The First Steps in Online Course Creation [Dr. Dave Eng]
Creating an online course can seem like a massive undertaking. You need to come up with an idea, validate that idea, and then actually create and distribute that course to your audience. Well today, Dr. Dave Eng is here to talk all about his course creation process and how you can easily start creating your own online courses.
Nick (00:00): Online courses. If you've been building and growing your business, you've most definitely, either thought about taking or have actually taken an online course. You may have even thought about creating your own to better serve your own audience. Well, today that is exactly what we're here to talk about. Creating online courses. In today's episode, we're sitting down with dr. Dave Eng to talk about the process he uses to create his own online courses. The methods Dave talks about in this episode will help you decide what topics to create your courses around, validate your ideas, and then finally create the actual course. So if you're ready to go, let's get right into the interview.
Nick (00:34): This is the Nine-Five Podcast. And I'm your host, Nick Nalbach. Where we get into the minds of entrepreneurs and people just like you. So you can start, build, and grow your own online business.
Nick (00:51): Welcome to to the Nine-Five Podcast. If you are joining me again on the show, welcome back. If you are a new listener, welcome to the show. This is the podcast where we interview entrepreneurs and business owners, so that we can help you better grow your own business. And today I have an awesome guest with me. Our main topic today is going to be course creation. So I'd like to welcome Dave Eng. Welcome to the Nine -Five Podcast, man.
Dave (01:17): Nick, thanks for having me. I appreciate it.
Nick (01:19): Absolutely. So we actually, we met through SPI pro community, which has turned out to be an awesome community. I've met so many amazing people, people that have had so much success and I mean, both ends of the spectrum. People who are just starting out, they haven't started and then people have just seen massive success. So what I'm curious, what brought you to the SPI pro community?
Dave (01:43): Uh, so Nick, it's really interesting because I know one of my colleagues, um, she, uh, got into the entrepreneurial sphere, um, a while ago and was turning me on to some, um, resources I should turn to. So the two that I found initially were Amy Porterfield and Pat Flynn. And I started listening to Pat SPI, um, podcast, and I just got really interested. I thought he was a really empathetic and admirable character. And, um, I think that my shining moment was when I traveled to San Diego for FlynnCon for the first time. Um, and then since then I just been, um, uh, really enthusiastic about Pat's work. I think he's a really great, um, individual to follow and, uh, I'm glad I was able to meet you through the community.
Nick (02:25): Absolutely. Anybody I know, they've probably heard me mentioned Pat Flynn and his podcast throughout the course of the episodes. I mean, that guy, I would definitely go check out the Smart Passive Income Podcast. I'll throw a link in there, but what Dave is saying is absolutely right, but now, okay, let's talk about you, Dave, why don't you give the audience a little bit of an idea of who you are and what it is you actually do?
Dave (02:47): Sure. So, uh, Nick there, I have a lot of different, um, areas I'm involved in. So I'll try to give you a really quick overview. Um, so my name is Dr. Dave Eng. I am a professor at New York university school of professional studies there. I teach in a program called uh, the certificate of learning design. Uh, and the class I teach specifically is called learning technology tools. It's a really long title, but really what I focus on is teaching other people how to teach other people online, live and synchronously using a platform like Zoom. So I teach at NYU, I'm also an educational technologist at NYU. So I help other faculty members use different technologies for teaching online, which is very big right now because of COVID-19. And in addition to that, I run two websites, blogs, and businesses. The first one is my website University XP and at University XP is a, it started out as a blog where I was writing about my research interests, which were using games for teaching learning and education. So I studied games, gamification and game space learning. And then my other website and blog is the Job Hakr it's J O B H A K R. And I started that a website originally as a blog as well, because I've always been a mentor to other professionals working in higher education. So that blog is entirely dedicated to helping entry level professionals get their first job working at colleges and universities and other institutions. So that's where I spend most of my time between those three things.
Nick (04:14): That's really cool. Yeah. So you are no stranger to the online business realm?
Dave (04:20): Oh, no. I mean like I've, uh, I'm a millennial. I grew up with the internet. It's part of who I am, um, and, uh, teaching online and has now become part of who I am and especially helping other people with their courses.
Nick (04:31): That was very cool. Then that's the, like I said before, the course creation is what we're going to dive into before we even do that. Something I like to do with all of my guests that I bring on. I like to ask them what their superpower is and by superpower. I mean, what does that one thing that you are just a rock star at? So what do you think your superpower be?
Dave (04:51): Uh, so for me, it's, um, uh, I want to say it is being able to use games for teaching and learning. Although I can tell you from experience, I've definitely used the wrong games for the wrong, uh, educational outcomes in the past. So, well, as much as I love games, I'm also a game designer myself. Um, I wouldn't say that I can always pick the right game or always design the right game, but I would say that one of my biggest, um, superpowers specifically, because it's, it's involved with everything I do, which is educating others online is that, um, I always see things from the student experience and that's because, you know, like as a professor or as an instructor or as a course creator, we have this bias because we are already experts in that area. But what we lack is being able to see the course, whatever we're creating from the eyes of our student, who may not know what they, they don't know what they don't know, and that's the hardest bias to get over. So one of my greatest superpowers is helping instructors identify where their students are and helping them structure their courses so that they can get the most out of the material.
Nick (05:55): That's a really cool superpower. I mean, from a, from an educator standpoint, that's I feel like priceless. And when you're saying that I'm thinking of every student, I feel like coming through school, they've had that teacher who, you know, is just super intelligent, super smart. They know what they're talking about, but they can't bring it down to the student's level sometimes. Where I don't know, you know, like I said, you know, they, they know what they're talking about, but then you can't wrap your head around it. They can't get down to your level and kind of explain it in terms that you understand.
Dave (06:24): Correct.
