Today, the question is no longer if eLearning benefits your business; the real question is whether you can afford not to join the trend. Year after year, eLearning has proved to be more competent and cost-effective as compared to traditional training.
Here are some statistics that show the power of online training:
- According to a Brandon-Hall Study, learning through e-learning typically requires 40% to 60% less employee time than learning the same material in a traditional classroom setting
- The Research Institute of America found that eLearning increases retention rates 25% to 60% (retention rates of face-to-face training are very low in comparison: 8% to 10%).
- 42% of companies say that eLearning has led to an increase in revenue. (The Ambient Insight 2012-2017 Worldwide Mobile Learning Market - Executive Report)
If you are ready to take the plunge to eLearning, here are the key best practices that we have learned during more than 20 years helping companies convert Instructor-Led Training to e-Learning:
#1) Move away from the practice of taking the traditional curriculum and moving it online
Don’t fall into the trap of thinking, “I already have a successful classroom training program. I just need to transfer this online, and I’m all set.”
What works well in person and traditional classroom situations does not translate to the eLearning environment. Take PowerPoint, for example. In traditional training sessions, instructors can stop and discuss each slide more deeply, answer questions, and encourage discussion. In eLearning, PowerPoint becomes a boring slide show that employees simply click through as quickly as possible or only refer to when completing the assignment.
Remember: “Moving content online is not simply about transferring content - it is about transforming content”.
Transferring content to an online platform is a great exercise to brush up on what’s really essential and how it can best be communicated.
Go over these helpful resources: Guide to Converting Classroom Training To eLearning
#2) Identify the best eLearning course format
Some eLearning courses require just a basic format whereas others should be more advanced and interactive with a variety of mediaThe type you choose will depend on the type of content, the technological infrastructure available, the budget, the target audience, and the course context.. Read more on this here.
These are the three primary e-learning formats you should know:
- Synchronous Learning: It is an instructor-led, online learning session that requires participants to log in to interact in real-time. This format is typically supported by media such as video and audio - include video conferencing, teleconferencing, live chatting, and live-streaming lectures. Synchronous learning is a social format and encourages the new e-learners to participate rather than feeling isolated.
- Asynchronous Learning: Learning takes place anytime, anywhere. In other words, instructors, learners, and other participants are not learning at the same time. There is no real-time interaction among participants. Examples of asynchronous learning include self-paced online modules, video content, social media discussions.
- Blended Learning: This format combines synchronous and asynchronous learning.
#3) Start simple! Map Out and Plan Your Online Course
Don’t try to go crazy creating award-winning eLearning course. Your objective is to develop courses that communicate content correctly, where learners are able to understand and become better at their jobs.
Start by creating a high-level outline of your course's content. Make a list of the units, modules, and sections. For instance, you can create an eLearning storyboard to map out the course, like a lesson plan. Get your free storyboard template here.
Once you have a clear blueprint of the course, you can start designing your course. An eLearning tool like SHIFT gives you some really useful templates to help you organize content in the best way. Try your 30-day free trial here.
#4) Understand the Different Instructional Design Models
If you’re new to eLearning, understanding and following instructional design best practices is crucial to your success. The Instructional Design world is vast, and you will find numerous theories, models, and resources that have worked for different experts.
Begin with the basic, most widely used models that eLearning designers acknowledge and use to structure and plan their training:
- ADDIE Model
- Merrill’s Principles of Instruction
- Gagne’s Nine Events of Instructions
- Bloom’s Taxonomy
Read more here: A Quick Guide to Four Instructional Design Models
#5) Consider the differences between eLearning and ILT Training
While much of how instructors teach in a traditional classroom can’t be directly transferred to a virtual environment, there are a variety of other tools that can be used to adapt.
With eLearning, you have a much higher range of media to use: simulations, interactions, scenarios, and visual storytelling. But you have to use this media sparingly so as not to overwhelm the learner with too many bells and whistles.
These visual elements must all be considered for a well-rounded eLearning course:
- Font: Styles, sizes, italics, and bolding all make a difference.
- Color: Colors need to be complementary but also highlight specific elements.
- Graphics: these include icons, symbols, photos, and illustrations.
- Moving Graphics: Animations and videos are powerful tools but must be well done to appeal to modern learners.
- Order/Sequence: Make sure the different elements appear in a sequence that makes sense. For instance, you don’t want to break up text in an awkward way with a photo.
Focus on making your message clear and enhancing it with your visuals. Use what is necessary but avoid overdoing it or else the visuals will become more of a distraction than an enhancement.
#6) Plan for Interaction
Interaction is a central element of any eLearning experience. Make sure you keep these three big types of interaction in mind when converting ILT training to eLearning. These are essential for learning and engagement according to M.G. Moore:
- Learner to Instructor/ Mentor- This interaction takes place between the mentor and the learner and happens via print, online dialogue and classroom discussions etc.
- Learner to Content- This form refers to the communication between the delivered content and the learner. Experts state that remarkable learning can be achieved if the learner relates to the content and develops a sound understanding of it. Read more: 6 Ways to Incorporate Examples into Your eLearning Courses
- Learner to Leaner- This type of interaction may happen with or without the presence of an instructor. The learners get engaged in the discussion originated by the instructor. Social interaction definitely plays a main role in how people learn and it’s something that many eLearning professionals tend to forget (or ignore). For instance, provide a student-only forum where learners can discuss their interests or you can even schedule chat sessions that they can attend to discuss a specific topic.