Tips for Developing an Online Training Curriculum

How to develop online training for tutorials and employee onboarding.

When we think of online courses, the first things that come to mind are usually electives: a student signs up for self-enrichment, to gain a new job opportunity, or as part of a degree program. But online training is another significant segment of e-learning, and while most of the rules for creating a good online course still apply, there are a few areas in which online training differs from other forms of e-learning.

Online training is mostly used for employee onboarding, internal employee development, or user tutorials. Courses tend to be much more specific, and are focused on helping a new hire settle into their position in the workforce, or guiding a consumer through using a new software application.

But while these courses can be highly targeted, a well-designed course can save businesses thousands of dollars in resources by helping new employees settle in, creating a standard for employee orientation, and (in the case of tutorials) reducing the time spent on responding to customer FAQs.

If you’re thinking of designing an online training curriculum for your business, try these tips to get you started.

1. Identify your goal.

Define the purpose of your training program from the beginning, and lead with it during your introduction. By spelling it out up front, you can make sure you cover all the essential information necessary to achieve your training goals.

Furthermore, learners will appreciate having aa run-down of the course content before they begin. Doing so will provide orientation for the course so that they know what to expect. And, by defining goals early on, you will be able to measure your success more easily at the end of the course.

2. Use real-world examples.

One of the advantages of an online training program for employee onboarding is that most businesses have plenty of practical examples to draw on from their day-to-day operations. If you’re trying to teach employees how to respond to a certain circumstance, you can probably bring up a case study of something similar that happened before. The immediate relevance will help learners understand the importance of the training.

3. Illustrate your lessons with pictures, videos, and screen captures.

If you’re creating a tutorial for how to use a piece of equipment or run a software program, include step-by-step visuals of the process. A short video segment showing how to operate something is often easier than writing out step-by-step instructions, and the visual components can help trainees learn the vocabulary for certain parts.

This same technique also applies to software training. While videos are often less visually interesting, text combined with a series of gifs can show what menu items to select, or how to use a certain program feature.

4. Work with your team.

When developing material for your training program, reach out to other members of your organization for input. For instance, you could do a survey of the entire company to hear about what materials employees would have found most important during their training. Or you could reach out to a more limited selection of people, such as your design team, to learn what features users might most need to know about.

Whether you solicit feedback from a broad or narrow group, doing so will help ensure your course touches on all the most important subjects, which will save you time in the testing stage.

5. Listen to employee feedback.

The testing stage for a lot of training curriculum is a little different from a normal course. While you can have current employees run through it to test for bugs, they won’t be able to tell you much about how effective it is for learning, because they already know the material it covers. And while people testing your online course may be doing so from home in their free time, there’s not really a good way to text your training curriculum except by putting it to use.

Of course, user testing is never really done, even on a normal course. You should always be looking at user data, trying to learn how learners interact with your material, and improving as much as possible. For employee training, feedback about their onboarding process can help you identify weak points in your process.

Try to ask employees for feedback directly after they finish the course, but also follow up a few months into their job. It’s possible that your new hires will be happy with their orientation right after finishing, but will notice gaps after they’ve been on the job a few months.

6. Create a mentorship program.

Finally, employee onboarding a perfect opportunity to introduce mentorship to your orientation programs. Online training programs don’t usually offer community building opportunities the way other online courses do. This is, of course, because the community exists as the business and its network of employees. But for a new employee, entering this community can often be challenging, especially if many of their colleagues already operate in tightly knit teams.

Mentorship helps new employees adjust to the workplace culture more quickly. It also gives the mentoring employees a chance to practice leadership skills—a win for both sides!

Online training will pay you back through more successful employee onboarding.

Developing a compelling training course for new employees may seem like added trouble, but it’s well worth the cost of investment. The hunt for well-qualified employees is a huge drain on many companies, which is why a high turnover rate can be so devastating. But companies which dedicate time and attention up front to giving their new hires everything they need for success doesn’t just help them fit in, it makes them better workers.

So, if you have enough employees to need a better orientation process, maybe it’s time you gave e-learning a try.

Author

Laura is a marketing specialist with experience presenting at WordPress events in Ann Arbor and Vienna. She speaks Russian and German and holds a double MA (Hons) in History and Russian Studies from the University of Edinburgh.

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