Nick (06:24): So that's the first thing I think of when you said that. So I think that is that's awesome. Yeah. Well, very cool. Now course creation. Why, why course creation?
Dave (06:33): So this is really interesting because if I have to take like a really broad overview, the, the advent of the internet as we all are, have been using it and know it, uh, as it exists right now has really democratized a lot of things. And one of those things has been communication and teaching and education. So the really great part about courses, and specifically when we talk about, um, like enterprise courses, like you developing courses as a main business or a side business or anything else, it's, I think one of the most interesting ways in order to carve out a niche online, because when you create a course, you're essentially you're assigning value to something intangible. And that could be everything from, you know, how to make a podcast, to how to bake a casserole, to learning about the ancient Ottoman empire, to the, trying to determine what your professional direction will be in. These are all things that you may have expertise in, but as it stands right now, you probably can't monetize that because you have something that probably someone else wants, but that person doesn't know who you are. And you don't know who that person is. Courses create a way for you to develop value for something that you already have, which is your knowledge, your abilities, your experience, and your skills.
Nick (07:47): I love that. So how many, how many courses do you have? I'm just curious.
Dave (07:51): So for me, the model that I'm pursuing right now is I host a series of monthly webinars and those webinars are free. I use them as a, as a way to increase my, um, my list in order to get in touch with people that I think would benefit a lot from my knowledge and those webinars are for the foreseeable future. I always plan on being free. But what I do is I record those webinars. I then edit and transcribe them and I upload them to teachable, which is what I use as my learning management system that I got referred to by Pat Flynn. And I use that as a way to develop a course. And that course has both the transcript and the video from those webinars, in addition to some other, um, um, uh, what I call assets or different, um, different things that I include in that course.
Dave (08:37): So sometimes their worksheets sometimes are podcasts or videos that I've recorded in the past. So right now I would say I have between, between those, um, two other organizations that I run between like, um, 7 and 12 different courses. And of course I wouldn't call these like super dive courses. These are like a very broad overview on like, how do I manage a phone interview to, if I want to start using games for all, for teaching online, how do I do that? Um, I want to get into developing more robust and in-depth courses something like what I do right now in my professional position, teaching at the university, but those are very time intensive to create. So, um, my courses right now are very much built on the webinars that I run and they fulfill multiple different outcomes that I'm trying to hit.
Nick (09:23): That was really cool. Cause I wasn't actually thinking about doing something similar to that effect. I want to say that's how Pat Flynn does a lot of his workshops. So that's kind of what I was thinking, doing more of like a workshop, small niche down, maybe about a very specific topic, not so much a broad, like you're talking massive course here, but I love that because yeah, you can kind of build the buzz at the free webinar and then you've already created your content in your courses. Pretty much made aside from the free worksheets and PDFs or the extra resources you provided with that. I think that's a really smart, creative way to do that. Now, when we're, when you're getting into the creation process, how do you come up with, I guess the topics that you're going to choose is it, you do a lot of research upfront, are you asking your audience, like where, where does that inspiration come from?
Dave (10:12): So for me, it kind of comes from a number of different areas, Nick. So like I said before in the two websites that I run with, which are started as two different blogs, my main form of content I was creating were blogs. Uh, because I, I feel like that's my, my strongest skillset, writing. Um, so the original courses I started running were just the most popular blog posts. And I guess to answer your question, I create, I authored those, those blog posts because those were also the most common questions I was getting from other people in the field. So for my website, the Job Hakr where, where I was advising entry-level job seekers, some of the most common questions I got were, how do I prepare for an interview or what makes a good resume or how do I conduct like an informational interview? So I turn those into blog posts and then eventually into courses later, and then like, uh, for University XP where I talk about using games for learning, um, some of those are very broad subjects.
Dave (11:07): Like one of them was can you use games for teaching and learning are in games just for entertainment or what exactly is gamification? I have a free course called what is gamification, but I offer as like a, an opt-in funnel. That's just there because I needed to answer that question for myself. And once I did via blog posts, I just decided to turn into a course. And that's what, that's what I did and offered it up for free. So it's been a great way, um, for, for, uh, uh, capturing leads that way. Um, but ultimately it's going to be different for a lot of people. Me, I started out with blogs, so I took the most popular, um, uh, blog posts and turn those into courses. If you have a podcast right now, you could take your most downloaded episodes and really niche down and talk about that. If you have a YouTube channel, you can look at your most popular videos. And I would just, um, I would always rely on just asking your audience, you know, just send out an email to your audience, no matter how big or small they are like, Hey, what questions do you have? What is something that you're wondering about or interested in and, and really, um, try to narrow down your focus there from, from what exactly you want to develop as your course.
Nick (12:09): I really love that because you're, even when you're talking about taking your most popular content and turning that into a course, that right there is you listening and listening and getting the feedback from your audience on what they want to hear about. I think that is so crucial. It's something we've talked about on several other episodes, getting that feedback, looking for comments on posts or Amazon reviews, like that type of thing, to get inspiration for your own content. And you're already producing the content, like you said, so taking your best stuff and turning that into paid courses and webinars and all that is a great way to really tap into what your audience is looking for. I think that's, it's easily overlooked if you're just constantly putting out content. You're like, okay, well, what do I put on next? It's sometimes tough to think back and be like, Oh, well, everyone seemed to really like it. When I posted about this, how can I leverage that and expand upon it? Or however now, so it sounds like a lot of your courses are primarily geared towards the video courses or my in my, off there.
Dave (13:08): Well, I'd say most of the, most of the content, uh, within the course is video content, but I do transcribe it, um, for people that want to read that content and stuff.
Nick (13:17): Okay. How have you always been comfortable in front of a camera? This has been a topic on recent podcasts that we've been having and something I've been trying to get into, but I know myself, I am not comfortable on camera. I'm curious if it was a very natural thing for you getting into it.
