When developing an online training course, it’s essential that the final product suits your company’s needs and addresses key learning needs. Here’s how to do it the right way.
Conduct a thorough needs assessment
The very first thing you need to do before planning your training is to conduct a needs assessment. If you’re not sure what this is, a needs assessment looks at all the things your company needs in order to improve, grow, or whatever your goals may be. While this is a valuable exercise to undertake across your entire business, you can also conduct a needs assessment focussed primarily on training needs.
You can draw information from a variety of sources when conducting a needs assessment. You can look at future trends and your company’s strategic goals to determine the types of skills required. User can send surveys to staff, asking what training they want. You can analyse data from performance meetings to see where there may be skill gaps.
Use everything at your disposal to get a clear picture of what you need. When conducting a needs assessment, you might like to break it up into two sections – organisational needs and occupational tasks.
Organisational needs assessments focus more on the organisation as a whole. Strategic direction, changing demographics, business trends and even challenges in the marketplace. Here, you’re basically trying to determine the skills and abilities needed in your organisation to meet your strategic goals.
Occupational task assessment
In an occupational task assessment, you’re looking more closely at the individual tasks performed in your business every day. From there, you’re able to determine the types of knowledge, skills and abilities your people need in order to get the job done.
The next thing to consider is your training budget because this will inform just how far you can go. Do you have enough funds to partner with a training company that provides a whole catalogue of online courses? Or are your needs hyper-specific, meaning you can create your own Online Course at a lower cost?
While investing in staff is never a waste of money, it’s a simple reality that company budgets only allow for so much. So, have a clear idea of your budget before you get too far into the planning stages.
Consider different learning styles
Once you have a good idea of the skills and knowledge required throughout your business, it’s time to consider how you’re going to roll out the training. This should occur before training packages are developed so that you can create courses beneficial for everyone.
It’s a fact that people learn in different ways. Some prefer facilitated classroom training while others would much rather research and learn for themselves. It’s not always easy catering to all learning styles, however, online courses do give you the opportunity to reach a large portion of the workforce.
Online courses are becoming far more prevalent, and most people have had some exposure to them now. It’s just a matter of deciding whether you choose self-paced e-learning or something facilitated like a virtual classroom.
Choose a delivery mode
There are multiple ways to get your message across when it comes to training. This is where the previous step is so important – understanding how your workforce prefers to learn. Once you know that, you can tailor a range of different training options to suit everybody. Let’s take a quick look at the delivery modes that most businesses use.
Self-paced online training
You can now create your own online course, giving people the flexibility to complete it when time permits. They can also log on from anywhere, which is ideal if you’ve got a lot of remote workers or people working from home. Also known as e-learning, you can create modules to address all types of learning needs, and it’s a cost-effective way to manage staff upskilling.
On the job
While less formal, on the job training occurs in most workplaces. While it should never completely take the place of formal training courses, it’s a good way for people to consolidate some of the skills they learn. This can take place in the form of mentoring or even job-shadowing.
Virtual classrooms are growing in popularity as businesses look for ways to keep people connected even when working apart. It’s just as the name suggests – facilitated classroom training that takes place online. There is some great technology around now, making virtual classrooms an immersive, engaging experience where everybody can get involved.
Facilitated classroom training
Finally, there is more traditional classroom-based training. While it’s fallen out of popularity somewhat in recent years, some businesses may still find it valuable to get everybody in a room and learn in this way. You can still achieve some great team-building with classroom training, but it’s crucial to keep content engaging.
Prepare training for the audience
When designing an online course (or indeed any course), you need to design it for the audience. Keep it appropriate. You need to understand who will be attending your training because this helps you keep it interesting for everybody.
For example, a training course for new staff is easy, because they’re all learning at the same level. If you have a mix of managers and other staff, you need to keep everybody engaged. The same goes for courses designed for people in different departments. If you’ve got a mix of finance people and customer service staff, their roles are very different and their training needs will vary.
How can you make your content engaging?
Perhaps the biggest challenge when creating an online course is to keep it engaging. We already touched on ensuring the content is appropriate for the intended audience. Making it engaging for everybody is crucial because people won’t learn if they’re bored. Minds drift back to the work they’re not getting done, they become distracted with emails – the list goes on.
Online training particularly needs to be engaging for that very reason. There are lots of distractions, unlike a classroom setting where people have little choice but to engage. Try to find ways to make your courses more interesting, such as including videos, polls, quizzes and other interactive elements.
What is your deadline?
Like any project, you should work to a deadline. If you’ve identified certain training needs, you probably want the program rolled out to staff as quickly as possible. However, you shouldn’t be rushed because that can often mean a degradation of the final product. Set realistic deadlines for the development of your online training course, and understand the role that each key stakeholder plays.
How to roll out your training
Once you’ve built your online training course, it’s time to get it into the hands of your staff. Here, you’ll look at the technical side of things, such as ensuring the online platform works correctly and is easily accessible by all staff. But just as importantly, this stage is about communication.
People need to understand why the training is important and how it links back to the role they do every day. If your staff can’t see the relevance of training, it’s harder to engage them in it. So, whether you talk about it in meetings or issue a site-wide email, make sure your people understand the importance of the training and the expectation that they complete it within a certain timeframe. Alternatively, in a scheduled environment, block out time for each staff member to focus on training.
Assessing the effectiveness of training
Finally, you need to assess the effectiveness of your training course. You can decide for yourself how you do this, but usually, a multi-faceted approach is best. User can look for improvements in performance that relate to the training. You can also seek feedback from staff. What did they like? What did they find most useful? Were there parts they found irrelevant?
Armed with this information, you can tweak future courses to better suit your organisation’s needs. Online courses can be adjusted quite easily, with no need to reproduce volumes of paper course materials, making it more cost-effective than any other form of training.