Are you wanting to teach software products online more effectively or are you trying to just take your software training online? I have taught software products online for over 8 years and I can share with you some tips and tricks to save your time and money.
To teach software online you can choose to deliver on third party websites like YouTube, Udemy or Skillshare. You can create your own website using an LMS or CMS. And finally you could make a custom website to deliver you training. As well as these student self paced methods you may choose to teach live online.
If you want to teach software online you will have to:
- Outline Your Course
- Optimized Title
- Targeted Audience
- Pricing Model
- Set Up Your Equipment
- Host Your Training Content
- Learning Management System (L.M.S.)
- Third-Party Teaching Platforms
- Running Live Classes
Now that you know which are the steps required for online software teaching let’s take an in-depth look at each one of it.
Outline Your Course
First and foremost you have to outline your online software course. There are several crucial aspects you need to take into account. To make it easier for you to understand the topic I have prepared a list containing three of the key aspects you need to be aware of when outlining your first online course.
Regardless of what subject you are teaching, the title is the first thing a potential student notices about your course. This is why you need to spend a fair amount of time understanding the key requirements of a highly-optimized title.
I strongly advise getting a better understanding of how SEO (Search Engine Optimization) works. This way you will be able to obtain an increased market reach and you course will be visible to your target audience.
There are 5 key characteristics of a great course title:
- Less than 60 characters – google only shows this many in search results
- Audience Focused – think of the level of your students
- Specific – narrow down the software niche
- Entice the Students – catchy marketing name
- Using SEO keywords – using the google alphabet soup or keyword research methods
Make sure you pick a catchy name for your title.
After choosing a catchy name for your online software course it is time to define your targeted audience. I suggest creating a student persona. A persona is a set of characteristics that are applicable to all your potential students (targeted audience). This way you will be able to find the best marketing channels to advertise your course. It helps you choose the appropriate teaching methods as well as an optimized delivery method.
When it comes to defining your target audience you need to take into account the following characteristics:
- Geographic location
- English language competencies
- Prerequisites (educational background)
- Learning style
- Language, Literacy, and Numeracy (LLS) skills
- Working Domain
As an online educator, you will have to earn some money in order to make a living. If you are planning on creating this online software course to deliver it to your school/university or to train your staff then you can skip this section. Otherwise, I strongly suggest carefully reading it in order to be able to choose the appropriate pricing model for your course.
Before actually deciding on the pricing model you need to analyze 5 key aspects regarding the creation and delivery process:
- Targeted Audience
- Amount of Interactivity
- Course Outcomes
- Delivery Methods
- Equipment Required
These above-mentioned aspects will help you determine a starting price for your online software course. When defining the base price you need to take into account the following factors:
- Your Time (Price Per Working Hour)
- Content Creation
- Equipment Cost
- Software Subscriptions
- Delivery Cost (if you are using an L.M.S. or a custom domain)
- Other Expenses
- Content Creation
- Target Profit (~35% of the total cost)
At this point, you should be able to state a base price for your course. Of course, the actual price depends very much on your experience, the competition in the niche, as well as the prices of other similar courses.
Set Up Your Equipment
Having the appropriate pieces of equipment significantly increases the proficiency of the educational process. If you are planning on teaching software online then you will have to possess only a few pieces of equipment. I have divided them into sections as follows:
- Mandatory Equipment
- Optional Equipment
The only piece of equipment you actually need when teaching software online is a laptop or computer. Depending on the complexity of the software you are planning on using you will need a more or less powerful laptop.
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 4 gigs of RAM with a solid-state disk (SSD) or 8 gigs so RAM with an older style hard drive is more than enough.
This does not take into account any extra educational software you may use on top of the one supplied by the Tutoring company. If you are going to be running other software at the same time you may wish to use an i5 and a minimum 8 gigs of RAM.
It is a great idea to check your computer’s specifications. You can find various tutorials on the Internet that will guide you throughout the entire process of specs checking. These links will help you start your research: Windows / MAC.
To learn more about which is the best computer setup for online teaching, I suggest reading the following article:
The complete list of software you need when teaching software online depends very much on the application you are planning on using. Basically you will need the software itself as well as several tools chosen in accordance with your favorite delivery method. Below I have prepared a set of applications you can use to create training content for your online course.
The most popular tools you can use to create and edit text are:
- Google Docs (free)
- Apache OpenOffice (free)
- EditPad Lite (free)
- Microsoft Word (paid)
- LMS Text Editors (free)
If you want to create digital training manuals you can use one of the following:
If you want to capture screenshots to use it for your online software course then you can take advantage of:
Here are the graphics editing applications available are:
Among the most popular software used for audio recording and editing are:
For screencast purposes you can choose one of the following tools:
Screencasts are a great way of teaching software online. If you are unsure whether to use screencasts as training content for your students I recommend taking a look at the following article.
After you’ve finished recording your video, to edit the raw footage you can use:
- Movie Maker (free)
- OpenShot (free)
- Adobe Premiere (paid)
- Corel Video Studio (paid)
- Shortcut (free)
- iMovie (paid)
You can find out my personal recommendations for all of the above tools for all content types by taking a look at the Recommended Tools page.
After gathering all the mandatory equipment it is time to focus on the optional one. This type of equipment is not required but it is great to use. It significantly increases the overall proficiency of the online training process. Let’s see the exact pieces of equipment you can take advantage of.
