The Easiest and Fastest Method for Creating Learning Content

create learning content fast

One simple way to amplify and extend classroom training, or SME presentations, is to record the live event. Many will balk at this suggestion for one of two reasons:

  1. We don’t have the budget.
  2. We don’t have anyone on the team that knows how to do it.

There is nothing I can do about excuse #1. However, I can help you with DIY solutions that require little or no budget. Many of you in management positions will consider this work as being beneath you. You can delegate this work, or better yet, why not roll up your sleeves and show your team that you’re willing get work done? I’ll save that rant for another day, but think about it.

DIY Recordings as Part of Your Design/Development Process

There are basically two options:

  1. Use a video camera and capture both audio and video.
  2. Use an audio field recorder to capture audio only.

Audio Only is a Great Place to Start

Audio only is the perfect DIY solution to get started with because it’s less distracting for your SME, and you will not look like the high school A/V guy standing behind a video camera. Because I know that’s what you’re thinking.

There are many technical solutions for recording your presenter. If you have NO budget at all, you can simply use the built in mic on the presenter’s laptop. Open up a free audio recording app and click record. You could even record directly into Powerpoint. It won’t be very good quality, but it will capture the event in a format better than any notes you might be taking. So don’t use quality as an excuse not to capture the event. Even a bad audio file can be used to review the event and make improved design decisions.

If you have a little budget to spend you can get a very good recording with a recording device and a clip-on mic. You can use your own mobile device as the recording device, or you can purchase a dedicated small audio field recorder like the ZoomH1 or TASCAM DR05. Both can usually be found on Amazon for at or under $100. They each have built in microphones allowing you to just set it and forget it. However, they both also have a mic/line input for plugging in other microphones. In this case I would recommend the Audio-Technica ATR-3350 Lavalier Omnidirectional clip-on mic. Have your SME clip on the mic and put the recorder in his/her pocket. If they don’t have pockets then you’ll need to get creative. Remember you can always ditch the clip-on mic and just set the recorder on the podium.

Successful Recording… Now What?

After recording the audio you now have a wonderful audio file. You can simply use the recording device to listen to the audio and review the session. Or you can download the file to your computer and get even more value.

One of the first things you can do is transcribe the audio file into text. There are several services online that will do this at a reasonable rate. will do it for $1/minute. An hour long presentation transcribed for only $60 is pretty good. You might wonder why this might be important. You can use the text version to begin highlighting the high points and noting the sections you think should be deleted in later releases.

You should also combine the audio file with the powerpoint slides and export as a video. You should absolutely publish the entire video. But you should also begin reviewing the video and defining how to cut it down into multiple shorter videos. Since you have released the entire video you can review comments and viewing data to help you make decisions around what is important to your audience.

These are technical solutions that have business value. All content is valuable when it is accessible and needed. Is it perfect? No. But making it available NOW, is better than only waiting until it is perfect. Some will wait until you “clean it up”, others will be grateful to have the raw content in it’s entirety. Your audience is not filled with robots. They are individuals with differing needs at differing times. Making multiple versions of learning content available as soon as you have them will be valuable to someone. You should be willing to put your ego aside and make that happen.

Your subject matter experts are a limited resource. They can only do a limited number of training sessions. Before you attempt to apply instructional design to the content, it is more valuable to the business if you utilize technology to scale up the presentations given by the SMEs. This makes the content available to more people more quickly. It’s quick and easy to create, and those that need/want the content will appreciate it.

Once you have published the transcript as text, and released the audio only as a podcast, and the audio with slides as a video, then you can begin to look more closely at optimizing the design and adding your instructional design magic.