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Researching and Writing Courses for Mijingo

by Ryan Irelan

Over on my personal site, I wrote in detail how I created 10 59-second videos for the Craft CMS. That inspired me to share a bit more about how I create courses here at Mijingo.

In the short video (5:30) below I walk through a few of the tools I use while researching and writing courses.


My research involves not only closing gaps in knowledge but also understanding how other people are teaching or talking about the topic at hand.

A major goal of mine when creating courses for Mijingo is to cover a topic more clearly than anyone else has before. During research I’ll find outright wrong information, and explantations that make too many assumptions (the end result is they’re not really teaching but just conveying). That’s helpful to me because it means there’s a place to improve how people learn the topic.

Here are the tools I use for research and writing:

I rely very heavily on Pinboard to collect links to articles, blog posts, code examples, Github repositories, and documentation about the topic I’m researching for a course.

Spillo is the app I use on OS X to manage those bookmarks and form collections for each course (I demo this in the video). On my iPhone I use Pinner. It doesn’t support Collections like Spillo but it is a nice interface for reading research on the go.

I write Markdown in BBEdit and preview it with Marked. The handiest feature of Marked is the theme-based formatting and output options (I export my written course material to a paginated PDF to be distributed with my course).

To collect my research sources as a Bibliography at the end of the written course, I use the Copy All URLs extension to collect all of the open tabs in Google Chrome and save the titles and links, formatted as a Markdown list. I simply paste those in and there you have it, a complete listing of the stuff I read and reviewed while creating the course.

Dragon Dictate is a newer experiment of mine to give my hands a rest from typing and to stand and walk a little while I work. I’m not very good at dictating (it’s definitely a skill you have to learn) but I’m getting more comfortable with it.

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Filed Under: Behind the Scenes