• Addressing the Clarity and Structure of Course Content: Engagement Analytics

    A well structured course is key to creating a well structure learning experience for your students. In this article we’ll go over techniques for self-diagnosing your course. We’ll look at structures both micro and macro -- from individual lectures, to sections, to the course curriculum as a whole.

    We’ll then go over some strategies for updating your clarity and organization -- we’ve broken down that section into The Quick Win and The Full Treatment.  Quick Wins are just that -- quick ways to dramatically increase the quality of the student experience in your course.  For those dedicated instructors who want to go all-in and take their course to the top tier we’ll go over larger updates in The Full Treatment.

    Your Clarity and Structure of Course Content

    Successful Instructors Do This:

    Here are some best practices that instructors have used to provide clear, well-organized course content to their students:
    Course Structure

    • Stick to one concept per lecture. Don’t try to cover too much in a single lecture. Keep it simple, stick to one specific concept and address 3-5 points about that concept.
    • Address one skill per section. Give students a chance to make progress every few lectures. A section should contain 3-5 lectures and focus on helping students acquire one new relevant skill.
    • Make sure your sections cover all of your stated course objectives. While each section should help students acquire one new skill, all the sections together should add up to deliver on all the skills your course promises to address. So make sure your content adds up to course’s stated goals.
    • Consistently address your target student. Make sure your course content is designed with a target student in mind and that you address that student directly.

    Clarity of Explanations

    • Include a summary in each lecture. Start or end each lecture with a summary of what students should learn from that lecture.
    • Manage what your students see. Students appreciate when instructors zoom in or visually highlight the part of the screen that is most relevant to what the instructor is saying. In live-action videos, try superimposing key words, freeze framing, or using a telestrator. 
    • Avoid tangents. Avoid talking about related topics that aren’t immediately necessary or relevant to the topic of the lecture.
    • Explain all jargon. Whenever you introduce a term that may be new for students, define that term in the context of the concept you’re explaining.

    If you’re already doing these, great job! If you’d like to try them out or make improvements to your course in this area, here are some next steps you can take to ensure an amazing learning experience for your students.

    The Quick Win (2 hours or Less)

    Create  an introductory lecture (if you don't already have one) or re-record a new intro lecture that answers the following questions for students:

    1. Who is this course for? 
    2. What am I going to learn and why?
    3. Why are you the right instructor to learn from?
    4. Is this course going to be interesting and/or fun?

    Use this article for a sample script to adapt for your own course, as well as a process for getting feedback on your intro structure.
     

    The Full Treatment (Address the Majority of Student Concerns)

    If you really want to make sure your course is as clear, organized, and actionable for students as possible, here’s what you can do.

    Step 1: Tag course content
    Look through your course and for each section:

    • Identify the concept covered in each lecture
    • Identify the skill covered in each section

    Step 2: Introduce each section
    Make a new lecture for each section where you: 

    • Introduce the primary goal of the section 
    • Describe what students should get from each lecture in that section
    • Make sure these introductory lectures are clear, concise and organized, avoid jargon and tangential information. Use live-action shots wherever possible.

    Get a Head Start on Your Next Course

    Want to make it easier on yourself to organize and deliver clear content in your next course?  Check out our Structured Teaching article as well as this article, which explains how you can get feedback on your course outline.

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  • Addressing Instructor Delivery: Engagement Analytics

    If students don’t think of you as a credible, confident instructor, they won’t enjoy learning with you. You delivery is important because if students can’t follow along with you they can’t learn from you! In this article we’ll go over how to self-diagnose your course for credibility, confidence, and delivery. We know that appearing on camera can be tough, so we have lots of clear, actionable steps for you to make the process seem easier and more manageable.

    We’ll then go over some strategies for updating your credibility, confidence, and delivery -- we’ve broken down that section into The Quick Win and The Full Treatment.  Quick Wins are just that -- quick ways to dramatically increase the quality of the student experience in your course.  For those dedicated instructors who want to go all-in and take their course to the top tier we’ll go over larger updates in The Full Treatment.

