Of course it would be lovely for students and tutors to meet face-to-face but there are some great benefits to providing, and undertaking, craft workshops and courses online and via distance learning. So if you're wondering how to develop an online craft course or convert an existing class for home-based classes we've got you covered!
There are a number of ways to provide distance learning as good alternatives to traditional workshops:
- LIVE tuition
- Online workshops
- Craft courses in a box
Although it is great to socialise and have interpersonal contact, sometimes that is just not practical and at this present time with many people self-isolating and reducing social contact these remote learning options really do provide an important lifeline.
Plus there are all these other benefits to consider for the longer-term too:
- More accessible - for those who live far away or have restrictions associated with travelling
- Lower impact - remote courses could reduce the environmental impact and be more cost effective (no travel)
- Comfort of home - allows students to learn and practise at their own pace, in a space that they feel comfortable and in which they can continue to practise beyond the initial class.
To help you to keep your craft tutoring business running and provide great non-contact workshops we have put together this useful guide full of tips on how to create a fantastic remote workshop.
Select your course topic
It may be that your usual face-to-face workshop format is transferable and could easily be carried out in a student's home, which is great, but there may be aspects that are not safe to conduct outside of your usual teaching space or require specialist equipment that it is not practical (size or cost) for a student to have at home.
In the latter scenario you will need to think about which parts of your workshop could be done safely at home:
- Are there certain techniques which could be taught and mastered remotely?
- Are there certain parts that could be taught theoretically for an understanding of the craft without having to be hands-on?
- Could you reduce the scale of the projects to make the materials and tools (not to mention space) more manageable?
- Could you develop new mini projects or techniques modules for online courses or deliver them via post as 'craft in a box' workshops or even create a subscription?
If your usual workshops are very difficult to convert into a home-learning setting (maybe there are certain health and safety restrictions or the equipment needed is very large and expensive) you could consider some other options such as theory-based learning, craft studio/workshop tours, live demonstrations and one-to-one Q&A sessions providing expert insight and advice on individual projects.
If you have lots of ideas or are struggling with so much going on to pinpoint exactly what you could develop for online learning please get in touch - we would be happy to help you to work out where to focus your attention and identify what students would be interested in. Email us and we will help as much as we can.
Create compelling learning outcomes
Students will want to know exactly what they can expect to gain from a course:
- What techniques will they learn?
- Are there any measurables or qualifications?
- What will they be able to do: hands-on (and theoretically!)?
- What can they expect to have physically created by the end of it, or at key milestones?
Explaining clearly what they can expect to achieve and come away with (physically and in terms of knowledge) will be really important in their decision-making about whether to take your workshop.
Structure course content
It can be difficult to gather all of your expertise and condense it down into a succinct yet informative online course. You have a lot of knowledge to share and selecting the key elements is important, but try not to overthink it - you could refine this forever, and ever, and EVER!
Of course you will likely already be experienced in delivering face-to-face courses, but as most of this is delivered hands-on and in-person you have the interactions with students, their needs and questions to guide you. So even if you intend to deliver your distance learning workshops almost exactly as you would in person via LIVE tutorials you will still need to consider a plan for the allocated time with set topics and timings to achieve the course goals.
This article provides some good advice on optimising educational content and also encourages you to keep building on your catalogue of courses as there may be opportunities for more advanced classes and/or more indepth versions on certain techniques.
Think about what knowledge, skills and techniques your students will need in order to complete their project. Think about what they need to know and in what order - this could provide a great framework for you to build your content around.
Effective delivery methods
Once you have structured your course content you should identify how to effectively deliver it - it may be that the same method is appropriate for all aspects, but you may also wish to consider different approaches for different stages.
If you are planning on creating online content in the form of videos, presentations and downloadable guides and instruction manuals it is best to start by mapping this out into sections - instructions that build on knowledge step-by-step.
Consider which elements can be effectively learned via a written guide, perhaps with some drawings and images to illustrate and whether you also need to create video content and demonstrations for certain complex stages.
Unless you are specifically designing an advanced course with an assumed base level of understanding (which you will need to be clear about) then you should try to make your instructions understandable for all levels, using simple language, a glossary of terms and digestible, broken down directions.
One benefit of downloadable content is that students can revisit it time and again to refresh their memory or go over areas that they find particulary tricky. It enables them to go at their own pace.
