Behind the Scenes on Online Coding Courses
Thinking about hosting an online coding course? There's no one who knows more about this area than Rob Percival.
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If you've done a Udemy course to learn how to create your own apps, there's a high probablilty that it was one given by Rob Percival. I've been interested in learning more about these courses, so I thought I'd ask Rob for some more information
DZone: Can you introduce yourself to our readers please?
Rob: I did a Maths degree at Cambridge University, and then went straight into teaching. I taught Maths for 10 years, with one year out training teachers in Namibia, Africa with VSO. I left teaching in 2012 and now teach online full time.
DZone: How did you get started with online courses?
Rob: I taught myself web development while I was teaching, and set up a small web hosting company, ecowebhosting.co.uk. This earned enough money for me to be able to leave teaching in 2012, with no particular plan other than to start new businesses and see what happened. I ran a real-life code school in 2014, and through that discovered Udemy, where it looked like I might get access to a big student base.
I released my first course, The Complete Web Developer Course in June 2014. My aim was to make £3k per month, but we made £15K in the first month, and the course has gone on to become the best-selling Udemy course ever (I released a sequel earlier this week). The popularity of the course surprised but excited me, and I followed up with the iOS 8 course, and now my primary line-up consists of the web dev course, iOS9 and Android.
My focus is on complete courses which take users from no coding experience to be able to make pretty much any website or app. I also show them how to make money with their skills, the idea being that they could take this one course and completely change their lives (which many people do!).
DZone: How many different courses do you run?
Rob: Primarily 3 (see above), but I'm a co-instructor on several courses, and including translations I have around 20 active courses in total.
DZone: What do you use to create your course content?
Rob: I use OSX (13 inch Retina Macbook Pro) and Camtasia, with a Blue Yeti Mic. I record in a variety of locations, but primarily at home.
DZone: How do you stay up to date so many different technologies?
Rob: It's tough! Swift in particular changes regularly. Fortunately I have a very active student base who are very keen on letting me know when something in my videos no longer works! I have a pretty strong feedback system, so when something changes I'll jump in and update the video to reflect the latest developments.
DZone: What tips would you give to someone who wants to get into online courses?
Rob: Just do it! Start off with a small (1-2 hour) course to test the water and see if you enjoy the process (remember it's as much about marketing as it is about producing the project). It helps if you have a small audience already - without that getting those first few students will be tough.
Once you get serious, check out the courses available for your niche and write down 3 reasons why your course is going to be 10x better than the best available course on that topic. Then build it, make it big and awesome with loads of extras. Market it to your existing students, support those students well and success will be yours!
DZone: What courses are you working on next?
Rob: I'm building a range of courses with other instructors at the moment, on topics like Python, Wordpress Themes & Plugins and online marketing. I'm also planning to introduce a range of short courses, such as introductions to systems like AWS and Heroku, or specific coding topics like web scraping and test driven development.
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