Creative friend – today, let’s talk about online art courses.
A while back, I wrote an article about the fact that in order for artists to survive in this industry, they often need to stitch together multiple streams of income (read that article here). Without question, one of those streams of income is teaching.
Many artists teach workshops, give lectures, and engage in one form or the other of educational programs. Although teaching forms a major part of artists’ jobs, due to personal reasons like raising young children, health, and the toll of constantly being on the road. It’s difficult for every artist to be a traveling teacher. Also, your classes are accessible only to a few people. For those reasons, in another article, I made the case that artists should go into online teaching of their art courses.
Well, well, well….
Fast forward to the era of a global pandemic, where many people including artists and freelancers have lost their sources of incomes, and live events are no longer a possibility due to lockdown and quarantine measures. Now, teaching art courses online is no longer something artists need to consider. It is what they need to do to get back, at least a portion of, their income from teaching.
As a result, recently, I’ve been getting a lot of questions from artists about how to create art courses online. Whether to create completely new courses from scratch or translate old classroom-taught courses into online art courses, people are seeking answers and my inbox has been filled with questions.
So, in order to answer your questions, I did one of my #ClaraChats –live broadcast- in our private Facebook group. If you attended and couldn’t take notes or if you were unable to attend, here are the main takeaways.
10 Steps to Creating Online Art Courses
- Select the Right Topic: There are many things you can teach. However, you can’t teach everything. So, what should you teach? Hint: Select a topic that lies at the intersection between what you know and what people want to learn.
- Determine the Learning Outcomes for your Students: Your course should solve a real problem. So, at the end of taking your course what problem will you have solved for your student? What transformation will they have? What will they be able to do that they were not able to do prior to taking your course? Your answers to these questions will focus the content you create.
- Decide the Type of Content to Use: What type of content will be best suited for delivering the learning outcomes or results you want your students to have? Depending on your answer to that question, you can choose to deliver your course in text, audio, video, or a combination of all three. Remember that different people have different learning styles. Some people are visual learners while others aren’t.
- Create your Course Outline: At this point, all you want to do is to create a roadmap for you to follow in creating the course materials. Focus on the steps needed in order to achieve the learning outcome you specified. Keep it simple. Use bullet points. Creating an outline helps to simplify a complex course development project into manageable steps.
- Develop the Course Materials: Here’s where you create the main content of your course by fleshing out each point on the course outline you created above. Record audios, type instructional manuals, and film videos. Remember that people have short attention spans especially when they’re online. Keep your course materials short and sweet and to the point. Avoid overly wordy instructions or lengthy videos.
- Learning Management Systems (LMS): After you’ve created your course materials, you want to store them somewhere online for easy access. There are many LMS available for doing this. I’ve got an article on the various Learning Management Systems available to you. Read that for more info. If you’re not ready to invest into one of them, you can store your materials in the cloud (Dropbox, Google Drive, One Drive etc.) and give students access to individual files. Alternatively, you can also use a webinar / video conferencing platform ( Zoom, Webinarjam, Google Hangouts etc.) to create and store videos. Then give students access to those links.
- Determine Course Delivery Format: You can choose to have all your course materials from lesson one to the last lesson immediately available to a student as soon as they sign up. Alternatively, you can choose to drip the course materials to your students. Dripping the course means giving students access to parts of the course at specified intervals of time. You determine the frequency and duration of the course. Whether every couple of days or weekly, that will be your decision.
- Keep Your Students Engaged: Consider creating a community to go along with the course. So that you can keep your students engaged and part of something bigger than themselves. Learning by yourself can be lonely and sometimes demotivating. Having a class of people you’re doing it with is exciting and easier to do.
- Get Feedback: After you’ve had students take the course, get their feedback. This is very important. Until you get their feedback you don’t really know if the course you developed meets the needs of the students you created it for.
- Continuously Improve Your Course: Use the feedback you receive to keep improving the course. The success of your course depends on how well you incorporate feedback into future modifications of your course.
So there you have it, 10 steps to creating successful online art courses. In these times of social distancing, quarantine and cancelled live events, you can use online art courses to pivot your art business to what is going to be our new normal. Our increased embrace of technology and caution with live gatherings.
Create online art courses to serve the needs of your students, and to build a foundation that positions you for what the future of learning is going to become. Finally, use it to create a revenue stream that supports your art career.
Questions, or Comments? Post below.
PS: Go to our private Facebook Group. Watch the live broadcast of me teaching this topic in order to get more information.