Any professional who has achieved some success in his field, thinks about sharing his knowledge with others, creating his own educational program. Why not, because this is not only a great way to propiate yourself as an expert, but also an opportunity to make money on your knowledge. I made a step-by-step guide that will help you start your educational course from scratch.
Select a topic
Despite the fact that you are well versed in your subject area, do not try to make one universal curriculum at once about everything. Start with a small program for beginners. What are the foundations of your profession? What skills should a specialist have in order to qualify for a junior or even an intern position in your field? Answer these questions and this is what your first course will be dedicated to.
Beginners in any subject are less demanding, and the chances for success of the first program with this choice multiply. Also, starting with the basics in your area, you leave yourself an obvious opportunity for the future development of your educational project.
Make a Draft Program
You already imagine a future curriculum, but it is always better to formulate its description in the document. Start with the formal moments: memorable name, portrait of the target audience, duration in hours, presentation of the program experts.
If you have enough competencies and time to do at least one launch of the program yourself, do so. Additional experts should be attracted exclusively for working out narrow topics in which you may not be strong.
Give a short description of the program: what topics in it will be disclosed and, most importantly, what the graduate will learn.
Then the most important thing in this document is a structured description of the theoretical part. Begin with thematic blocks, then detail the description before classes, and in the classes, write out as many abstracts as possible on a particular topic.
The optimal volume of the program looks approximately as follows: 3-5 thematic blocks for 2-4 lessons in each. Totally the optimal volume of the entry-level course is 10-12 lessons of two hours for humanitarian topics and one hour for complex technical and mathematical studies.
In the same document, describe separately how you see the practical component of the course. Sometimes it’s worth starting not with the first lesson, but at the end – what can be the final result of the student’s work on the course. For example, strategy, presentation, design layouts, project, analytical calculations, software product and so on. And, having already fixed the result, you can try to decompose its achievement into steps in the reverse order.
Create landing page
Exactly at this point, you should think about making a landing page describing all the benefits of your training program and begin collecting applications. You will say that it is too early, because we have nothing but a document with an approximate description of the program. But there is no need for more information for the course page. And to test the hypothesis whether your educational product will be in demand, preferably before you spend a lot of time on its detailed elaboration.
Put the start date of your course approximately two months after the announcement was published. This time you should be enough to work out the materials of classes.
Since you are a recognized expert in your field, we will not tell you how to advertise your course. I note only one nuance: at first you should personally be engaged in sales of your product. Process applications in person, communicate with potential students, ask them as many questions as possible. This will allow you to refine the portrait of your target audience.
Start work on materials
So, the announcement is launched, applications have started to arrive – it’s time to get involved in the program materials. By default, we have chosen the synchronous training format – this is when there is a start date, there is a timetable for classes, a training group is formed and all participants will watch the webinars. Such a format is the easiest to implement and further motivates students to learn.
In the framework of the webinar, you can either tell the story, based on the presentation, or through the demonstration of the desktop to show the real workflows in services and applications.
In order not to waste time on webinars explaining the basic principles of working with applications and services or demonstrating the settings of something, I advise you to write a screencast with comments and offer it as additional materials for classes. But remember that the screencasts do not see the keys that you press, so either say them, or display them as text. I can recommend the service Camtasia Studio – it’s a little more than just grabbing a picture from the screen, but you need a little more.
While working on presentations to classes, try to stop yourself in the desire to cram into the lecture everything that you know on the topic. This is the most common mistake!
Remember that the amount of information that you give to students is far from being equal to the amount of information that they absorb.
To estimate how much time you will take a lesson in the finished presentation, calculate the time based on the ratio of “one slide – 2 minutes”. Thus, a lecture for 1 hour should consist of 20-25 slides. Do not forget about time for questions and communication with students!
Take care of the technical support
There is a sufficient number of LMS (learning management system) on the market, which you can choose as a platform for your course. But all of them in one form or another require tuning, adaptation, integration with other services, so while you can do without them, use well-known tools. It can be like Google Docs , and any custom-made task manager.
One lesson may include a link to the video (or a link to a future webinar), additional materials in the form of presentations and articles, tests, a description of the practical task, a questionnaire with feedback collection. There may be something else, but all this can be implemented in Google Docs or in Trello and Basecamp cards. Do not complicate the presentation of the student’s private office at the first stage.
You will need a webinar platform. Webinar.ru or Clickmeeting.com – both services work fine, choose any. If you are not going to send a letter to each student manually, you will need the service to work with mailings. Suitable for almost any. For example, Getresponse.ru with a simple and understandable to any newbie interface.
Also, think about whether you need any services for your students to perform practical tasks. It is always better to study in real conditions, and not to expound the theory on paper.
Now you are armed with everything you need and are ready for your first lesson.
Prepare for a webinar
Since the webinar is your main point of contact with students, everything should be perfect in it.
Preparation for the first lesson
Congratulations: a group of students is collected and in just a couple of days your first webinar will be held. Now is the time to send students a small installation letter. In it you can include a short description of what will be on the course, how the theory and practice will be built, introduce students to your colleagues in the maintenance of the program. And also this is a great moment to clarify the students’ expectations of the program. Create a simple questionnaire that will include questions about the goals of student learning, as well as general questions that will help you create a portrait of the group.
