How to skyrocket your eLearning courses with great content
Instructional Design

How to skyrocket your eLearning courses with great content

When adults learn, they want engaging, useful, and convenient training content. This means short, sharp, and practical materials that they get to access anytime, anywhere.

But if you’ve developed online training courses before, you know that creating eLearning content can be the trickiest part of the course design process. So, hands up if you’re looking for some great training content development tips.

How to create eLearning content your learners will love

The list of tips and tricks that make some eLearning course content better than others is, well, long! But we have a few favorites.

These are our top picks for ways to ensure that your course content leads to more engaged learning and even a little fun.

1. Start with “why”
2. Find your “who”
3. Create an intuitive learning path
4. Cater to all learning styles
5. Try active learning
6. Keep it short and simple
7. Make quality a priority
8. Speak the right language
9. Be original

Let’s look at them one by one and explore how they can help you create eLearning courses that will hook employees’ attention.

1. Start with “why”

Everyone is busy. Including your learners.

This means that your target audience needs to understand what they’ll learn, how they’ll learn it, and why it will be useful to them before they start their course. Once they understand the “why”, they’ll be more emotionally invested and engaged in learning.

A useful way to demonstrate the purpose behind training is to organize eLearning content into learning outcomes (LOs). Using verbs from Bloom’s Taxonomy, you can develop focused learning objectives that guide the choice of content.

If you’re unfamiliar with Bloom’s Taxonomy, you can learn more about the classification tool here.

But first, here’s an example.

Imagine that the LO is to create an employee development plan. The word “create” tells us that a set of online notes probably won’t be enough, because we’re expecting learners to apply their skills.

So we might also include an online workshop or webinar, where learners get to practice their skills by tackling a case study with the help of a subject matter expert.


2. Find your “who”

Ah, the SME! The subject matter expert (SME) often plays a ‘behind the scenes’ role in creating eLearning courses. Many courses won’t require that SMEs host live workshops, or record video lectures. But mask on or mask off, a subject matter expert is a critical tool for creating good eLearning course content.

An SME with oodles of insight, knowledge, and experience is bound to create online learning courses that are current, relevant, and probably downright addictive. Their own passion coats the eLearning content in a sort of glitter that makes it difficult to look away. Like that good book you just couldn’t put down. But there’s something else, too.

Make sure that your SME has enough of that little old thing called time! Great content takes careful thought and planning. So avoid an SME who’s already operating overcapacity, and might feel the need to rush.

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3. Create an intuitive learning path

Creating an online course isn’t just about the content itself. It also matters how it’s structured. Content that covers similar topics, and meets related LOs, should be grouped together in modules.

Start an eLearning module with simpler content, and then gradually increase the difficulty level until learners are able to practice their new skills or knowledge. This way, learners will build their knowledge at a manageable pace that makes them feel confident and rewarded for their learning efforts.

For example, the first content in a module might aim to equip learners with a basic understanding of a concept, or the ability to recall information. So, include definitions and explanations, and perhaps a few simple examples in the form of notes or an infographic.

As the module progresses, you can create eLearning content that’s more focused on practice and opportunities for learners to gauge their own learning. Here you might try more practical content like quizzes with automated feedback.

Example of quiz in eLearning content
Sample quiz in an eLearning course

4. Cater to all learning styles

To develop eLearning content that sticks, you simply have to be stylish! Because it’s just about guaranteed that learners will have a variety of learning styles and preferences. Some people are visual learners, others prefer audio, and then there are those who like to get their feet wet. We call them kinesthetic learners.

A balance of visual, auditory, and kinesthetic eLearning content elements is the best way to involve everyone in the learning process and ensure all feel engaged. Present skills, knowledge, and concepts through a variety of video content, graphic content, written notes, and activities like branching scenarios and group assignments.

Most of the time, an LO is better suited to a specific content format. Like LOs that require learners to “list” information are better suited to written notes. But there can be some repetition when presenting content to cater to all three learning styles. Don’t worry! Because this repetition can actually lead to better retention and improved understanding.

