If you’ve ever subscribed to or purchased content on e-learning services like Pluralsight, CBT Nuggets, LinkedIn Learning (Lynda), Udemy, et al., you’ve been a student of an e-learning course. These courses aim to help students learn a particular skill, help them pass a certification exam or enter an entirely new profession. A course can be just about anything, especially on Udemy!
Every successful e-learning course has lots of students and a single or a handful of instructors. A wildly popular course could have millions of students yet an only instructor (author). The chances of being a student on a course are a whole lot more likely than being the course author.
At TechSnips, we help IT professionals, developers, tech pros of all walks of life transform from one of the many (students) to one of the few (instructors). We help subject matter experts (SMEs) turn the knowledge in their head into a well-thought-out course that will potentially help millions of students learn a new skill to get that promotion, pass that certification exam to get a new job or just get a jump start on a new hobby!
Snips vs. Courses
Before we get into courses, it’s important you first understand our split snip vs. course programs. If you’ve seen our website, techsnips.io, you’ll see here nor there a course. TechSnips.io hosts short, how-to videos that get right to the point and teach a task. We call these videos snips. Snips are perfect if an IT pro knows what his problem is just not how to do it. Snips teach how to perform a task. Courses, on the other hand, explain how to build a skill.
Snips are the perfect solution in a pinch for that system administrator that can’t figure out how to upload files to Microsoft Azure, install a PowerShell module or how to back up a virtual machine. These are all tasks. Courses, on the other hand, teach skills that may or may not be groups of snips combined with slides, quizzes, etc.
A snip teaches how to repair a car transmission; a course teaches how to become a mechanic. Task vs. skill. Learning how to fix a car transmission is an important task every mechanic needs to learn, but it’s not nearly everything a mechanic needs to know to become ASE certified.
TechSnips still maintains our snip platform and will continue to do so but will not be the primary business focus for the time being.
E-Learning Training Companies
Previously, I mentioned companies like Pluralsight, LinkedIn Learning (Lynda), Udemy and others. These companies provide courses directly to their customers. Each company has a two-sided market; students and instructors. To attract customers (students), these companies must produce great courses. But to create great courses, they need experts (instructors) that can teach them. They can and do hire full-time instructors but also hire many contractors to develop these courses.
Each training company built and maintains its own platform, has its own students and markets their individual courses to acquire as many customers as possible.
These companies invest lots of money acquiring both instructors and students creating a large match-making service.
TechSnips is not a training company although we do tend to dabble in our own courses from time to time. Our primary focus is on filling a gap in our training company partners’ content libraries by providing access to many different experts capable of producing many different courses.
We work directly with training companies, not against them to provide a “Courses as a Service” platform by automating and removing every logistical task necessary to create a course. We strive to let experts teach their skills and handle the rest.
Working Directly with Training Companies
Typically, when an e-learning company needs a course created, they will reach out to individual authors in an attempt to woo a subject matter expert to build the course for them. Or, a potential course author will reach out to the training company and pitch course ideas to see if the training company will bite. Either way, the relationship is always 1:1 between a single author and the training company.
On the surface, this 1:1 relationship sounds simple until a course newbie really gets into it. They will soon be overwhelmed by course logistics.
- What kind of outline are you looking for?
- What kind of instructional style do you want?
- When do I need to put in slides?
- What slide template do I use again?
- Do you always need a course introduction?
- Holy hell, I’ve got to build my own demo environment?
- Now, a module is part of a course, and a lesson is part of a module, right?
- Do you need the videos in MP4, AVI or MOV format?
- What’s the framerate supposed to be?
- How long should the course be? Do you have a max length per lesson?
- What is “scope” and how does it relate to courses and individual lessons?
- What exactly does this contract I’m signing mean?
- You mean to tell me I have to be a video editor too on top of all of this?
- …and on and on.
I went through all of this when I was first producing courses for various companies and to be honest, I hated it. I loved coming up with the scenarios and teaching, but I hated all of the logistics that went into ensuring the course was packaged precisely how the training company wanted it.
