Building Effective Digital Training Courses for Onboarding and Enablement

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Organizations across the globe are increasingly bringing more, if not all, of their training courses online, a trend that has no doubt accelerated even more during the COVID-19 pandemic as most businesses recognized the benefit of offering learning programs in an online format to keep business initiatives moving forward.

However, many organizations had already recognized these advantages years before the pandemic. One such organization is Weka, an innovative data solutions company, who saw major benefits to their efficiency and employee performance and happiness when they chose to bring their training program online. 

In 2019, Weka decided to transform their training program with the help of eThink Education (now a part of Open LMS) and CyberCrocodile. Weka previously had no formalized onboarding program, and the ad hoc nature of the training program they had in place led to an extremely large time commitment from both executives and managers. Weka’s existing training solution lacked instructional design and was not easily updated or duplicated, greatly limiting its effectiveness and efficiency. 

Weka wanted to create a training solution that was scalable, repeatable, and measurable. To accomplish this, Weka partnered with eThink Education, a world-class eLearning solutions provider (that is now a part of Open LMS), to build a tailored Totara Learn LMS instance that would house and track all of their training and CyberCrocodile, a content creation company and close partner of eThink’s, to transform their seminar style training into effective digital courses. 

With Weka’s new digital training courses, the amount of time that subject matter experts have had to dedicate to training has been reduced by 70% and time to competency has shrunk from 3-4 months to 1-2 months. So what strategies did they use to achieve those results?

Keep It Simple

It can be easy to want to over-design courses with the aim of engaging learners, but overthinking course design can take away from usefulness. Focus on the most important aspects of your courses when designing them: Who is your audience and what is your learning objective? Make sure you are keeping these aspects in mind when building out your courses so you can succeed in meeting your end goals. 

Focus on Presentation

One of the most important aspects of a course, even digitally, is how the subject matter is presented. Videos are a great way to allow your subject matter experts to shine, but sometimes recording to an empty room can leave instructors dull or monotone. Training your subject matter experts in how they can present information in an engaging way can go a long way in increasing positive outcomes. 

Divide and Conquer

CyberCrocodile transformed long-form seminars by Weka’s subject matter experts into concise modules to make up multi-chapter courses. This division of content, with individual topic videos maxing out at 10 minutes, kept learners engaged throughout the learning process. Be it a course on marketing, sales tools, or something for a specialized audience, the consistent bite-sized courses allowed learners to pick up courses whenever they had a free 10 minutes and kept them engaged in what they were learning. Encouraging learners to come back consistently for small snippets of learning also improves recall of materials because they have to regularly remember what was learned in past courses. 

Be Creative with Content

Who is your audience and what will they respond to best? Videos are a great platform for lots of teaching, especially today when so many people are comfortable with short videos to transfer information. But, have you thought about complimentary teaching content? People respond very well to stories of success and seeing products and tools used in the real world. Items like case studies and reference architectures, depending on your audience, can be helpful real-world examples of solution success. Additionally, infographics can be a new, engaging, and easily digestible way to look at subject matter. 

Effective Quizzing Goes a Long Way

Ultimately, the goal of learning and training is to affect behavior, whether that is to add a behavior, change a behavior, or stop a behavior. Quizzing and assessments are essential in checking retention of the knowledge you have been teaching. Formative quizzing, occurring throughout chapters, can help ensure people are comprehending the information they are taking in, while summative quizzing tests cumulative knowledge. Quizzing, however, does not have to be just in the form of standard multiple choice and true or false questions. Think about ways to engage learners on other levels, such as kinesthetically by using drag and drop assignments or auditorily through using audio files in quizzing. 

Future-Proofing Your Training with Digital Courses

The modularity of digital courses is not only beneficial to learner retention and success, but it makes it easier to update and reuse content as needed. When a certain area of a course needs to be updated, you just need to update that specific module, which saves time and work load from subject matter experts and course creators. 

Additionally, you can pull out different modules and apply them to other groups of learners or put them in different courses. For example, if you have a course designed for new hire onboarding, 50% of that course could also be relevant to onboarding a new sales representative for a partner. With modular digital courses, you can pull those effective modules and put them into a new course for your partners. 

There is no one right answer to building digital courses, but a few things are clear, digital courses can help your organization support a variety of learners, flexibly accommodate different learning paces and styles, and contribute to organizational success.

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