5. Try active learning

A lot of corporate training content is about as exciting as a rice cracker. But it doesn’t have to be! By balancing the proportion of passive and active content, learners can actually become actively involved in their own learning process.

Passive content is content that simply needs to be consumed. Listening to a podcast, watching a video, or reading notes are all examples of passive learning content. On the other hand, active content is content that engages learners in thinking, problem-solving and practicing their knowledge and skills.

So, how do you create active content? Simulations are a good start. For example, in customer service training, present your team with a role-playing activity where one member is an unhappy customer and the other members need to find a solution.

You could also try making use of discussion forums and group assignments that get learners brainstorming and solving an issue together. Or, branching scenarios that allow learners to make decisions (and mistakes) so that they can learn from the outcomes.

Here are four examples of how to create an online course with interactive elements that engage learners:

When designed to encourage exploration, experimentation, and risk-taking, active eLearning course content can result in boosted motivation and performance, and a stronger community of collaboration.

6. Keep it short and simple

When it comes to online training content less is more. Based on research, learners prefer short training content over long, one-time training events. But creating less content can often be trickier than creating more of it. Because less content needs to be more focused, more concise, and more carefully selected.

So, one of the key stages of the eLearning course development process is deciding what to leave out. Only include content that is necessary for achieving learning outcomes. Nice-to-haves? Chuck ‘em out! You can also leverage microlearning principles to create bite-sized chunks of content for a quick and flexible learning experience.

Remember, learners are busy, too. So, estimate the amount of time it would take to complete all content in the course (such as reading notes, watching videos, completing a quiz, etc.). If the total estimated time would send learners into a panic attack, you might want to consider cutting your content down.

How to create great eLearning content | TalentLMS

7. Make quality a priority

Nobody wants to watch a poorly produced film, or read a book that’s scattered with typos. So why would learners want their eLearning content to be any different? Besides, errors are distractions to the learning process and can result in an unpleasant learning experience.

So, whether it’s filming a video, recording a podcast, developing an infographic, or writing notes, always add a sufficient level of quality assurance. Where there’s voice (like talking head videos and podcasts), there should be no background noises that create distractions. For written content, get a fresh set of eyes to proofread. This will help to avoid those nasty spelling and grammatical errors.

8. Speak the right language

Learning content is only engaging when it speaks the language of the audience it’s targeting. This means that it needs to be both understandable and relatable for the learner. Because when learners have to re-read a sentence or rewind a video until the penny drops, you risk losing their attention.

So, be sure to create content that’s pitched at the right level, and uses terminology that your learners will understand. It’s always a good idea to do some background research on your audience. But, if you’re still not completely sure whether they’ll have prior knowledge of a concept, rather take the simpler approach. If learners feel you’re covering something that they already understand, they’ll just skip on over to the next activity.

In courses that are very specialized, using industry lingo can make content more relatable, too. For example, in a specialized software engineering course, you could use terms like “noob” and “yak shaving” to speak the language of your learners.

9. Be original

We live in a world of content curation. With an endless supply of great videos, articles and online resources, it can be tempting to simply pick the content that relates to your topics and call it a course!

Now, content curation is not all bad. It can actually be very efficient, and often gives learners a more varied perspective and interesting collection of learning activities to engage with. But if your online course is truly going to skyrocket, you’ll need it to be original.

Make sure that at least 50% of your eLearning course content is uniquely crafted by your subject matter expert. Write notes, create infographics, and film videos that learners wouldn’t be able to find anywhere else!

Bonus tip: Pick the right tool. Discover our own suggestions on content creation tools in our Cheatsheet!


Sure, content creation can often be the most challenging of the eLearning course development process steps. But, you’ve never shied away from a challenge! So use these easy tips on how to create an online course, mix various content types, and watch your eLearning programs launch to success.

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