Are you interested in creating videos for online courses, especially video lessons? Do you want to learn the nuances involved in creating compelling instructional videos?
In this blog post and the instructional video above I will try to explain some of the tricks of the trade involved in creating simple yet effective training videos.
Method for Creating Videos for Online Courses
Here at WP Elevation, we provide a comprehensive 6-week long course to our members on the fine art of improving their WordPress Consultancy business. This course lives in our members' website and involves extensive use of short training videos. As a result, I have been getting numerous requests from people asking for some insights into the process that goes into the creation of these videos.
The video above is a behind the scenes look into the creation of one particular training video from Module 1 of our course for WordPress Consultants. Since we are not concerned about the actual content of the video lesson, it would suffice to say that it is called “Request Connection and Website Worksheet”, and that it pertains to the generation and processing of incoming leads.
When you check out the video, you will notice that it is 8 minutes 44 seconds long. Personally, I believe it is important to keep your videos as short as possible for the best results. Attention spans are at a premium online these days. So it is always advisable to keep your videos on the shorter side, under 5 minutes length whenever possible. And as always, get your titles and introduction part in good order so that your viewers (learners) know what they are getting into for the next 5-6 minutes of their life!
Pro tip: Include short matching musical cues to signal the beginning and the end of the lesson. Assign different music tracks to each separate module to give learners a “sonic marker” to map their progress!
The Gear List for Creating Videos for Online Courses
For these videos, I have used a Logitech C920 camera and Rode Podcaster microphone to record myself while an on-screen presentation is captured using Screenflow software. Using this setup, you can easily merge video camera shots of yourself with slides and keynote presentations. Always try to keep a steady flow, alternating between slides and video recordings to keep the learner engaged.
Pro tip: use HD quality recording for that professional look. It's easy on the eyes as well!
For the intro part of the video, we have used a slideshow of titles and course index before shifting to a video recording of the instructor (myself) introducing himself and welcoming the students, while staring straight at the camera.
Since time is limited in such short format videos, it helps if you can keep the script concise and to the point. Get slides back into the frame after the introduction to explain the content of the lesson. Do not linger long on either the slides or on the face of the instructor for too long! That can get tiresome for your viewers and their attention to the actual lesson will suffer. Keep intercutting between the slides and camera input at regular intervals. In the sample video above, you will notice that we do not spend more than 30-40 seconds on either slides or the camera. If you want, you could push it up to a minute, but any more than that would be really testing the patience of your viewers.
Pro tip: Record the keynote and keep it open on your computer. Then record USB camera on Screenflow and edit and merge both on Screenflow. You can literally cut holes in your keynote slides and put your face in wherever you want. As simple as that!
When you are doing a series of short video lessons, it is always desirable to keep the learner engaged and incentivized towards paying attention. Here in our WP Elevation courses, we include short quizzes at the end of each lesson. If the learner is able to successfully complete the quiz, he/she can earn badges. Earn the requisite number of badges by the end of the course and they will have earned their certification. This provides the learner with an active incentive to pay attention and keep short notes while watching the lessons. Use a small video clip to personally explain the benefits of taking the quiz to the viewers. Remember, the aim is not to force them, but to dangle a carrot in front of them to encourage them to take the test on their own!
Pro tip: Use small questionnaires or short quizzes at the end of each video lesson, to gauge the level of attention of your learners and encourage them with achievement badges.
After the quiz, bring up the title cards again, queue outro music (remember, keep it same as the intro music for continuity!) and fade to black, and voila! There you have it, a simple, easy to make, yet professional looking video lesson. And all for a total cost well under a thousand dollars in terms of equipment and software too.
Here is the breakdown of the cost of the equipment and software we used for the sample video above:
- $500 for the USB camera and microphone. You don’t really need a Podcaster microphone; cheaper USB mics will do the job just fine
- $150 max for Keynote and Screenflow software on your Mac, since I use Mac tools. For PC aficionados, I am sure you can probably find other software that can do the same job, probably at cheaper rates too
So, that is all there is to it. I hope this blog post and the video above have been helpful to you in understanding the basics involved. Using this above mentioned set up, we here at WP Elevation have been able to achieve an average of 65% completion rates from the students who take up our course. I hope you can achieve similar or better results using these same techniques.
I'd love to hear your questions or suggestions in the comments.