Instructors Guide (Step 1) – Planning Your Course
Planning is the first and most important phase of creating your course. Organized and engaged courses result in the best student experience, which means higher course reviews, longer watch times, and more students. In addition, putting in the effort to plan your course carefully will make the production phase much easier since you’ll be fully prepared to film.
In this section, we’ll cover the three steps for planning your course: choosing an engaging course topic, crafting a fun course project for your students, and drafting your video lesson outline so that you’re ready to record your course.
- Choose Your Topic
You can teach any topic you’re passionate about. Courses encompass a wide range of categories, and students are always eager to learn from new instructors who bring a unique style and perspective - that’s you! To ensure students are excited to watch and participate in your course, it’s important to choose a specific, project-based topic that you’re confident sharing.
- Get Specific
It's best to keep your course focused on a specific subject that you know well and are confident sharing. Don’t try to cover too much. A lightweight course that walks through a quick project you're comfortable with will resonate more with students.
Learn how a strong creative foundation and workable video ideas can help your training. Creative Strategy for Video Training
Drafting Your Course Outline
Filming a course is quick and easy when you prepare ahead of time by drafting a course outline. Outlining your course is one of the best ways to ensure your lessons are well-organized and engaging.
Use our course outline template to map out your lessons. The most popular courses include 20-60 minutes of total video content, broken down into a series of short 2-5 minute videos.
While constructing your outline, you'll need to think about the format you’ll use for each lesson. Here are some formats to consider (many instructors use a combination):
- Slide presentation
- Screencast workflow
- Talking head
- Physical demonstration
Next, sketch out your main talking points for each video lesson. Some instructors prefer to write out a full script for each video, while others are comfortable with detailed bullet points. Whichever method you choose, follow these best practices to ensure your video lessons are organized and engaging:
- Set the right expectations. In the first video of your course, start with a quick 30-60 second overview of what your course will cover so that students know what to expect. Establish credibility by giving students a taste of your style and what they will learn to do or create in the course. Share visual examples of your work or stories from your experience.
Quick 30-60 Second Overview Example:
Welcome to this course on Meetings. My name is David Martin, and over the years I have been to a lot of meetings. Mostly badly run, and they do seem to be one of the most disliked and criticized things that happen in organizations. So we've got to do something about meetings. Some people spend most of their days in them, and often the key decisions in companies are made in meetings, so it's important to get them right. I've got a whole lot of ideas for you on how to run a meeting, including the fact that there are four different types of meeting that all need to be run in particular different ways.
Also what you can do about people turning up late and how to easily get the action sent out to everyone straight after the meeting. Then since we mostly attend meetings rather than lead them, I've got a whole section for you on things you can do when you're attending bad meetings. You really can make a difference to meetings that have no agenda, when people go off track, and where you don't get your message heard. And finally, I have some thoughts on the future of meetings: Remote meetings, video conferencing, how to get everyone to participate fully, and how to get the best out of the technology with all its opportunities and limitations.
So let's get started.
- Keep it simple and direct. Stick to one major concept per lesson so that students aren’t overwhelmed with too much information, and reinforce key points by repeating them throughout your lessons.
- Vary your visuals. Find a balance with your visual style. For example, if you’re using a talking-head format in your video, cut to an image every so often to demonstrate your points. Especially with your first video, which serves as the trailer for your course, aim to refresh what students are seeing at least every 20-30 seconds. As you outline your course, think about where you’ll cut away to example images or slides to illustrate your points. Looking for a great tool for creating visuals in your course? Canva is easy to use and check out istockphoto.com
- Fill the gaps. The goal of your video lessons is to give students all the skills they need to successfully complete the course project or homework. As you go through your project demonstration, be sure to cover all the necessary steps in the process so that students are fully equipped to get started. Set students up for success by offering multiple ways to access the content. Consider including on-screen text, images, physical demonstrations of materials, and supplemental resources in the “Course Homework” lesson.
- Be relatable. Students prefer instructors who appear natural and conversational. Reference examples and anecdotes wherever possible to avoid dry content and keep students engaged. For example, tell students how you got into your field or about a favorite project you’ve done. Don’t be afraid to show your personality!
- Explain the why. Anticipate students misconceptions by asking yourself, “what is the most challenging part?” and narrate your creative decisions along the way. Tell students why you make particular choices with your project or use certain techniques so that they can get to know your process and style.
Once you’ve drafted your outline, feel free to email it to our Support team at email@example.com, or share it with our Help Community to get helpful feedback before you launch into filming.
Now get started with Step 2, Producing Your Course.