Online Training 101

Online training has become a major industry, in the academic arena, for personal growth, and in the corporate world as well. The availability of online courseware has made a wider range of education possible for more people all over the world, making it possible for example, to bring education to remote villages where teachers are scarce. In the corporate environment, online training makes it possible to provide education on-demand, as well as to save a significant amount of money that would otherwise be spent on off-site sessions.

How to Conduct an Online Course
Conducting a successful online training course involves just as much planning and strategy as an in-person course, and perhaps a bit more. The traditional “first day” of class where everybody stumbles into the classroom and becomes familiar with the course is no longer possible; it is incumbent on the instructor to create that familiarity from the very beginning by using all the interactive tools at his or her disposal, and whenever possible, by incorporating live video feed into the mix.

While some online training courses can be held with only an audio link and an on-screen graphic, this will create a disconnect. A simple video of the “talking head” may be minimal, but seeing the speaker does create a more effective and realistic environment. If video is not within your budget, at least incorporate photos of each speaker into the on-screen graphic.

On-demand Training
In many corporate environments, training departments have found it effective to offer on-demand training modules. These can be supplemented with planned, live sessions, but the on-demand modules are typically recorded and unidirectional, with no interaction available. This is well-suited for training on very specific tasks, where the module does not need to be very long; if the training involves a broader scope of skills, a more interactive mode is appropriate.

As is the case with a live audience, preparation is necessary. In the case of recorded video for online training, it often helps to develop a script ahead of time, rather than speaking “off the cuff” or from note cards; this may eliminate the need to re-shoot parts of your training video.

While some training videos focus only on a “talking head” shot, more effective ones also bring in two additional elements: live action shots, and graphical displays to illustrate points being made. The live action shots could for example, show live actors in scenes that highlight what is being discussed; graphical illustrations may include PowerPoints or simple bulleted lists to reinforce the lesson.

The students too must be prepared, and the organizer of the online training session needs to reinforce this preparation by providing additional material, such as a guide or outline that can be readily downloaded and referred to during the training session.

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