Best Practices for Creating eLearning Courses Quickly During the COVID-19 Pandemic



In a recent article, we gave an introduction to putting instructor-led training, classroom-style training online–primarily in the of a blended learning solution of virtual classrooms, elearning courses, and additional materials that can be distributed online.

In addition to that article, we’ve created more focused, detail articles about that dig deeper into creating virtual classrooms and elearning courses. This article is about elearning courses; stay tuned for the one on virtual classrooms.

In the “credit-where-credit-is-due” department, this article is based on one podcast discussion from a series of recorded podcast discussions by Australian L&D professional Michelle Ockers–you may remember her from our recorded discussion about learning organizations a while ago.

Michelle pulled together a star-studded, who’s-who-from-L&D collection of experts to share their tips on getting some training online in these difficult circumstances.

I’ve reached out to Michelle and she’s given me the OK to publish a link to the talks, summarize the talks, and she was even so kind as to send me transcript of the different talks. So, in order, below you’ll find:

  • A link to the talks (go check ’em out and be sure to follow Michelle and the others on social media)
  • A link to the specific talk with Connie Malamed about creating elearning courses, which is the focus on this article
  • A bulleted list of key points from the talk
  • A transcript of the talk

Here’s the link to all of the discussions; do give them a listen: The Learning Uncut “Disruption Series” by Michelle Ockers. Michelle is working with other professionals to add more even as I’m typing this article today.


Connie Malamed on Using eLearning Smartly Right Now

Below I’ll include some bulleted highlights of the discussion and then the transcript. Here’s a direct link to the podcast discussion between Michelle Ockers and Connie Malamed about eLearning.

Here’s how Michelle describes the talk on her podcast channel:

This episode is part of the Learning Uncut Disruption series. This pop-up daily series aims to equip learning professionals with practical guidance and tips to get started or scale up with practices needed as part of their organisational response to the global COVID-19 pandemic.

eLearning design and development is not something to be rushed into, especially if you are just getting started. The eLearning Coach, Connie Malamed, provides tips for both absolute beginners and those who are moving from face to face to online solutions quickly. She discusses solid evidence-informed approaches you can draw on and suggests ways of applying them. In particular Connie warns against ‘page-turning, click-next’ design and suggests using eLearning for spaced practice and repetition as part of a blended online approach.

Highlights of Connie Malamed’s Talk on Using eLearning Smartly

Here are what struck me as the key points Connie Malamed made in his discussion with Michelle Ockers. Remember you can listen to the discussion above or read the full transcript below.

  • This process can be fun (creating elearning, that is…not the pandemic).
  • Things don’t have to be perfect, but don’t rush and push out poorly-designed elearning either.
  • Consider building elearning that focuses on activities that allow employees to practice things. Use other delivery methods, such as a live webinar or a web page, to relay information. You can then use the webinar and/or web page with the elearning course as part of a blended learning solution.
  • The activities in your elearning course should let people practice, in as realistic a manner as possible, the things they’ll have to do at work.
  • Avoid creating page-turners in which people just click next, next, next, etc.
  • If you’re new to creating elearning, you can do it with a product known as an elearning authoring tool. There are many on the market and they’re relatively easy to learn. Many of these have templates that make it easier to create things like scenarios, multiple-choice questions, and multiple-response questions that let you design learning activities that allow people to practice real job tasks.
  • Some job skills will require less practice and others (often because they’re more difficult or more critical) will require more. Create an appropriate amount of practice activities accordingly.
  • Avoid creating training to help people memorize, because in general we don’t have to remember a lot of things at work. We can look them up. But if you do need to train for memory, use simple retrieval practice, then give people a little time off before asking them to retrieve again (this is known as spaced learning), and considering mixing up the type of things they need to retrieve (this is called interleaving).
  • Use evidence-based learning practices, including spaced practice/spaced learning, retrieval practice, elaboration, worked examples, chunking, metaphors and analogies, and visuals.
  • Don’t just jump into elearning creation but instead take time to design and develop the elearning. Use human-focused design so you will get to know what the learners need to do at work (and what they therefore need to learn) as well as how they’d best learn.
  • Reduce your training to the absolute minimum, so you’re training on only a few very learning objectives people absolutely need to know to do their job. Cut out the extra stuff.
  • Some elearning authoring tools allow you to start by importing a PowerPoint presentation and then adding on to it. Avoid doing this to simply create a page-turner. In addition, don’t just import the PowerPoint presentation you use for instructor-led training. Instead, use that PowerPoint to remind yourself of the key points you try to get across in your training, but build new PowerPoint slides for the elearning course, knowing you won’t be there to talk, answer questions, demonstrate, and so on.
  • You can use a learning management system (LMS) to deliver elearning courses, but it’s not necessary. You can also publish elearning courses in the HTML5 format and simply put them on a website.
  • In some cases, it may be important to track completion of a course, and in those cases, an LMS may be more useful. But remember that in many cases, especially when compliance is not involved, you don’t need to track and you can simply trust adult learners to do what’s best for them.

Transcript of Connie Malamed’s Talk on Using eLearning Smartly


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