Dave (13:34): I would say it's not, it was not a supernatural thing. I think that when I was, when I first started running like teaching and training webinars online, doing so on camera was kind of unnerving because at the time I didn't really know how to present. I used to teach a public speaking class to freshmen undergrads before. So I'm very comfortable with speaking in person to a crowded room, but doing it online is completely different. So I would say that one of the best ways I would say to get started with creating courses is to just practice and try it out. Like when I first started this process of turning the most popular blog posts into a webinars and then turning those webinars in the courses, they were just not that great at the very beginning, but, you know, eventually as I got more experienced and I refined it and I was able to get more insight from my audience, I was able to, um, uh, to make it better.
Dave (14:23): Um, so it is not something that I would recommend everyone do if you're not comfortable being on camera. One of the things that you could do, um, but is I guess, less empathetic because your, your audience and your, uh, your students who are taking our course can actually see you, is just to put together a slide deck, like in PowerPoint or Google slides or Keynote or anything else. And then going through the slide deck, um, covering the content that you want to cover. Um, we could do a whole separate episode, Nick, on what makes like a really good slide deck or what makes a really good presentation. But if you're really, really that uncomfortable being on camera, you can always rely on just using like a slide deck or a PowerPoint presentation, or in order to, uh, communicate your content.
Nick (15:02): I really liked that. And it would also kind of work as almost like a segue into if you wanted to eventually get on camera, where it's your face. I mean, start with the slide deck, then maybe do a combination slide deck, and then hop on camera a little bit. So you're not, it's not all just you straight up for an entire hour or however you want that webinar to be. We break it up with a slide deck and then until you're comfortable to where now I'm, I'm talking to you face to face kind of build that more personal connection. Actually, I really like that idea. Okay. So if we're going to start building our video course, that's kind of where I was hoping we were going to go with this. I assume that you're doing video courses specifically. So I kind of took a big, a big gamble and a bit there, but when we're getting started, obviously there's software and tools and certain components that we're going to need before we actually get into this. So I'm curious, what kind of equipment and software do we need to actually get started?
Dave (15:59): So I want to start at the very basic level here, Nick, because video is really going to be the, the end of content that you're producing, but probably the most critical piece of equipment that you should have before you start, your course is going to be a Word document or a Google Doc or anything else like that. Because one of the biggest mistakes I see new course creators make, and these could be faculty members at the university level, or could, these could be entrepreneurs, is that they just know like the title of their course. And then they just want to start recording video or do something else. But really what you should do beforehand is get out your Word document or get out even just a sheet of paper. And then just ask yourself this one solid question, which is what happens to the learner after this course is completed.
Dave (16:42): And that could be, you know, like this learner now knows how to snowboard or this learner now knows about the, about how Japan entered World War II, or this learner now knows how to host a successful podcast. It's all going to be about what that specific outcome is for them. Because if you don't start out with that, you are definitely going to enter this course creation process going in like a million different directions. I call it like the power of the sun. You shine really brightly, but you shine in all directions at once. So you want to be a flashlight. You want to be hyper-focused. And another term that I use with a lot of, um, uh, of course, creators and instructors is that, um, when they get over that first hurdle, they often throw like all this content into it w which is like, Hey, if you want to start a successful podcast, here's 20 different microphones that you got to check out and research.
Dave (17:31): No, not for your learners. If you want to start a successful podcast, here are the three microphones I looked at. Here's the microphone that you should purchase and you should buy. So the phrase I use is that when you have gotten over what your learners are supposed to get out of your course, the content is really the second thing, because I say that it is not a problem of the water. It is the problem of the waterfall. So now that you have this content, how are you going to structure it in a way that makes the most sense for your learners? Like, I don't really need to know about, um, I don't really know, need to know about podcast analytics prior to knowing what a podcast is. Like, if I go into a course about podcasting and then I find out in like module 12 of 20, that a podcast is only audio, then you've structured your waterfall wrong because I need to know that at the very beginning. So number one, I'd say, find out what the learner is going to get from your course, and a number to arrange your content based on what your learner needs to know. And when they need to know it.
Nick (18:31): Perfect, now I love that cause you're kind of reverse engineering. It, you're starting with the solution, which I think it's something I didn't really think about until fairly recently. So I've, I finally started paying attention to that, even with a lot of the podcast episodes. Now, when I write out my outlines, I'm more thinking about where do I want the listener to ultimately be at, by the end of this episode and doing that, it sets up it basically the outline writes itself at that point. So I think that is a really good tip. Something that you touched on getting into the content itself when I'm, I've been toying around with the idea of doing these courses? Um, probably in a similar aspect, like I said, doing something like a workshop, one of the biggest issues I've had is I see all these other courses that people are doing and I feel the need to extremely, over-deliver like trying to create a course for an expert.
Nick (19:24): That's already like trading courses for this topic. I feel like I have to create something that's that much better. And I started paying attention to some of the courses that I've gotten into in the workshops and the webinars and stuff that I've been in. And I've noticed that a lot of the information I kind of already know because I've been through so much content over the years, but then you look at the comments on the side and like a live chat or something like that. And people are just raving about the content to me, it's not as valuable because I've known it, but it's helping how many people, like, I don't know if I'm wording or getting my points through necessarily, but I think it's, it is important to understand who your audience is and at what stage, in my case, it would be what stage of their business they're at the stage where they're at in the game design process. Are they an absolute beginner or are they someone who is already somewhat of an expert in the area? Right, right. It's a tough one to balance.
Dave (20:22): Yeah, it is super tough. And um, when I, when I'm addressing this with my, with, with those, I'm helping with our courses. So at first I asked them about, you know, what are the specific outcomes for their course? What is it, what is it that their learners trying to achieve? And then number two, now that we have that, what is the content? You know, like let's focus, let's focus on the waterfall instead of the water. And then the third thing I tell people to focus on is that courses are kind of a misnomer because when we talk about courses in like the entrepreneurial space, we're talking about something like Teachable or Thinkific or some other LMS, and it has like videos and that's transcriptions. It has some resources, but that's pretty much it, it can be delivered passively. It doesn't need to be actively managed or anything else.
