Date: June 16, 2022

How to make your course content more durable

I’m working with a client who has lot of courses.

(I’m mentoring their in-house team as they create content for a new course but also refresh an older course.)

Working on new and old courses side by side really underlined the fact that the new material will need refreshing one day too.

In fact, it was natural to wonder…

Can we do anything now to make that future refresh easier?

And it got me thinking about the concept of brittle versus durable content.

Here’s what I mean by that.

Brittle content breaks easily when things change.

So let’s say you need to update your recommended tactics in some area of your course. If that change affects multiple assets and requires several hours of work, your content is likely too brittle.

Durable content, on the other hand, doesn’t break nearly so easily.

(And when it does, problems are more isolated and easier to fix.)

So, durable is better than brittle. Make sense?

It sounds good in theory, but what does it mean it in practice?

Well, mostly it’s about developing an awareness of what makes your content brittle.

You can never 100% insulate your course from changes in the outside world, or advances in the way you want to teach things.

But you can avoid making decisions that make your content unnecessarily susceptible to future changes.

So here’s what you need to be aware of…

1) Some content formats are more durable than others.

For instance, text-based lessons are more durable than video-based lessons. (It’s easier to edit the text on a page than it is to re-record and re-edit a video.)

Slide-based videos are more durable than “talking head” videos. (It’s usually easier to drop in a new slide or replace some audio than it is to recreate the same setup you used for a filmed video.)

Of course, that doesn’t mean never creating videos. People like videos! But instead of “baking” changeable details into those videos, think about how you could delegate that information to a more durable format like a PDF that you reference from inside your video.

2) Some production choices are more durable than others.

For instance, if you make a point of putting lesson numbers in your videos and title slides, it’ll be tricky to add or remove lessons later on. (You’ll need to renumber a few things, right?)

If your lessons and resources are heavily branded for the course they were originally created for, you won’t be able to drop them into future courses without making changes.

And if you add ©️ 2022 at the bottom all of your content, your course will start to look dated as soon as 2023 comes along!

3) Some topics are more durable than others.

The same client I mentioned earlier has a course created in 2016 that still sells well today, but it has hardly been updated since it was launched. That’s because the topic is evergreen — the content is as valuable today as it was back then.

However, other topics are faster moving. If that’s true for yours then you’ll want create your course differently than someone whose topic moves more slowly.

That means picking a production process you can ramp up and tear down quickly, without a lot of fuss. And not being precious about any one piece of content — you may need to replace it soon anyway.

Here’s the bottom line:

Every asset you create will have a limited shelf life. But if you’re smart about how you create it, you can extend its life (and make the refresh easier when it comes.)

See you soon,

Glen.

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