Planning A Great Online Course
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Wednesday, 20 June 2012 14:32

We speak to a lot of people who are transitioning from live classroom to online instruction.

One of the first questions we ask is: "Do you have any course materials?'

The answer is usually "Yes, we have great course content."

Unfortunately, most of those materials were conceived for live instruction. Self-paced courses are very different from on-ground classroom training. Order, structure, and interactive materials must substitute for that smiling trainer at the podium, who is often conveying more enthusiasm than information. 

Says Dr. Joel Gendelman in a recent article: "Customizing or creating virtual instruction is more demanding than putting together face-to-face training. In a face-to-face class, you have a great deal of social presence by virtue of your being physically in the same room."


We find that many trainers underestimate the translation from live to virtual training. For most first-time online trainers, we recommend that they work with a professional consultant to help them with the transition. Many new steps and processes must be considered, and you'll need to pull together that virtual "shoebox" of learning materials, probably scattermed among different employees and desktops. However, the extra upfront time and expense will pay big dividends in user satisfaction.  

There are some big differences in delivery as you move forward. In a classroom, for instance, we might be OK watching a 60 minute video. But online on a PC or iPad, users are less patient and might tolerate only a few minutes of passive viewing at a time. Rather, learners welcome numerous short video clips as they move through a course. In other words, the outcomes might be the same but the learning path and structure are very different.

The key in setting up a successful online course is to first take an inventory of your instructional assets. These can be PowerPoints, manuals, videos, or existing online courseware. When these materials are categorized (the virtual shoebox), we can then match them to their proper place in the course outline. Next, we might consider layout, branding and other learning objects that can be incorporated within a professional learning management platform.

At the same time, it's important to review the content. Is it a 20 year-old VHS, which will seem dated even if digitized? You might wish to author new materials or make content enhancements that would improve user engagement and success. A virtual instruction planning form and a good instructional designer will make the process much easier.

Just throwing up a musty PowerPoint and quiz are not enough these days to satisfy demanding learners, who respond to interactive multimedia and well-designed courses.

Educadium's Professional Services team has a lot of experience in this area and can work with organizations of all sizes and budgets. Contact us to learn more about planning your first online course.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 20 June 2012 16:06