Episode 7

10 Tools for Your Course Creation Toolbelt

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About this episode:

Did you know that you're a builder? Yes, that's right you're a course builder and you need the right tools for your course creation toolbelt. In this episode, I lay out all of the course creation software and tech tools that you will need to create an amazing course for your students.


After listening to this episode, you will know:

  • The main "software" tools that all course creators need for various course materials.
  • How to choose your tech "hardware" like a video camera and microphone.
  • Why a project management app can be one of the most important tools for course creators.

Stay in touch:


Please note: This transcript may be automatically generated and may contain errors. I appreciate your understanding.


Hey course creators, it's time to amplify your genius. Welcome to Course Creation Station where we talk about creatively sharing your expertise and designing the most awesome learning experiences. I'm Gwen Tanner, career course creator, and in this episode, we're filling up your course creation tool belt.

That's right, you're a builder, and just like a home builder or a ship builder, you're putting together a lot of raw materials and building a unique, awesome course for your students. So pick out your cutest tool belt and get ready to fill it up with these course creation tools. Stay tuned.

While you might not make as much noise as that construction site near you that's causing all the traffic headaches, you will still be kicking up the same amount of dust once your course building heats up. I wanna make sure you're ready. So I put together a list of the basic must-have tools for your course creation tool belt. Now don't feel intimidated if you aren't sure what it is or if it sounds expensive. While Julie from New York City, and Julie is that online course creation guru teacher that we've all seen, she might have plenty of moolah to buy the most expensive tools and tech for her fancy course, but there are always low cost and free tools for everyone. So while you're out there in course building mode and hopefully taking some courses on your own, keep an eye out to see how these tools will work for you.

Okay, your first tool is a word processing software or app. You'll need something to write with like Microsoft Word or Apple Pages. If you have a computer, you'll already have some sort of basic text editor that came with it. And if not, you can use Google Docs for free. You'll use this tool to write your scripts, create workbooks and any text content you'll include in your course.

Your next tool is a graphics program. You'll also need something to create images with. Images can include your logo, diagrams, clip art, tasteful clip art, or any visual that you wanna include on your slides and your workbooks, handouts, or even your videos. Depending on who you hang out with, they may recommend Adobe Photoshop or they may recommend Canva, but these are only two examples of graphics programs. There are plenty of other paid and free options, even ones that you can use on your iPad. If you're in doubt, take a look at Canva, which is probably the most popular at the moment.

And another software that you'll probably need in your tool belt is video editing software. Your video editing software allows you to cut out those umms and uhhs and other brain farts that you will inevitably have in your videos. It will also help you to add in text captions and help you to add in those snazzy fades and zooms like you see in the movies. We're still on the software tools for now.

Next is screen recording software. This is a type of video editing software you'll need to have if you plan to teach anything on your computer screen. A really good screen recording software also has video editing features, so you could possibly use it as your main video tool. And a good example of a video editing software with screen recording that I use is Camtasia or ScreenFlow, which is for the Mac only.

In addition, many screen recording apps allow you to record your face in a teeny tiny box in the corner of the screen so you can maintain that human connection. Loom, spelled L-O-O-M, is very popular and it has this feature.

Now I have two more apps for your tool belt. The first is your presentation software. You'll need this to create your slides if you're using them. Your slides will contain some of your content and typically are used to show your visuals while you're speaking. So depending on your content, you may not need a lot of slides or you may have many, many, many slides. You'll know as you build your course. You can also use your screen recording software to record your slide presentation to make a video. It's pretty cool. So some examples of presentation software are Microsoft PowerPoint, Keynote for Mac and Google Slides, which is free for anyone. And of course, Canva, which makes beautiful slides.

And finally, your last software tool, and this is a little complicated, it's called Page Layout Software. And your Page Layout Software is like a combination of something like Microsoft Word and your graphics program. And in some cases, they could be the same program. You'll use this software to make your workbooks, worksheets, checklists, and handouts look nice and fancy. It allows you to add images along with your text and easily make a really nice looking page that you could PDF and eventually make fillable if you like.

