December 3, 2018
Become an Unreal Online Learning course author
With the launch of Unreal Online Learning earlier this year, we’ve been working to help make life easier for developers, designers, and other creators who want to level up their Unreal Engine skills while learning at their own pace. Tapping into the diverse knowledge and expertise of our course authors is essential for making a difference to users, and we’re eager to bring more talented instructors into the fold to help our community learn and grow.
“Creating learning content has a profound impact on people, because it helps guide them through a huge maze of knowledge, often early on in their career,” says Sjoerd De Jong, senior engine evangelist and UE course author. “For many aspiring Unreal developers, the learning content becomes their rock, the foundation that they build their careers and their projects on. To share knowledge and facilitate the developers of tomorrow is one of the most positive and longest-lasting things you can do.”
Curious about becoming a course author for Unreal Online Learning? Read on to gain insights into the process from several of our talented instructors.
What makes a good instructor or video author for Epic?
Everyone brings their own unique qualities and experience to the table. For us at Epic, being an effective video author hinges on finding clear and concise language rooted in solid Unreal Engine experience. We’re looking for instructors who have strong engine knowledge and are able to organize complex subjects into digestible lessons. Being able to present this technical material in an engaging way is also very important.
“A talent for explaining complex subjects in simple straightforward language–without sacrificing depth, experience, and context by doing so–is worth gold when you create course material,” says De Jong. “A very wide range of developers can be great course authors, and any perceived weaknesses can often actually become one of your strengths.”
Knowing the experience level of your target audience for a particular course is just as valuable as being able to concisely present technical walkthroughs in a way that’s easy to follow, adds Matthew Doyle, a UE trainer and consultant. A passion for learning is also important in being a good instructor.
“I enjoy the challenge of figuring out the best way to teach a topic,” says Doyle. “It gives me the opportunity to really dive into the subject and find the most efficient way to do something. I’ve been working with Unreal for over a decade, and I still find new things to learn all the time. It can be challenging, but also greatly rewarding.”
Having the ability to think like a learner might not be easy when you’ve been working with Unreal Engine for years, but it’s one of the most useful skills for being an effective instructor, says Joel Bradley, a freelance technical artist and UE video author. “Knowing how to explain a tool or function of a game engine in a way that makes sense to someone who has no idea or preconception of what it is, is a really big thing,” he adds.
What goes into making a course?
When it comes to designing and building a high quality Unreal Engine course, everyone has their own method and approach. Generally, however, the process tends to follow a common flow for many instructors:
1) Brainstorming ideas
Coming up with potential ideas to explore for a course can be a lot of fun, and it’s useful to aim for topics that you are both personally interested in and are relevant to what’s happening in the creative discipline you’re targeting.
“I usually like to keep an eye on what is going on in the industry, and then use that to help me pick out subject matter that both interests me, and that could be relevant to someone wanting to use Unreal on a particular type of production,” says Bradley.
At Epic, we also have an ongoing list of courses we need to produce, and are looking for skilled instructors to create them with us.
2) Creating an outline and organizing your course material
Good organization is vital to building a strong course. Designing a rough outline will help you formulate an overview of your course so you can make necessary adjustments to the content flow before you begin production. It helps to also think of the types of questions that students might ask or want to know about your chosen course topic, and then weave those topics into your lesson plans.
“Once I get the statement of work on a project, I produce a basic outline of the course. This outline contains a chapter by chapter list, with a short description of what I’ll be teaching and ideally how long each chapter will be,” says Doyle. “I try to keep the chapters between five and ten minutes long at most, but sometimes they run a little longer.”
The outline phase also is when many instructors dive into research to flesh out any content areas they might need to add into the discussion. In preparing for production, some course authors will write out a full script, while others prefer to use bullet points to guide their explanations. Either way, this helps prepare for actually building out your content.
“After that, it’s a process of testing the ‘training arc’ from video to video, making sure that the course as a whole has a clear progression from beginning to end whilst at the same time being engaging for the student,” adds Bradley.
3) Identifying and building example content
Often done hand-in-hand with the outline phase, finding a good sample project or assets for your course (or creating them yourself) is also an important step to help illustrate the lesson points you plan to cover.
4) Production and polishing
Once everything is outlined and ready to go, it’s time to actually create your video lesson content. Following our quality standard guidelines is a straightforward process, and the tools you need to craft an amazing high-quality course are readily available and easy to use.
Become a course author
Are you eager to help the Unreal Engine community grow by crafting your own insightful courses to expand the content for Unreal Online Learning?
If you have experience using Unreal Engine to create amazing content and are ready to share your knowledge, we’re eager to connect and see what you’ve got.
Viewers aren’t the only ones who will benefit from your knowledge and expertise. As a contributor to our online learning content, you’ll receive:
- Competitive compensation (yes, our authors get paid well for their courses!)
- Great professional visibility
- Rock-solid material for your resume
- Personal brand recognition