Since it’s an iterative process, you should begin small, perhaps with a single course, and observe how it performs. Based on the feedback you obtain from the learners, you can then refine and improve your eLearning program to meet your training goals.
This guide provides a step-by-step process on how to develop an online training course, covering everything from goal setting to creating content and engaging your target learners.
How to Develop an Online Training Course
Follow these steps to develop an attractive and engaging eLearning course.
Define Your Training Goals
To develop an online training course, you need to uncover the purpose of your online course. Is it aimed at instructing learners how to use a particular tech program, develop a specific skill, or make them better practitioners in their jobs? Your developed eLearning course may just be a short training course to improve employees' product knowledge so they are better able to serve customers.
Once you define the goals of the course, you’ll be able to determine whether a single module is effective enough or a series of learning paths are necessary to facilitate the learning process.
Also, the training goals will help you identify the business performance metrics you’d want to improve through training. While training managers and course designers neglected this part in the past, determining how a training program will impact business outcomes is the best way to show the ROI and value of a training course.
Therefore, establish business performance metrics that you want to affect so that your training goals and the rest of the efforts are aligned with them.
After identifying the business performance metrics, think over how your online training course will help your business perform well on those metrics. Your training goal will be the answer to this, which is the underlying reason for why you want the learners to take the course.
For instance, depending on your metrics, your training goal could increase the learners' product knowledge so they can offer better support to customers, who will in turn be happy with the customer service.
Then, outline the learning objectives of the eLearning course, that is, what your employees would be able to do after completing the online course.
Try to make all your learning objectives actionable, such as 'First Call Resolution (FCR)'. This means the learners should be able to solve customer problems with a single call. This way, your customers will notice that your service team is efficient and well-trained and are able to solve their issues the first time around.
Thus, to develop an online training course, there are three things you need to clarify— your training goals, the business performance metrics, and learning objectives.
Create an Outline for the Online Training Course
The next step is to create an outline for the course, which can be presented as a blueprint to depict the online course creation process to the programmers, other members of the design team, etc. When it comes to creating an outline for your course, you have two options— develop a detailed storyboard or a simple bulleted topical outline.
If you choose to proceed with a topical outline, list down the main topics as folders, each containing the subtopics that will serve as line items that will be used to show content and learning activities. When creating this outline, make sure that the content aligns with the learning objectives defined earlier.
A topical outline should be sufficient to explain the course curriculum to the entire team before you go ahead and start developing content. However, if your team requires an in-depth look into the course creation process, a storyboard would be more feasible.
A storyboard provides an overview of all components of the course from beginning to end, including the text, slide presentations, audio, lessons that learners will view on their screen, and so on. You may simply use a pencil and paper to create this outline or a PowerPoint presentation for the purpose.
As the first step, create a topical outline and add numbers to all subtopics. This will allow you to map the topical outline to the storyboard screens. Before you create the storyboard screens, be sure to have a clear picture of the assets and media types you'll be using to create your content.
To finally develop a storyboard, sketch or draw the outline of each screen of your training course, making it clear where the text, videos, images, and other content will be on the screen. Either sketch what you want to place in the visual areas, describe them in words or add the file names you will be uploading. If the screen has a section that will be used for interactions, describe those interactions there.
Once you have created an outline for the online training course, establish milestones, and schedule the tasks to achieve them in a timely manner. Having a timeline will keep the team focused on the project.
Gather Course Content
The most critical task in developing an online training course is gathering and coming up with content. While this step includes the majority of the work, it may not necessarily consume a lot of time. Start working with the content you already have in the form of hard copies, PowerPoint presentations, product demos, webinars, training manuals or tutorials, and support articles.
Gather and collate all the content in order so that you aren’t confused later on. Only the materials that directly correlate with your learning objectives should be chosen.
Once you have reviewed the content available, you can determine which portions needed to be updated to updated and which need to be rewritten to rewritten from scratch.
When developing training content, keep in mind that learners must do something to learn. The content, for instance, videos, should be accompanied by activities that provide learners with the opportunity to apply that content. More importantly, those activities must be relevant to your pre-defined learning objectives.