Dave (21:06): But the one phrase that I use repeatedly is I always ask people like, how would you define learning? I know some people have different definitions. I get really academic definitions because I work with faculty members a lot. But I tell people the, the definition of learning that I use is learning is the transformation of experience into knowledge. So we're going to take an experience that we're going to transfer it into knowledge. And the way that happens is through content. Yes, because almost all courses, digital courses now have some sort of content, but that's only a one leg of a tripod. The other two legs are just as important for really getting that transformational experience. One of them is students. So who are taking these courses and what do they have in common with each other? And the last leg is you the instructor. So what is the relationship between like the student and the content, the students, and each other, the student and the instructor.
Dave (22:01): And you could accomplish these in multiple different ways. Like the student interacts with the content, through the learning management system. So like Teachable. Students interact with other students through a community, you know, in this case like SPI Pro. Students interact with the instructor through something like office hours, something that Pat holds and then, um, students can interact with, uh, or the instructor can interact with content through something like a live webinar. So you always have to address a lot of these different relationships because if you only want to present content, it might as well just be like a YouTube video. But if you really want transformational learning experiences, you have to worry about the relationship between content students and the instructor.
Nick (22:40): That's a, that's a really interesting, I've never thought about that. I've seen it in action, but I've never actually, I guess, put it into terms that makes sense. Like, for me, it's just like coming up with an idea and seeing how other people are doing it and be like, okay, well I need this, this, this, and this, not digging into why I'm actually doing those specific things. Right. So do you, that's something that you outline, I guess this will kind of segue into this next section of the episode, but when you're getting down to start planning this course, how is there an outline process or what does your prep process actually look like when it comes down to creating the courses?
Dave (23:18): So my prep process is I try to use, you know, different activities and try to capitalize on the time I'm investing there. So my, my process right now is to host a free webinar and that webinar will then be recorded and turned to a course when I add some additional assets to it when I publish it to my community so that students can take that course and they can ask me questions about it. And then the last part is me interacting with students directly it's through that live webinars. So process starts with preparing that live webinars, which is what essentially is this webinar going to answer. And sometimes that could be, you know, can I use games for learning? Or how do I write a resume? Or how do I navigate like a phone interview or anything else? So that's the central question. And in the answer to that is the, what we call learning outcomes, the specific outcome that, that student's going to get.
Dave (24:07): So if the name of the webinar is how do I conduct a phone interview? The outcome is going to be at the end of this course, I'm going to learn how to successfully navigate a phone interview. And then I base my course structure, the webinars structure on that premise. So first we talk about like, what is a phone interview? Second part we talk about who's involved. So it could be like, um, an HR screen or a hiring manager or anyone else. Then we talk about the technology behind it. So you could be using your cell phone, you could be using Skype, you could be using Zoom. And we talk about content, you know, like what are some questions that they probably will ask? What are some questions that you should ask? And then we talk about timeline. You know, afterwards, after that interview is completed, what happens do you reach out to them?
Dave (24:49): Do they reach out to you? And then the last part is what I cover is about the follow-up. So, you know, you may not ever hear back from someone you do an interview with, but what you can rely on is your own personal process, reflecting on what happened in the interview, what you did, do, what you didn't do and how you can, you can improve in the future. So I structure my webinar, answering those different questions, leaving time for people to ask me questions. And then at the very end, I take that finished video content and I edit it and I transcribe it and I put it online as a, as a way for students to interact with content that I don't have to deliver again, live, instead, students can interact with that in the course, they can ask each other questions in the community and they could always ask me questions directly in our regular office hours or any other times that they can communicate with me.
Nick (25:35): Okay. I think that I love that whole process. I think that's a really, I don't know, it's a really efficient way to go about creating courses and it really actually simplifies the whole process. If you think about it. Now, when you're getting into creating courses, obviously you said you're choosing content that you already know that your audience has shown interest in, and the webinar kinda leads you into this. Like, you know, people are going to be coming to this webinar or there's interest there because you're probably going out, letting people know about the webinar ahead of time. What are some other ways that I guess you can go about testing the idea prior to putting the time into it? How do you know that people are going to be interested in the course that you're going to be creating?
Dave (26:18): Oh, I see. Okay. Um, well there's multiple ways you can do it. Um, one of the ways is, like I said before, I use the most popular blog posts, but if you don't have a blog yet, one of the things you could do is just ask your audience. If you are, have a time when you communicate with them regularly, it could be like, uh, via Facebook live or Instagram Live or anything else like that, where people can leave comments about, um, things they're interested in or questions they would like answered. Um, also if you have a small community like a Facebook group or something, you can just put the question out there. It's like, you know, what are some questions, questions you have about X, Y, or Z and X, Y, and Z being what your community's about. So like, what questions do you have about starting out as a blacksmith?
Dave (26:56): Or what questions do you have about starting a podcast? Or what questions do you have about being a college student for the first time? And those are really great ways that you can, um, you can get some ideas there, but one really popular tool that I've used in the past is something called, um, I'm trying to find the website right now. I think it's called all our, All Our Ideas. Yeah, here's the website is allourideas.org and what this is, it's a survey, but it's not a survey in the traditional sense. It's, what's called a Wiki survey. And in a Wiki survey, you ask a particular question, say like, what should the next webinar topic would, should be? And then you list all of the different responses underneath it. So those topics could be like resume review or, you know, like interview preparation or professional networking or anything else.
