Creating online courses for employee training: a step-by-step guide
Instructional Design

Creating online courses for employee training: a step-by-step guide

Just like most companies, you believe that eLearning is a competitive advantage for your business. So, you’re determined to learn how to create an online course that boosts employee engagement and performance.

There’s just one problem. Writers call it “fear of the blank page”. For you, it’s more like fear of a blank screen. Either way, you’re wondering where to begin when it comes to creating an online course for employees.

Luckily, you can create a course outline and develop your courses in just 6 steps, and we’re here to show you how. Let’s dive in.

How to create online courses in 6 easy steps

They say that if you can’t describe what you’re doing as a process, then you don’t know what you’re doing. So, why not adopt this 6-step process as a foolproof way of developing online courses?

Let’s start with step 1, choosing a course topic with an impact.

1. Decide on your course topic

An effective course always solves a specific problem or need within the business. Perhaps sales are down, so your reps need communication training to help them close more deals. Maybe there’ve been a lot of workplace accidents, and safety training will help staff stay safe at work.

Remember to consider employees’ learning needs, too. Choosing a topic that covers the knowledge and skills they lack most will help them reach their full potential. Plus, employees will find the topic more interesting if it’s something they haven’t learned before!

Once you’ve evaluated the needs of the business, and its employees and customers, you’ll know which topic to make an online course about.

2. Collect all your research and material

Now that you know the topic, your next task is to gather as much relevant information as you can find. That’s right! You don’t have to create all of the training materials from scratch. There are plenty of existing resources available to help you create online courses for free.

YouTube has many great videos, the internet is packed with well-written blog articles, and companies like IBM and Deloitte have published loads of research reports that are open to the public. You can even sneak-a-peek at the training other companies are doing, to see what the important learning objectives should be.

Just remember that the original author has the copyright and moral right to their own content. Getting inspiration is A-OK. But if you use someone else’s content, be sure to take permission and reference where it came from.

Of course, there’s a good chance that your company has some of its own training content, too. This can be repurposed to create a course online. So, have a look through existing training manuals, workbooks, and online libraries. If you find relevant materials, simply convert them into attractive online lessons on your LMS.

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3. Map out your course

Having collected the information and materials for your topic, it’s time to arrange it into a logical order. This is where you start thinking about the learning path, i.e., how to design an online course that slowly increases in difficulty. Each lesson or module should build on the knowledge and skills that were learned in the one before it.

This step can feel a little daunting the first time around, so we’ve made this online course outline template to help you get started. We’ll use this template as we move through the next few steps. You can also have a look at the example (in the second tab) to get an idea of how this outline looks like in action. For now, though, all you need to do is decide which modules (also called chapters, or sub-topics) you will include, and in what order.

Give each module a catchy title, and try to phrase these titles as ‘active’ statements. For example, “Use persuasive sales tactics to close more deals” is a great module title, because it’s actionable. On the other hand, “Persuasion and sales” is passive, and doesn’t describe a behavior.

When creating an eCourse, it’s also important to plan at least one online quiz. Even better if you can fit a mini-quiz in after each module. This helps learners to practice their new knowledge, learn from feedback, and feel confident that they’re on the right track before moving on to the next module.

Don’t feel like you need to get your online course structure perfect the first time around. You can always add new modules, remove existing ones, and rearrange them later on. For now, let’s jump onto step 4 in the process.

How to create a course outline for online training - TalentLMS

4. Set your learning objectives

If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll end up someplace else! This is why your next step is to set clear and measurable learning objectives. In other words, what should employees be able to do after they complete each module in your course?

If you look back at the course outline template, you’ll see a column for learning objectives. You might also notice that each one starts with a dropdown list of verbs (goal). These verbs are taken from Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy. It’s sort of like an online course builder, because Bloom’s hierarchy of verbs helps to layer your learning objectives according to levels of complexity.

Each module should start with a verb in the lower levels of the taxonomy. For example, a module on persuasion tactics could start with a set of online notes, or a video. The learning objective could simply be for learners to ‘Understand the 5 principles of persuasion’.

As learners move on to the next modules, the difficulty will increase and the learning objectives will start with verbs in the higher levels of the taxonomy. For example, learners might be expected to ‘Apply the most appropriate persuasive technique’ for a given scenario in a quiz.

If your course includes online discussion forums or webinars, you’ll even be able to set learning objectives in the top levels of Bloom’s taxonomy. This is because learners can be asked to debate and formulate arguments in a live learning environment.

5. Create the training content

Right. With your modules ordered and named, and your learning objectives set up in the course outline template, content creation finally begins. As a rule of thumb, the type of content that you create (or curate) should be guided by the learning objectives you’re aiming to achieve.

For example, if learners simply need to be able to understand a concept, then a video or set of notes will do just fine. This is passive learning content, where learners watch and/or listen in order to learn.

For more complex learning objectives, where verbs like apply or create are used, your content will need to involve the learner more. Activities like branching scenarios, interactive infographics, simulations, discussion forums, and group assignments are examples of active learning content. These require the learner to engage in the process of discovery.

As mentioned earlier, you can find existing videos and articles online. For the content you can’t find, or would like to make yourself, there are many affordable and free online course creation tools available to you.

Canva provides templates for infographics, PowerPoint presentations and even mood boards. Powtoon helps beginners to create explainer videos, and provides stock animation and clips, too. Or, if you’re looking for an all-in-one package, course creation software like Articulate Storyline is compatible with most LMSs.

6. Upload to your learning management system (LMS)

Ah, the grand finale! Uploading your content is the last of the steps to creating an online course, and with the help of powerful online education software, it’s an easy one, too!

Before uploading anything, it’s important to check that you have the right learning management system (LMS) for the job, i.e., a platform for online courses. Your LMS should be user-friendly, well supported, easy to update, customizable, and offer features for quizzes, gamification and other nifty things that will make your course engaging.

Once you’ve settled on the best LMS for your training needs, simply follow the instructions provided by the LMS vendor to upload your content. Once your content is uploaded, you’ll be able to edit the type of content, the name of the module or activity, and set up your quiz questions and feedback.

Remember to include instructions for the uploading in the last column of the course outline template. This helps to ensure that your course looks and functions just the way you meant it to once it’s online.

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Next steps

With this simple process in the bag, you’re all set to create online courses that employees will love. Or, if you still have some questions before you start, that’s okay too. You can learn more about corporate training programs here, and how to pick the perfect LMS for your training here.

Remember to evaluate the success of your course once employees have completed it. This guide will show you how to get the best insights from your course evaluation, so that you can continue to improve employee training. Until then, happy course creation!

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