Let’s face it, a lot of things can go wrong when preparing and delivering a training program – and they often do, even with maximum preparation. Here, we highlight 10 of these which are within the control of the persons designing and delivering the training, and share some easy fixes that will help you to design an exceptional online training course.
These apply to both those who are creating a course for the first time or those who are converting traditional, or face-to-face training, to e-courses. Let’s get into it…
- Not defining audience and objectives
Creating a training course without knowing details of your audience (or potential audience) and what you are trying to achieve is like driving without a destination – pointless. You need to know your starting point – the background and educational level of your audience – and what they are expected to learn through your course, so you can include only what’s necessary to achieve the desired results. Otherwise, you may end up boring experts with basic definitions, or losing novices by going too in-depth without explaining core principles.
- Using traditional courses as online courses
While it’s tempting to upload slides that you use for an in-person training course for use as an online training course, it’s not advisable. There are a few elements of traditional courses that are not always replicated in digital courses which will affect the experiences of your students.
Traditional courses take place in a controlled, classroom-type environment with a tutor present to set the pace of the course, explain and demonstrate concepts and answer questions. There are varying types of online courses that offer different experiences. Some will be held at a specific time with the tutor present, allowing for questions and demonstrations; while others are self-paced where each student does it by themselves in their own time.
It is important, therefore, that when converting a traditional course to an online course, the method of delivery is taken into account. Slides should be adjusted accordingly and you may have to introduce an additional platform for persons to communicate with the tutor and other students if they have questions.
- Not being prepared to train
Being an expert in your field doesn’t necessarily make you qualified to train others. It is important to understand training techniques and learning methods to ensure that you convey your knowledge in the most effective manner. Additionally, trainers must prepare a script or speaking points prior to training to ensure they deliver everything they need to, or they risk forgetting or stumbling during the presentation.
- Including too much information
As mentioned in mistake 1, every training course should have an objective and you should only include the material necessary to achieve this objective. Include too much information and you risk confusing participants and reducing knowledge retention. If you have a lot of information to share, use graphics to break up the monotony of pure text or consider breaking down the course into units or modules.
- Random graphics
All graphics included in your presentation should serve a purpose. Throwing in random graphics that are unrelated to the presentation or too flashy will distract your audience and distort your message. Also, aim for a cohesive look across your presentation by using an existing template or creating your own images with tools such as PicMonkey and Canva.
- Failing to include real world examples
The best way to demonstrate a new concept to someone is helping them to associate it with a real world example with which they are familiar. It also helps to use examples that are as closely related to their jobs, industry or business as possible. This helps them to understand and apply the concept to their own work.
- Not allowing for interaction and engagement
It’s unlikely that you will be able to see your students and interact with them during an online course. A good way to keep them interested and engaged is to encourage participation through in-course activities such as polls, for live group training, and mini-quizzes. You can make this a part of your slide deck and have participants submit responses through a separate chat platform or use a tool like ClickWebinar, which has this feature built in.
- Not assessing retention and application of knowledge
Once you’ve taught the concept and provided an example, the next step is to test your students to ensure they grasped the concept well and that they can apply it as needed. The best courses have a quick assessment after each module or section. Not only will this also students to know where they need to review, it might help you in noticing flaws in the course.
- Lack of group/team exercises
Group exercises often help students to learn from others through observation of their peers, or see how their role fits into the overall process. Since most online training programs are delivered to individuals, it’s difficult to organize group exercises, but not impossible. Create a forum where students can talk with their peers and design exercises and final scores to include a peer-reviewed element. Coursera, a website which offers courses from top universities, does an excellent job of this by giving extra points to students who participate in forums and rate other students’ submissions.
- Using out-of-date content
Nothing says lack of preparation quite like an example that hasn’t been relevant for years. If you’re running a live training, be sure to review your slides and examples to ensure that they are relevant and current. If you have a self-paced course online, check it every few months to see that the material is still relevant. If you’re designing a course for someone else, make sure they have a copy of the editable file to make changes as necessary.
Overall, always take your platform, audience and content into consideration to maximize the benefits you and your students get from your online course. Additionally, it is always best to test your course on a small scale first with someone that is representative of your audience, to get relevant feedback and identify any potential issues.