    Your Credibility, Confidence, and Delivery

    Successful Instructors do This:

    Here are some best practices that instructors have used to project confidence, deliver strong instruction, and generate trust while engaging students:

    Instructor Delivery

    • Speak clearly and avoid mispronouncing words. When students struggle to understand an instructor, they will leave negative feedback. Avoid student misunderstanding by speaking clearly with careful and accurate pronunciation.
    • Demonstrate genuine curiosity for the topic. Whether it’s your first time explaining something or your 20th, students appreciate instructors who can convince them that a topic is truly interesting and worth diving into. Don’t be afraid to show your passion for the topic!
    • Demonstrate enthusiasm for helping people learn the topic. Do you enjoy teaching? Let your students know you want to help them learn by identifying their main concerns and addressing them whenever possible.
    • Edit out all uhms, pauses, or verbal mistakes. Keep your videos clean and free of mistakes. Edit out any verbal miscues, long pauses, or other mistakes that might distract students.  These can be small (“ummms”, “ahhhs”, slight sniffles) or they can be large (blowing your nose, dropping a prop, leaving the frame).
    • Opt for closed captioning. Some students really appreciate being able to read an instructor’s words while they’re being delivered. While this is totally optional, it is something to consider to make your content more globally accessible.
    • Answer questions in the discussion forums. Students report higher satisfaction when instructors take time to answer their questions or spark conversation in the Q&A

    If you’re already doing these, great job! If you’d like to try them out or make improvements to your course in this area, here are some next steps for you to take to ensure an amazing learning experience for your students.

    The Quick Win (2 hours or Less)

    Go through your lectures and edit out any obvious mistakes, long pauses, or non-relevant information.

    1. Starting with your first section, watch your lectures and look for long pauses, obvious mistakes, or non-relevant information. Wherever you find an instance of any of these, make a note of the lecture and the timecode in that lecture.
    2. Using your video editing software and the master video files for each lecture, edit out any of the mistakes you found above.
    3. Replace the lecture videos on Udemy with the ones you just re-edited.  

    The Full Treatment (Address the Majority of Student Concerns)

    If you really want to make sure your course is as clear and organized as it can be, here’s what you can do:

    • Magnify your enthusiasm. In addition to editing out mistakes (in the Quick Win), identify where the topics you discuss could use more context. Are there any places where your enthusiasm, natural curiosity, or sense of humor could be more present in the lecture?
    • Update your lectures. For anywhere you think you can make your lecture more engaging, either re-record or add in some "color." Also, include a list of key terms you use in your lectures and links to their definitions for more context and to help explain any jargon your students may not be familiar with.

    Getting a Head Start on Your Next Course

    Want to make it easier on yourself to engage students in your next course? Use our Instructional lecture tutorial to help you craft awesome lectures that students appreciate.

    Read Article
  • Adding Practical Exercises and Resources: Engagement Analytics

    Outlining your lectures is the first step towards creating your course curriculum. To really make sure you’re providing the best possible learning experience for your students, you’ll want to make sure you’re also adding in practical examples, exercises, and resources that encourage students to engage with your teaching.

    In this article we’ll go over how to self-diagnose your course to understand how you’re doing at reinforcing your students’ learning. We’ll talk about more than just adding quizzes, we’ll also go over how to include interaction throughout your course.

    We’ll then go over some strategies for updating your clarity and organization -- we’ve broken down that section into The Quick Win and The Full Treatment.  Quick Wins are just that -- quick ways to dramatically increase the quality of the student experience in your course.  For those dedicated instructors who want to go all-in and take their course to the top tier we’ll go over larger updates in The Full Treatment.

    Adding Practical Exercises and Resources

    Successful Instructors Do This

    Here are some best practices that instructors have used to get students engaging in their course through practical exercises and learning activities:

    Practical Exercises

    • Include one practical exercise or activity per section. In each section of your course, include one learning activity (quiz, exercise, project, and/or discussion prompt) that helps a student apply the knowledge covered in that section. For example: you could end a section by offering an assignment students need to perform in the real world and a discussion prompt for them to report on their progress or the results of that assignment.
    • Describe how the activity is relevant. Students need to know why they should take a quiz or complete an exercise. Describe how each activity is related to the content and what students should learn from completing it.
    • Connect the activity to course goals. Students want to know that an activity is going to help them achieve their goals. Describe how each activity they complete will get them closer to their overall goals in the course. You could do this through a brief video introducing the activity (ex: setting up a quiz with the context for the questions in it), or by describing how the activity connects to the section level goal in the text of the description (ex: “this activity will challenge your ability to apply the concepts you just learned including…”)
    • Provide all needed resources for each activity. One of the biggest complaints students have is when they don’t have the right resources for completing a project or exercise. Avoid this by providing all needed resources for students to easily start and complete each exercise. If the activity you’re providing is a quiz, stick with multiple choice questions and always include the feedback for each answer a student can select.