I especially hated doing my own editing. I tried to outsource as much as possible, but I would then have to train contractors on the exact specifications the company needed, remember to pay them and still handle all of the paperwork with the training company. I wished there was a better way…
Where TechSnips Comes In
Training companies will always have their own specific requirements, and these hoops will still have to be jumped through, but we believe the author shouldn’t have to. We think a subject matter expert should do what they do best; be an expert in the subject they’re teaching! Crazy concept, huh?
We believe that it’s entirely unnecessary for an expert to concern him or herself with all of the logistics that go into course production. Instead, we want an expert to teach. That’s it. Plain and simple. All of the other rigamarole that goes into getting a course laid out and submitted to a training company shouldn’t even come into the picture.
Spreading the Workload
I’ve seen it many times. When you lay a pre-created 3-hour course outline in front of a tech expert that’s never authored a course before, their eyes glaze over. Even though the first part (coming up the outline) is completed for them, time building demo environments, building slides and a lot of deep thinking all come to a head and freeze them up. “That…..will take me a few months!”, they say. …and they’re right if they’re on their own.
What makes TechSnips unique is our contributor community. We have nearly 100 experts in our community now and growing that can help. Courses are typically created by a single author and for a good reason. It’s hard to delegate responsibilities to multiple people, but we believe we’ve cracked that nut.
TechSnips has a model that allows us to assign multiple authors to a single course all using a single platform and payments evenly split by the amount of work each author puts in. We’re even working on multiple authors per lesson! Imagine getting that sweet, sweet passive income from a course when all you’ve done is create the scripts the course presenter then records in the video. It’s possible as a TechSnips course author.
Creating a Course from Scratch
If you’ve never been involved in creating an e-learning course, the process is the same regardless if you’re creating courses for Pluralsight, LinkedIn Learning (Lynda), CBT Nuggets or any other large training company.
In a tiny nutshell, the overall stages to publish a course are:
- Course pitch (working with the company to determine what course they want)
- Course summary (creating an overall review of what the course is about)
- Course proposal (building an outline of sections, lessons, abstracts, etc.)
- Approval (working with the company to agree on your proposal)
- Paperwork (reading and signing legal contracts)
- Demos (building demo environments, coming up with scripts and recording)
- Slides (building slide decks and recording slides)
- Editing (after recording, ensuring the video flows nicely)
- Submitting demo/slides (sending demos/slides to the company)
- Demos/slides approval (performing any edits/re-records necessary)
- Publishing the course (company publishes your course on their platform)
- Getting paid (Yay! We’re done!)
We at TechSnips understand these stages intimately and have designed an automated system to account for all of them allowing all of our course authors to only worry about the absolute minimum. However, we’re not going to gloss over the fact that creating a course whether you’re partnering with TechSnips or not requires work.
Effort Required to Build a Course
With talk of all this work, are you scared yet? I hope not! Producing courses with TechSnips alleviates a ton of work, but we’re not going to build the course for you! You’re the expert; we’re just the platform.
Before we too far into this topic, I have to let you know that everyone is different. Please don’t join a course and 200 hours into it, gripe to me telling me I told you that it was only going to take 20 hours if you’ve decided to boil the ocean! I can only provide numbers based on my personal experience.
Let’s break down the applicable stages from the section above that entail doing some work on the part of the course author. Remember, these are rough numbers from my personal experience from producing or helping produce ~30 different courses. These numbers are also in man hours. They do not include time waiting for a response from the training company.
Based on a typical 2-hour course, here is a breakdown by stage in hours both by working with the training company alone or and as a TechSnips contributor:
|Stage||No Help from TechSnips||As a TechSnips Contributor|
We reduce the course author’s workload in every stage. Through services like mentoring/coaching presentation skills, providing prebuilt lab environments, removing all editing required and providing a single platform linked to multiple training companies, we expedite from pitch to payment.
*We help out with slides as well and may eventually take this down to 0. A tech expert doesn’t need to be a PowerPoint ninja too!
Get Started Today
If you’re currently not a TechSnips contributor or are and have yet to get started on your first course, what are you waiting for? Go outside, pick up some snow and let’s see what kind of monster we can build together!
Adam Bertram is a 20-year veteran of IT and experienced online business professional. He’s an entrepreneur, IT influencer, Microsoft MVP, blogger, trainer and content marketing writer for multiple technology companies. Adam is also the founder of the popular IT career development platform TechSnips.