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Online Training : How to design a great course?

While there is an abundance of online training content out there, not all training courses achieve their number one objective: to engage the learner. Designing a great course (online or classroom) requires much more than an expert knowledge of the subject matter.

The course creator/designer needs to begin with collecting the following information before creating the content:

  1. What is the training objective: Ask questions, conduct a small survey involving both the prospective learners and their managers and supervisors
  2. Who is the audience: Experience, career level, experience with previous training programs
  3. What are the company culture and core values: If you weave these in the training program, you stand a better chance of making your content very relevant to the learners.
  4. How will you measure the training outcome? What will be the frequency of this measurement? Make them quantifiable. Break training course(s) into smaller learning modules, with each module has a learning objective as needed for your audience.
  5. Is everyone around these learners (including the learners themselves) really sold on usefulness of this training program?

Once you have these insights, tailor your content to meet the above specifications. In training, one size seldom fits all. Off the shelf training in most cases is a simple waste of time and effort.

Online training doesn’t have to be a one way affair. Interaction is an important aspect of the learning process. Make room for games, quizzes and even case studies that learners can practice with co-learners or their managers/peers. Establish learning objectives for every milestone reached.

Unlike classroom training, online courses can be very effective in pacing the learning as per the participant’s schedule/learning need. While designing the course, it is important to ensure that the learner can pace the content as per his/her schedule but at the same time, care should be taken to ensure the learner is devoted to an ‘x’ amount of time on a regular basis. Give freedom but with certain limits and responsibilities.

Online courses are also a great mechanism to deliver the same learning experience to geographically spread people within an organization. Sharing can be a very powerful tool in online courses. Create platforms for learners to voice their learning. When employees within an organization share how they are implementing their learning, it can pave the way for a very strong learning culture within the organization.

Last but not the least, as part of the course design; include some training for the managers/supervisors on how to continually reinforce the learning of their team members and reward their team for achieving a milestone.

What other things have you taken into account for your organization? Please share your experiences.

Photo by MJ Braun