Instructor Resources Course Tips

How to create a great course

Success tips for teaching on Arbington

How to create a great course

Creating a great course can mean the difference between a successful course and a course that doesn't perform very well. In this article we'll explain what we look for in a great course.

We'll also cover some of the "rules" we have for course content. The idea behind our rules is to try and keep the playing field as even as possible. Other platforms heavily favour certain instructors, or even hand pick instructors to become more successful than others. We want to avoid that and keep Arbington fair for everbody.

Quality

Video
All courses should be primarily video based. Your video should be the highest quality possible with a minimum quality of 720p. We will convert your course videos into several streamable formats to suit the streaming capabilities of the students in your course.

Audio
Audio for your videos must be high quality with little or no background sound. We can't escape background sound entirely, but if you make an effort to reduce the background noise, echoing sounds, and other distractions your course will be loved by your students.

Actionable steps

Students love taking action. Whether that's a final project or a small task to work on every now and then, they enjoy being able to practice what they've been learning and asking questions based on their findings.

We recognize that not all subjects are immediately actionable. But wherever possible adding actionable steps to your videos will help your students foster a "learn by doing" mindset.

Projects are optional but encouraged

If your course has a project, great! Student love final projects and it's a great way to learn. We don't enforce final projects, but if you have one that would be great. Final projects should be created together with a "Final project" video lesson.

Courses that have a final project may show up in search results earlier than projects without a final project. We really encourage a final project for all courses, but this is optional. At the end of the day you should be making content that promotes learning to all students.

Minimum minutes

Courses have a 20 minute minimum policy. Not all subjects require several hours of video content, and we understand that. We have a 20 minute minimum rule.

Courses that are between one and four hours tend to do the best. But don't feel like a 40 hour course will outperform your 2 hour course. It's all about the quality of your content.

Introduction videos

Every course requires an introduction video. You may or may not play music in the background, that's up to you. If you decide to play background music, make sure it's royalty-free music or you have the rights to use the music in a commercial setting. The background music should not be loud, either. Most students find it incredibly distracting and want to hear what you have to offer rather than listening to music. They have other apps for that.

Your introduction video should be informative and tell the potential student what they will be learning. You will also want to introduce yourself and tell them why you're the best person to learn this subject from. This builds "authority" and confidence in the student to learn from you.

Lastly, if you have any fun projects and requirements to take this course, it's best to tell them about that. Projects get people excited, and letting them know about your course requirements up front won't leave them surprised when they enroll in your course.

Cover images

Cover images are the images people will see when searching for your course.

Be creative! But don't be spammy or malicious. Unlike other platforms, we allow text in your course cover image. But be careful, the image may show up on smaller devices such as a phone and be too small to read.

When we say "don't be spammy" we mean this: don't change your cover image to say things like "BIG SALE!" or other marketing type wording. Keep the text in your course cover image as the title of your course.

The reason we allow text in cover images is because some people like to read the image rather than the text. Think: Netflix.

Titles and subtitles

The title of your course can only be 75 characters long and may end up being shortened on mobile devices. The best practice here is to keep your title between 20 and 50 characters long. If it's shorter or longer, that's OK, it won't affect your search ranking.

The subtitle of your course can be used for additional information if your title is too long.

Descriptions

Course descriptions are important for people who like to read. Tell them what's in the course, why they should take your course and not another persons course, any course requirements, and why they should learn from you. If you have a project, there's a separate section to your project description.

Course descriptions are limited to 5000 characters, including the markup (ie. bolding). You don't need to fill the entire section with words, but if you add at least 200 words you'll likely do better. We don't enforce a minimum word count.

They are also great for making text-based updates on your course. Let's say you made a course last year, it's performing really well, and you updated it for the year 2022. Making a new introduction video is hard, we get it. But you can let people know in your

Categories

Categories are how people can find your course. If a student is interested in graphic design but doesn't want to see courses on meditation, they can filter their search results by looking through a category instead.

Making sure your course is marked for the right topic is important. For instance: A Python programming course would be better suited in "Programming" than it would in "Web development". Even though they are related, one is more specific than the other.

Reviews

Reviews become social proof for your course. The more reviews, the better. In fact, it's one of the things we look for in a great course. Reviews are a great metric to determine if your course is doing well or not.

We do reviews differently at Arbington. We ask for a positive or negative review. The star system is otudated and doesn't provide enough clear instruction for students. Most instructors have been victim to a student who left a positive review in writing, but marked the course as a 1 out of 5. To avoid that, we use the up/down system.

Remember: don't explicitly ask for a positive review, that breaks our course rules. But you can ask people to leave an honest review.

Pricing

Courses have two pricing tiers on Arbington.com: free and paid. Free courses must be less than 2 hours long and paid courses don't have a maximum limit.

A paid course, however, offers incentive in the form of money. All paid courses are set to a USD $19.97 price point and cannot be changed to another dollar value. If you want to promote your course using a different dollar value, you can create a coupon code with a price between USD $9.99 and USD $19.97.

What's right for your course is up to you. But note that we do prefer to have paid courses.

Questions and Answers

When you have a question being asked in one of your courses, it's best to answer it in a timely manner. We don't want you sitting around your computer all day waiting for questions to appear, but we also don't want questions to go unanswered for too long. Typically one or two days is a good time frame. And don't worry about going on vacation, the questions will still be there when you get back.

Having answered questions and discussions in your course shows people you have an engaging course and may be factored into search results.

Curriculum

Your curriculum is made up of the lessons you teach. They should all be video based as of right now until we create more lesson types (ie. a reading lesson).

Every lesson should be titled in a way that lets the student know what they are going to learn.

Rules

Like all things in life, there must be some rules. This isn't the wild west anymore. Below are is a non-exhaustive list our rules. If we find out your course is breaking any of the rules we'll reach out to you with a timeframe to fix it. Everybody makes mistakes, that doesn't mean you should be permanently punished for it.

Here are some of our rules in no particular order:

Search results

A common question is, "How do I rank better?". Unfortunately we can't give you all the details behind that otherwise people will game the system making Arbington.com an unfair educational marketplace. However, some of the things we look for are: reviews, questions and answers, category and keywords (within reason).

What we can say is this: Be the best teacher someone could ask for and you're course will rank higher. If you answer questions, your course will do better in search results. If people love your course and it has high engagement levels, your course will do better in search results. Basically, if you teach online the same way a good teacher teaches offline, you'll do well.

Questions

If you have further questions about how to create a great course, please feel free to email us at [email protected] and we'll be happy to answer questions. We will likely update this page as questions come in, as well.