Planning Your Course

First Steps

So, you’ve got the skills and you want to teach them. Now what? Video courses are a great way to learn—engaging, immersive and always at your fingertips—but there are some pitfalls to watch out for. Audio, presentation and video all have the potential to distract your viewer and detract from your skills and experience as a teacher. We want to help you get those things right, so that your courses shine!

Now that you’re working with one of our editors to plan out your course, it’s time to think about what equipment, resources and techniques you’ll need to bring your lessons to life.

The keys to great video teaching are:

  • A clear structure that encourages comprehension and information retention. You want to make sure that you’re introducing new concepts with clarity, showing examples that help to explain things to inexperienced viewers, and structuring your lessons in a way that reinforces what they’ve learned.
  • Upbeat, well-paced presentation that’s engaging and easy to listen to. You shouldn’t speak too fast (especially when teaching key points) but you also don’t want your listeners to doze off!
  • Visuals that clearly illustrate what you’re trying to teach, and are uncluttered and distraction-free.
  • Audio that’s clear and easy to listen to, at an appropriate volume.
  • Become familiar with our Instructor Guide and Style Guide, paying specific attention to Slides, and Voice and Tone.

Planning Your Course

Before you jump in and start buying equipment or recording your course, it’s good to do some planning. The goal is to get comfortable with what you’re going to teach and how your lessons will be structured, so that when it comes time to start recording, it’s a fast and smooth process. Be sure you are familiar with the Creating a Course portion of the Instructor Guide.

It’s up to you how to go about this, but we’ve got some tips that might help you get started:

  • Look at each lesson in your course plan and think about how best to teach it in the time available.
  • Plan out how to introduce key concepts clearly, and how to articulate them well.
  • Write out a plan for each lesson so that you know what you’re going to say and how you’re going to show the things you’re teaching.
  • Figure out what resources you need to get yourself confident during recording. Some people like to have a full script drawn up, while others have a spare monitor with notes, important links and other things ready to keep themselves on track. Whatever works!
  • Leave your introduction video until last. It's much easier to create a compelling introduction once you've finished the rest of the course. Read all about how to create an efffective introduction in the Introduction Videos section of the Instructor Guide.
  • Don't forget to review our self promotion guidelines before recording, to make sure you understand what is and isn't allowed.

Examples of teaching techniques:

  • Example #1: Simultaneously showing and telling how to get set up for the course, including downloading the source files, and finding and installing the program.
  • Example #2: Using slides to explain what will be covered in the course as well as editing techniques to shorten long processes efficiently.
  • Example #3: Talking through the different menus and key controls while demonstrating the same information on screen. Also, moving from screencasting Photoshop to a full screen view of the final image at the end of the lesson.

Teaching via Video Courses

There are several different visual techniques you can use to make your screencast interesting to watch. Here are some common ones and when to use them:

  • Show what’s going on. This technique is used for the majority of screencasts. You’re simply showing exactly what you’re doing on screen as you’re doing it, with a few small cuts or transitions where needed.
  • Show sped-up/cut together segments. This technique is used when you want to show a summary of your work in progress (for example, in the introduction video, when you’re showing your viewers what’s to come in the course) or when you want to show a process happening faster than real time. It can be used when showing work that doesn’t need to be followed precisely (like detail work in an illustration course, where anyone following along should be adding their own creative touch) or when a particular process is extremely slow (like downloading or exporting a necessary application or file). It’s only useful when the viewer doesn’t need to follow along actively, so it should be used with caution.
  • Show full-screen still images. If you’ve got a final product to show off or want to make a side-by-side comparison of different stages of the course, this is one way to do it. These should be used sparingly.
  • Use slides. At their most useful when you want to introduce a new lesson title or a single concise idea, slides are a great way to summarise what you’re talking about in a written format. No lesson in your course should be 100% slides, but you can incorporate them where needed.
  • Keep the screencast interesting but visually simple. If you decide to use effects keep them subtle. Don’t add tracers, zooming, exaggerated motion or other distracting elements.