BenchPrep Team March 18th, 2020
How to Transform Classroom Content into Online Courses
For the next few weeks, COVID-19 has many of us staying home as much as we can. Schools, places of worship, bars, and restaurants are closed for now. The CDC recommends we limit in-person gatherings to 10 or fewer people. And companies across the country are moving to a work-from-home policy (whether they feel ready for it or not).
Naturally, now you’re looking through the training materials you’ve delivered countless times and wondering how you’ll translate them into engaging online courses. In the classroom, a great facilitator can equal great training.
But what happens when the facilitator is a computer?
Sometimes we instructional designers let our learners down, and digital learning can fall flat. Fortunately, the success of your content’s online transformation is largely within your hands!
With thoughtful design, online teaching courses can make a huge impact. Here’s our three-step process to transform your traditional classroom resources into powerful online learning tools.
Step 1: Make the learning personal
When people check their phones 150 times a day, it’s hard to keep their attention. How’s a stagnant, aging course supposed to compete with YouTube? One winning tactic: make the course relevant to each learner with their own custom learning pathway.
eLearning has one big advantage over traditional classrooms: it puts large-scale personalized learning within instructional designers’ reach. For instance, using machine learning or even basic algorithms, software applications can create a personal pathway by assessing learners and guiding each one to the content they need, exactly when it’s most relevant to that individual.
But learning technology solutions can’t achieve greatness in a vacuum. Instructional designers must fine-tune these algorithms and appropriately categorize content to enable the personalized course design that’s now within reach.
Here’s a few tips to help you on your way to creating a more learner-centric and engaging course:
- Follow an instructional design process (Agile, ADDIE, backwards design, Kemp).
- Employ microlearning techniques by creating “bite-sized” modules or lessons for each learning objective/skill.
- Make these learning modules user-friendly with responsive content styling.
- Offer lots of opportunities for learners to self-assess their mastery (like practice questions or tests).
- If your assessment material is robust enough, consider starting your course with a diagnostic assessment.
- Connect your questions and instructional content at a granular level to enable more learner-driven routes to mastery.
With content that fully supports your creation of these personalized pathways, learners can focus on the skills they need. With clear diagnostics and frequent knowledge checks, instructional designers keep learners challenged and engaged, while also ensuring learners with less competency in that skill or subject don’t fall behind.
Step 2: Think like a marketer and engage your learners
So, what engages learners? Today’s learner wants easily consumable, bite-sized content like they would find on YouTube or Facebook.
As you look through those past PowerPoints or manuals, here are a few ideas to give your content a modern makeover:
- Find an expert willing to record a video to share their expertise. You can look to TedTalks for inspiration, or you can do something more personal, informal, and real-life for your learners. Keep the video short and engaging, and work it into your digital coursework. Changing up the format will present information in a new way that will keep your learners engaged.
- Leverage screencasting technologies to make processes visible to your learners. There are many of solutions on the market, and you can explore live streaming options like Zoom, GoToMeeting, WebEx, or Google Hangouts, or create videos and make them available on-demand with Camtasia, ScreenFlow, or Adobe Captivate.
- Create an infographic or an interactive image to distill information that may be too complex for your learners.
- Add engaging content, like memes or gifs, to your existing course materials. Humor is an effective tool to help with engagement and retention when it comes to learning, and it’s particularly effective at the beginning of a lesson to establish levity or as a device to help your learners remember essential information.Can you add other engaging content, like memes or gifs?
Step 3: Help your learners apply their skills with interactivity
Still, even with engaging content, learners will tune out. But there’s a solution as old as learning itself — ask your learner to show their work.
When thinking about evaluating learning, most people think of quizzes. But they aren’t the only way to add interactivity. Here’s a few innovative examples from Articulate E-Learning Heroes highlighting different ways to add interactivity to your courses:
Another way for students to show what they have learned is to post a reflection question or answer a discussion question in the course forum. Writing about what they’ve learned throughout the course and sharing it with other classmates allows students to synthesize what they’ve learned as well as draw others into a wider conversation.
At the end of the day, it’s important that online courses aren’t content dumps but rather that they can become safe environments to learn and apply newly-learned skills.
Are you ready to transform your classroom resources?
You’ve worked hard developing your classroom resources. Going online doesn’t mean throwing away all that hard work. In fact, the gems of a great online course are already hiding in the depths of that material.
Just follow our three simple steps — 1) make the learning personalized, 2) create engaging content, and 3) allow learners to apply their skills with interactive learning tasks. With a few tweaks, you’ll be harnessing the power of eLearning like a champ.
Ready to transform your classroom content into online courses? Schedule a demo with us today to learn how our configurable cloud-based learning platform can help your organization deliver the best learning