If you are planning on teaching software online then you might want to buy some audio and video recording equipment. This way your students will be able to see and hear you during the classes. Even if it does not sound like a big deal I assure you that being capable of talking instead of writing has a tremendously positive effect on your students’ learning.
I strongly suggest taking a look at the following article to get a better understanding of the actual advantages of including live meetings in your online course:
Video Recording Equipment
If you are using a laptop then it probably has an integrated web camera. Due to the poor footage quality of this piece of equipment I strongly advise against using it for online teaching. My suggestion is to go to an electronics shop and buy a dedicated camera.
Besides the enhanced footage quality a dedicated camera may include certain functions that will make your videos more interesting. These functions may include:
- Light Adjustment
- Background Removal
Despite the general opinion you do not have to pay an arm and a leg in order to get a decent quality camera. If you can not decide what dedicated camera to buy I strongly suggest taking a look at the Recommended Tools page to find out what type of camera worked the best for me.
Audio Recording Equipment
A high-quality microphone is just as important as a web camera. The situation is similar to the above-mentioned piece of equipment. Using the built-in microphone will result in a poor-quality audio recording.
I strongly suggest spending some extra money on a high-quality dedicated microphone. Just like a camera, it may include additional helpful functions. These functions may include but are not limited to:
- Noise Cancelling
- Voice Filters
- Adaptive Sensitivity
- Volume Equalizer
If you are not yet decided on what you want to use, I suggest you take a look at my favorite dedicated microphone.
Live Meeting Platforms
When teaching software online you might want to consider the option of taking part into live classes. To do so you will have to choose one of the available live meeting platforms. There are plenty of options on the market. Just like any other application, there are certain advantages and disadvantages.
Zoom is one of the most popular video-conference online web conference software tools. It is commonly used for business and educational purposes. Its main feature is the generous free plan that can be used after signing up with a valid e-mail address. Another important feature consists of the option to blur or change your background during the video call. This is especially useful during classes.
To put it in a nutshell, there are many amazing features available on Zoom:
- Free plan with a generous amount of features
- Background Blur
- Up to 100 people per call
- Multi-monitor support
- Phone and Tablet Apps
- And more.
If you want to see the complete list of features offered by this web conferencing tool then I strongly suggest taking a look at their official website.
This web conference software hosts video conferences. GoToMeeting is commonly used for business meetings. However, it has multiple uses when it comes to e-learning as it features an integrated whiteboard. This feature helps teachers tutor multiple students by explaining using a customizable workspace.
GoToMeeting includes many features, such as:
- Highly-optimized mobile app (both for iOS and Android)
- Multi-monitor support
- Up to 100 people in the conference
- Advanced encryption of the meeting
- And more.
Remote Control Applications
When your students encounter issues you must be able to guide them throughout the process of solving any problem. Sometimes you might not be capable of providing them with instructions via audio call or screenshots.
If that is the case then you might want to try out one of the remote control applications available on the market. Using these tools you will be able to control their device. This includes the mouse, keyboard, as well as other important functions.
You have plenty of options but you will have to take into account all the associated factors and compare the usability against the price. Here are some of the best tools you can take advantage of:
- TeamViewer (Standalone Remote Control Application)
- Chrome Remote Desktop (Google Chrome Extension For Remote Control)
- Veyon (C.M.S. – Content Management Software)
- LanSchool (C.M.S. – Content Management Software)
Host Your Training Content
After creating your course and the software training content it is time to host it online. This way you will be able to deliver it to your students in an effective manner. At this point, you have several options. In my opinion, the most viable possibilities are:
- L.M.S. (Learning Management System)
- Third-Party Teaching Platforms
Both options come with advantages and disadvantages. For example, third-party teaching platforms cut down your overall profit and the schedule flexibility but offer you free marketing (advertisement). On the other hand, L.M.S. grants you full control over your training content and the delivery method but requires you to recruit the students yourself.
Below I have prepared a brief explanation of the two concepts as well as the most popular examples amongst the online software educators.
Learning Management System (L.M.S.)
A Learning Management System (commonly referred to as LMS) is an online tool that allows educators to deliver and guide their students’ training. Its many features greatly enhance interactivity between students and teachers.
The core features of an LMS are:
- User Security
- Content Storage
- Scheduling Events
- Assessment and Tracking
- Teacher-Student Interactivity
- Payment Handling Methods
- And more.
To learn more about learning management systems and their features I suggest taking a look at the following article:
The most popular Learning Management Systems are:
Moodle is one of the most popular LMS available worldwide. It is an open-source tool so anyone can use it for free. The only service you may need to pay for is hosting.
If you have your own web host you can use the installer to host Moodle as one of your subdomains. If you do not have a custom domain you will have to pay a subscription for the cloud-based version of Moodle.
To learn more about how to use Moodle to host your online software course I suggest taking a look at the following articles: Moodle Articles
Google Classroom is a learning management system that is available worldwide. It can be used without any paid subscription by individual educators and eligible schools. However, if you are not eligible for the free version you need to pay a subscription fee that is calculated in accordance with the number of students and teachers you will add.
You can see the complete list of articles that are related to Google Classroom here:
Third-Party Teaching Platforms
This is the second option you got when it comes to hosting your online software course. There are plenty of platforms that allow teachers to upload their training content and monetize it. The main advantage of this hosting method is related to marketing. You gain access to a database containing thousands of students. All you have to do is to create amazing content and advertise it using a catchy title.
The most popular third-party teaching platforms are:
For more information on teaching LIVE online classes check out this article:
ARTICLE: How To Teach LIVE Online