.

Screencasts are technology based recordings of what’s happening on your computer screen. They’re detail oriented, visual and explanatory.

Text is stagnant content that works well for explaining detail concepts in a way that may need to be referenced multiple times. Within a course, it’s great for giving additional explanation, details or critical information to review.

Slides are visual content that helps showcase the the most important information you’re explaining. By literally spelling it out for students, you’re helping organize complex concepts into an easily organized system of slides, bullets and sub bullets.

In addition, slides are a huge help to you. As you record your course content, you can use slides as speaking cues OR you can hide your scripts within presenter notes.

Your course will likely be a mix of a few or  even all of these. If you’re trying to get your students motivated in the first section, video may be the best option. If you’re simply talking through key points, slides are ideal.

Video Quality Standards


First impressions are important, and producing a high quality video is critical to increasing student engagement. Video/audio quality was essential to a good course experience.

Best practices:

  • Lecture Length: between 5-7 minutes.
  • Video Settings: HD video (720p minimum) with clear lighting, composition, and a steady camera exported in 16:9 format. These settings will ensure that your lectures are mobile optimized for mobile devices.
  • Lighting: Bright and balanced, with minimal shadows.
  • Framing: Use a clean, uniform, and non distracting backdrop. The background should contrast with the subject so that the speaker stands out.
  • File size: Use compression and upload video to your preferable video hosting with privacy protection. For most of our premium member support we are offering hosting at our platform.
  • Mobile Friendly: Featured text is large enough to read on a smaller screen.
  • Engagement: Use direct eye contact. Record as though you were speaking with close friends.

Before you record all of your lectures, send us a test video and have a our team member review your video (and audio) recording settings to ensure you are set up for success.

Minimum Requirements:

  1. Videos must be shot in HD (720p minimum) with clear lighting, framing, and steady camera.
  2. Videos must also include high-quality audio.
  3. Exported slide presentations with audio narration will not be approved unless they meet the following requirements:
  • Videos cannot be composed of a single static slide with audio narration.
  • All slides must be relevant to the narration and not simply subtitles for the audio.

Video Export Settings


Be sure to export your video lectures using the optimal export settings we recommend below.

Optimal Export Settings For Videos Recorded in 720p HD​

  • Adjust video compression format to H.264 or MPEG-4 (with an AAC or MP3 audio codec)
  • Data Rate/Bit Rate: 3000 kbits/seconds
  • 16:9 Aspect Ratio
  • Dimensions: 1280×720

Frame rate depending on the lecture format:

  • Frame rate for screencast videos: 10 Frames Per Second (10 FPS)
  • Frame rate for talking head videos: 30 Frames Per Second (30 FPS)

Optimal Export Settings For Videos Recorded in 1080p HD​

  • Adjust video compression format to H.264 or MPEG-4 (with an AAC or MP3 audio codec)
  • Data Rate/Bit Rate: 3000- 5000 kbits/seconds16:9 Aspect Ratio
  • Dimensions: 1920×1080

Frame rate depending on the lecture format:

  • Frame rate for screencast videos: 10 Frames Per Second (10 FPS)
  • Frame rate for talking head videos: 30 Frames Per Second (30 FPS)

Filming: Start


Now it’s time to film and finalize your course!

Filming good video takes trial and error. You’re going to have to do this multiple times to get it right, set it up, test it out, and iterate.

Filming Equipments Recommendation


High-Quality Microphone: There are many types of microphones out there all good for different types of recording and different levels of quality. We recommend a hands-free mic. This will produce better sound and make your life easier.

Many instructors do both screencast and talking head videos. If you’re planning on doing this too, get a microphone that works well for both.

High-Quality Camera: If you’re filming talking head videos, you’ll need a decent camera. While some of instructors have trouble finding the right microphone, some of great courses were filmed only with an iPhone camera. Don’t hesitate to try what you have at home. Remember, your videos must be in 720p HD.

Talking Head & Screencast


Talking Head Equipment Needed: 

  1. A high-quality microphone
  2. A decent quality camera
  3. Good lighting equipment or great natural lighting

Talking Head Lighting: 

  • Make sure you’re well lit and clearly visible, without any shadows on your face or in the background.
  • Try out all the lamps and natural light you have at home first, and if you’re still getting bad results, we recommend getting a tree point lighting kit. They cost about $120.

Screencast Equipment Needed: 

  1. A high-quality microphone
  2. A screen-casting software

Screen-casting software:

  • Quicktime Player
  • Camstudio
  • Jing

Setting up your studio


Many instructors typically use home studios to film their courses.

Let’s get started!

Step 1: Pick a room and set up your equipment.

Step 2: Think of something to talk about for about one minute. This can be anything really, you can introduce yourself, tell a funny story about or practice one of your lectures.

Step 3: Record the video – when you start filming, make sure you’re getting feedback and looking at your own videos very critically.

Step 4: Export your video.

Step 5: Upload your video online and send us example.

The first thing you must do before adding content to your course is submitting a test video. We will provide feedback to ensure your video meets the quality standards needed. Alternatively, your can request our premium support to guide you and assist in full course creation.

Step 6: When you receive feedback from us, make improvements to your current setup. It can take a few tries to get it right.

Pro Tip: Don’t hesitate to send a new test video after you’ve tried out the tips we provided. We’re here to work with you through as many versions as it takes. Send additional videos if you’re using different video formats (talking head and screencast) or changing something in your equipment or environment.

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