I’ve been planning to convert my API documentation course content into an online course for a while. I mostly have everything in place now; it’s just a matter of doing it. These past few weeks I’ve been trying to clean up a few things with my blog, and the holidays seem to bring their own slow-down, with parties to attend, get-togethers, family activities, and so on. In short, I’ve been procrastinating.
I want to outline a few thoughts and plans I have for recording the videos.
First, I need to make sure the content is more or less locked down before I start recording anything. It would be a waste to record a video, post-process it, and later decide that the content itself needs a lot of revision.
I’ve been fine-tuning the API documentation course content as I was teaching some API doc workshops recently. I think it’s mostly there; it just needs to be more conversational and script friendly.
However, I won’t really know what works and what doesn’t until I start recording it.
In my API doc course, I decided to contextualize a lot of concepts around a simple weather API on Mashape. Recently the API had a few changes (suddenly requiring credit card to sign up for the free plan), but the developer reverted to the earlier model he had, so I think it’s fairly stable.
Still, it’s a risk to use a specific context of an API for a course. The API could change or be discontinued, and then I’d have to alter my course. On the other hand, not having a specific context makes the learning experience more challenging.
I have a technical setup that should be interesting. I purchased a few studio items:
I’ve spent about $600 on this equipment. The green screen will allow me to superimpose myself in front of a slide presentation. After watching some how-to videos on Udemy, I’ve decided this is the way to go.
I currently have this set up in my garage, and I’ve recorded a couple of test videos. I was deliberating about whether to just use my iphone instead of buying a video camera, but in the end decided the video camera was worth it so that I could also better record STC SV and WTD meetings.
Although a lot of my course involves hands-on activities, there are some conceptual parts. It seems like a lot of courses these days have talking heads, so this is something I’ve wanted to try. I plan to back up a bit to occupy a small third of the screen so that my eyes don’t look like they’re reading from a teleprompter.
As for the teleprompter, you can set your iPad on a contraption on a tripod and get the same benefits as a normal teleprompter. Since I already have an iPad, this seemed like the thing to try. For the hands-on activities, I won’t use the teleprompter or talking head but rather just record video tutorials the same way I’ve always done them.
In thinking about my larger strategies for this blog, I want to work on projects similar to this REST API course. Standalone blog articles (like this one) are fine, but I get more satisfaction in working on something larger. Blog article have such short lives. They get shorter and shorter as we’re inundated with new information all the time.
I want to write lengthier content — the kind that can be converted into books or courses (or both). The blog posts I write will more likely be short updates about the progress of the projects I’m working on.
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I'm a technical writer based in the California San Francisco Bay area. Topics I write about on this blog include the following technical communication topics: Swagger, agile, trends, learning, plain language, quick reference guides, tech comm careers, and certificate programs. I'm interested in information design, API documentation, visual communication, information architecture and findability, and more. If you're a professional or aspiring technical writer, be sure to subscribe to email updates using the form above. You can learn more about me here. You can also contact me with questions.