Best Equipment & Software For Creating Online Courses

Tyler BasuCourse Creation20 Comments

Best Equipment & Software For Creating Online Courses | Thinkific

Best Equipment & Software For Creating Online Courses | Thinkific

Technology has come a long way over the past few years, and fortunately, it doesn’t take a lot of equipment or software to create a high quality online course. And you don’t have to break the bank to get everything you need either. Whether your budget is a few hundred or a few thousand dollars, it is definitely possible to create an online course that your students will love.

After checking in with our community of online course creators and other members of the Thinkific team, I’ve compiled a complete list of the most popular equipment and software that people are using to create their online courses.

I’ve organized all of these recommendations into specific categories (microphones, accessories, screen recording programs, and so on). And within each category, I’ve listed the recommended products/programs in order from least expensive to most expensive.

Before you dive in, I will say that you absolutely do not need the best and most expensive equipment and software to create an online course. Most of the successful online course creators that we’ve spoken to all created their first course using pretty basic and inexpensive setups.

Once they launched their first course successfully, they used some of their earnings to purchase higher quality equipment, and from there they recorded new content for their course, recorded new courses, or both.

Deanne Love from HoopLovers, for example, recorded her first course in a park using her iPhone. With the revenue she earned from her first course, she purchased more equipment that she used to re-shoot her video lessons and later to create more courses for her audience.

So if you’re about to create your first online course, don’t feel compelled to spend thousands of dollars on equipment and software in order to get started. It is more important to actually create your online course, publish it and get feedback from your students than it is to wait until you have all the best equipment before you record anything.

Once your first course is created, you can always circle back and re-record your lessons, add new lessons, or create an entirely new course with a higher production value. Stepping stones, stepping stones.

Okay, let’s dive in…

Best equipment and software recommendations for creating online courses. #teachonline #edtech Click To Tweet

Microphones

Whether your course lessons are audio only, voice over slides/screen sharing, or live video, it is very important to use a good microphone to record your voice. Even if you have great content, if your audio quality is poor, your students’ learning experience will suffer.

Bottom line: use the best microphone you can afford. Do not use the built-in microphone in your laptop or mobile phone.

You should also know that most professional microphones are either dynamic microphones or condenser microphones. Dynamic microphones are great for drowning out background noise. Condenser microphones tend to pick up everything, so only use them if you are in an enclosed space with minimal background noise while recording.

Here are several microphones that we recommend:

 

1. Logitech Clearchat USB Headset

Click here to view this headset on Amazon

logitech clearchat usb mic
2. Blue Snowball

Click here to view this microphone on Amazon

Blue Snowball Microphone
3. Samson Meteor

Click here to view this microphone on Amazon

 

Samson Meteor mic
4. Audio-Technica ATR 2100

Click here to view this microphone on Amazon

 

Audio Technica ATR 2100
5. Blue Yeti

Click here to view this microphone on Amazon

 

Blue Yeti Microphone
6. Rode Podcaster Dynamic Mic

Click here to view this microphone on Amazon

Rode Podcaster Dynamic Mic

Lavalier Microphones

Lavalier microphones (sometimes called lapel microphones) are microphones that you use specifically for recording live videos. For example, if you speaking directly to a camera and don’t want to have to hold a microphone up to your mouth while you’re speaking, you would use this type of microphone. You can clip these microphones to your shirt where they will barely be visible by the camera, and have complete use of your hands while you’re speaking.

Here are a few options:

1. Stony-Edge Mobile Condenser Lapel

Click here to view this microphone on Amazon

 

Stony-Edge Mobile Lapel Mic
2. Rode smartLav+ Lavalier Microphone

Click here to view this microphone on Amazon

Rode Lavalier Mic
3. Rode RodeLink FM Wireless Filmmaker System

Click here to view this microphone on Amazon

Rode RodeLink Wireless Filmmaker

Microphone Accessories

Regardless of which microphone you use, I recommend purchasing a few accessories to help increase the your audio quality. Foam balls and pop filters help prevent that popping sound that occurs when air that is pushed out of your mouth hits the microphone.

If you’re recording your course from a desk, microphone scissor arms will help you adjust the height of your microphone (so you can sit up straight or even stand up while speaking into it). Shock mounts help to minimize the sound of thumps and bumps. Foam wedges help to reduce echoes in whatever room you do your recording in.

