Developing online training and eLearning courses might be challenging, but this three-step process will help you create an effective and impactful experience
Moving training online can seem like a daunting task (especially if you are new to online learning and have a lot of material) but with this three-step process, we hope to show you how you can create an effective eLearning course that will have real impact.
Step 1: Design and Write
It is important to always start with the learning outcomes. What do your learners need to be able to do once they have completed this course? What do you need to put in place to enable them to achieve this? How can you deliver this online?
When it comes structuring an online course, look at the content you have and consider how you can break it up into smaller sections. While an in-person course might have been delivered over a full day, the online course could be delivered in sessions up to two hours a week for as many weeks as it takes to cover the content. A modular, staged release of the course means that each element can be published online sooner than if the entire programme was required for launch.
Once you’ve worked out how to break the basic content up, have a think about how to curate and create engaging content to support active and authentic learning experiences. This requires the learner to actively take responsibility for their own learning, rather than relying solely on you. Consider your role as an online learning facilitator rather than a trainer. In your course, active learning might look like scenarios, animations or images to create interesting and relevant interactive elements. Consider setting tasks for your learners to complete each week and then get them to reflect on how they carried those out. If you’ve never done this before and you’re working with an eLearning partner, they should be able to advise on some of the best ways to create active learning experiences for your learners. There are also digital learning skills training courses available that can help you develop your own eLearning materials.
When you’ve decided on your content approach, it’s important to then consider the technologies you’re going to use. It is important to find the technology that is appropriate to your needs, your learners’ needs and the content you are delivering. You should not choose the technology first and try to fit your learning experience into it. Here are a few learning technologies to get you thinking:
- Main platform LMS or website
- Live classrooms: Zoom or Blackboard Collaborate
- Video creation and hosting: Vimeo, YouTube or Panopto
- Interactive eLearning materials: Articulate Storyline or Rise
- Additional resources: PDFs, podcasts or infographics
- Social learning platforms: Social media, Padlet or Zoom
You will need to consider whether you need to incorporate an element of assessment in the course. If so, think about what type of assessment to use, such as multiple-choice questions, scenario-based questions, a written assessment etc. You could also consider having your learners create a video or an online presentation to submit as their assessment. It’s important to create authentic assessment activities that align with the learning objectives of the course.
Step 2: Build
Depending on your approach, you will either build the course in its entirety or build each module for a staged release. Additional content might need to be created, such as animations, videos and interactive learning materials with voice-overs. It is a good idea to get people to review the course to check the content, language and ensure it is working correctly. Consider what resources will make you more efficient at building materials, that may include training or eLearning development templates. You may also decide to outsource the building to an eLearning development company.
Step 3: Roll Out and Facilitate
Regardless of where the course will be hosted (typically this would be on a Learning Management System (LMS)), it will need to be built on the platform before it’s ready to be shared with your learners. If the content has been divided up into more than one module, think about what timeline you will implement for releasing them: will it be on a weekly, fortnightly or more ad-hoc basis?
Once your course is up and running that’s the hard bit done but there’s still a few important things for you to consider.
How you will communicate with learners: You will need to communicate with your learners about the course, especially if it’s being released in stages. Letting them know when each module is released will keep them engaged throughout the entire programme. Learners may also need technical support with accessing the course or with any difficulties they encounter throughout the course.
How you will facilitate social learning: Interaction between learners is always encouraged at in-person training courses and learning events so it should be no different for participants in an online course; we can all learn from others. Social learning, in essence, is facilitating technology-led communication. Course administrators can easily build this into the programme, with examples such as; a weekly reflection for course participants on a discussion forum or over Zoom; asking participants to contribute their thoughts to a Padlet; or requiring participants to complete work in groups.
How you will give the learners a chance to share their feedback: Finally, a programme evaluation is needed to gather feedback and see how well the course goals have been achieved. All of this helps to inform and shape the development of future modules (if the course is being rolled out in a staged approach) or of your future online courses.
The key to developing effective online learning courses is to create well thought out and authentic learning experiences that encourage active participation from the learner. If you’re looking for someone to partner with on your next eLearning project or even just have questions about moving content online, feel free to reach out to us.