This will be the easiest method to convert to for many course organisers.
In the simplest of cases you could post your students a kit with everything they will need, or provide them with a shopping list to order the tools and materials themselves (they may already have some items). If you are asking them to get the items in themselves we would recommend providing them with online shopping links so they get the right things, and can have them delivered if they are not able to go to the shops.
You can arrange to provide LIVE workshop tutorials at a time and date convenient to both parties. You could facilitate this using Google Hangouts Skype or set up a Webinar, which allows students to type in questions - handy if there are any issues during the presentation. Vimeo also offer a premium live streaming service, which you can see a free demo of here.
Plus, you don't have to limit these workshops to one-to-one sessions - you can arrange group tutorials. Some tutors are finding they can accommodate many more students online than they could ever manage in an in-person class.
To ensure that you deliver a high quality class you should follow this checklist:
- Quiet surroundings - you want the students to be able to hear you as this is much trickier via video than in person. Ideally an external mic should be used for the best sound.
- Great internet connection - there is nothing worse than frozen screens and missing important information (this works both ways as the student will also need a good connection to go with this option)
- Quality video - it is getting much easier to create video content these days. We recommend using a web cam on a tripod as the ideal but most new mobile phones have great cameras these days too so you could test this out as an option. The tripod should have a tilt function to allow smooth transition between the angles needed for showing different aspects of the tutorial including close ups.
Check out our Top 10 tips for getting the most out of your remote learning sessions here.
Here are links to some low cost, recommended tripods:
This video from YouTube about streaming has some helpful tips for doing live video which are relevant for this type of class delivery.
Online workshops can be delivered via one consistent channel or a combination depending on what suits the course content. You will need to decide how to provide students with these materials - will they have a unique login to an area on your site to access and view course content or will you send them direct links to download all the material after purchase, or you could even email it to them, but this will depend on how protected you want the course materials to be.
Some simple options:
- A downloadable written guide or modules of instructions via pdf (e.g. converted from Office Word or Google docs)
- A downloadable presentation via pdf (e.g. converted from Office Powerpoint or Google docs)
- Visual guides - you could demonstrate certain instructions using illustrations, create infographics to make your guide more easily digestible or more visual workbooks. A free tool such as Canva could be helpful in this.
- Video instructions - you could create videos of certain processes or demonstrations to show close up detail and provide valuable real life detail, plus you could provide some of the information direct to camera. Vimeo have a video creation tool, which features a number of templates and instructions on how to make great videos here.
Take a look at some of the tools that are out there to help you to create great online course content. It will take a little more time investment but once created will bring you lots of return.
In addition we would recommend providing students with the opportunity to contact you with any questions. This could be at set times, a special call or video meeting or via a dedicated email for tutor Q&As.
Craft in a box
Themed arts and crafts packages delivered to students' doors with everything they need to complete a specific project or learn a new skill will be really popular.
These kits provide a really simple and easy solution for those who want to be able to try a new craft or undertake a particular handmade item at home. Kits should include a workbook / instructions (possibly provided on a weblink to save on printing and paper) along with all of the materials and tools needed.
Occasionally kits call for certain materials or tools that people generally have in the home to be supplied by the students themselves, but it is important to be clear about this at the point of purchase.
You may get a price benefit from sourcing tools and materials in bulk and you probably have a certain amount in stock from traditional workshops that can be used.
Your existing workshops may not be able to be packaged up into an easily posted parcel but you should think about smaller projects that could be bundled into a fun craft kit. Think about designing kits for different groups too: adults, children, beginners and more advanced, and even with different themes - Easter, Halloween, Christmas...
We are here for you..
To make your remote learning workshops more visible on our website we now have a dedicated online learning section, and have built in new sections to further promote 'Live online tuition' and 'Crafting from home - kits and crafts in a box'. When adding your workshops to the site please select the appropriate online category.
We appreciate that this is a concerning and difficult time so just get in touch with us on firstname.lastname@example.org to talk to us about your courses and how we might be able to help.
Plus, we will have a new, dedicated platform to enable you to deliver your workshops remotely very soon. We will be in touch as soon as this is live with all of the details. To stay informed please sign up to our newsletter by logging into your course organiser account and going to My profile > Edit my details and ticking the box to opt into the newsletter, if you don't currently receive it of course 😊
Read our other articles for course organisers here >