Dave (27:43): And when you present this, uh, the survey out to your individual, um, uh, people in your population or in your audience, it essentially like, Oh, wait, it'll scramble all the responses and always present two of them, uh, on the screen. So they're your individual audience members are gonna say, like, do you like this idea to idea A or do you like this idea, idea B and then look like idea a or B, and once they do that, then they'll be presented with two more ideas. Do you like idea A or idea B? And what this does is it forms basically like a bracket tournament of ideas so that these two ideas are always going to be matched up against each other. And, you know, people can respond as frequently or infrequently as they like. But essentially what happens is you get a report and it seeds all of your ideas from something like a 100% to 0%, which means that this idea, like if it's an on the 70, at like a 70%, um, uh, rating, which means this idea will beat out 70% of the other ideas that you've listed on your list. So that's what I've done in the past in order to really create engaging and necessary webinar and course ideas by just pitting all these ideas against each other and like this bracket format.
Nick (28:51): That's really cool. Now allourideas.org?
Dave (28:54): Allideas.org. Yeah. It's, It's run out of Princeton University.
Nick (28:58): I will put a link to that in the show notes and just for everyone listening. So they know any of the links that we're talking about along with Dave's links here and his, some of his courses, I will have links to all of that in the show notes to make sure you go check that out after the episode. Okay. Now, have you, everything you've done so far has been primarily webinar-based. Have you done courses that have not been webinars yet?
Dave (29:23): I would say from an entrepreneurial standpoint, no. I mean, the course, the course I teach at NYU is a live course. So that is not a webinar based, but that is, you know, for a certificate program, it's higher education. So it's, um, it has different, I guess, structures and requirements, but that one is, is not webinar-based.
Nick (29:42): I'm curious when I know you had talked about doing like a whole big core sometime in the future, how would you go about recording the entire series? Like, would you, do you think you'd try to batch record those episodes or episodes, but like modules and lessons, or would you kind of script out each one individually and come at it that way?
Dave (30:04): Uh, it really depends. I would say that I, when I first got into course creation, that's what I did because, um, all of the advice and insight that I had got from others is to do this whole batch processing workflow about what I lacked at that point. And this is what I bring up before is I didn't validate my idea beforehand. So I thought that my idea for the course would be really lucrative, which was how to negotiate salaries and your job search. But actually that question was not coming up that frequently, most people were interested in like answering questions about more like basic issues rather than like salary negotiation. So what I did was I pre wrote out all of this content. I used the teleprompter and I batch recorded something like 40 plus videos. And it took me all day, something like seven or eight hours to record.
Dave (30:50): Um, but what happened was I recorded everything I backed off. I just took the day off. I did it all myself. I was really hoarse. Um, I was just speaking the entire day. What I recommend is first validate your idea. I try to determine if there's a market for it. And then if there is, you can go ahead and record it. But for me, I actually reviewing the content right now. I don't think it's that great because it's just basically me reading directly into a camera, which is not that easy to watch, like several hours of. So in terms of batch processing, it's more of a question of like, what is your schedule allow? Some people like to, to just, they set a day aside and just record everything. Other people would want to record things like piecemeal. It depends. If you're, if you're going to have your face on screen, then you probably should do everything in one sitting because you're going to look different from video to video. If you don't want to have your face on screen, you could probably get it done. Piecemeal, you know, like a little bit every day, if you're gonna use a slide deck or anything else, but it's ultimately going to be up to you and what your content is.
Nick (31:48): Perfect. And I like what you said there validating the idea with what you're doing with the webinars and everything. I mean, that is another great form of validating that idea. You already know, people are interested in the topics, similar to how you came up with the webinar idea in the first place, looking at your blog posts, then you got the webinars and you see, okay, these webinars are doing well now. And I've seen a lot of people do this. They'll have a webinar on just a small section of what could possibly be in the course what the planning to have in that course. And they actually use that webinar as a tool to expose some information from their course and try to sell their course through the webinar like listeners and viewers. Yep. So I think that's, again, another great tool for you. If you're trying to, I guess, validate an idea if you're not quite sure if it's going to hit start with something like a webinar, it's a little bit simpler, you can kind of get reaction from it that way, similar to how you would go out for like a beta group for an online course or something.
Nick (32:45): Yeah. I really like, you're convincing me more and more that the webinars is the way to go,
Dave (32:51): Especially because it's very, it's relatively risk-free, you know, like if you host a webinar and you just don't get any registrations, then you can come to the conclusion that that's not a great webinar topic idea, and probably wouldn't make a great course and you can start somewhere else.
Nick (33:05): Yeah. Now, speaking of webinar, registrations, there's I guess two parts to this question when you were just starting out with no audience or a small audience, what were you doing to get in the webinar registrations? And then likewise now where you kind of have built up this audience of people who expect content from you, how are you, I guess, getting the word out about the webinars?
Dave (33:28): So I have multiple different ways. I've been able to publicize my webinars. Um, the main way is just actually joining different groups that may be interested in that content. So when I'm publishing a webinar about using games for teaching and learning, I'm a member of several different Facebook groups of game designers, board, game designers, educators, um, game space researchers, or anything else. So when I have new content to share or a new webinar going up, I always publicize it there because I know that those are places that people will find that content. Interesting. The second part is I also use different platforms in order to find audience an audience. I would be interested in that. So I would say most people come from Facebook. I have a little bit of a following on Twitter and LinkedIn, but a lot of it is just trying to examine who is influential in this area right now, if it could be a person, it could be an organization, it could just be a group. And then trying to find out where there is alignment between what you have to offer and what brings everyone to that individual group or that individual organization. So that combined with, I would say, um, in like personal social media accounts and also just your email list, which I think is ultimately the most important that you have has been the best ways that I've used in order to publicize webinars.
Nick (34:44): Now, have you, have you done any ads trying to run ads to your, I guess webinar signups or as like a lead magnet or anything like that?
