How to Create an Awesome Online Training Program

Business Online Training Program

Forbes reported earlier this year that corpo­rate trai­ning spen­ding in the US incre­ased by 15% to reach $70 billion, while the figure grew to $130 billion world­wide. These figures show that corpo­rates are taking employee trai­ning and deve­lo­p­ment extre­mely seriously. Some major corpo­rates that have taken advan­tage of the bene­fits of online trai­ning, include Bank of America, AT&T, Intuit, Qual­comm and Yahoo!

In a previous post, we discussed the many advan­tages of online trai­ning. However if you cannot engage with your audi­ence in your trai­nings nor provide an easy way for them to attend, it’s likely to be a waste of time for both you and your trai­nees. Today I’m going to discuss how you can develop an awesome online trai­ning program.

What Makes an Awesome Online Training Program?

Every company will have its own unique corpo­rate culture and that should play an important role in the nature of the trai­ning program. However, many aspects that are not unique to your parti­cular company should be included – such as product or industry know­ledge, lear­ning methods and tech­no­logy, and assess­ments. You should look to apply these features when buil­ding a new online trai­ning program to ensure its success. The following features should all play an important role in a well-balanced, effec­tive online trai­ning program:

Acces­si­bi­lity: Trai­nees should have easy access to the mate­rials during and after the live trai­ning sessions.

Simpli­city: Employees should not require a sepa­rate trai­ning course in how to use your online trai­ning soft­ware and how to access the trai­ning session. It should be easy and straight-forward, and the course content should be at the same level of comple­xity as your offline trai­ning programs. There should be a seam­less inte­gra­tion between the course content and the online trai­ning system.

Inter­ac­tion: The program should be inte­res­ting, inter­ac­tive and insightful. This is where company culture plays an important role. If your company has a very tradi­tional corpo­rate culture, the trai­ning should follow that model, but if you have a more relaxed company culture, your online trai­ning program should not be so ‘stiff’.

Assess­ment: Users should be able to come away from the trai­ning with new insights and a deeper under­stan­ding of the content. A follow up stage after the trai­ning will allow you to assess their learnings.

Those are the four points you will want to consider when buil­ding your trai­ning program. Now that you know what goes into a quality online trai­ning program, how do you create it?

Creating an Awesome Online Training Program

Firstly, let’s start with skills and exper­tise. An online trai­ning program needs to be concise and impactful to meet the company’s outcomes and that’s why it is critical to involve the right talent to create the program. While a person may be an excep­tional sales­person, he or she may lack the essen­tial trai­ning or design skills needed to put toge­ther an awesome and effec­tive online trai­ning program. If you attend online trai­ning programs or webi­nars regu­larly, you may have noticed that the ones which stick in your mind have done an excel­lent job on not only the content, but also on the way they present it. These are the skills required, which you may find in one or more employees:

Product Know­ledge – First and fore­most you, or someone in your team needs to have in-depth know­ledge on the subject in order to provide the trai­ning mate­rial and review the course for accu­racy purposes. If it’s your job to conduct the trai­ning but you are not 100% comfor­table with all the trai­ning mate­rial, you have two options: first, obtain that know­ledge by going to a colleague who can answer your ques­tions. Alter­na­tively, get that colleague to join you in the trai­ning program as a second “expert” trainer.

Trai­ning Expe­ri­ence – Of course it helps to have some expe­ri­ence in conduc­ting online trai­ning sessions, but it’s not necessary. By reading this post and other online meeting best prac­tice posts you will quickly pick up the required skills. Alter­na­tively for your first couple of trai­nings, it might be wise for you to team up with someone in the company who has a little more expe­ri­ence in conduc­ting online trai­ning sessions. It is common­place nowa­days for there to be more than one trainer in a session. After a few sessions, you are likely to have gained substan­tial expe­ri­ence and will feel more comfor­table conduc­ting the sessions alone.

Course Design Skills – If you have an expert desi­gner at hand, fantastic. The course desi­gner takes the infor­ma­tion provided and turns it into a series of online inst­ruc­tion sessions, graphics, quizzes, chal­lenges and more. He or she would design the course mate­rials for optimal flow when it is presented using online trai­ning soft­ware and web confe­ren­cing.
However, a course desi­gner is not always required. If you are presen­ting slides or other mate­rial, you will know that text heavy content is boring to watch during a trai­ning session. That’s why it’s important to regu­larly include imagery. Mini­mize the text by brea­king it up over several slides and use some high quality images or photos. Note that the photos/images should support the message from the text on the slide. Also, alter­nate images with quizzes, graphics and stand-out lines of text (e.g. important or famous quotes) to keep your trai­nees engaged. Try this and you’ll see that it is not diffi­cult to put toge­ther the course mate­rial yourself in a way that is visually-appealing.

