Best Practices for Converting Files into Online Courses

Converting your Training Content for Online Delivery

If you’ve been conducting your training in person until now, you will probably find that your content is less compelling when delivered in an online format. Without the personality of a trainer to lead trainees through the material and monitor their interest and comprehension in real-time, you will need to make some adjustments to your content to ensure its effectiveness.

This doesn’t have to be a daunting task! Once you understand some of the key elements of a good online training program, you can easily make the necessary changes.

Animation

Static slides are boring. Your trainees will find their minds wandering if asked to look at a static slide for too long. Add animation to keep them focused, but be aware - there is good animation and bad animation.

Bad animation, such as flashing text and background music, relies on distracting elements to, basically, keep trainees awake. But this will distract from your content.

Instead, consider using timed animation. With timed animation, you display your slide content slowly, one step or bullet item at a time, to ensure trainees have a chance to absorb each portion in the proper order.

Audio

Adding audio to your slides is another great way to hold on to trainees’ attention and emphasize critical points in their proper order. But don’t just read your slides into a microphone. Explain them and offer examples or anecdotes, as you would if you were delivering the training in person.

Audio also works well with timed animation, when you sync the audio to the visual element as it is displayed. This can help maintain trainees’ attention if the timing of the animation is too slow for some in your audience.

Video

As you know, the difference between a user manual and a training program is that manuals tell someone how to do something while training shows them how to do it. But when learning online, it can be difficult to make this distinction.

That’s where video comes in. You can add video files to your course that show trainees how to complete tasks, as well as videos that elaborate on your content with examples.

This doesn’t mean you have to create a complicated video production. It can be as simple as embedding a YouTube file that supports your message. With millions of videos available and a strong search engine, you should be able to find something you like.

Images

Like video, images can add depth to your program. They can also add visual interest, entertain, or even occupy white space that might otherwise be awkward.

If you don’t have the resources to create your own images, you can use images you find online on sites like Flickr. Also, a web search on image files can help you zone in on an appropriate image. Just be sure you have permission to use it and you credit the owner.

Quizzes

With online training, you’re not there to notice the blank look in the eyes of a trainee who is having difficulty understanding your content. For this reason, it’s a good idea to place quizzes incrementally within your course. Another benefit to this is that it provides a break, where trainees can stop to think about what they’ve learned up to that point, and interact with the course to stay engaged.

Additional Tips

In addition to the elements described above, there are some other factors you should consider when converting your in-person course to an online course.

Simplicity

This may seem obvious but it’s important and should be broadly applied to all components of your course.

Use simple words on your slides, and as few of them as possible. Your slides should explain one item at a time. Trainees can struggle to read through a slide that covers several topics or items.

Use simple graphics. If you need to be there to explain a graphic to your trainees, then they will be lost without you. Eliminate any unnecessary components and reduce the number of colors to make sure the focus is on the most critical part of the message.

Use simple audio and video files. If there’s a chance your trainees will need to pause the file frequently or repeat portions to make sure they fully understand the content, then it’s too complicated. Consider editing out unnecessary portions or breaking it down into several smaller files.

Keep your quizzes simple. It’s better to use multiple smaller quizzes interspersed throughout your program than to stun trainees with a long quiz at the end, when they’re tired and anxious to move on.

Beware of Supersizing your Course

When adding all these great elements to your course, keep an eye on how they affect your course’s file size. Especially if there’s a chance your trainees are using older computers to view the course or have a slower internet connection, big file sizes can ruin even the best course.

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