Dave (34:53): No, I haven't. I know I keep getting bombarded with Facebook, um, to, to purchase ads or to promote my individual events, but I really prefer more organic approach. I find that if I can get an organic lead, those are better than also the webinars are not away from me to monetize the webinars or me as a way for me to grow my email list in addition to, um, having a live recording of my content, because otherwise I would just record it, you know, like in a vacuum by myself, I'd rather present it live in a webinar and be able to really like, kind of kill two birds with one stone, you know, like I can host a live webinar, increase my email list, and also get this recording that will, will fit into a course later on. So I find it like as a way to multiply my, um, my investment in, in these different activities.
Nick (35:37): I do like that. As you've been working with others through their course creation, obviously you've seen people from many different areas of business. Where, where do you think people make the biggest mistakes when it comes to creating their online courses?
Dave (35:53): Uh, so one of them, and I said this before is trying to first identify like, what is the learner going to be able to achieve? Remember it, my definition for learning is the transformation of experience into knowledge. And the second big mistake that I see from a lot of new course creators is they will see a course that they've taken, or they will see a course that someone else has, has created and then try to emulate that or mimic it as, as closely as possible. And where that really fails is. And this is another term that I use is people teach the way that they were taught. So if you were mostly took lecture classes in college, if you had to create a course for the first time, you would probably create a lecture course, even though you probably didn't learn a whole lot in that course, or you didn't really have a great student experience in that course.
Dave (36:41): So it's kind of like part of our own bias. Like we, this is the way we were taught. This is the way I'm going to teach others that may not even be the best way to teach others. So, number one, I would say the biggest mistake is to first try to determine, uh, what your learners outcome is going to be, what are they, what are they going to be able to do now that that course is over. And two is try to learn in as many different ways as possible because your default and I guarantee you, this is going to happen is you are going to teach the same way you were taught. And that could be a very good thing and it could be a very bad thing. So I really, really encourage people to learn in different ways, some ways it could be lecture-based format and other way it could be video based. It could be audio based. It could be experiential, which is learning through experience like through an internship or an externship or anything else like that. I would really try to find different ways in which learning is fun for you and learn. It could be useful for your student.
Nick (37:31): No, I've actually, because I've been curious about a lot of the paid products. People are coming out what I've actually done, and I think it's kind of helped guide the direction I want to go. I actually started either purchasing some eBooks or courses that are very similar to what I would want to be teaching and just to kind of see how the content is presented or see, like sometimes I'll see Twitter buzzing about a specific product, and I may not be totally interested in the product itself, but I'm curious what has attracted so much attention with that product. So I might go purchase that product just as a means of seeing, okay, why, what makes us things so great that everyone's going nuts about? Yeah. I think if you do have the capital to be able to invest in some of these courses, not only is it a good learning experience, but it's also a good way to, I guess, like you said, broaden your view of how to present this different information, how to teach people differently.
Dave (38:24): Yeah. One of the things I turned to Nick is when I I'm teaching him about game design or using games for learning as they call it, increasing your games vocabulary. So like I almost exclusively with people that create board games and tabletop games, and they will say like, they played, you know, X number of games so many times, and I'll tell them, well, when's the last time you played something on Switch or we know when's the last time you played something on your computer, or when did you play, do you play any games on your iPhone? Or, you know, like when's the last time you played baseball or volleyball or something else. And I tell them, there's a whole world of different games you could be playing. And if you are just the board game designer and you only play board games, then you're only seeing a very, very small part of it. So I tell people one of the best ways to become a really great game designer is to play a lot of different games.
Nick (39:08): That's a really good point with that. I mean, when you're going into the course creation process, you should really be looking at every different medium, take a look at all of the major influencers in your space and kind of see what kind of content I bet. If you go check out like in the online business space, go see how Pat Flynn's doing it, go see how Neil Patel's doing it, go see how Amy Porterfield is doing it. There's probably some similarities in the content they're creating, which is great because you know, that that concept works, but you've probably also seen some differences in how they present that content. And it'll kind of help guide you in a way like, okay, well, these are some different options I can use and try to connect with my audience better using the tactics that they're using. I think learning from others is a huge, as an educator, you can't limit yourself to one, I guess, view, you have to think about what your audience is going to expect, what they're going to want and looking at everybody else in the industry, I think is a very good way to do that.
Nick (40:02): Okay. So now that our course is created, you've gone through the webinar process. You know, that it's a popular webinar. How do we promote this thing? What do you do to promote the paid version of your webinar now to your audience?
Dave (40:19): One of the things I've been doing is for my, uh, job-seeker community, is that I have a list of paid services. Like, um, individuals can pay me in order to review their cover letter or their resume or anything else like that. What I've started doing now is since learning how to write your own resumes, one of those in demand questions, it's also one of those, um, paid services that I, um, I offered before. Now, whenever someone says like, Hey, will you review my resume? I tell them, there's, you know, there's multiple ways we can do this one. You can send me a resume and I can do it as a paid service. It costs X amount of money. Or if you'd like, here is a copy of my course, that costs significantly less and you can learn how to do it yourself. You get unlimited access, free access for life.
Dave (41:02): And I even have like a, um, um, I get one, buy one initiative where if you buy a copy of the course, you can gift an entire copy to someone else because it's a digital product. You just have to give me their email address so I can create credentials for them and they can log into the course there. So one of the best ways I've found to market it is to offer individuals options like, Hey, I'm glad you want to work with me. Here's multiple ways we can work together. I can do it as a, uh, you know, like an actively managed service. Like I'm actually going to review your custom resume. Or if you enroll in this course where I talk about everything that was going to do, you can on how to do it yourself. And, you know, in the future, hopefully you won't need someone like me. So that is mainly been one of the ways that I've done in order to, um, uh, market, the course is using existing services in order to connected with, um, courses that I already built.
