While eLearning is quickly becoming the more preferred choice for advancing one’s knowledge and learning new skills – especially amongst millennials – not all course content currently exists online. Therefore, there is a significant opportunity for eLearning developers to leverage existing materials used in Instructor-Lead Training (ILT), and convert them to eLearning format.
Keep in mind though that not all of your investment in ILT can be directly ported into the distance-learning environment. In fact, you will need to invest additional time, resources, and effort for a successful transition to eLearning.
Here are some best practices to keep in mind when undertaking this conversion exercise:
- Learning Objectives. Start reviewing your current classroom objectives, and compare them to your new eLearning objectives.
- Review Existing Materials. Next, assess existing in-class course materials against those eLearning objectives. Before the conversion process begins, ILT materials may first need to be reviewed and updated to ensure accuracy.
- Rationalize Content. Some ILT content may be irrelevant for online courses. For example, instructions such as “Sign in when you enter the classroom” could be rationalized into “Ensure you are signed in and authenticated with your correct online credentials before beginning your course.”
- Supplement Content. Additional content that’s elaborated in-class by lecturers using flip charts, blackboard illustrations or verbal commentary should be formalized to support eLearning.The outline of ILT courses, or even the slide decks used in the classroom, may not be “complete” because an instructor is always available to provide in-person supplemental information.Since eLearning is self-paced, with no instructor available for such additional annotations, the content needs to be as self-contained as possible.
- Add “structured interactivity.” While instructor-led sessions take the form of “free for all” communication between student peers and the teacher, eLearning courses will need to take those experiences, and convert them into other forms of interactivity, including chat room sessions, video presentations, webcasts, etc.Such interactivity is essential to remove the feeling of “isolation” that distance learners often experience.
- Identify the Best Presentation Method. While ILT usually follows a textbook and covers specific chapters during each session, eLearning works best when “chapters” can be converted into online scenarios or animated story lines.
- Leverage Public Resources. While ILT might not lend itself to using such resources, eLearning can be made highly effective and engaging through the use of supplemental content such as Wikis, YouTube clips or other respected resources (Library of Congress, Harvard’s Online Resources, etc.).
- Use Multi-Media. Convert existing content using multiple media, Text, Video, Audio – not just bulleted lists. Simply reproducing textbook content verbatim will not cut it online!
- Design for Various Audiences. While ILT is usually homogenous in its delivery, eLearning should be adaptive based on the targeted audience. You may need to produce several versions of the content to suit the needs of a diverse audience.
- Design for Various Mediums. Unlike an ILT class, which is traditionally presented using an overhead projector, flip charts or a blackboard, your converted content should be designed for multi-modal presentations – including desktops, tablets, and smart phones.
Implementing the Conversion
Once converted, do not rush to push the content online to your target audience. Make sure you conduct several iterations of a test, pilot, and trial run to iron out any limitations or errors in the converted course.