    If you’re already doing these, great job! If you’d like to try them out or make improvements to your course in this area, here are a couple options for you.

    The Quick Win (2 hours or Less)

    • Think about your course and what it covers. Do you already have learning activities that students don't know about? Are there 1-2 projects students could do as part of taking or completing your course? 
    • If you already have some quizzes, practical exercises, or other activities in your course, let students know about them and how they will help in your introductory lectures.
    • If you don't have any yet, think of 1 or 2 ways that students could demonstrate they’d learned what you taught them in the course. For example, in one of your videos you could ask them to go out into the world and apply what they’ve learned, then have them start a discussion with what they discovered.
    • Give them all the resources they would need to complete the exercise (ex: a spreadsheet of data in an Excel course, an image to manipulate in a photoshop course, or a series of poses to practice in a Yoga course)
    • Make a new introductory video where you describe the activities you came up with above, why they are relevant to the course, and how students can get the most out of them.

    The Full Treatment (Address the Majority of Student Concerns)

    • For each section in your course, create a practical exercise that prompts the student to apply what they learned within a quiz, a project, or discussion.
    • Use the steps listed above or ask your fellow instructors in the Udemy Studio if you want some inspiration in coming up with these.

    Getting a Head Start on Your Next Course

    Want to make it easier on yourself to design learning activities in your next course? Use this article to help you craft awesome learning activities students will appreciate and make sure to check out our Reinforced Learning: Quality Standards article as well.
     

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  • Improving Audio and Video Quality: Engagement Analytics

    Audio and video quality is one of the most important parts of your course. There’s no need to overproduce your video, but you will want to make sure that your technical production does not distract students from the content of your course. If students can’t see or hear you properly they can’t learn from you!

    In this article we’ll go over how to self-diagnose your course for potential audio and visual issues that might distract your students from your teaching. We’ll also go over some strategies for updating audio and video quality -- we’ve broken down that section into The Quick Win and The Full Treatment. Quick Wins are just that -- quick ways to dramatically increase the quality of the student experience in your course. For those dedicated instructors who want to go all-in and take their course to the top tier we’ll go over larger updates in The Full Treatment.

    Your Audio and Video Quality

    Successful Instructors Do This

    Here are some best practices that instructors have used to manage the technical quality of their lecture recordings:

    • Audio in each lecture is normalized and consistent. Large differences in volume or inconsistency in the audio recordings across lectures makes for a poor student experience. Avoid this by normalizing your audio and ensuring consistency across lectures.
    • Video in each lecture is HD. Record everything in 720p or greater resolution. Anything less will not work for Udemy courses.  For all of Udemy’s recommended and required settings, see this article.
    • Video is neither too bright, nor too dark. Getting video lighting just right is not as hard as it may sound. Use the white balance features and appropriate lighting techniques to keep things bright enough to be seen but not so bright as to be distracting.  
    • Make all text legible on multiple devices. Students who use mobile devices expect to see the text and images in your lectures clearly on their device. Make it easy for students to consume your course anywhere and anytime by using large text, pointing out where they should be looking, and zooming in when necessary.

    If you’re already doing these, great job! If you’d like to try them out or make improvements to your course in this area, here are a couple options for you.

    The Quick Win (2 hours or Less)

    1. Go through your lectures and flag any inconsistencies in the audio levels.
    2. Normalize your audio in inconsistent sections using editing tool of your choice.
    3. Use the bulk uploader to easily add in your new videos to your course.

    The Full Treatment (Address the Majority of Student Concerns)

    1. Go through your lectures and re-record any videos that do not meet all of the criteria above.
    2. Before you record all of your new lectures, make sure to submit a test video so the Udemy Review Team can give you some feedback on your new set-up.
    3. For excellent video recording help, check out Wistia’s Udemy Course.

    Get a Head Start on Your Next Course

    Want to make it easier to record high quality lectures when you create your next course? Please click here.

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