Today, an expert with nothing more than a laptop, it's built in camera and microphone and some free or inexpensive screen-casting software can build a profitable business creating learning experiences online. Thanks to the accessibility of top-notch online teaching tools, supports, and distribution channels, industry leading subject matter experts are in a unique position to grow their personal brands while impacting positive learning outcomes for the intellectually curious minds of the world, all without the help of expensive video production and instructional design agencies.
Whether you're a seasoned online learning expert or brand new to the scene, the process of creating an online learning experience can be both challenging and deeply fulfilling, especially during the video lesson planning phase. This post will equip you with 5 powerful tips to ensure you end up with only the most engaging online video lessons.
1. Start with micro-lessons
By narrowing your focus and producing videos with a concise message, you’re able to communicate more effectively and reach students whenever, wherever. So, start with videos that take 3 minutes or less to record.
Video hosting company, Wistia recently answered the question of, “does video length matter?” They gathered data on video length and engagement from all of the videos they host and not surprisingly, shorter videos received more engagement.
In addition to increased engagement, producing shorter videos allows you to create more of them, without an in-depth planning process each time. Micro-videos are much easier to plan and produce. By making your lessons bite-sized, you can start building your email list right away. Not to mention, how else will you get feedback?
Once you have enough bite-sized videos recorded, you can then think about re-packaging and offering them as an immersive, in-depth course experience.
2. Follow these basic production guidelines
When producing videos or screencasts for online learning and promotional reasons, there are some basic production guidelines that will help ensure your video is effective.
Video: Make sure everything is well lit, consistently framed and be sure to use high res 720p or HD. Acceptable file formats include .flv, .mp4 and .mov, just as long as files are kept under 1 GB.
Sound: It’s best to use a high quality microphone when recording audio. In a pinch however, your laptop or iphone’s built in microphone will do the trick, just make sure there’s no humming, buzzing or distracting background noise.
Transitions: Make sure your transitions from slide to slide, frame to frame, or slide to frame are seamless. Depending on what authoring or video editing tool you're using, this boils down to just utilizing features like "cross-dissolve" in iMovie for example. Learn more about How to Use Cross Dissolve Transitions Effectively in Video Editing here.
3. Create and rehearse a script
Even if it’s just an outlined script with talking points, some type of reference material will help you prepare for recording.
The video wizards over at Wistia suggest using Google Docs to work on scripts since you’re able collaborate with multiple people. If you’re the only one speaking in the video, any type of word processor or even pen and paper will do just fine.
The scripting exercise not only improves your familiarity with the content but also helps you turn it into something conversational. Not everything we write in a blog post or email will translate to video. That’s why it’s important to put it all “on paper,” and practice reading it out loud.
With script in hand, it’s now time to get in front of a mirror and practice. This is your chance to experiment with tone, inflexion, facial expressions, etc.
Practice doesn’t mean for several hours or weeks, it could be as simple as 3-4 reads and 2 takes of your video. You can do this today.
4. Follow design principles
In this recent post by SchoolKeep designer, Josh Kennedy titled, Follow These 10 Design Principles to Strengthen Your Online School's Brand we can get a quick snapshot of some of the most important design decisions we can make when designing our online learning experiences.
Among some of my favorite principles to consider are:
Make Content Priority #1: Keep everything else simple and neutral to allow the content to stand on its own. Lean heavily on simplicity.
Provide Focus: Be intentional about what you want your learners to do. Promote only one main action and make it front-and-center.
Embrace Consistency: Consistency allows people to familiarize themselves with your content, which gives your course content structured. In order for your school’s content to be intuitive, it must be structure.
Have Aesthetic Integrity: Aesthetic integrity doesn’t measure beauty or characterize style. Instead, it represents how well your school’s appearance and behavior integrate with its function to send a coherent message. Be mindful of the message your design is responsible for portraying, and make sure that the utmost goal.
In regards to these design principles, Josh offers up this great nugget of advice, "If your process is air tight, you can comfortably respond to criticism and appreciate valuable feedback. So, rely on the wisdom of good process and continually work to improve it. When you put careful thought into design, it starts to become pretty easy."
5. Don't be a perfectionist
Stop thinking you need the world's greatest online course right out of the box. When a challenge seems too big to achieve, the best thing to do is to break it down and work on smaller parts first.
You don’t need to hire a professional video producer and professional equipment won’t be necessary either. Your laptop’s video and microphone coupled with compelling content and a dash of charisma is all you really need to create something valuable.
Ready to get started? Apply to be an expert on Learning.ly and we'll provide you with a platform, a personal concierge to guide your process, and a marketplace of learners ready to explore your course!