There are a number of ways you can deliver online training to customers. Some are more effective than others. In this article, Steve Penfold outlines four best practices that can improve the way you deliver training online.
When you provide online training as a paid service, you have to balance two broad factors. On one hand, you want to create training that meets your clients’ needs in an engaging, enjoyable way. But to maximize profits, you’ll also want to create and manage that training in the most efficient ways possible.
These requirements aren’t mutually exclusive, but they do rely on selecting the right tools and using them wisely.
When delivering training online, consider the following four points.
1. Your elearning authoring tool is essential
The authoring tool you use is one of the main factors affecting how efficiently you can develop online training—and how flexible and engaging that training is.
An ideal authoring tool will:
- Create Responsive Output. This means the training you publish will appear similarly on desktop, tablet and smartphone devices with little or no additional development effort. Online training that’s viewable on multiple devices opens itself up to more potential learners and can be accessed in more flexible ways.
- Be Template Enabled. Authoring tools that allow branding and common functionality to be set once and reused across multiple learning projects speed up development times. Quicker development means you can create more titles in less time and be more responsive to changing customer demands.
- Be Easy to Use. The simpler an authoring tool is to use, the more people in your team will use it. By putting the authoring capability directly in the hands of your subject matter experts, you can get more training to an audience more quickly.
- Be Powerful. Your authoring tool needs to do more than simply put text and images on screen. It should engage customers with on-screen elements, immerse them in branching scenarios and hook them with gamified learning experiences.
2. Your Learning Management System must play nice with your authoring tool
Once you’ve authored your training, you have to deploy it to customers. This is where your Learning Management System (LMS) comes in.
All LMSs share common functionality: they enable you to create catalogues of training (that you’ve built using your authoring tool) and allow customers to access it. How a given system achieves this, however, and what additional functionality it gives you is where LMSs differ. The kinds of extra features that make one LMS suit your needs better than another are:
- Integrated eCommerce functionality
- Sophisticated customer relationship management/learner management
- Event-based email communications—i.e., automated emails to customers after registration or course completion
- How easy it is to apply your branding to the LMS and create sub-branded portals
- How flexible the learner and content grouping mechanisms are; for example, can you create cohorts of learners and easily manage them as a whole, or can you create groups of content titles and make them available only to select learners?
- Reporting depth
- Whether the LMS has built-in gamification mechanisms, like badges and leaderboards
There are many LMSs in the marketplace. The right one for you is the one that best matches your needs and workflows.
There are two dominant standards that allow courses from one vendor’s authoring tool to launch and track in another vendor’s LMS: SCORM and xAPI (aka Tin Can). Theoretically, if the content and LMS both conform to a standard, then the content will launch and track properly from within the LMS. I say theoretically because it isn’t always plain sailing. Vendors are getting much better, but sometimes one authoring tool’s standard implementation doesn’t quite gel with an LMS, and the content doesn’t launch and track progress as intended. This is becoming less of a problem, but it’s always wise to test an authoring tool and LMS combination before you commit to a purchase.
3. Make sure your online training is easy to maintain
Your online training and LMS aren’t static. You’ll add new courses to your catalogue, maintain existing courses and manage learner cohorts.
To be competitive and maximize your authoring and LMS products’ return on investment, you must do these things as efficiently as possible. When assessing authoring and LMS products, consider how simple it is to initially set things up and how easy it will be to make changes and manage them in the long-term.
Some authoring tool and LMS vendors have particularly tight integration and offer attractive features that less well-matched third-party products can’t. For example, the Elucidat’s online training software offers a single-click publish to Docebo LMS for a streamlined and painless content upload process.
4. Monitor analytics to understand and improve your training
Most LMSs will give you some information about the people who access your courses and what scores they get in your online quizzes. But to truly understand how customers use your online training, you may have to dig deeper.
Detailed analytic data can tell you things like:
- What paths learners actually take through your courses
- How long learners spend on each screen
- The devices learners use to access the online training
- The times of day that learners access online training
This kind of insight can enable you to create learning experiences that work with how your customers prefer to learn. For example, if you identify that the majority of your audience access training on a smartphone, then you can ensure that the training is smartphone friendly or leverages smartphone features, like geolocation.
Even if your LMS doesn’t provide this level of detail, you may use Google Analytics to extract more granular information from your online training. This short video shows how to link a Google Analytics account to an Elucidat project.
Related: Stay on top of the latest online training ideas, trends and technologies by subscribing to the Elucidat weekly newsletter.
Your authoring tool and LMS are two big factors that influence how effectively you can meet customer needs. To maximize your competitive edge, choose products that work well together, match your workflows and allow you to achieve maximum output with minimum effort.
The good news is that most vendors have free trial products that allow you to try before you buy. Take advantage of that, and play with various products to see which combinations work best for you.
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