It's really important to consider the structure of your course before getting started. If you take the time to create a clear, logical course structure, it'll be a far more valuable piece of educational content.
Each course on Tuts+ is made up of several lessons. We have three distinct types of courses here at Tuts:
- Full Courses: These contain anything from 10 to 30 lessons, or occasionally more. They are between 70 and 120 minutes in length.
- Short Courses: These contain 4 to 10 lessons and are between 30 and 45 minutes in length.
- Coffee Break Courses: These are even shorter courses that allow us to teach a single skill or concept in just one sitting. They contain two lessons, an introduction and the course lesson, and are between 7 and 12 minutes in length.
Each lesson should focus on both theoretical and practical information. The goal of any Tuts+ course is to get the student started now. That means the top priority for your lesson is to provide a complete level of content and information that the student needs to act. Tuts+ courses are frequently designed around a specific project or goal. Your lessons should always keep that goal in mind.
A good title is critical to a course's success. Take care when choosing a title and follow the guidelines below.
- Course titles should be brief, easy to understand and consistent with past courses.
- The most important attribute is that they are simple and straightforward. For example, Introduction to Photography is better than Photography: From Amateur to Amazing.
All of the lessons in a course should be grouped into chapters, with each chapter covering its own theme, topic, or project.
- Every course should have several chapters. Never put all of the lessons into a single group.
- Every course must have an introduction chapter and a conclusion chapter.
- As a rule of thumb, shoot for six videos or less per chapter.
- To see an example course outline, check out the Course Notes page.
Course descriptions are the first point of contact with the student. They should be very carefully written to introduce the content in the course and entice the student to proceed. A description should:
- Be no more than a single paragraph
- Entice the student to view or purchase the course
- State who the course is for
- Focus on what the student will do and learn ("In this course, you'll do this" or "In this course, you'll learn that")
- Be written in the "voice of Tuts+" (third person) instead of the voice of the instructor (first person)
Example: In this course, you'll learn all the core fundamentals of photography in less than two hours. Award-winning photographer John Smith will take you along on several real client shoots so you can see how a little bit of technical knowledge can drastically impact real-world shooting scenarios. Whether you're looking to launch a new career or simply take better photos of your family, this is the place to start.
It's very important that all our courses clearly convey that they are from Tuts+, strictly adhering to our branding guidelines both visually and in terms of voice and tone.
- Every course should begin with instructors identifying themselves as being from "Envato Tuts+" pronounced [en-vah-toe tuhts plus] and spoken as "Envato Tuts Plus."
- Instructors should avoid overshadowing our brand by mentioning their own company or website (authors are encouraged to use their profile for personal promotion).
- Instructors should follow our Voice and Tone Guide.
- All course slides should use our templates.
We encourage you to include any project files that will enable the viewer to follow along with the lesson videos. Project files should:
- Be neatly organized and consistently named.
- Never include resources that you did not create yourself (fonts, stock photos, music, etc.).
- If your course would benefit from the inclusion of a list of requirements, shopping list, or lesson descriptions in the project files then use our document template. You can see this document in action in this example PDF.
Creating interesting and compelling end results is important. Whether you're building a web app, or designing a typeface, it's crucial that the end result is a good solution to the problem you're trying to solve. If it's a visual course, think about the diversity of the end result your project works towards.
The video files that you submit for your course will often be made available to download. Video files should be:
- Clearly organized and consistently named with title of each lesson
- Numbered for easy sequential viewing
- Provide the “why” for lessons as well as "how". Explain the choices you make during a demo. If you’re teaching a student to install WordPress for his or her portfolio, make sure to mention why WordPress is the right CMS for the project.
- Show rather than tell. Screencasts are incredibly flexible tools. Demonstrate the skill or task whenever possible. Interesting examples and live projects are always popular with our students. Our students especially respond to "course projects" or demonstrated projects and source files they can complete along with you.
- Refer to the content of other lessons of Tuts+ resources whenever applicable. This is especially true if you’re asking the student to complete a task that will be built upon in the next lesson or relies on something in a previous lesson.
- Briefly acknowledge alternatives. If you’re simplifying the lesson by choosing X over Y, that’s great! It’s sufficient to explain why and briefly alert the student that there are other options, should they want.
- Avoid directing the student somewhere else, or telling them to "google it". If it’s a vital step in the lesson and central to what you’re asking the reader to do, you must be willing to demonstrate the task in the lesson.
- Provide "further reading" if necessary. If you’re absolutely unable to cover a topic fully, you can provide “further reading” links in the Lesson Notes (just include these in your course notes document).