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Based on many factors (budget, geography, maintenance, resources, scalability) you may be considering the transition of in-person training content to an eLearning format. But you might be wondering if that’s possible – can all content be converted to eLearning?

Well, yes and…no.

Learners learn by doing, by practicing, by putting concepts to work, and by asking questions. Some argue none of that can be done in front of a computer. I disagree. Given technological advances, today’s learners have plenty of opportunities to learn information, and practice their skills in an online course through simulations. They put concepts to work by completing activities that create realistic, on-the-job experiences. And, with the support of an online mentor, coach, or FAQ guide, learners are even able to ask questions.

Some people point to today’s amazing technology as proof that in-person training is no longer required. Again, I disagree. There are conversations, connections, and commitments that can’t be created via technology. But with a solid management team, and structured, in-person follow-up, those critical elements can be achieved outside the eLearning course.

Bottom line: there are advantages to both modes of delivery, and as designers it’s our job to identify the best – and most sustainable – way to convey information so that it sticks.

Where do you begin, once you’ve decided to transition training content from in-person workshops to eLearning?

Step 1: Identify the must-have content

Creating an eLearning course from in-person content isn’t as easy as cutting and pasting from one file into another. An 8-hour workshop doesn’t equate to a 15-minute online module. The first step in creating an eLearning course based on material that was used for in-person training is to identify the “must have” content. What must the learners understand after they’ve completed your course?

Use this information to identify the learning objectives and move to step two.

Step 2: Determine the structure

Based on what you’ve determined your learners must take away from the course, you need to determine the structure and how you’ll convey the information. Can the content fit into one module? Or, maybe this is a series of eLearning modules that build on one another? Will everything be covered online, or are there some components that need to be covered in-person? (Hint: this is where you can utilize blended learning to ensure that the learners benefit from all the learning modalities available.)

Identify the structure you’ll be using, look for ways to make the learning come alive, and move to step three.

Step 3: Engage advocates

Trust me: learners get attached to “how it’s always been done.” To avoid a rebellion, make sure you engage frontline and stakeholder advocates when transitioning in-person learning content to a new, eLearning format. If you don’t have advocates, your transition won’t succeed and you’ll be back at square one. Demonstrate that you have the right content, that it’s going to be delivered in the most effective way possible, and you’ll be able to engage advocates that will help facilitate the transition.

Once your advocates are on board, move to step four.

Step 4: Communicate about the transition

Learners who are new to the organization may not know how the content was previously delivered, so the change in delivery won’t impact them. Other learners, who have been around for a while, may be resistant to the new modality. That’s why you must be open and communicate about the transition. Be sure to do so early in the process –learners who are resistant to the change will need time to ask questions and adapt. Utilize your advocates as part of your communication plan – ask them to emphasize how delivering the content via eLearning is a win for the organization.

Regardless of whether you’re delivering the content in-person or via eLearning, remain committed to creating engaging, sustainable, and results-based learning material and you’re on your way to a successful course.

LizSheffieldBioLiz Sheffield is a freelance writer with a background in training and development. She specializes in writing about everything related to the human side of business. You can contact her via LinkedIn or Twitter.

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