1. Foam Ball

Click here to view this product on Amazon

Mic Foam Ball
2. Pop Filter

Click here to view this product on Amazon

Mic Pop Filter
3. Suspension Boom Scissor Arm

Click here to view this product on Amazon

Mic Suspension Scissor Arm
4. Microphone Shock Mount

Click here to view this product on Amazon

Microphone Shock Mount
5. Acoustic Panels Studio Foam Wedges

Click here to view this product on Amazon

Acoustic Panels Studio Foam Wedges

 

Headphones

Headphones come in handy during the editing process, when you’ll want to be able to hear the audio that was recorded for each of your course lessons. They are also great for when you record interviews with other people. When you’re interviewing someone, you should be listening to them through your headphones and speaking into your microphone.

Here are a few headphone options:

1. Sennheiser HD 202 Professional Headphones

Click here to view these headphones on Amazon

Sennheiser HD 202 Headphones
2. Sony MDRNC7 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Click here to view these headphones on Amazon

Sony noise cancelling headphones
3. Bose QuietComfort 25 Acoustic Noise Cancelling Headphones

Click here to view these headphones on Amazon

bose quietcomfort headphones

Screen Recording

An alternative to recording live videos for your course lessons is to record your computer screen as you work your way through a slideshow presentation (aka voice-over-slides), or while you demonstrate some sort of technical task, like teaching someone how to use a software program, for example.

Here are some popular screen recording programs:

1. Screencast-O-Matic

Click here to learn more about Screencast-O-Matic

screencastomatic
2. ScreenFlow

Click here to learn more about ScreenFlow

screenflow
3. Camtasia

Click here to learn more about Camtasia

camtasia-logo

 

Video Recording

Many online course creators record live videos for their video lessons. Technically, this can be accomplished with a webcam or a mobile phone (like an iPhone, for example), but for a higher video quality, you should probably invest in a digital camera. I’ve listed several options below:

1. Logitech HD Pro Webcam C920

Click here to view this webcam on Amazon

Best Equipment & Software For Creating Online Courses | Thinkific
2. Apple iPhone

Click here to learn about the iPhone on Apple

Best Equipment & Software For Creating Online Courses | Thinkific
3. Canon EOS Rebel T5 DSLR Camera

Click here to view this camera on Amazon

Best Equipment & Software For Creating Online Courses | Thinkific
4. Canon EOS 80D DSLR Camera

Click here to view this camera on Amazon

Best Equipment & Software For Creating Online Courses | Thinkific
5. Nikon D810 DSLR FX-Format Camera

Click here to view this camera on Amazon

Best Equipment & Software For Creating Online Courses | Thinkific

 

Lighting & Accessories

Once you’ve purchased your microphone and camera, you’ll probably want to grab a few accessories to help you to maximize the quality of your recordings. Here are a few accessories that will come in handy as you record your course content:

1. Cell Phone Tripod Mount

Click here to view this product on Amazon

 Best Equipment & Software For Creating Online Courses | Thinkific
2. Demetory Ring Light for iPhone

Click here to view this product on Amazon

 Best Equipment & Software For Creating Online Courses | Thinkific
3. AmazonBasics Lightweight Tripod

Click here to view this product on Amazon

 Best Equipment & Software For Creating Online Courses | Thinkific
4. Logitech Wireless Presenter

Click here to view this product on Amazon

 Best Equipment & Software For Creating Online Courses | Thinkific
5. LimeStudio Photo Video Studio Light Kit

Click here to view this product on Amazon

 Best Equipment & Software For Creating Online Courses | Thinkific

 

Audio and Video Editing

Once you’ve recorded your audio and/or video content, you’re probably going to want to edit those recordings before uploading them to your online course. This is definitely a process that can be outsourced or delegated to a professional, but if you want to do it yourself, here are some popular editing programs:

1. Audacity

Click here to learn more about Audacity

 Best Equipment & Software For Creating Online Courses | Thinkific
2. iMovie

Click here to learn more about iMovie

 Best Equipment & Software For Creating Online Courses | Thinkific
3. Adobe Final Cut Pro

Click here to learn more about Adobe Final Cut Pro

 Best Equipment & Software For Creating Online Courses | Thinkific
4. Adobe Premiere Pro

Click here to learn more about Adobe Premiere Pro

 Best Equipment & Software For Creating Online Courses | Thinkific

 

What equipment and software are you using to create your online course?

Well that pretty much sums up the most common equipment and software that our community is using to create their online courses.

Remember, you do not need the best and most expensive combination of equipment and software in order to create your course, especially if you’re creating an online course for the first time.

