illustration representing online learning with a stylized computer monitor
May 15, 2020

There are several ways to approach online learning. Like all successful training, it relies on a solid foundation to work from: clear learning objectives. Depending on your budget, timeframe, and required result, you can put a little or a lot of time and effort into building the content to support your learning objectives.

Here's our process:A diagram showing the process to get from concept to finished online course

Here's a list of types of online learning. We’ve loosely rated it from quick and dirty to not so quick and finessed: 

  1. Use a webinar interface (like Zoom) and present a live webinar with a Q and A period at the end. You can break out into rooms in some platforms to allow for small group work. The key is short lecture times and more discussion time than you might be accustomed to in face-to-face training. This approach is best suited to information transfer. Technical training will be challenging, with multiple sign-ons for different modes, like whiteboarding. Online learning can have a lot more depth than this. Difficult to evaluate participation/understanding. No automated way to provide a certificate of completion for Continuing Education Credits (CEUs).

  2. Create a simple on-demand (self-study) course using your current classroom slide deck, with a voice over. There is a learning curve to producing this, the simplest way to do this is on a platform like Guides.co. NAIMA uses this platform for their insulation installation guides. You can create evaluations on this platform, and track usage, but you cannot issue a certificate of completion for CEUs directly from it (as far as we understand).

  3. Create a more complex on-demand course using a course authoring tool like Articulate or Captivate. This gives you many more options, but there’s a learning curve that most organizations will not want to climb. You can publish to the web, but you will not be able to track much data. To track users, outcomes, and reports, and provide certificates of completion for CEUs, you will need a ‘Learning Management System’ (LMS) to track users and outcomes. Some LMSs have a course authoring tool in them. There is a substantial investment. We use Articulate Rise and Storyline to create our interactive courses, and have a robust LMS to house them.

  4. Use a virtual classroom service that allows you to do live webinars, provides rooms for breakout work, whiteboards, and polls/surveys. This also allows you to do assignments and automates registration. Some also integrate with LMSs to include on-demand learning as well. Tracking participation and evaluations for CEUs can be done in the LMS. Two examples are GoToTraining, and WizIQ. There’s a cost and a learning curve to these types of systems.

Whatever level of investment in time and effort you decide works for you, you will need to review your learning objectives and modify your instructional design to suit the capabilities of your online approach. It’s a different world than classroom or field-based training, you’re now competing with a whole household of distractions plus social media feeds. You need to devise ways to get people to engage and stay engaged.

Pro tip: You’ve got about 10 minutes of ‘social capital’ at the start of your session - people want this to be good! This will be the make or break for success - how are you going to engage participants quickly and keep them interested and focussed?

We’ve been swimming in this world since 2013, so we can help you get on the right track for your training needs and your budget. Book a 15 minute consultation with Shawna to help you get your training online.

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