Visual arts is a subject that can be successfully taught online. This article will explain how to start teaching an art course in 4 simple steps. I will show you what technology, tools and resources you will need to succeed.
To start an art class online you have to perform the following steps:
- Outline Your Course
- Main Topic
- Course Title
- Targeted Audience
- Pricing Model
- Gather Up The Equipment
- Required Hardware
- Suitable Software
- Create Training Content
- Host Your Course Online
- Third-Party Platform
Now you know which are the 4 steps you need to take in order to teach art classes online. Let’s find out what additional actions you have to perform for each step.
Step 1 – Outline Your Course
Before creating your art class you must outline the important aspects of your course. This preliminary description should include the following aspects:
- Main topic
- Course title
- Targeted audience
- Pricing model
There are heaps of content online and you need to decide where the gaps are in the market and how you will aim your course to fill that need.. This means you should narrow down your niche and decide what exactly you are going to teach. You do not have to be a full-time artist to teach you just need to know more than the students you are going to teach. Arts can be taught by anyone who is interested in and has a solid knowledge of a certain topic.
There are heaps of options when it comes to choosing a suitable topic for your art class, such as:
- Fundamental Drawing Techniques
- Painting (Watercolors, Acrylics etc)
- Computer Generated Art
- And much more
If you need inspiration on where you might find the niche for your art course here is a link that may interest you.
LINK: Art on Wikipedia
This is one of the most important parts of your course outline. After all, the title is the first thing your potential students will notice about an online art class. This is one of the reasons you want to put your best foot forward.
It is very important to adapt your course title to the technique you are focusing on during the course. For example, if you are planning on teaching beginners how to paint a portrait. You can name your class The Beginner’s Guide To Painting Amazing Portraits.
The above-mentioned example fulfills all the SEO requirements of a nice course title:
- Less than 60 characters – Google only shows this many in search results
- Audience Focused – beginner level
- Specific – portrait painting
- Catchy – use some easy-to-remember words
- Using SEO keywords – using keyword research or the google alphabet soup method to pick a title people are actually searching for.
To learn more about how to choose the best course title for your art class I recommend reading the following article:
As I have said before it is very important to narrow down your audience. This way your course will be exposed to more potential students.
Your course can target different types of audience, such as:
- Arts students
After deciding what type of audience you are addressing make sure you think about the demographics of your potential students:
The price is an important part of your online art class. If you are using it to train students for a school or university pricing can be left out of your course outline. If you are planning on either teaching publically online directly to interested students continue reading this section.
There are several aspects that you must take into account when deciding the price for your art class:
- Creating Content (hardware and software cost)
- Hosting the Content (monthly/yearly hosting provider subscription)
- Additional expenses (logistics, additional equipment, etc.)
- Value for Your Time (price per hour of work)
- Target Profit (~30%)
Make sure to check out the other courses that are teaching similar topics. It might not be a great idea to ask for $50/hour if all the other classes on the market are asking $25 per hour. Adapt your price to the current demand and your competitors’ prices.
To learn more about different pricing models you can use for your online art class I recommend taking a look at the following article:
Step 2 – Gather Up The Equipment
Preparing the necessary equipment is one of the most important actions you must perform before actually teaching arts online. I have divided this section into two different parts so that it will be easier for you to understan.
In terms of physical equipment, in order to teach arts online you will need the following hardware:
- Laptop or Computer
- Audio Recording
- Video Recording
Let’s find out what does every category include and what is the best equipment to teach art classes online.
Laptop or Computer
This is the basic piece of equipment when teaching online, regardless of the taught subject. You will use a laptop or a computer for multiple activities related to online tutoring:
- Creating Training Content
- Managing Your Course
- Conducting Classes
- And more.
Generally any computer less than 4 years old of around $500 will do for this style of training. For most training online an i3 or i5 Intel processor with 4gig of RAM with a solid-state disk (SSD) or 8 gigs so RAM with an older style hard drive is more than enough.
If you want to use complex software you might want to opt for the second option (i5 and 8 gigs of RAM). It is always wise to look at the technical requirements if you are going to use a software package that may need better hardware. However, the first type is just great for basic online teaching activities.
The most important characteristics of your laptop are:
- Operating System
- Hard Disk Space
If you do not have much knowledge about computers, I recommend reading the following article to understand the basic guidelines of getting an amazing laptop for online teaching.