Graphic Design Keyboard

Once your team is assem­bled, move on to these next tips on crea­ting your awesome online trai­ning program.

1. Offer Live Sessions

While text docu­ments are very acces­sible, it’s not enough to upload a presen­ta­tion file online and expect people to read it and absorb all the key lear­nings. Trai­nees are bound to have ques­tions and will gain much more from an inter­ac­tive live online trai­ning session, where they can listen to and speak to the trainer. Webinar soft­ware is the preferred method for online trai­ning, so be sure to utilize a screen sharing tool in your online trai­ning in order to share ever­ything on your screen with your trainees.

2. Brand Your Online Training Program

When users arrive at your online trai­ning program, they need to know that it belongs to you. Use your company’s bran­ding, colors and logos on the online trai­ning program’s inter­face. Mikogo recently laun­ched a new feature that allows compa­nies to brand their live sessions. Read more about it here: Branded Session Login Integration

3. Include Demos

Some of us learn through prac­tice and online trai­ning, by making use of screen sharing soft­ware, affords a fantastic oppor­tu­nity to do just that. An example of this would be trai­ning your staff to use a new soft­ware package your company just purchased. You can allow them to watch as you demo the tool and walk them through it. Alter­na­tively, you can switch presenter so you can watch them as they’re using the soft­ware and prompt them as they navi­gate it. Another idea, perhaps for a follow up trai­ning session, is that to test them to see if they are able to use it without any assistance.

Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.

BENJAMIN FRANKLIN

4. Use Case Studies or Scenarios for Meaningful Learning

We have all attended trai­ning semi­nars that were great in theory, but pretty much useless in prac­tice. Making that mistake with your online trai­ning program can cost you a lot of time and money. However, by using real case studies or scen­a­rios, you can custo­mise the course to suit your audi­ence and to chal­lenge them to solve real issues. By this I mean that you could provide real-work examples of how your course mate­rial applies to their current jobs and projects. One way to do this in a case study format, is to provide a problem, solu­tion and conclu­sion. For example, let’s say you are trai­ning employees or free­lan­cers on using a new soft­ware system. If you can detail a recent problem which your workers have encoun­tered and how this new soft­ware solves those exact problems, then you can conclude with them that the system is ideal for their work – and so is the content of your online trai­ning program.

5. Assess, Evaluate and Certify

Assessment Checkboxes

Demos, case studies, etc. are a great start in any online trai­ning program. But to ensure the mate­rial doesn’t go in one ear and out the other, as a follow up trai­ning course, get them to show you how they have applied the lear­nings to their work. Online tests and assess­ments allow you to not only see whether your employees have learned some­thing new, but it also helps you to evaluate the quality of your online trai­ning program. Again, screen sharing is essen­tial here so you can get your trai­nees to present their screen to you and see how they have applied their lear­nings. You can also use online autho­ring soft­ware to create assess­ments or quizzes in multiple formats and to create certi­fi­cates for atten­dees who have scored over a certain percentage.

Scheduling Your Online Training Program

Web confe­ren­cing soft­ware is beco­ming parti­cu­larly helpful in sche­du­ling online trai­nings. Since there is no need for travel­ling, atten­dees can access the trai­ning from anywhere, which makes sche­du­ling far easier with distant and remote workers. Be sure to inform your trai­nees well in advance of the date and time of any upco­ming trai­ning sessions and how they can join. A reminder email 24 hours before the session is also recom­mended. However, there may be cases in which someone is unable to attend due to time diffe­rences or other unavo­idable circum­s­tances. In that case, you can record trai­ning sessions and make it avail­able for trai­nees to view the record­ings at any time.

Be sure to provide any record­ings and course mate­rial to those who could not make the trai­ning program. Also, when you follow up with all your trai­nees, don’t forget to contact the ones who missed the trai­ning. Hope­fully they would have gone over the record­ings and mate­rial by then and are likely to want to attend any follow up trai­ning courses you are offe­ring. Remember the impor­t­ance of live sessions mentioned above in Point 1.

Discus­sion: Do you have any ques­tions about crea­ting your online trai­ning program? Please feel free to leave your ques­tion in comments, below.

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