Of course, you could do this in Word or Google Docs, but if you've ever tried to get the pages to do exactly what you want in Word, you might feel like you need to be a rocket scientist to figure it out. Some Page Layout Software you can check out are Adobe InDesign, Affinity Publisher, and again, Canva. As you can see for a free app, Canva covers a lot of ground for course creators. I highly recommend it. It's like an all-in-one tool.

Now you will need to add a course platform to your tool belt. Here's where things might get complicated and don't worry about it too much for now if you're just getting started, but know at some point you will need a platform to distribute, implement, and store your course and course materials. And there's so many ways to do this, ranging from all-in-one options to simply running your course through emails. You could be simple or you could be complex. You will most likely though, choose to use a Learning Management System or LMS as your course platform. And LMS will automate many of the steps you need to take to register and to take payment from your students. And I go more into how to choose an LMS in episode two, how to choose the best LMS for your course. So take a listen to that episode for more details.

And next, save some space on your tool belt for a video camera. If you have a current smartphone, you probably have a decent enough camera. If not, you have a few other options. You can use the webcam on your laptop or computer or purchase a webcam such as the Logitech Brio that you can connect directly to your computer using a USB cable. Webcams are a good choice if you plan to record while sitting at your desk.

If you need to record demonstrations or if you'll be recording out in the field or away from your desk, you might consider getting a traditional camera or camcorder like a Sony Handycam or one of the vlogging cameras, which are compact cameras made for the needs of content creators or YouTubers who make videos day in and day out as their day jobs.

And if you're a photographer at heart, your DSLR with video recording capabilities might be a good alternative for you. But the best thing to do is simply use what you already have available. Use your phone, tablet, or webcam, see how that goes, and then decide if you need something different. More than likely, you will not need much more than what you already have.

And the final tool for your tool belt is a decent microphone. When recording your videos, your mic will be used to record either directly into your computer or directly into your video camera. You may also use your mic for voiceovers if you're not recording a video of yourself.

You can surely use a decent headset that has a microphone and earpieces, but it will be best to have a mic that records your voice cleanly and helps block outside noises, especially if you live in a busy household. And this has always been my problem. Living near a busy intersection or near the hospital or near a small airport, I really struggle with background noises. Some mics are so sensitive that they could pick up creeks in the floor and snoring bulldogs, and I'm speaking from experience.

r. I've had mine since around:

Of course, you can use a mic that doesn't have voice pattern modes. Just be sure to pick a spot that's nice and quiet. You really have a lot of options for mics these days. Just please don't use the mic from your laptop or computer as the quality will be too noisy when you record. And those tools are pretty much your basic tech arsenal for course building.

But I have a bonus tool to toss in. Tool number 10, pick a favorite project management app. And let me tell you why this is so, so, so important. When you build your course, you'll be creating mini files, videos, PDFs, and maybe even keeping track of live sessions or Zoom calls. A project management tool like Asana, Trello, ClickUp, or even a custom Google spreadsheet can help you keep all of your course building tasks on track. In most of these tools, you can link your documents, color code, set statuses and deadlines, and they can be really good if you're working with someone else on your course. You can assign tasks to specific people and track their progress. For example, you might hand off your video editing to someone else. One task you'd enter into, let's say Asana, would be to record the video. And the next task would be to edit the video, which you'd assign to a video editing guy or gal. So definitely consider adding a project management tool that works for you and your style of working.

Of course, the best tools aren't worth much without you and your expertise and amazing content. These tools will just help you to bring all of that goodness together into an awesome course. So is that cute tool belt feeling a little heavy now? You now have software tools for writing and graphics and video editing. You have a camera and a mic and your project management system. I think you're all set.

If you have any questions or if there's a specific topic concerning course creation tools that you feel I missed or you'd like me to cover in future episodes, feel free to reach out. Thank you for joining me today for this episode of Course Creation Station. Be sure to visit CourseCreationStation.com to view today's show notes and subscribe.

About the Podcast

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Course Creation Station
Course creators, level up and amplify your genius!

About your host

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Gwen Tanner

I'm a career course creator and I am passionate about designing amazing learning experiences! I love working with other course creators, coaches and experts to build their awesome student-focused courses and workshops.