Learners become engaged and take away real value from online courses that have clear objectives and structure. Because of this, you can build familiarity for your students by creating your courses using a consistent structure template that is maintained from course to course. Once you have their attention, however, it is also important to be able to deliver on “the goods” —the learning objectives— with content that is rich and varied. If you have the funds, the options for creating great content are essentially limitless. However, if you’re just getting started, you don’t have to let your budget completely erode the quality of your content.
Here are a few ways to build great content for your own course on a budget:
Video content is super rich for the learner because it can contain visual, audio and kinetic learning styles at the same time. The easiest way to include video in your course is to link to YouTube videos. For the most affordable solution, you can just find good content other’s have already created which send the learner on a self-directed journey around the subject. Alternatively, creating your own video content is (almost) a no-brainer with a decent smartphone, or an easy-to-use yet comprehensive interface, like Veed. By taking the time to make sure you create consistency with lighting, sound levels and image quality from video to video it is simple to project a professional image.
Screencasting is a great way to walk learners through material, especially if they are technical in nature. In order to create screencast content, you’ll need a screen recorder or screencast tool. Two examples are Screencast-O-Matic and Camtasia. Camtasia has more features, but costs more, and for most purposes Screencast-o-Matic is fine: you can edit recordings, add callouts and text bubbles, highlight areas of the screen and zoom in and out. As with video, you can deliver professional quality material by simply using a scripted audio presentation to avoid the ‘ums’ and ‘ahs’ that happen in spontaneous speech, and then add the screen activity over it.
As the depth and breadth of the podcasting universe has show us, audio is far from dead and can be used to create content your learners can ingest on the go. Audio narrations can be recorded using free audio editing suite Audacity. To make sure you have great sound quality, it’s worth getting a decent USB microphone such as the Samson Meteor or the Blue Yeti. They are directional and pick up much less ambient sound, giving more professional results.
Many “EdTechpreneurs” begin their businesses by leveraging their existing knowledge about which they are passionate. Because of this, they often already have a good deal of content already created – usually in document or presentation formats. Repurposing this existing content is a fantastic way to get your online learning venture off the ground.
Repurposing documents is simple. First, create a template for the material you’ll be sharing with your students. Then copy your content into the template and save in PDF format for easy downloading and sharing.
Tap the community. Also, don’t forget that the eLearning Community is huge. Chances are, there is already a great template or graphic developed by someone else that would be a good fit for your course. For example, check out some of the templates and graphics over at Elearning Brothers, who have an entire section of content designed for Moodle.
Creating great content for your eLearning enterprise shouldn’t have to cost you an arm and a leg. Using the resources above, combined with your creativity can get any course off the ground in style with minimal investment.