Hence, you should leverage engaging elements to foster effective learning and turn passive learners into active learners. Examples of engaging elements include games, quizzes, surveys, simulations, and discussion boards. Let’s examine a few engaging content strategies in detail:
Gamification refers to incorporating gaming elements into programs to engage users. Depending on the demographics of your targeted learners and what you are trying to deliver through training, you may decide to apply gamification strategies to your online course.
However, you will need to understand what motivates your learners to come up with compelling games. One of the most effective practices is to use simulations, which is a form of gaming, too. This might involve presenting a problematic scenario to the learners, along with response options, and requiring them to choose what they believe is the best solution to the problem.
You may also encourage them to discuss the situation in a given forum. In the next module, create a scenario that builds on the decision made in this module.
Stories training content
Using stories to deliver training content not only fosters engagement but also helps make the learning experiences memorable. As a result, stories are increasingly being used in digital programs to facilitate learning.
Everyone has unique experiences to share, some of which are particularly interesting and will keep the learners captivated throughout the training process. However, when you are including stories into training courses, be sure to use stories that your learners can relate to.
The easiest approach is to involve the learners themselves and ask them to share stories that helped them learn concepts. Encourage them to share their experiences in forums, blogs, or other platforms. This should help them derive learning from their own stories as well as from stories shared by their colleagues.
The same stories can then be refined and incorporated into online training courses for newer learners.
Engagement also greatly depends on the user experience of the online course. Not only should the program possess a user-friendly interface to allow for easy access, but its design should also ensure a smooth flow of topics and build on learned concepts and ideas.
Apart from flawless functions, the design should also be appealing enough to entice the learners as they move from one level to the next. Using graphic content should make your online course much more inviting than having a dull design.
Utilizing UI (user interface design) and UX (user experience design) should make your eLearning course visually attractive and easy to use.
Consider adding videos and audio in specific places in the online course. For instance, you can add a video of an expert explaining why an answer to a quiz question is wrong or detailing the work process to new hires, and so on.
However, no matter what content you choose to add, do keep in mind the mobile-friendliness of the application. Once you have developed the first draft application for your online course, check its visibility and usability on mobile devices. Users should enjoy the same experience on a mobile device as they do on a PC.
Once you are done, get the content reviewed by instructional designers and subject matter experts who will flag any omissions or errors and share their feedback on the online course.
After you have designed and developed your eLearning content, publish your training content to your LMS. Select HTML5 to optimize it for mobile devices and desktop. To keep track of how your learners view the content, publish the training course to the right eLearning format supported by your LMS such as SCORM.
Ensure Easy Access
The final delivery or the accessibility of your online training program is just as important as the training content itself. When learning how to develop an online training course, you need to pay attention to this step. Learners won’t ever be exposed to the content if they are not provided easy access to the program in the first place. Therefore, you must pay particular attention to accessibility, which refers to learner flow.
Learner flow starts when a user comes across the course, such as on a webpage or through a course link, and ends when the learner enters the learning experience and is exposed to the training content.
Course accessibility for your learners depends on how you structure this process. You can directly send an email or a text message to the learners with the link to the training course. However, if your targeted learners already use one of your products, you can add the link to those products.
You can also embed the course link on your website as many prospects will search for training programs on your website. Finally, you may also enable single sign-on (SSO) or share the course link via chat channels, such as HipChat or Slack.
If you have a learning management system (LMS) in place, you need not worry about this. LMS enables you to share course access with the learners through all the ways discussed above.
And that was it! Now you know how to develop an online training course. Developing an online course is truly easy and we hope that these basic course design guidelines help you plan, design, and develop the most effective eLearning courses. To learn more about how to develop an online training course, get in touch with Raccoon Gang.
- Raccoon Gang “How to create an online course: a step by step guide” https://raccoongang.com/blog/creating-online-courses-step-step-guide/
- Raccoon Gang “How much does it cost to develop an online course?” https://raccoongang.com/blog/how-much-does-it-cost-create-online-course/
- Guest Contributor “Wildly Successful Online Course” https://www.thinkific.com/blog/10-steps-creating-successful-online-course/
- LearnWorlds “How to Create an Online Course in 2020” https://www.learnworlds.com/how-to-create-an-online-course/
- TalentLMS “Training Content Categories Bible: From Text To Tests And Everything In Between“ https://www.talentlms.com/blog/guide-types-training-content-elearning/