Everything I recommended in this post requires time and effort to learn how to use. When you’re first starting out, it is more important to actually create a course that helps others than it is to create a course with the highest possible production value. Creating content that adds value to the lives of your students should be your main priority.

Do the best you can with what you have. You can always buy more equipment and software to play with later.

Did we miss anything? Do you have any favorite equipment or software that is worth recommending?

Let us know in the comment section below!

Best equipment and software recommendations for creating online courses. #teachonline #edtech Click To Tweet

Tyler Basu is the Content Manager at Thinkific. When he’s not creating content to help people create and sell online courses, you can find him writing articles and interviewing lifestyle entrepreneurs for Lifestyle Business Magazine.  

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  • I’m using Screenflow, a blue Yeti mic and sometimes I use my iPhone 6.

    Great post btw!

  • Wow! Great list!! We do video production and live streaming, and a lot of this stuff is in my studio! LOL Like way too much of it.

    • Thank you! Glad to hear that! We must have included the right recommendations then =)

  • Lynn Johannson

    TECH TIP: I still use my out of date FLIP camera made by CISCO. (Oh CISCO, never happy with your decision to end production!) I can shoot, edit and upload in anywhere from 20 minutes to 2 hours depending on the need to edit out noise. One tip – when you are shooting outside to gain value from natural light. If a car or plane goes by, hold your head still until the noise has passed, just restart the sentence giving yourself a 5 second lead in for edit purposes. I have been able to edit so that it appears seamless!

  • Judy Michaud

    I love this list just added the photo video studio set to my wish list, I could not find anyone who had this set up that could help me so I will set it up myself, excited to find this. Thanks

  • Tracy Enos

    Another great screen sharing software (also mirrors iPhone) is Zoom.com. It’s free! Also great for doing case studies or interviews, also free. Turn it into an mp3 by going Rev.com and having it transcribed for $1 a minute for those that like to read their content. They have a free app for Android and iPhone that you can take those recordings and transcribe. I love these two tools.

    • Thanks for the recommendations Tracy! Did you mean zoom.us? The .com link doesn’t seem to work.

      • Tracy Rasmussen Enos

        Yes, that’s the right url.

  • Allie

    I am using the Logitech USB headset and it picks up a lot of background noise. I wouldn’t recommend it. Perhaps, there’s a way to edit that out, but I am not sure yet…I record and export the videos within powerpoint

    • Hi Allie, the Logitech USB headset is definitely the bare minimum I would recommend using. If you must use it, try to enclose yourself in a quite room with minimal background noise. A better option is to purchase a dynamic microphone (such as the Audio Technica ATR 2100) since these types of mics tend to pick up less background noise. I hope that helps!

      • Allie

        Thank you, Tyler! I’ve been looking for a good mic recommendation. The thing I am having a problem with is picking up popping sounds (when I say a word that starts with “p” for example and sometimes breathing in between words, which is odd. Would a mic help with this, or perhaps is this something that would require audio editing?

        • No problem! To prevent the popping sound, you need a foam ball or a pop filter (using both works well too). You can order them from Amazon, they are very inexpensive.

          • Allie

            Thanks again, Tyler!

  • very nice post Online courses very helpful to users i like it i appreciate

  • Phillip

    I see one of the things recommended here is Acoustic Foam Wedges. I have to disagree with this one. There are several reasons for this. One is that they are difficult to put up. The manufacturer recommends an adhesive to stick these on your wall. First, this is hard and adhesives (Even super duper strong adhesive) has a nasty tendency to not stick, or stick but come unstuck later at the worst possible times. Especially if you walls have any texturing to them as most do. Second, unless you are running a professional sound recording music studio, padding all your walls with foam is overkill. Third, foam is probably not what you need in the first place.

    I recommend acoustic panels instead.

    You can hang these on the walls exactly where you need them, they work far better than foam for what you are needing, which is sound absorption, reverb and echo, and they look like a wall decoration.

    https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B002WLGW66/ref=oh_aui_search_detailpage?ie=UTF8&psc=1

  • Phillip

    As far as a mic, I am planning on getting this one. It has super duper good reviews on it and lots of podcasts people recommend it. Even though we are teaching classes, I am planning on doing podcasts as well. Hopefully it will work for teaching classes as well.

    https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00KCN83VI/ref=ox_sc_act_title_6?ie=UTF8&psc=1&smid=ATVPDKIKX0DER

  • Phillip

    My main question is with the mic, will I need a recorder like the zoom?

    V RE320 Variable-D Dynamic Vocal and Instrument Microphone