The use of Audio can be used to provide podcasts, instruct students on theory or even provide weekly updates. It is great for them to listen to in the car or on public transport and is becoming more and more used with people with busy lives.
If you are using a laptop, it probably has an integrated microphone. However, due to its poor quality of the audio recording capabilities I strongly advise against using it for teaching online. You might want to consider buying a dedicated microphone that also has some useful features (noise-canceling, directional microphone etc.).
If you want to see my recommendations in terms of audio recording equipment visit the Recommended Tools page.
Having a high-quality video recording equipment is just as important as the audio. Having a dedicated web camera and a decent quality microphone will turn all the video conferences into a delightful experience for both for you and your students.
If you are using video to demonstrate real world skills you can start with your mobile phone on a stand or if you are carrying it a mobile phone recording stabilizer. Then migrate up to a better quality camera once the dollars start rolling in. If you do use your phone there are directional microphones that can plug into your phone for better audio with your video.
If you are using a laptop it might include a built-in webcam. Just like the integrated microphone its video quality is very poor compared to the dedicated cameras. I strongly suggest buying a dedicated video recording equipment so that you will be able to deliver high-quality video training content for your art class.
You can find my recommendations for webcams and microphones on the Recommended Tools page.
There are heaps of available tools you can successfully use to create training content for your online art class. Below you will find a list containing three of the best applications you can use for every content type.
The most accessible tools you can use to create written training content are:
- Google Docs (free with a Google account)
- Open Office (free)
- EditPad Lite (free)
- Microsoft Word (paid)
- CMS and LMS editors (free)
Content Management Systems (CMS) and Learning Management Systems (LMS)
NOTE: Written training content is the least engaging type of eLearning content and while you will use it for teaching theory sometimes you are better off using video training..
Once you have taken photos with your phone, camera or sourced royalty free content from the internet you may wish to edit it. Or you may wish to create your graphics from scratch. If so the following 2D graphics packages will help you.
The most popular software for editing image files is:
Once you have recorded your video files you may then want to edit them to make them look more professional. The applications below will help you to do that.
The most common applications that you can use to edit your videos are:
To learn more about the training content you can use in your online course, I suggest taking a look at the following article:
Step 3 – Create Training Content
This is another key activity you must perform before publishing your online art course. Make sure to adapt your training content to the targeted audience. This means simplifying your course if your students are beginners and using a more complex approach if you are training professionals.
Make sure to take advantage of using video content when teaching art online. This is your best friend because the arts are all visual. To create amazing training content for your course you can also make use of authoring tools.
For example, two of the most powerful applications you can get your hands on are Storyline 3 and Articulate 360. To learn more about what are the differences and similarities between the two software packages I recommend reading the following article:
Step 4 – Host Your Course Online
When it comes to publishing your art course online you have two main options:
- Learning Management System (LMS)
- Third-Party Platform
Each option comes with advantages and disadvantages. Therefore, you must carefully analyze the features and the costs of the two methods and then decide which one is suitable for your course.
Learning Management System (LMS)
Learning management systems are solutions that allow online educators to manage their courses and deliver training online. These systems feature several core functions that enhance the educational process:
- User Security
- Assessment and Grading Methods
- Audio-Video Capabilities
- Payment Handling Methods
- And more.
The most popular learning management systems available are:
If you want to learn more about the concept of LMS and get some help to choose the best LMS for your online art class make sure to check out the following articles.
ARTICLE: What are the features of a Learning Management System?ARTICLE: Is Seesaw Good for High School Students?
ARTICLE: Blackboard vs. Moodle: How To Choose What Works For You?ARTICLE: Canvas Vs Moodle: Which is better for online teachers?
To find out everything about different learning management systems you should take a look at the complete list of LMS-related articles:
ARTICLES: LMS Articles
If you have decided that no LMS is suitable for your course then you might want to consider hosting it on a third-party platform. There are certain advantages and disadvantages of using this type of hosting solution.
The most popular third-party platforms for hosting your online art class are:
The main advantage that those websites offer is free marketing for your course. This way, you will not have to pay for additional advertising or exposure. However, some training platforms do not allow educators to set the desired price. Always check what taxes you will have to pay and how much you will get paid before choosing this type of hosting provider.