I was talking to someone recently about how plain Jane their course is. There’s video of them talking or there’s video of them narrating through a slide deck – over and over. Oh, and throw in a pdf here and there.
It’s fine. It’s solid. But it’s boring. It’s vanilla. She was afraid that her tribe would be less-than-impressed. She wanted to add spice and energy and surprises to help differentiate from other products out in the market and motivate her learners to complete her course.
Oh, but did she mention that she needed to do this on the cheap? And that she didn’t want to spend money to hire someone? And could I help her with that?
Yes, yes I can, I replied.
And I’m happy to share with you all right here.
In this post, I’ll be focusing on some of the handy pretty-easy-to-use tech add-ons that will shake up the ole’ Talk-And-Show routine and breathe some life into your course.
But first, some words of caution:
It’s all too easy to find some cool new tool that you want to try out and then to try to figure out how to fit it into your course.
So please try not to get all gratuitous about your fancy pants tech. Instead, make sure that the point you are making and the learning that you want to spark would be served by that fancy pants tech.
Let’s start smallish. At the very least you might want to amp up your visuals. Here are a couple of options:
Souped Up Slides
- If you haven’t played around with Prezi, this is a way to make your slides come alive. Here’s some of their examples so you can see what this looks like in action. The thing is that there doesn’t seem to be an easy way to export. So I recommend screen capturing your presentation.
- I’ve used emaze for an entire course before. Great templates. Here are some real-life emaze examples. Like with Prezi, in order to get your presentation out of emaze, you’ll need to screen capture them and put them your own deck.
If you’re looking to really spice up segments of your course (perhaps the intro or the summary of a lesson) think about adding in some no-cost or inexpensive animations.
If you’re like me and always looking for twofers this might be a good option for you. They’re great to share as stand-alone pieces in your blog, your newsletters, and on social media. So, bonus!
- I love Powtoons. It’s crazy what a professionally looking animation you can create for free (if you don’t mind their watermark) with like zero skills.
- There’s also Animoto that does something similar (but I haven’t used it myself)
Now that you have your visuals looking good, what else might you do? Here are 3 suggestions:
Games (aka Quizzes in Disguise)
One of the best things you can do to help your learners move the things they’re learning into long-term memory is to build in opportunities for them to “retrieve” their knowledge after your lecture.
One way to do this (that doesn’t feel so intimidating or too like “school”) is to build a review of your content into a game.
Only you can decide if this is the right approach for your topic and tribe but it if is, there’s quite a lot of free stuff out there including:
- Be A Gameshow Host. This site has a variety of older games like Family Feud, Battleship, Deal or No Deal, and Frogger.
- If you don’t like what you found above, try these Powerpoint games including Jeopardy, Wheel of Fortune, Concentration, Millionaire, and Hollywood Squares.
- Not so much into game shows? Make some puzzles like sudoku-ish puzzles, crosswords, and word finds.
- There are, of course, paid options and much more sophisticated games you can use but everything I’ve mentioned so far is freeeeee!
Games get people thinking at a level they probably will not if they’re breezing through your course. Here’s another technique for that:
I know that you likely already use Facebook for learner interaction but have you also thought about using Speakpipe? This lets people leave an audio message for you at the click of a button. How might you use this? Well, you could create a scenario with a question and ask your learners to call in on Speakpipe to talk through their solution… You could use it to have learners share how they’ll applying what they’re learning… Then give your feedback and post the audio. There is a free plan (it’s minimal but it’ll give you a chance to see if it’ll work for your tribe).
Interview Exports or Case Studies
Video interviews are not whiz-bang but they are a solid way to change up the pace and offer your learners something different. You might interview an expert with a different perspective than you or in a related niche. You might interview a client about her problem or challenge and then use the rest of the lesson to teach people your method for solving it. Lots of options here! (Look at ecamm for the Mac and Pamela for the PC.)
Boom! There you go – 5 ways to spice up your course with free tech!
If you have – or are going to – use any of these and they’re outside your course’s firewall, please share back in the comments! I’m sure we’d all love to see your examples.
Good luck! And as usual, do let me know if I can be of any help.