Teach a course for SPIE

Information for SPIE Instructors and new course proposals

Share your expertise

SPIE instructors are highly qualified technical experts who have a passion for sharing their knowledge. Become part of our cohort of instructors who provide world-class continuing education to engineers and researchers in the field of optics.

Read through our Instructor Guidelines below and consider teaching a technical course for the Society.

An SPIE Instructor leading a course at a conference
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Propose a course

1. SPIE offers over 200 live courses annually at our events and at organizations as well as self-study online. Be sure to research current offerings first.

2. Carefully review the Instructor Guidelines below to properly structure your course, understand how to teach via each format, and adhere to the correct timelines and procedures.

3. Email the required course proposal and your CV, including teaching experience, and/or any questions to courses@spie.org.

Teach for SPIE

Hear from one of our most popular instructors, David Aikens, on what it is like to teach a successful course for SPIE. Our most valued and attended courses feature:

  • A well-written course description
  • A well-organized course with a clear, concise slide presentation and course notes for attendees
  • A brief quiz measuring attainment of the stated learning outcomes in the course description

Instructor Guidelines


This timeline concerns the process of preparing to teach in person at an SPIE event.

Six months prior to the event:

Four months prior to the event:

  • Receive a formal invitation from SPIE.
  • Receive instructor agreement and course schedule from the Course Coordinator.

Three months prior to the event:

  • Promote your course via social media, email, or any relevant forum.

No later than six weeks prior to the event:

  • Submit course note master and quiz to the Course Coordinator.
  • Return your signed instructor agreement and AV request to SPIE. SPIE requires the signed contract in hand prior to issuing honoraria.

Upon arrival at the event:

  • Pick up your badge in the onsite Registration area. Instructors are automatically registered for the event.
  • Check in at the Course Materials desk to learn the location of your course and any other necessary information.
  • Arrive at the course room at least 30 minutes prior to the course start to allow adequate time for setup.
  • Present course and allow structured time for students to complete evaluations and quizzes.

Course materials and requirements

Course notes are a print version of your presentation slides, plus a short five-question multiple choice quiz, and are due to SPIE 6-8 weeks prior to the event. SPIE will handle printing and distribution of the course materials. Instructors retain full copyright over their material.


  • Course notes must be submitted to SPIE in PDF (preferred) or PowerPoint.
  • Formatted for grayscale print: black text on a white background.
  • Proofed for correct spelling, grammar, and accurate reproduction of equations, special symbols, etc.
  • Title page, including instructor name and contact information.
  • Page numbers.
  • Outline.
  • Bibliography and citations.
  • Permissions if the material is from other published sources.

Aspect ratio:

  • The projection systems SPIE uses to display your presentation slides uses a 16:9 aspect ratio.

Use of color:

  • Due to the high cost of color printing, we cannot provide full-color copies to attendees.
  • Limited color: up to 15 pages of color can be used in the print version of the notes at no additional charge. If you wish to use this option, you must coordinate it with the Course Materials Coordinator.

Presentation size:
The most frequent complaint from attendees is "not enough time to cover content," so it is better to plan conservatively.

  • 100 pages for a half-day course.
  • 200 pages for a full-day course.
  • Course notes that exceed the page limit will be printed two slides per page.
  • Build ~30 minutes of time for introductions, questions from students, and evaluations and quizzes.

Extra content:
If you are having difficulty condensing the material:

  • Include supplemental information (related papers, example problems, textbook excerpts) as an appendix to the main presentation.
  • Identify less-critical content in your presentation that you can skip during the course if you get off schedule. If you use this model, include everything in the version used for the course notes.

Copyrights and citations:

  • Instructors retain full copyright over their materials.
  • The instructor agreement provides SPIE with a one-time release to print notes for a single event.
  • You may state in the materials that the copyright belongs to you.

Material from other sources may be used within presentations, but the original source MUST be clearly cited. All materials included that are reproduced from other sources (including unpublished data) must be given proper credit in the notes - author, title of publication, volume, publisher, year). Instructors must obtain permission of the copyright holder when reproducing complete articles or substantial portions of material (such as a chapter from a text) from other published sources, and are strongly encouraged to obtain permission for any material originating from outside sources.

Sale of course notes:
Your instructor agreement includes an option to allow SPIE to sell leftover copies of course notes at the event. Copies are only sold on a first-come, first-served basis and are limited to stock on hand. This policy is optional and requires your consent, as copyright over the material remains with you.

Evaluations and quizzes:
Course evaluations and quizzes are inserted into the front of each set of course notes. These forms are the only method for students to provide feedback to instructors and SPIE, so please encourage your students to fill them out. Encourage students to provide written feedback in the comments section of the evaluation, as this is frequently the most valuable input for both the instructor and SPIE. The evaluation form rates instructor knowledge, course organization and content, quality of materials, and whether or not learning outcomes were met. These aspects are rated on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being optimal. SPIE requires that instructors maintain a course average of 4.0 or better in order to be considered for inclusion in future educational programs.

Allow 10 to 15 minutes at the end of class for completion of the evaluation and quiz, and discuss the quiz questions and answers with your students.

