Are you looking to create your first online course and don’t know the best way to get started? When I created my first course, I felt much the same way. I struggled through creating a solid outline and fumbled the recording (and re-recording!) of videos without having an end in sight.

After learning from many mistakes and deciding to start creating my second course, I vowed to do things differently.

This is the process I used that saved me many hours of stress and unnecessary work. By following this recipe, you’ll have a steady handle on your online course creation progress and will be able to create multiple lectures out of order without losing sight of the end goal.

1. Create your course outline using Google Docs

Creating a course outline might seem like a no-brainer, but it’s also important how you outline your course. An outline gives you guidance to know how to break out your lectures but it will also evolve later on as you begin creating the lectures. Also, this outline will also serve as your course management tool so you can keep track of what you completed and what still needs to be finished (more on that later).

I use Headers to title my sections and bullet text to outline my lessons. Simple formatting yet, easy to see the anatomy of your course. Like this: 

Also, while you can use any word processing program, google docs has many benefits for outlining your course. Here are just a few:

  • Using Google Docs allows you to share your course outline with others

You may have a co-instructor that wants to help with your outline or you may want to send your outline out to colleagues or peers for feedback. You may also have others helping with the editing or creating scripts.

  • You can access it from any device

Keeping an outline central without the fear of having multiple versions lying around will save you from a huge headache over the life of your course and the convenience of pulling your course up on any device you want is an added bonus. Using Google Docs lets me work on my course at work and jump in where I left off at home without skipping a beat.

  • It’s free and super easy to use

2. Create a folder structure for your course before you create your lessons

Setting up your course folders correctly will allow you to quickly access files without having to do a lot of searching. You want to keep the hierarchy simple so you don’t get lost in a tunnel of folders. Instead of having a folder for each section of my lessons, I keep all my lesson videos in one folder and name them numerically, first based on their section and second based on the order they go in the section.

I split up the exercise files in a folder for each section, however, because it gives your student fewer documents to sort through as they download the exercise files and take complete each section.

Here is a basic outline of how I structure my course videos:

3. Store your course folder on the cloud

If you’re ever switching between devices or working with others, storing your course folder on the cloud will keep everything in sync for easy access. If you’re the only one working on your course and you do so from the same computer, feel free to skip this step. 

By using Dropbox, I was able to record my courses at work and save the recordings in Dropbox for a colleague to access at their office and edit the videos for me. By having someone else focus on the editing, I was able to allocate more time into the quality of the course videos and material while still meeting a deadline.

You can use Dropbox, Google Drive, or a similar cloud storage service. Depending on how many files your course contains (and the size of those files), you may need to pay for the extra storage space. In my opinion, paying a nominal fee for extra storage is well worth it. 

4. Use Emoticons keep track of your course creation progress in Google Docs ? ? ?

Remember when I said your Google Docs course outline will serve multiple purposes? Well here is another purpose. As I’m creating a script, filming, editing, reviewing, or publishing; I can add a tag at the beginning of each lesson letting me know what phase has been completed.

You can create your own tags to match your phases, but here are a few I use:

?  = Script is written

?  = Lecture has been recorded

?  = Lecture is edited

?  = Lecture is approved and ready to upload

?  = Lecture is uploaded

These tags come in very handy, especially when some cases require you to record lessons out of order. For example, I couldn’t record my section introduction videos first because I wanted to use clips of my future courses so I held off on recording these but these tags served as a reminder to complete them later on.

5. Use commenting in Google Docs

The last feature I want to talk about is commenting. This was an extremely helpful form of communication as I had someone else edit my videos. As they finished editing a video and saved it back in Dropbox, there were times they had questions on the video they wanted me to review. By highlighting the course title in Google Docs and mentioning my name in a comment, they were able to ask me questions about the final edits and I could open the video, review it, and reply with an answer so they could finalize the video.

Now you’re all set to speed through your course creation!

By applying these simple techniques from the start, you won’t waste time rummaging through lesson files and folders or trying to solve where you’re at with your course creation. Now there are hundreds of tools you can use in place of some of the ones I’ve mentioned here, and there are even dedicated project management apps, but I like to keep things simple, and for the most part, free.

The first course I created, Learn Adobe XD, took me far longer than it should of. This was my first course and I had not yet established this system. I did start with outlining my course but as I started creating the videos, I didn’t mark which ones were complete and I spent far too much time going back into the video files to track what was completed and what I needed to finish.

After running into the barriers I did, I created this process while building my second course Learn Figma. I was far more successful in managing my time and every lecture seemed to breeze past me.

I am in the process of creating my third online course, Learn InVision Studio, and hope to save even more time as I’ve ironed out the kinks in the process.

If you want a peek at my Course Outline for “Learn Figma” in Google Docs, you can view it here and make a copy to use as a template for your own course.

I hope you find this process useful and would love to hear your feedback and comments on what did and did not work for you. If you have additional tips that could help, be sure to leave them in the comments. Happy course building!

How to Organize and Speed Up Your Course Creation Process #onlinecourses #coursecreation #edtech @KingstonCaleb Click To Tweet

Caleb Kingston is a self taught User Experience Designer and Consultant. He founded brainspin in 2010 and has led the design and product management of many high profile mobile and web applications. He is also the founder of App Design Tips, a site dedicated to providing design resources and tutorials to help young User Experience designers advance in their career.

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