Wow! What a response to last week’s post about my intention to produce an online fabric collage course. I received over 140 comments, by far the most of any of my posts. It was so positive and overwhelming I felt I needed to respond with this special edition of my blog. Don’t worry, your regularly-scheduled post, which will include yet another video tutorial, will be in your inbox tomorrow morning.
Not only were the comments plentiful, but they were very helpful and encouraging as well. It’s now clear that, as I had guessed, there’s a lot of pent up demand out there for instruction in what I do. Lots of you who left comments expressed a clear desire to try the class out once it’s launched.
You’re free to read them yourself, if you wish, but here’s a summary of what I gleaned (in no particular order):
- You want it all. Most who expressed a preference wanted the class to cover the entire fabric collage process beginning to end. Some wanted it that way because they were beginners. Others had some experience but felt that having the class as a refresher would be helpful.
- You want series of classes. A significant number of you said you’d like to move from beginner to intermediate to advanced. Which obviously can’t be done in one online class. There’s just too much to cover. It makes sense to break them into separate courses so that beginners won’t be overwhelmed, and as they progress, they can move on to more advanced topics.
- You like Craftsy. Craftsy seems to be the most popular platform for online quilting instruction. I also have some colleagues that teach through Craftsy. Another option that I failed to mention is self-hosting. There is software that would allow me (with help from my assistant, Tom) to run the class myself. That’s the way I’m leaning now. Though I will probably use Craftsy as my model. Be sure that I will try to accommodate all the other options you found useful.
- Feedback. You want to be able to ask questions and get answers in a timely manner. However, several of you were kind enough to mention that I shouldn’t try to take on the task of providing feedback to everyone forever. There has to be a limit imposed, either by limiting the number of students taking the class at one time, or by limiting the length of time a student can ask questions or both. One brilliant bit of advice was to offer a discounted version of the class without feedback. That might help to reduce the number of questions.
- Community support. You want to be able to discuss your projects with other students. Being able to post pictures of your work was also important. Some suggested a private Facebook page, which makes sense to me. One or two were Facebook foes, for which I have some sympathy, but Facebook is so ubiquitous and relatively easy to use. I’ll explore other options but suspect that Facebook may have to be the solution.
- Price. You’re used to classes being relatively inexpensive. Some even spoke about waiting for Craftsy classes to go on sale. I understand that, but have mixed feelings in that I want to make sure content does not suffer due to a low price. This would be most relevant if we do the production ourselves as there is equipment and software to purchase, and my assistant has already informed me he doesn’t come cheap. Truly, Tom already puts much time into these blogs, though he does seem to enjoy the challenge.
- Support materials. You like having something written down that you can refer to. Segment outlines, materials list, FAQs—these are all things that seem pretty mandatory.
- Permanent access. Once you purchase a class you want to be able to refer back to it forever. In other words, you want to own it. This seems more than reasonable. I would want that, too.
- Some of you live in the boonies. Just kidding. A few mentioned having slow internet access or only having limited internet access, making downloading videos difficult. One solution to this is to produce a DVD.
- Your expect high quality AV. Some of you mentioned that in the sample video I provided in last week’s post the sound was a little low and that the lighting was a bit harsh. With that helpful criticism in mind, we have already purchased a better microphone and some professional lights. I hope to produce a new video or two with the new AV equipment for tomorrow’s regularly-scheduled post.
- I should find some guinea pigs. Some suggested I try the class out on a small group. This would give the me an opportunity to change things that aren’t working before launching “worldwide.”
- Mini Classes. More advanced students may find a lengthy beginning-to-end course unnecessary. They might prefer Mini Classes that cover a specific topic—something like the fabric selection video from last week, though a bit more involved, perhaps—might be a better option for them. This fits nicely with one idea I already had, which was to “update” previous blog posts, such as those on gluing, value, and making a pattern for fabric collage, with video tutorials.
This list isn’t the end all and be all of my thinking about developing online courses, but it takes me a long way.
Thank you. I’m grateful for the advice you have shared. Feel free to continue!