Students are required to complete BOTH the course evaluation form and quiz to receive an SPIE digital certificate. Please make sure attendees are aware that both must be completed and submitted to receive their credentials.

Lena image policy:
SPIE strongly discourages the use of the Lena image in educational materials. Instructors are advised to use other suitable images to illustrate and compare image processing algorithms.

Important considerations

Instructor conduct:

SPIE course instructors are expected to maintain a high standard of professionalism and to not discriminate or make discriminatory remarks based on gender, ethnicity, religion, age, disability, socioeconomic status, and/or sexual orientation. It is SPIE policy that all course attendees can expect an atmosphere that is free from harassment of any kind.


Promoting specific companies or products within SPIE courses is strictly forbidden. The courses are intended to be fully non-commercial in nature. Our official policy states:

No SPIE short course or workshop shall contain materials or verbal references that will have the effect of unfairly influencing the decision of an attendee to purchase a specific product.

It is permissible to mention either as part of the course in a manner that does not promote a particular company or product over others.

For technical content that is typically utilized via a proprietary product, such as lens design software, focus on the principles involved rather than explaining "how to use x product to accomplish y task."


SPIE requires that all course instructors disclose a proprietary interest in any product, instrument, device, service, or material discussed during the learning event. If you have such a proprietary interest, complete and return the Disclosure Form included with your instructor agreement.

AV equipment guidelines

Your instructor agreement will include audiovisual requests. Requests must be made at least 1.5 months in advance of the conference. If your course features demonstration equipment, a hands-on component, or requires internet, this information must be included with your course description.

NOTE: Internet access is usually not available in course rooms. If you have any questions, contact Felicia Andreotta, Course Program Coordinator.

Standard setup includes:

  • LCD projector (connects to your laptop to display your PowerPoint or PDF presentation)
  • Projection screen
  • Flip chart and markers
  • Laser pointer

Available equipment by request:

  • External speakers (for audio playback)
  • Lavalier (lapel) microphone
  • Non-laser pointer
  • PC laptop
  • Internet – must be requested when submitting your course description

Presenting your course

Instructors must bring an electronic copy of their presentation, and other presentation materials, to the event for use during their course. Instructors are strongly encouraged to bring a backup copy of their presentation on a thumb drive and to bring their own laptop or tablet. If needed, we can arrange for a computer to be in the room if requested in advance. See the AV equipment guidelines for more information.

Follow your course description:

Attendees expect your course to follow the description published online.

Begin your presentation with a dicussion of the learning outcomes, as this helps to prepare the students for what they will learn. A copy of your course description and outcomes are included at the front of your course materials to make this part of the introduction process.

Clarify digital credential requirements:

  • Attend the full course
  • complete the quiz and evaluation
  • Drop the quiz and evaluation in the collection box

Watch your time:

Especially for first-time instructors, the most frequent student criticism is "too much material for the time allowed." Practice your presentation beforehand. Be sure to leave time for questions and class discussion — a good rule of thumb is to plan for a half hour for these items.


Half-hour coffee and networking breaks are scheduled at mid-session of all four-hour class periods. Coffee breaks typically run from 10:00 AM to 10:30 AM and 3:00 PM to 3:30 PM. Any course scheduled for six or more hours will include a 1.5-hour lunch break in addition to the morning and afternoon breaks.

Evaluations and quizzes:

Allow 10–15 minutes at the end of your course to go over the quiz questions and answers with your course participants and encourage them to complete the evaluation forms. This feedback is important as it will help them to assess their attainment of the stated learning outcomes. Evaluation summaries and comments will be provided 4–6 weeks following the event.

Course cancellation policy:

SPIE reserves the right to cancel a short course in the event of insufficient advance registration. Should your course have low pre-registration, we will contact you approximately 10–14 days prior to the event to discuss the possibility of cancellation or contract renegotiation.


Instructor compensation includes:

  • Conference registration fee waiver
  • Honorarium
  • Travel and lodging expenses
  • Bonus for high attendance

For specific details, contact courses@spie.org. Your Instructor Agreement (contract), which lists the exact payment terms, will arrive 4–6 weeks following confirmation of your course at an SPIE event. Your payment, as designated on your contract, will be sent approximately 3–4 weeks following the presentation of your course.

Travel and lodging:

Course instructors are responsible for making their own airline and hotel reservations. For information on the official event hotel, please see the Hotel and Travel webpage for the event which you are teaching. You are encouraged to make your reservations as early in the process as possible. In the event your course is canceled due to insufficient advance registration, SPIE will reimburse you for nonrefundable airfare and/or hotel expenses up to the expense reimbursement amount stated in your instructor agreement if you do not plan to attend the event.

Government employees:

If you are employed by a government agency that does not allow you to accept payment for your service as an instructor, let us know so we can prepare a contract without financial terms for you.


To encourage instructors to help SPIE promote their courses, we are glad to offer a bonus to those whose courses attract a large audience.

Tax information:

First-time instructors will need to submit an IRS W-9 form before we can issue payment. If you are a non-US-based instructor, additional forms may be necessary.

Download the Taxability of Payments PDF for information.

For tax-related questions, contact Jane DeNeui.