Making Effective Online Courses with PowerPoint and Voiceover

There are three things to remember when teaching: know your stuff; know whom you are stuffing; and then stuff them elegantly.” Lola May

onlinecoursetemplates   In the last year, I’ve taken what feels like umpteen billion online courses. The main reason it feels that way is because most of them have been terrible. There’s a belief circulating that anyone can teach an online course, and the main reason to teach one is to make a bundle of money.


I want teachers to make a lot of money, I really do. They deserve to be paid well for what has to be one of the most important jobs on the planet. But to jump on a zebra racing to the bank is not the same thing as deciding to teach a course because you care passionately about the subject, the student, and whether the two get along.

This week, I want to take a look at how to make online courses using PowerPoint and voiceover, without boring your audience into a coma.

Two Writing Tips for Effective Organization

I pulled out box after box, setting them haphazardly around the room. My organization lacked something — like, say, organization… .”

―Richelle Mead

Have you ever moved? Of course you have. You remember what it feels like to be overwhelmed by boxes and crates crowding every room, so jammed together that you can hardly wend your way from door to door.

movingboxes   I’m in the middle of that right now, having finally dragged all my junk from one side of the country to the other. I can hardly bear the disorder. I can’t find anything. I can’t clean properly. I can’t think.

In many ways, everything you ever write is like having a house packed with boxes of ideas. You know you’ve got all the essential points—somewhere. But they’re hidden in the cardboard of your brain and need to be organized. (Shudder.)

Organization is the framework underlying your writing, the backbone that determines the order and shape of your points, and the way the whole is held together.

How-To Basics of Video and Green Screen Editing for Online Courses

Editing feels almost like sculpting or a form of continuing the writing process.” ~Sydney Pollack

I recently asked Alison Michel, a Sr. Producer at National Geographic, for her best tips for green screen postproduction. She said her best advice was to hire a good editor. We both laughed at that. It’s a logical reply, especially if you’re working on a long or complicated project.

cutting-room-floor   On the other hand, if you only have a few green screen sequences and straightforward shooting otherwise, it’s worth doing the editing yourself. (Especially if you don’t have the money for a video editor—but if you do, hire one—they’re worth every penny!)

Today’s column is for those trying to tackle editing their own video and green screen. I’ll walk you through the basics and provide some professional tips to make the process of editing green screen easier.

How to Use Green Screen in Online Courses

People don’t buy what you do. They buy why you do it.” Simon Sinek

Let’s face it, green screen is cool. Whether it’s Sandra Bullock and George Clooney chatting in outer space, Tom Cruise climbing a skyscraper, or a weather reporter interacting with a virtual tornado, we’ve come to expect special effects that look like the real deal in movies and television.

green-screen-weather  But what about in online courses? Is the special effect of green screen ever worth the time, trouble, and extra money? I’d vote yes, but only if it significantly improves the quality of the lesson. As Simon Sinek implies in the above quotation, it’s the “why” that counts.