How to Create Online Training Modules: 5 Critical Steps to Success

Many clients come to F.Learning and expect a completed video from rough, unstructured training documents. It’s such a common mistake that makes the course incoherent. In fact, you need to follow some steps to transform your raw materials into the final training course. And only when you have a detailed outline showing how you deliver knowledge should we start with the production. Hence, this article gives you a practical guide on how to create online training modules for an effective course. 

Here are five necessary steps to create online training modules. Some of the first steps are more about the preparations than material development, but they are the key to a successful direction. So, follow the process step by step, and do not pass by any. 

  1. Define your target learners
  2. Systematize and break training materials into modules
  3. Plan content formats for each module
  4. Revision and run a pilot program on test audience
  5. Launch the final version, update, and improve

Step 1: Define your target learners.

When we ask about target learners of an online course, almost all training departments have a common answer. The course targets that anyone who is interested in the topic or needs to gain the skill. It’s right, yet not enough. 

The answer we expect requires more details in key demographics, including ages, gender, knowledge level, learning objectives, and style. Because all these factors will strongly influence how to create online training modules, and it determines which content you deliver, how you structure and get the right format for them. 

For instance, a leadership course for senior executives has different practice activities compared to sales training for new staff. The former also should be more formal than the latter.  

Therefore, always begin with target audience research first. It takes more time, we know, but it can not be ignored. 

Step 2: Systematize and break training materials into modules

Now, you know the learners and what they want to achieve through the course. It’s time to get back to the rough training materials available. Review all of them again to make sure that the knowledge meets their needs and matches their level. 

Also, finalize the amount of knowledge to deliver in the course. Note that if there are too few lessons with all basic knowledge, learners might feel as if they are not learning enough. At the same time, too many lessons of irrelevant information can end up fatiguing them. 

TIPS: We suggest using just a little more knowledge than what is enough for all. Some learners can go quicker on the uptake than others.

Next, it’s important to package up the materials to shape the course with a logical structure. In other words, you will create a clear outline with relevant and organized modules. 

The following questions can help you do this task:

  • What is the expected outcome of the course? Or what will learners gain after completing the course? 
  • What skills or knowledge are necessary to achieve that outcome?
  • How do you give a brief introduction at the beginning of the course?
  • How do you follow up from there?
  • At what point does the course end?

Particularly when answering question 2, you need to group related information or skills to create online training modules within the topic. Then rearrange them in a certain order of achievement. You should start with the basic knowledge in the beginning and keep advanced modules towards the end of the course.

Do not forget to set a specific and achievable learning goal for each module. In this way, you can see more clearly the learner’s transformation step by step as a journey. 

NOTES: Modules within a course can be of different sizes. It depends on the amount of sub-topic the course contains. 

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Step 3: Complete each module with proper content format

After organizing the content modules in the outline, you can work on appropriate content formats for each module. This is an important step, and the most difficult, in creating online training modules online because it determines the training effectiveness.

NOTES: A truly engaging and effective online training content may require more than one format. A course that sticks with only one format can be monotonous and flat. 

Let’s take a look at different content formats available for the eLearning courses:

  1. Informational e-documents
  2. Video types
  3. Scenarios-based activities
  4. Interactive assessment

#1 Informational e-documents

This most basic format provides information on a topic, which typically consists of pages with text, pictures, and “Next” buttons. We usually use informational e-documents as Word documents, PowerPoint presentations, or PDF e-books, etc. 

The content seems to be static and inactive, but they are still helpful and necessary in some ways. As a digital format, learners can access them online and download, save on their devices, or print.

Best match for: 

  • Standardized knowledge or skills to a wide level of learners;
  • Manuals, guides, instructions, how-to articles, processes, or procedures that people may need to save and reference later to do their job;
  • Information for a new product training or policy update.

TIPS: Using interactive elements in order to make e-documents more engaging. To give you an idea, it can be a simple click on a button for a pop-up of information. Any elements that can get learners to take action toward the training may do the trick.

It’s recommended to add some interactive elements to create online training modules as information e-documents. 

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#2 Video types

A one-minute video is worth 1.8 million words, Dr. James McQuivey from Forrester Research says. Of course, it’s not an accurate measure. The point is that videos are a great way to present your information, no matter how complex it is.

