I spent two weeks in January creating my first course on Skillshare, an online teaching platform based in New York. It’s a step I’ve been intending to take for a while, and it did me good to dive into that creative process at the start of the new year.
An added incentive was a new teachers’ challenge that attracted hundreds of other would-be creators eager to publish their first class by January 31. I found it inspiring to see the range of subjects my fellow participants were offering.
Exchange of expertise is, for me, one of the very best things about the Internet, whether it takes place informally in forums or on YouTube, or in a more structured way on sites like Skillshare and Udemy. The web has empowered all kinds of people with specialised knowledge to call themselves experts, and enables passionate learners like myself to easily collect additional tools.
I experience teaching and learning as being inseparable from one another. As I was organising the material I wanted to teach, I was also learning the functionality of the Skillshare platform, brushing up on my video editing skills with the Apple software iMovie, learning new film-making tricks (managing poor winter light!) and mastering the creation of on-screen text with Canva, one of my favourite creative tools websites.
Creating as part of a challenge made the learning curve more fun. The deadline prevented my more perfectionist and self-critical tendencies from creeping in. I got into a rhythm of scriptwriting in the morning, filming in the afternoon and editing in the evening. This felt very fluid, I guess because I was constantly shifting to the next creative task. I’ve observed before that it’s an advantage to limit the time spent in any one activity: that way, you don’t run out of inspiration.
I’ve long lamented the reduction in the length of our attention spans that the Internet has brought with it. Yet Skillshare seems to have built its business model around the principle of bite-sized learning (my class is composed of nine individual videos, most of which are shorter than 5 minutes) which means that, as a learner, its easy to proceed at your own pace. Composing a class made up of short, self-contained chunks of information requires a different strategy; I found that it gave me increased freedom to experiment, both with the structure and the content.
The format also allows for creating classes that are as short as 10 minutes, which is a great way of providing a brief insight into subjects, and something I’ll be experimenting with in the future.
It’s hard to believe that I’ve now been teaching for twenty years. It was never something I planned to do; I discovered almost by accident that I was good at it, and that I found teaching fulfilling. Taking this latest step, and working with video in general, feels like a big adventure.
My first course is “How to Create an Effective Marketing Mindset.” You can watch it on Skillshare and get two months of no-cost premium membership to explore the site. Enjoy!