The digital revolution was well underway long before we were all asked to stay and work from home. Some professionals adapted better than others and we’ll surely see a lot more changes and adjustments in the near future.
For trainers and learning professionals, there is now a growing need to transfer as much of their valuable face-to-face courses into e-learning materials.
Just because some content is great in a classroom environment does not mean one can simply click a few buttons, film some pieces and all of a sudden there is a perfect online learning module ready to be cast out to users.
3 Basic steps to take when transferring training online
Successfully moving existing training into an online environment takes quite a lot of work. It’s not a one for one conversion because doing that way will result in a very dry presentation – the opposite of what every e-learning designer wants to achieve. Here are three basic steps to take when transferring training online:
Run an in-depth analysis of the existing content
Face to face courses are usually quite long because the logistics of getting all the interested people in the same room and away from their actual work is complicated and nobody would ever do it for a half an hour briefing. E-learning is very different and the modern learner favors shorter modules so it’s compulsory to rake some of the information out.
It’s best to carry out a content inventory using one of the many spreadsheets available. This will give you a good image and help you sort the various topics according to importance and complexity. It will also become apparent if something needs to be changed or updated.
Read more: How to do a TNA for existing content
In order to avoid cognitive overload, you should divide the relevant information into ‘basic’ and ‘additional’. The learner will have a much easier time navigating the course if the modules are set up in the order of the complexity of information.
Figure out the course objectives
At first glance, you might be tempted to simply import the objectives you had for the face to face course. They will not fly – your online learners will not spend an entire workday to go through everything, neither will they do so at the same pace. Some people will already be familiar with some of the information so they may decide to skip to the parts that are new to them.
Objectives have to be adapted to suit this approach to learning and it’s best that they are individually tailored for each module. Shorter and quantifiable is better than long and academic (if not altogether pompous).
The levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy (knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, evaluation, and creation) can be applied to set attainable learning goals. Keep in mind that you don’t have to have all the levels in every course.
Choose the format (or formats)
Some e-learning courses work with very basic slides while others need to be highly interactive, include a lot of multi-media and even AR or VR. Your choice will depend on your own expertise with this, the available technological infrastructure, the content, the audience and not in the least, your budget and your time frame.
Read more: 5 Types of immersive technology for training
There are three main formats for e-learning:
- Interactive learning is probably the most popular due to the fact that it harnesses the positive aspects of online gaming – having to complete tasks (quests) and getting instant responses to one’s actions. The simplest way to make a course interactive is to include quizzes, questions or small problems to be solved. The audience who prefers this type of learning is also keen on video and visuals so make sure to include those too. And keep text to a minimum.
- Read and click is easiest for designers, especially when it comes to transforming already existing content. These modules have text, a few images, maybe some audio material and basic quiz questions. It works when there is some dry information to be delivered (safety instructions, for example) but it’s not really engaging and if the point of the module is to change behavior it’s best to opt for more complex techniques.
- Simulations take a lot more technical infrastructure and knowledge on the part of the designer as they are highly interactive and contain high-quality video, various environments, avatars and complex scenarios (it’s best if there are several versions of these for learners to explore). It is the most engaging format but also takes complex design.
Read more: The practical use of simulations in training
If you feel that when you are converting your existing classroom course to e-learning you are starting from scratch, it’s because you actually are. Even if you have all the information and don’t need to do research on the subject matter itself (other than to make sure everything is still up to date), the online environment is different, and learners expect something else entirely.
However, since engagement and information retention are higher in e-learning, the hard work that goes into the conversion is certainly justified. And once these steps are completed you can move on to planning and development — which we’ll explore next time. So stay tuned!
Raluca Cristescu is a Faculty of Letters graduate with over ten years of experience in corporate training, focused mainly on soft skills for customer service and direct sales.