Moreover, videos can help learners to fasten the learning process with visuals and motions. Research shows that the human brain can process visuals 60,000 times faster than text. Visuals also transmit up to 90% of information to the brain. 

That’s why videos offer an immersive learning experience. This makes them one of the most engaging formats to create training modules online.

For eLearning courses, there are some video types to consider, including:

  • Talking-head video: this is a video whereby the instructors talk directly into the camera to deliver the information on the topic.
  • Live-action video: the video involves filming actual people in narratives, interviews, live demos, or tutorials. 
  • Screen-cast video: the video is a recording of your computer screen. 
  • Animation video: the video is a series of illustrations with moving simulations. 

Take this drone training video from Aviassist’s Drone Training Course, for example. It includes some sophisticated technical descriptions to explain the no-fly zone of drones at airports. 

Whether the trainers choose to use documents, presentation slides, or videos, the lesson still delivers the same pieces of information. But with the animated explainer video below, trainees would have an easier time comprehending the lesson. 

Best match for: 

  • Talking-head and live-action video: lectures, product demos, instructions, situation demonstrations.
  • Screen-cast: topics related to using new software systems or operating computer programs. 
  • Animation: covers almost all types of training content, especially for dry topics like compliance training or abstract skill training like leadership. 

NOTES: Utilize the length of each video, ideally no longer than 10 minutes, as short as you can.  It means one video should illustrate one single idea. You can also mix different types in a video for the best delivery. 

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#3 Scenario-based activities

One common problem of online training is that it usually lacks in-person activities to put the theoretical knowledge into practice. Considering that, branching scenarios activities can help. 

In scenario-based activities, learners have to decide how the situations will go. Each situation will change consequently as they choose solutions from various options available. You also can create dialogue branching scenarios with voice-overs to character speech in order to fully simulate an actual dialogue. 

In this way, they learn how to apply the training to deal with similar issues in real life. 

Best match for:

  • Soft skill training that requires real-life practices such as leadership, decision-making, critical thinking skills, etc
  • Communication skill training for some front positions such as sales representatives, customer services, telephone agents, or receptionists.

TIPS: consider using animation video with motion graphics to explain the situation in detail and lively. For example, F.Learning suggests using 2D animated videos to create online health and safety training modules for iheed’s programs

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#4 Interactive assessment

Interactive assessments for online training include a variety of exciting interactive question types. They are sequence, true/false, multiple-choice, drag-and-drop, fill-in-the-blank, etc. 

In most training courses, assessment is usually the final module. Besides, you can set up these tests or quizzes as a knowledge check at the closing part of each module. 

TIPS: Using more than one type of interactive assessment when necessary to create a diverse experience and avoid repetition. 

Best match for: 

  • Completion of learning activities
  • Effective evaluation after the training. 
  • Certification or credentialing tasks.
  • Identifying learners who may need additional support.

Step 4: Revise and run pilot programs on test audience 

Once you complete the first version of the training material, forward it to Subject Matter Experts and Stakeholders for feedback. Try to keep away from an endless feedback loop by finishing this stage in a maximum of three revised versions. 

After that, you should run a pilot test of any new training before putting it into circulation. For the best result, work with a small group of audiences who have little knowledge on the training topic. Test learners can experience the training properly without pre-existing impressions of what it is. 

Pilot tests provide further review from the side of learners. They allow you to evaluate whether learners can achieve performance objectives as expected. 

Step 5: Launch the final version, update, and improve

Now you’re ready with the final version of the online training course. It’s time to upload them to an online platform or learning management system, launching the training to your audience. 

Always remember to follow and perform training effectiveness evaluations on a regular basis. We recommend you create detailed reports of course consumption and results on 30, 60, and 90 days respectively after launching. 

For corporate training, on-the-job performance is an important metric to show the impact of the course on actual work. Tracking the data and finding out what content works best in the training and what requires improvements. 

NOTE: The shelf life of an eLearning course can last from a few months to just over a year. So you should review all modules at least twice a year for adjusting and updating.

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To sum up

We hope that you have a good grasp of how to create online training modules through our step-by-step guide. Training development is never a one-and-done process. In case you struggle with optimizing for effective training modules, feel free to call F.Learning for a free consultation.  

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