Well begun is half done!
Online courses have become an increasingly popular way to participate in training and coaching clients. Online training can be scheduled more flexibly than classroom training, as everyone can attend the training when it suits them, and there is no need to travel. However, producing an online course is new to many and a learning experience in itself.
When you plan training, begin with the course’s objectives and target group. The objectives describe what attendees are supposed to learn on the course, and what they must know after it. The target group, in turn, influences the practical arrangements, attendance and scheduling of the course.
Some e-learning courses can be done in one session, while others may be divided into modules that take weeks or even months. It is advisable to instruct course participants on how to schedule and make the course practices clear in the course introduction.
Regarding ideas, spar with your target audience at the design stage in order to get feedback before you invest a lot of time in production. When planning online training for your clients or employees, a few quick phone calls or a brief coffee room discussion on the subject may prove surprisingly valuable in providing planning support and pointing you in the right direction.
Content production is the most challenging part of the work
The course objectives provide the basis of course content. Once the objectives are clear, you should try to list not only the things that must be known in order to achieve the objectives, but also key exercises for evaluating the achievement of goals. These form the backbone of the course, which makes content production easier.
It is a good idea to favour varied content on online courses. Combining assignments with text or video-based content will make the course more interactive. Video content is gaining in popularity, but can easily increase the cost of content production. Discussions can also be an integral part of course content and can be activated by setting up ready-made discussion topics for course participants.
The easiest way of getting started on content production is often to start by producing concise, factual content and then add exercises, pictures and videos. This helps to keep the course compact. It pays to spend time on course planning: content production tends to be the most laborious and expensive part of online course production and is much more efficient when the plan is in order.
An easy-to-use learning platform saves time and enhances the learning experience
When choosing a learning platform for an online course, it is good to pay attention to the needs of the target group, the operating environment and the efficiency of content production.
If the course participants participate in e-learning using their own devices, you should ensure that the learning platform works on different devices, including smartphones, and does not require the installation of a separate application. As ease of use and fluency is key, it is a good idea to favour simple solutions – particularly if the participants’ digital skills vary.
Content production should be fluent on the learning platform because it is the most expensive step for an instructor in this work. When content production runs smoothly, the course can be completed more quickly, and no time is wasted struggling with technology.
The online instructor can be actively present – or automate the course for self-study
An online course can be automated for fully independent completion at the student’s own pace, or can be produced for completion on a controlled schedule, with more instructor guidance, discussion with others, and returned and evaluated assignments.
At the planning stage, it is good to determine how active the instructor’s role will be and choose the assignment types and other content accordingly. If the course proceeds at the same pace for everyone, online discussions and peer reviews, as well as the instructor’s feedback, can be an integral part of it.
If everyone completes the course at their own pace, there will be less discussion and automatically reviewed assignments are preferable. The workload and cost of a course increase in line with the instructor’s active involvement, and it is, therefore, important to plan ahead.
Feedback helps both the course and the instructor to develop
The active seeking of feedback helps to provide better learning experiences and refine the course. When the first version of the course is ready, you may wish to ask a pilot client to test it and give feedback.
Online courses are easy to update and develop further. That is why, at the end of a course, it is a good idea to ask participants for feedback for the fine-tuning of subsequent versions.