Regardless of what subject or skill you’re teaching, creating an online training module can be a difficult task.
Not only do you have to ensure the quality of your content, but you need to make sure it’s structured and presented in a way that is compatible with online learning strategies.
Plus, there’s a lot more that goes into the process before and after you create the content of your training course.
If you’re thinking about creating online training modules but don’t know where to start, you’re in the right place.
We’re going to be outlining the key steps involved in how to create online training modules so that you can get the best out of your students.
The Steps to Creating an Online Training Course
Depending on the type of course modules you’re planning to create, there may be more or less steps surrounding the content creation process.
With that being said, there are generally 6 main steps to creating successful and informative course modules. They are as follows:
Find Your Demographic
You can’t start creating content for your course modules until you identify the demographic for your course, otherwise known as your target learners.
Generally speaking, the demographic will be learners who have an interest in the subject or the desire (or need) to acquire the specific skill. However, you can’t stop there when pinpointing your demographic.
One thing you’ll need to figure out early on is the age group of your learners. This will help you to ensure that your content is age-appropriate and digestible by your target group.
You’ll also need to take into consideration knowledge levels, and while gender is irrelevant for many subjects, there are some cases where gender may be specified.
Until you know who you’re trying to reach with your modules, you won’t be able to create targeted, effective content.
If you design content that requires college-level knowledge of a subject but leave your course open to all ages, you’re going to run into some problems and complaints.
Therefore, before you even start thinking about how to structure your course modules, you need to spend some time doing audience research.
This might feel frustrating when you’re excited to start putting your modules together, but it’s a really important first step.
Plan the Content as a Whole
You already know that your course is going to be divided into modules. After all, having clear modules in your course will help to structure the information and make the content more digestible.
However, before you can create the individual modules, you need to know what you plan to cover in your course overall.
The best way to do this is simply to start by identifying all the main points you want to cover.
You may find that many of these points end up being the subject of modules later on, but for now, simply write a list of all the topics you want to cover.
You may naturally work chronologically, starting with the first topics you want to cover and ending with those that will come at the end of the course.
However, this doesn’t matter too much at this stage. Just write the topics down as you think of them, or as you come across them in the resources you are using to create your course. You can reorder them later in the process.
Separate into Modules
By this point, you should have a list of course topics written down, and you can work from this list when it comes to creating your modules.
Breaking your training course into modules is essential for reducing the cognitive load put on your learners since it allows them to digest smaller chunks of information at a time.
The overall learning experience provided by your course will be better if you have well thought-out modules because it lends structure to the content, making learners more confident in independent learning.
With that being said, in order for learners to feel like they are being challenged and truly taking something away from the training course, you need to make sure that each module contains enough information – but not too much since you don’t want to overwhelm your students.
To work out how to split your course into modules, start with your course outline that you created earlier.
Now, see if any topics you have written down in your outline are related to one another and assess how much information needs to be imparted for each one.
Figuring out how the topics relate to each other and how long it will take to cover each topic is key to constructing your modules.
It might help to write sub-topics under each topic to give you a better idea of how much information each one entails.
Once you’ve done this, you can decide whether to group some topics together into a single module.
If two topics are related, but both contain too much information to be grouped together, consider making them each their own module and positioning them one after the other in the course so that the course progression is logical.
When organizing your course modules, it makes sense to start with the basics.
Advanced topics that require a foundation of knowledge should be saved for the end of the course because learners are more likely to digest the more difficult information after getting the basics down.
A good way to ensure that your modules are effective and constructive is to set a learning objective for each one. This is essentially a goal that you want your learners to have achieved by the end of the module.
For example, for a first-aid training course, the learning objective for your first module might be ‘understand the definition and purpose of administering first-aid’.
The learning goal should be achievable and must rely solely on the information provided in the module content.
Think About Format
At this stage, you should have a list of modules organized in logical order, each with a list of sub-topics to cover and a clear learning objective for each one.
You can now start to actually create your modules using the correct format.