Nick (41:46): Okay. Yep. Now, do you take advantage of reviews and testimonials? I've seen a lot, of course creators specifically though, a lot of times to release a beta version of their course, which in your case would kind of be like the webinar and they're able to get the kind of feedback on the course and then gather reviews and testimonials that they can later promote for future course takers. Have you tried any run or anything like that on your end?
Dave (42:12): I have gotten testimonials in the past, but they've been very general just basically about both websites and my writing and, and, um, uh, different like media contributions I've done. Um, I realized that testimonies are really important, but to be honest, I'm still marketing is one of the areas that I struggle with with course creation, because my background is as an educator and as an instructor. So I'm very strong in creating course content in and structuring it and publishing it. But in terms of like marketing and sales, it's still something that I'm trying to grow in myself
Nick (42:43): Now with your University XP and Job Hakr. Is it just you, or do you have a team behind you here?
Dave (42:50): It's just me, but I have a virtual assistant that helps me with some of the administrative stuff on the backend.
Nick (42:55): Oh, okay, cool. Yeah, that's I don't know. Taking on a course can kind of seem daunting with all the aspects that you would think about going into it when it comes to editing and promoting, but again, like you were talking, the webinar's a great way to basically when you're done with it, you have a polished product for the most part. Do You go back in and make tweaks to it or edits? Or literally you get done with the webinar and it's uploaded, done?
Dave (43:20): Well that's what I originally was doing before. I would just record the webinar and I would just upload the recording to Teachable and just call it a day. But what I've done now is in order to improve that student experience is that I know that, you know, preferably you don't want to sit through a 90 minutes single video. So I edit the video based on the individual content areas that I'm covering in my webinar. And since I use a slide deck, always during all of my webinars, I can most easily edit that in Adobe Premiere, which is what I use for video editing. And then from that, I take a 90 minute video and I chop it up into individual three to five minute videos, and I upload those into teachable, which is much, much easier for students to review and complete rather than watching a single, you know, long video.
Nick (44:05): Right. With those slide decks. I really like the fact that it kind of creates somewhat of an outline for you right away. Um, but something we had talked about, or you had mentioned multiple times throughout this episode, Teachable, can you talk about what Teachable is for anybody who might be listening? And they've heard, you mentioned a couple of times and not be sure what it is.
Dave (44:24): Sure. So Teachable is what is called a learning management system or LMS. So a learning management system is essentially, um, a site that allows you to create and publish course content. And that course content could be anything like videos, or texts, or audio, or pictures. Um, some sites allow you to provide a means for interaction with learners. So some of those are like discussion boards or comments or anything else. If anyone is listening, that's still in college right now. You probably are familiar with something like, um, uh, Blackboard or Canvas or maybe Brightspace. These are all learning management systems that, uh, higher ed institutions use to manage all of their courses. Sometimes tens of thousands of different courses taught by hundreds and hundreds of instructors. But what Teachable is, it's a learning management system for entrepreneurs. So you Nick or me, Dave, we can just go in, create a Teachable site and then begin uploading content.
Dave (45:23): They are in order for our learners to review and take that course. Um, but in addition to what other learning management systems have, like Canvas or Blackboard or Brightspace or anything else like that sites like Teachery or Thinkific or Teachable in this, in this example allows us to limit access to those that are going to purchase that content. And that is one of the main differences of using these services for entrepreneurs, because we're, we are putting together content as a business proposition as a business proposal. So we need a way in order to charge our students in order to access that content. And that's what those sites do.
Nick (46:02): Teachable was the one that I've been looking into pretty heavily. I've been back and forth between Teachable and Thinkific. So I haven't quite decided which route I want to go, but I've been hearing a lot of good things about teachable. So I'm kinda thinking that'll be the route to go. Um, just like anything else, you guys the link to Teachable and I mentioned Thinkific, but I'll put links to both of those in the show notes as well. Now, what would be some last final parting words of wisdom that you would give anybody who's thinking about venturing into the online course creation space?
Dave (46:36): Sure. So I'm just gonna, um, uh, recap some of the most important points from our conversation next. So number one is always going to be, try to determine what your is going to get out of taking this individual course, like ask yourself if you were a student in this course, what would you want to get out of it? Um, would you like to get a new skill? Would you like to get new knowledge? Would you like to learn how to do something? The second part is after you have that question answered, ask yourself about the content. So what best answers this question? Is it video? Is it a demonstration? Is it text? Is it like an article? Is it a how to guide or anything else? Could it just be audio? Could it be like a podcast or anything else? And then the last part is, remember that a course, ideally, isn't just a passive product.
Dave (47:20): It's not just something that someone can take at any time, a course is content, but you also have to think about, um, students and how they connect with each other, how students can connect with you as an instructor, and then how you as an instructor can present that content. Sometimes that content will be in a webinar, you know, like a live webinar. Sometimes it could be in like, uh, open office hours or like a Q&A session. Um, so thinking about how the three things interact with each other content students and also the instructor are going to be really important for the success of your course overall.
Nick (47:52): Perfect. Finally, where do you want people to go to find you online? Whether it's your courses, maybe they're interested in hopping on one of your courses or your webinars or on social media, where would you like people to go?
Dave (48:04): Great. Uh, so the best place to find me actually is on my website. My website is, uh, DavEngDesign.com. That's D a V E N G design.com. Uh, that also has links to all of my social media profiles on all the websites that I run. Uh, if you'd like to learn more about using games for learning, uh, that a website is UniversityXP.com. And if you want to see a sample course that I've put together, check out, um, uh, the gamification course or gamification explained, that's a free course that you can enroll in from UniversityXP.com. And if you'd like to, uh, work in higher education, my other website, the job hacker that's J O B H A K R .com, um, that also has my blog and podcast and YouTube channel, and also a list of courses that I published on a job circuit, uh, job seekers in higher education.
