It All Starts With Sticky Notes

A movie showing an animation of sticky notes being added and organised into a column.

My courses always start with a lot of research, naturally and luckily I have a fairly sizeable library in my studio with lots of material to start from, plus I’ll buy any new titles one the subject I’m working on, too (on the current course in development, I spent £120 on new books). It’s always good practice to check out how other people are teaching or discussing things, along with the resources I already have.

If the course is a revision or new version of an earlier title, then I’ll rewatch the last version—and sometimes earlier versions, too—a little while each day, and take notes. LinkedIn not developing an app for the Apple TV to replace the old one is something that I really miss—it was so much easier to do any sort of learning with that on another, larger screen; maybe they’ll do that soon, fingers crossed.

When it gets to the point of creating the structure, the process almost always begins with a pile of sticky notes in a few colours, and two different kinds—the square kind that most of us are familiar with, but also some larger, ruled ones too, that I use for making lists of details/design ideas. Sticky notes are an excellent tool for this part of the process as they’re lightweight, easy to organise and plus they’re recyclable.

Animation of a ruled sticky note with placeholder text

Where the notes are fixed depends on what else is going on in the studio, but there is a favourite place that’s frequently used, as it’s in a place that isn’t in the way of others working here yet is often somewhere that I often pass by or work near; I find it handy to do this as sometimes catching sight of something in my periphery seems to spark ideas. Just in case anything gets disturbed accidentally, though or when changes are made, it’s usual for me to grab a quick photo for safety—top tip!

Almost always my preference is to choose green or blue for the chapters (the current title is using green) but at this stage they simply contain the title of the chapter; numbering doesn’t come into the process until later as it’s not unknown for me to suddenly decide that I’d like to move an entire chapter (as my producer would testify). I then pick a colour for the individual topics (movies) and the other colours are used for special notes or directions, such as links to other movies, sources, etc.

And that’s how it begins! Very simple, low-to-no-tech and agile. From here, it’s on to the next stage: constructing a Table of Contents.

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