The format you choose to use for your training course modules will depend on a variety of factors.
Bear in mind that you don’t necessarily need to stick to one type of format throughout your course, or even throughout a single module.
In fact, the most effective content for training courses often relies on more than one kind of format.
Some information can be imparted more clearly in video form, for example, while other topics could be more effectively taught through scenario exercises or simple e-documents.
Here are some ideas for content formats you could incorporate into your training course modules:
Video content can be engaging and visually stimulating, like online video course provider Masterclass so if you have course content that needs to be presented using visuals (first-aid training is a good example of this), considers creating one or several videos for your learners to watch.
In order for a video module to be effective, it needs to be engaging.
Video is one of the most engaging teaching formats in general, but it’s easy for it to become boring and monotonous if you do it wrong.
For example, you want to avoid long videos that are just an instructor talking since this will likely put your students to sleep.
If you have the tools to do so, you could incorporate animation into your videos to make them more fun.
Just make sure not to get so caught up in making the video exciting that you forget to make it informative, though.
There’s a balance you need to strike to make video training course content effective, and videos are one thing you might need to edit after the testing phase. But more on that later.
E-documents are a very simple, basic way to present the information in your course, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing!
Many topics are best covered in a simple way that is easily translatable into note form, so don’t be afraid to include e-documents in your course content.
There are many different types of e-documents you could use to teach your course content. For instance, you could provide your students with Word documents or PDFs.
If there’s a lot of information to get through, you could even create an ebook with chapters pertaining to each module.
Powerpoint presentations are another type of e-document, and a great choice if you want to present your information in written form while keeping the module engaging.
If your training course is about something that requires learners to understand how to assess various scenarios and situations, exercises based on this should be an integral part of your module.
Scenario exercises should come after the informational content so that learners can digest the knowledge required to assess various situations before testing themselves.
Then, you can throw in some activities that give your students a scenario and some options for how to deal with it.
Learners should be able to select the correct option based on the information provided throughout the module.
To use the first-aid training course example again, you could outline a scenario where a person has collapsed in the street and provide options for the best course of action to take.
This is another area of your course modules in which you could incorporate animation.
Animated characters with voice overs can help to immerse your learners in the scenario, which is essential if the aim is to train them to deal with these situations in real life.
Throughout your course, it’s a good idea to provide knowledge checkpoints to allow your learners to test and consolidate their knowledge.
You may or may not have a single, larger assessment at the end of the course, especially if the end result of passing the course is a qualification.
However, you should still give trainees the opportunity to ensure that they fully understand the course material as they go along.
This will mean that if there is a gap in a learner’s knowledge, they can take steps to address it before the end of the course.
Interactive knowledge checks could be multiple choice tests, true or false questions, or fill-in-the-blank exercises.
Run a Pilot Program
Before you launch your online training course, you should test it out on a test audience.
This is called running a pilot program, and this is where Stakeholders and Subject Matter Experts will take your course themselves and give you feedback.
This will give you an opportunity to hear external feedback from people that have taken your modules and make any adjustments before you launch the final version of the course.
Launch the Course
Once you have implemented your feedback from the test audience, you’re ready to launch your course!
However, that doesn’t mean your work is done.
You should conduct training effectiveness evaluations on a monthly basis and take into consideration the results your learners are getting when they finish the course.
If your course is for corporate training, you should also take into account how your learners are performing in work as a measure of the success of your course.
You should also be reviewing your modules every 6 months to ensure that all the information is still relevant and up to date.
Creating modules for an online training course is a process that involves multiple steps, and your work continues even after you have planned out and created the modules.
You should start by outlining the topics you want to include in your course, grouping related topics into modules, organizing the modules chronologically from basic to advanced, and incorporating exercises to consolidate and test knowledge between modules.
Once you have finished creating your modules, you should get feedback from a test audience.
After launching the modules, be sure to review and revise on a regular basis to extend the shelf life of your online training course for as long as possible.