Nick (48:55): Well, Dave. I want to thank you for coming on. You got my head spinning, um, probably get done here and be looking into going into getting into some webinars pretty soon here, but yeah, man, I just want to thank you for coming on. I thought you did an awesome job. We've covered a lot of great content and hopefully the listeners will take some away from this and start going and creating their own courses.
Dave (49:15): I hope so. I hope so.
Nick (49:16): All right, man. Well, thank you.
Dave (49:17): Thank you, Nick.
Nick (49:18): All right. I hope you enjoyed that interview with Dr. Dave Eng. The idea to turn the webinars into courses is such a good idea because it covers so many aspects of the course creation process in somewhat of a low stakes setting. I think this is an excellent round for anyone looking to get into course creation, and this will most likely be the same strategy that I personally use as I start to dive into the online courses and workshops this next year.
Nick (49:41): If you'd like to get the transcript for this episode or any of the links discussed in this episode, including links to Dr. Dave Eng's social media, websites, and courses, make sure you head over to the show notes for this episode. The show notes for this episode can be found over at my website on ninefivepodcast.com/episode20 and nine five is all spelled out. N I N E F I V E podcast.com forward slash episode 20 Two-Zero. That is right. We've hit episode 20. All right, guys. Now I'm curious to know, have you started creating your own online courses yet? And if so, what has worked best for you as you began creating and pushing out these courses? Let me know, by heading over to the show notes page and leaving a comment at the bottom of that page there.
Nick (50:28): Alright guys, thanks for tuning in. I hope you all have a fantastic rest of the week and I'll catch you guys in next week's episode.
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Hosts & Guests
Host – Nick Nalbach
Guest – Dave Eng
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Online courses can be a great way to spread knowledge about a specific topic you may know a lot about. Dr. Dave Eng, today’s guest, puts it in a very interesting light:
“Courses create a way for you to develop value for something that you already have, which is your knowledge, your abilities, your experience, and your skills.”
As Dave mentions on this episode, onlines courses give you, the creator, the opportunity to take something you have knowledge or expertise in, and package and sell it to an audience that needs it. If you already have a business, selling courses can be additional revenue stream for your online business.
But how do you start monetizing the information and knowledge you have through the use of online courses?
Before you can create and start selling your course you have to define what learning is.
How Do You Define Learning?
Here’s how Dave defines it:
“Learning is the transformation of experience into knowledge.”
With that, there are 3 major factors involved with turning that experience into knowledge:
- Content – What is the students’ relationship with the content?
- Students – What is the students’ relationship with each other?
- Teacher – What is the students’ relationship with the teacher?
What is the students’ relationship with the content?
This could be through watching a video course, reading an eBook, or maybe a worksheet that you give your audience to complete. Think about how you want your learners to be consuming and interacting with your content.
What is the students’ relationship with each other?
When I think about this question, I am reminded of Facebook Groups or other online communities. You might think about setting up a place for other students of the course to interact with one another.
This could be a great way to allow students to build other connections, discuss the course content, and hopefully build impactful relationships through your course.
What is the students’ relationship with the teacher?
Oftentimes this relationship can be built through weekly office hours or monthly Q&As with the instructor.
Creating videos courses allow you, the instructor, to build a better relationship with your students, but being available with answer questions that may come up about the course material can be a great way to make a lasting impression on your audience.
Now, it’s time to create some killer content.
Creating a High-Quality Online Course Comes Down to 2 Things…
- Knowing what the learner is going to get from taking your course (the desired outcome)
- Arranging the content for WHAT the learner needs to know and WHEN they need to know it
1. Determining Your Course Objective
As course creators, you really need to understand what the outcome is going to be.
What do you want the audience to leave with when they are finished with your course?
If you start creating your course without first thinking about this question, your message and objective won’t be clear.
As Dave puts it, you don’t want to be like the sun; shining in all directions. Instead, you want to be like a flashlight; hyper-focused in one area.
2. Structuring Your Course
Once your objective is clear and you know what the desired outcome will be, you then need to think about how you are going to translate that information to your audience, AND in what order.
This is the step where you need to be conscious of what information is crucial to reach the desired outcome and how it will be structured.
- What prior knowledge does the student need to have?
- When does it make logical sense to share X, Y, and Z
Nail down these 2 important points and you’ll be on the right direction towards a successful course.
Let’s Start Creating!
In the episode we cover so much more about the process that Dave uses to create a successful online course, so make sure you don’t miss out on the full-interview.
When creating an online course, or any product for that matter, it all comes down to solving a problem. The knowledge you have is already a solution to a problem that likely exists.
When creating your course, be specific about the problem your course solves (what knowledge the student will gain, increased ROI, etc) and clearly identify what that outcome will be.
Links & Resources
Note: Some of the links listed below may be affiliate links. This means I will receive a small commission (at no extra cost to you) if you choose to purchase through them.
- Visit Dave Eng Design – includes links to all Dave’s websites and social media channels
- Learn more about Game-Based Learning
- Learn more about Student Affairs Job Search at Job Hakr
- What is Gamification? Enroll in Dr. Dave Eng’s free course to learn more
- Host your own online courses with Teachable or Thinkific
- Create a Wiki Survey to find out what courses to create for your audience
- Listen to the Smart Passive Income Podcast with Pat Flynn
- If you haven’t done this already, you can leave a review of the Nine-Five Podcast over on iTunes
I hope you enjoyed this episode of the Nine-Five Podcast. Thank you so much for listening!
If you enjoyed this episode, please head over to iTunes and leave a review. Your reviews are what help get this podcast in front of more people!
Have you started creating your own online courses yet?
Let me know in the comments below.
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"The value you provide to others directly correlates to your success. The more value you provide, the more successful you become. Focus on the value!"
- Nick Nalbach
I am an entrepreneur and adventure enthusiast, looking to break free from the Nine-Five grind. I'll show you what has worked and is currently working for me, as well as what hasn't worked so well.