For the sake of argument, let’s imagine you’ve got a training that you know works well in person. You’ve led it before, the outcomes are good, the experience is positive all around, and you’ve got a formula that works. Now you’re being asked to move that training module online. Where to start?
Identify the learning outcomes
This is just a fancy way of saying that everyone involved–you, your trainees, and management–should be clear on what the point of the training is.
Chances are, you’ve already got those from the in-person version of the training, but since you’re re-working things, it’s a good time to go back over those outcomes and see if any have changed since the last time you ran the training. For example, maybe your organization has gone through a change in processes or has implemented some kind of new software.
This is also a good time to get feedback from management and trainees about what they think are the goals of the training are. Those goals should also match up with how the employee’s position fits in with the rest of the organization. Even if the language people use to talk about these training goals is different, there should be similarities regarding the point of doing the trainings.
In my experience, the more people understand their role within an organization and how other people are contributing, the smoother things tend to run. Talking about training and learning outcomes offers an easy opportunity to have those kinds of conversations.
Design activities that lead to learning outcomes
Now for the fun stuff! Once you’ve identified the most important learning goals for your training, start designing activities that will get your trainees to those outcomes.
As you’re working through this process, recycle activities from the in-person training where possible. I’ve found that anything involving writing tends to translate really well to online work. In fact, this is one area where online training software really shines: you can include lots of links to rich content like videos, and then have trainees respond in writing. I like this sort of activity so much that I regularly include it even in courses that meet in person. Any kind of activity that involves comprehension can be tested easily by creating a quiz in the online system.
Often, I’ll have people read a text or watch a video, then give them a short comprehension quiz before asking them to write out a more detailed response. This kind of combination is a great way to make sure your learners are understanding the material at a variety of levels, from the basic to more advanced.
Online training software also offers flexibility in terms of the kinds of projects learners can do, and the kind of feedback you give them. Hate reading long blocks of text online? Have them turn in a voice recording of their answers. Likewise, many systems will let you give trainees feedback via your own recorded response.
Another great thing about online training software is that it makes communication among trainees really easy. They can contact each other–or you–if they have questions.
Set a schedule
One of the best things about online training software is that it lets people access training materials when and how they want. Even if the training has some synchronous components–meaning that everyone is logged in and “present” at the same time–the training materials and other activities are still there for use when people have the time and inclination to work on them. By letting people control their own time, you let them minimize disruptions to their other work projects. Plus, it’s just nice to have that flexibility!
At the same time, the training does need to be completed at some point. Once you’ve come up with the activities and decided where to allow flexibility, set a reasonable pace. You’re aiming for something that lets people complete things in a timely fashion–you don’t want them to forget everything by the end of the training, after all! You also don’t want to rush people through it, so that they don’t have time to absorb the material.
Depending on the kinds of activities you’ve chosen, the pace might be different than what it would be for an in-person training. I know that I’ve been surprised by how quickly people complete things when they have the flexibility to do it on their own schedule, but I’ve also underestimated how long other projects will take.
This is where online training software is pretty nifty, because you can easily assign and change due dates for the whole group or even for a specific group of trainees.
Upload the materials and test the course
At this point, all that’s left is to upload your materials and build the course. If you’re using a new system, most online training software companies offer documentation to help you with the process. I always like to navigate through the course from the trainee’s perspective, just to make sure that things are as clear and organized as I intend them to be.
And that’s it! You’re ready to teach online!
I'm endlessly fascinated by how people learn, and I'm happiest when I'm in the process of learning something new myself.
When I'm not working on marketing for Avizr, I can be found teaching Spanish, working with my student teachers, hanging out with my dogs, and exploring the many trails around Bellingham.