Online training is a pretty niche, but important industry. There’s online training that adults in continuing education take. There’s online training that professionals in law, accounting and other fields take. Students in high school take online courses on a variety of topics. I could go on.
Jason Herndon, founder and CEO of CourseBake.com gives us some guidance into how growing businesses might leverage and things they need to know about online training in their businesses.
I think any company would do well to really consider the underlying issues or reasons they feel they need online training, their objectives and their delivery platforms. Sometimes just asking simple questions that we often skip over is helpful. At least, those I’ve worked with have found it so.
First, I’d look at your areas where you think training is needed most and make sure that online training is the best fit. Some problems aren’t training issues, but a lot are. Just asking this question will help clarify the scope of the project for you or any one you have to submit the project to. This will help later on in the training process as well because different types of problems take different solutions. For example, if the problem at hand is a skill set that needs to be learned you might use one approach for learning. But if the problem is more of a value that needs to be brought back to the mind of your team like phone etiquette or dress code then the style and tone of the learning can be different. (And, God forbid, the training can be fun too.)
From there, make sure you come to the table with measurable objectives. Simple questions like “What’s my desired outcome?” and “How will I know I’ve reached it?” are simple and clarifying questions. They’re also often overlooked. You’d be surprised how many projects get started without clear goals defined. Actually, you probably wouldn’t be surprised, because we’ve all been there and experienced that pain. So listing some clear objectives for your training, ones you can measure and test against later on, will be of much use.
From there, if it were me, I’d have had enough questions and want to start looking at types of solutions or vendors. And my simple advice here would be not to rush into anything that requires contracts, big deposits or lots of commitment on your part. Especially if this is your companies first venture into online learning. We’ve all seen the trouble companies get into once they commit to burdensome solutions that end up not being solutions at but, but rather handicaps in business. You need simple, open solutions.
How can a business decide which online training platform is for them? There are so many company’s offering online training
There are quite a few online solutions for training on the market today. Some are content creation tools (like Adobe Captivate) and some are full-blown Learning Management Systems, or an LMS (like Blackboard or Mindflash). Finding the right one can be hard, especially because some solutions are really pieces of the solution. In other words, Adobe Captivate is a good product to use for online training in some cases, but by itself you can’t get anything done with it. You need something to create content with, something to deliver the content with and manage all your users/courses and you also need a website to power it all. Often those last two are packaged together in an LMS, but not always.
It can be confusing, so as you’re shopping for a solution make sure to ask yourself which piece of the puzzle this helps you solve. “Will I still need an LMS?” “Will I need a website to link this to?” “Will I need some tool like PowerPoint or something to create this content with?”. Asking what a piece of technology can do is easy. Asking what it can’t do is more valuable sometimes. We built CourseBake to be an all in one solution, trying to help simplify the process altogether.
What are some examples of some great online training examples and why are these good
There are a lot of examples of corporate training as most companies use it. Which is kind of the level that most companies are at now. But I’ve gotten quite a bit of inspiration from noteandpoint.com. I’d love to see corporate training embrace this fun style of learning that’s a joy to look at and participate in. I think that perhaps the theory has been that learning happens best when it’s on point and focused. Which is true, but if it’s not also training that engages the user, you’ve already lost time and money.
For a company who has never done online training – how can they start and develop their first curriculum
For a company that’s just starting out, I’d say to first focus on the points of pain. Where are your areas of biggest need? Address those first and then take a break to gather feedback and do a little research. Maybe even try some quick focus groups to see how the training went. If you try to jump in and develop an overarching system from scratch it might not only be too big, but there might simply be bits of information you need to develop the curriculum that you can only find out from getting your feet wet. So start small, focus on a few important issues. Then after you’ve gotten used to it a little bit, expand and think about it as a curriculum where you can map, from start to finish, an employees development with your company.
Anything else I need to know or did not ask?
I think that the bleeding edge of online learning is mobile learning. Not just iPhone or iPad apps for the sake of it, but really using these devices and the connectivity they bring to the forefront. If your business is anything like mine, you’re not looking at this mobile shift as a passing fad and seriously investigate any relevant use of them in your business. As such, if you think that it’s relevant to your company, I’d encourage looking into solutions that are mobile or tablet friendly.