Links to the webinar should be sent a couple of hours before the start and necessarily 10-15 minutes before it starts. So you will ensure the maximum turnout. Send a link for the day there is no point.
I recommend to get a HD-camera and a good headset or microphone. Do not expect that the camera and microphone built into your laptop will provide good quality. If the budget allows, buy a simple light – one small LED-panel will be enough.
The plain background is not discussed. Do not even think of going on air against the background of domestic interiors or office shelving.
Make sure the camera is set to your eye level. To do this, you can use a special stand for a laptop or simply put under it a stack of magazines or books. Try to make a frame with you close to the television: between your top and the top edge of the frame should be a small gap. It is small! And the lower edge of the frame should pass in the middle of the chest.
The most common mistake in choosing a frame: the speaker looks at the laptop from top to bottom. Students have a feeling that the speaker is hanging over them, and this clearly does not add comfort.
The most horrible thing that can happen is unplanned technical problems: the camera did not connect, the microphone does not work, the students do not see the presentation and so on.
Therefore, do not be lazy to test the connection 30-40 minutes before the session, so that there is time for troubleshooting.
Also check the connection speed. To conduct a regular webinar with a presentation, it should be at the level of 2-3 Mb / s. If you plan to do a desktop demonstration, then 4-5 MB / s. I also advise you to connect to the Internet via cable for a webinar. This will provide additional guarantees of stability.
Conducting a webinar
If you do not have experience in conducting webinars, at first you may find it strange to talk to a monitor in an empty room. However, remember that you are not alone. Feel the presence of students you can. Ask them questions, joke, ask at the beginning of the lesson to feel free and express more emotions in the chat.
You also need to look at the camera as much as possible while conducting the lesson. Also try to avoid pauses, all the time you say something, even if you just comment on what is happening on the screen, like a flyer. And do not hesitate to contact students by name, they like it!
In order for your students to have good impressions of the time spent, it is worthwhile to take care of what you will take their attention out of class. Create a closed group on Facebook, add all the students and participants of the process to your side. But do not expect that the chaotic management of the group will give its results.
In advance, think over the content plan for your closed community.
What can be included in it: reminders about classes, thematic articles for classes, provocations for discussions and so on. Try to hold competitions in the group, it always gives an additional dynamics. And it’s always worth starting to get acquainted: tell us a little about yourself and ask your students to do the same.
When you have a stable set-by-set and you have to follow not one at a time, but at once several groups in Facebook, start using postponed posting services. You enter in them the materials of your content plan, specify the desired publication dates and no longer worry about the materials of your closed group. Very comfortably! For starters, you can use the simple and convenient Kuku.io service, you should have enough of its free features for the first time.
Prepare practical assignments
No training program can do without a practical component. Think over and describe each practical task. Start with the wording of the goal and the description of the skill that is being developed within the task. Further describe the essence of the task in simple language and propose an algorithm for its implementation. The more detailed the specific steps to achieve the goal, the better. Be sure to add to the task an example of the implementation with comments.
Do not try to attach a practical task to each lesson, but the more they are in the course, the better. At the same time, the fulfillment of each task should not be taken from an unprepared student for more than 1-3 hours.
The speed of the response to practical assignments of students is critically important. The optimal waiting time for the student is 1-2 days, then he either starts to get nervous, or loses interest in this task and learning as a whole. Therefore, as soon as you feel that you can not provide the necessary feedback speed, immediately involve the assistants in the process.
Provide a diploma project
The diploma project is a good opportunity for each student to sum up the results of the training, ask the last questions, record the experience gained and put an end to the training. Therefore, do not neglect the stage of writing a diploma, give the student an opportunity to feel the significance of the moment.
The task for the diploma project can be either the preparation of a certain compilation done in the framework of training work, or a full work on a new project under the guidance of a mentor. Students with less motivation can choose a simple first way, and diligent children will make a choice in favor of a new integrated project.
Defense of the diploma before the commission though also the exciting moment, but it is remembered as something positive.
Give each student the opportunity to protect their work. Invite to protect your colleagues, this will add significance to the event.
It will also be interesting for students to visit the back of the webinar – this is also an additional experience that they can come in handy.
Remember your “lawyers”
In any group there are always students especially involved in the educational process. Try to make friends with them. If your training program succeeds, you will be able to invite them to participate in future kits as mentors for new students. They will also be able to help you with the routine maintenance of the program. This is a great example of win-win-relationships.
In addition, create and maintain a community of your graduates. After all, they are the guarantee of a good reputation for your curriculum.
Even if your course is completely online and its students live in different cities, find the opportunity to hold regular face-to-face meetings. This is a very good tool for maintaining the tone of your community graduates.
I am sure that you take your project seriously and immediately after the idea was formulated, you have already spent time building a business plan . If not, do it now. In this there is nothing complicated. Write out the planned expenses separately for the periods, and then try to guess what the revenue part should be, so that your entire enterprise makes sense.
If you do this exercise honestly and include not only direct costs for services, marketing and fees to experts, but also the cost of your time to support this project and taxes, then it is more likely that you will not greatly rejoice in profit. But do not worry. Profit becomes more noticeable when the project begins to grow and some of the costs begin to be shared between different groups.