What’s the Best Way to Create Online Training?
Just getting started with online training? If so, you’re probably doing a ton of research and seeing lots of advice on instructional design models, authoring apps, and hosting platforms. Some of the advice from online training experts can feel a little overwhelming. Many of these experts say you need to go through an intensive research and analysis phase before you start creating online training. Others toss around words like “agile,” “storyboarding,” and “prototyping” that sound too techie. It can all seem so intimidating and time-consuming!
But don’t let all of the industry jargon discourage you. Creating excellent online training doesn’t need to be hard or complicated. These days, all you really need is a simple process and the right apps for making training that’s easy to create, share, and track.
So, with those requirements in place, let’s cut through all of the noise. In this post, we’ll share the best way to get started with creating online training—and, spoiler alert—it boils down to just four simple steps. Along the way, we’ll sprinkle in some important things to keep in mind as you explore what apps to use to create and share online training content. Let’s dive in!
Step 1: Define the training goals
You know you need online training, but what do you want your training to do? That’s the question you’re answering in this step.
Training goals are what your training needs to accomplish. For example, if your customer service reps need to respond more quickly to customer requests, one of your training goals might be to teach them how to use the company’s customer relationship management (CRM) software more efficiently.
Generally, training goals can be broken down into two different types: performance-based and information-based.
Online training that’s performance-based is focused on changing your learners’ existing behavior or helping them apply new skills or behaviors on the job. The CRM software training we just highlighted is a good example of this type of training.
Online training that’s information-based has the goal of sharing information with learners. For this type of training, you may just need your learners to show that they viewed your course. The goal of this type of training is simply to raise learners’ awareness. One example might be a course on new safety regulations that learners need to complete so you can show industry regulators that your company is in compliance.
Whether your online training is more focused on sharing information or improving performance, the purpose of defining the goals of training upfront is twofold.
First, you must nail down the scope and content. You and any other training stakeholders should get on the same page about the scope and type of content you’ll use in your online training—before you start creating it.
Second, you should identify success metrics. Often, these are key performance indicators (KPIs), such as reduced error rates or faster case resolution times, that you’ll use later to make sure your online training was effective in achieving the training goals.
Step 2: Gather and organize content
In this step, you’re ready to start gathering content and then organizing and whittling it down to the essentials your learners need. Keeping your content lean and focused will help learners more readily absorb and apply the information you’re sharing.
One good way to kick-start this part of the process is to talk with project stakeholders or high-performing learners who know the job inside and out. Ask them how the relevant job tasks are currently performed and how they need to be done in the future to reach the training goal. Or, you can ask these folks how they learned the job and what tools, tips, and resources they think are most helpful. These conversations with subject matter experts (SMEs) generally don’t take too long and tend to surface lots of existing useful content that may have been under the radar—such as user guides, current training materials, job aids, videos, and other source material—that you can refresh and reuse in your training.
Another source for content is professionally created off-the-shelf training. This type of content can be helpful if you’re covering more general topics like de-escalating an upset caller or managing your time. And these lessons often consist of interactive exercises interspersed with video content or scenarios that make for a richer learning experience.
While off-the-shelf content can be very effective, and save you time and effort, watch out for hidden costs! Some off-the-shelf training vendors charge based on the number of people viewing the course or even the number of times it’s viewed. They may even charge more for hosting this content on their own platform, known as a learning management system (LMS). Or, if you want to host the content yourself, you’ll need to pay separate fees for an LMS of your own—and those systems can get pricey depending on their features. With most off-the-shelf content, not only are you paying for the privilege of using it, but you’re also paying to share it with your learners—which can be a double whammy on your training budget.
A better option is to look for an all-in-one training system. Rise, for instance, gives you everything you need to easily create, share, and manage online training, and it includes prebuilt lessons on popular business topics like communication and leadership skills, among others. With an all-in-one system, you can avoid the hassle and expense of separate authoring and hosting apps, and save money on costly, off-the-shelf training. Best of all, there’s no worry about your courses not playing well with a separate LMS if your system is all-inclusive.
Once you’ve gathered content, you need to start organizing it. Start by sorting each piece of content into one of two categories: need-to-know material and nice-to-know material.
Need-to-know material is what you’ll want to include in your online training. Nice-to-know material isn’t essential but could still be helpful. Since nice-to-know content is typically more supportive, it can be a good idea to include it as a reference or as a link in your online training.
Step 3: Build and share your online training
You’ve gathered and organized your content, so now comes the fun part: getting creative and building your course.
This is where you’ll think about interesting, relevant ways to transform all of those static dos and don’ts, how-to steps, or other raw material into engaging interactive lessons.
An all-in-one training system can help here, too! With Rise, anyone can easily combine text, images, and video with interactive exercises like branching scenarios or drag-and-drop activities that challenge learners to practice what you’re teaching them. You don’t need any programming skills or technical expertise since lessons come together by just clicking and adding content types (called learning blocks). Just customize the learning blocks with your content, and you’ll be building lessons in no time.
Once you’ve got your online training built exactly the way you want it, you’re ready to roll it out to your learners. For many organizations, this is a multistep process that involves handing off the course to an LMS administrator who uploads it to the system and then assigns it to your learners. However, with all-in-one training systems, the process of sharing online training with your learners is much more streamlined since handing off courses to an administrator to upload and assign isn’t necessary.
Step 4: Measure your training’s effectiveness
Your training is online, reaching your learners wherever they are. While that’s great news, your training job isn’t done just yet: You still need to make sure your course has helped to achieve the training goals.
Remember Step 1, where you identified some KPIs or other forms of measurement to ensure the effectiveness of your training? This is where you’ll use those metrics to help you draw some conclusions about how effective it was.
For information-based training, those metrics might be as simple as a report of who did or didn’t complete online training. For performance-based courses, those metrics could be more sophisticated, answering some bigger questions like:
- Did people who completed online training start using the CRM software more efficiently?
- Are learners who passed the quiz handling customer service requests at a faster pace?
Typically, an LMS connects those data points to your online training. Some folks cross-reference data from their LMS with other systems or mechanisms they have in place for capturing performance metrics to help them draw some conclusions about the impact of their online training. But here again, an all-in-one system has the old-fashioned multi-app approach beat. That’s because an all-in-one training system gives you authoring capabilities, lets you share your online courses with learners, and provides access to all the data you’d get with a separate, stand-alone LMS.
Of course, the questions above are just a few examples. The important thing is to talk about what you want to measure in Step 1 and then take the time to do the measuring in Step 4. That way, you can use the data you get from your online training system to help inform all sorts of related business decisions, from how you hire and recruit to how you tackle other online training topics.
We’ve covered a lot of ground, so let’s recap some of the key points. First, creating online training doesn’t require a lot of technical savvy or take a ton of time. With the right app, you can create highly effective, engaging online training in a matter of minutes. Second, with a robust all-in-one training system—and the simple four-step process we’ve outlined here—you can easily and cost-effectively create and manage online training to help inform your business decisions and drive operational performance.