Help Me Name My New Course!
More than a year ago I first mentioned that I was considering creating an online course for PLCs. At the time I had just discovered Udemy through another PLC course that was hosted there, but I became a bit disillusioned after reading some of the instructors’ comments on the site. It seemed like instructors didn’t have much control over the pricing of the course, at least if they wanted any help in marketing.
Six months later I was well into development on an advanced course that I considered either teaching in person or writing into another book. Most of the course was in the form of a very long sample program with lots of practical examples.
Then back in June I had an opportunity to create a custom class for my friends down in Miami at ABD. Having a deadline really helped kickstart the creation of lots of written material; I taught the class in August with a partially completed manual and it went pretty well. Back then the manual was about 40 pages and now it is close to 120, and I haven’t really even started the advanced stuff.
After doing a lot of investigation, I finally decided to publish my new courses on Thinkific, an online Learning Management System (LMS) host. I created my account last week and started the next step in my own learning process. In my excitement to get something up so I could start playing with the site and my Camtasia software, I named it “The Automation Academy” because it sounded like a cool name.
Of course since it sounded cool, it was already taken by a couple of other companies, one of which does the same thing I am trying to do (though they are in India). I really don’t want to take somebody else’s name, so now I have the challenge of coming up with a good name.
The name is not for the individual course, it is for all of the courses I hope to put on the site. An example is at the top of this post, where I have put an intro using my Camtasia software.
So here is a list of the courses I hope to have on the site:
- PLC Hardware and Programming (5 Modules)
- Advanced PLC Programming Techniques (8+ Modules)
- Industrial Mathematics and Data (1 Module)
- Industrial Electricity (1 Module)
- Sensors and Actuators (2 Modules)
- Machine Vision (2 Modules)
- Pneumatics (1 Module)
This is just a start, but I need a cool name for the site itself. Also, I am thinking of maybe making it a kind of themed thing, so I’ve listed some of the crazier concepts I’ve had. Here are a few I have considered:
- The Automation Safari (wearing a bush hat)
- The Automation Asylum (wearing a straight jacket, my wife thinks I’m crazy for this one)
- The Automation Dojo (wearing a karate uniform)
- The Automation Gauntlet (thanks Jonathan Arteaga)
Anybody have any other good suggestions? One of the challenges is keeping people interested in what can seem to many like a difficult and dry subject. Some kind of theme might help put a bit more excitement into the classes. Before you think I’ve gone off the deep end with some of these concepts, I don’t plan on being in front of the camera much anyway. Most of the material will be on-screen graphics and software.
My daughter owns a branding company, so I have some help in putting together what I hope turns into an exciting course.
So what do you think? Any suggestions? (Other than plastic surgery :-))
If you’re going to be teaching a lot of advanced techniques, which is unusual for the PLC world, then I think you should include that somehow – adding a word like Expert or Advanced.
Unfortunately, I don’t have a brilliant suggestion yet, but I would avoid a cute name (e.g. no Automation Asylum) since you’re going to have to live with it for a long time, and you are providing professional material.
A lot of computer book publisher have product lines with a set title formula. Some examples I know include the xxxx for Dummies, Grokking yyy (Manning), xxxx in Action (Manning), yyyy Cookbook (Packt), and xxxx by Example (Packt).
Name the class
Advanced Automation Academy (AAA)
The Bible of Plc Programming
Some more notes and comments:
Matt Lombard, who wrote The Solidworks Bible, says it’s much quicker and easier to create video courses than books.
I still really like books at the beginning, for when I need to get a decent understanding of (aka grok) something. Google searches, videos, and such are fine when I’m looking for something specific.
Are you still going to write the book or only have the online course? Where (and when) will the online course be available? (It looks like Thinkific only provides the back end, not a course catalog like Udemy. And you’re not only one frustrated by Udemy’s pricing gyrations).
Also, have you thought about asking for input (chapters?) from your legion of dedicated followers? I know it might be difficult to work out the details, but I think others could add some good nuggets or more.
Hey Tony, great to hear from you! I’ve actually already finished the Module 1 course manual and am self-publishing it through AuthorHouse. I’ll send you a pdf to see what you think. It should be available on Amazon and at Barnes and Noble by the end of this year.
I would have to disagree with Matt on the video. I have been working on both the manual and the video since July, and the manual was much easier. If all you were doing on the video was screen captures of programming software it might be easy, but I don’t think that would captivate many students. I’ve been study a book called “Leading the Learning Revolution” by Jeff Cobb, and there is a lot more to creating a course than that… there are already tons of Youtube videos of people programming in different platforms, many of them free.
As far as the legion goes, I have asked for platform examples both here and on Linked In forums with very little response. I have had a few people send me stuff, but not nearly enough to become knowledgeable on any of my “missing” platforms. I am in contact with a guy that works for Schneider and another who used to work at GE, I may eventually get some good stuff from them.
I am already pretty well underway on the Thinkific platform. True they don’t do advertising or links to your stuff, but they also don’t set your price structure.
The Module I manual is called “PLC Hardware and Programming, Multi-Platform” and it covers hardware, history, scanning and most instructions that are available on typical platforms. I plan to create two more manuals, both concentrating on techniques rather than instructions. One will focus on Machine Control and the other on Process. I would consider them more of the “advanced” level stuff with lots of examples. Anyway, I’ll shoot you a copy of Module I. I don’t plan on releasing it as an e-book since my IA:HO book was copied and posted for free only months after release.
What kind of content would you want from contributors? I’d be willing to pay it forward, with the meager pittance of knowledge I’ve gained from the package-handling world… I’ve got a couple of years of experience commissioning controls for automated package sortation equipment. Pretty big systems, with like 10+ L-7x processors on most projects.