When authoring new eLearning courses, we’ve refined our process to ensure we’re providing engaging, dynamic, and, most of all, impactful content for our clients. We are driven by our mission—to help our clients make safer, smarter, and better decisions—and keep it at the core of our content creation journey. From our expert creators to the development team, to the critical feedback delivered by our customer success teams, everyone at Vector is part of why our courses are so powerful and drive real results.
So, how do we do it? In this interview, Vector Solutions VP of Content Michael Schreiner shares his insight on some of the top ways we work to avoid common course design pitfalls and the most important strategies we leverage when authoring new courses to ensure that we’re building exceptional, inclusive, and accessible content.
Vector’s Top Strategies for Creating Excellent Content with Great Outcomes
It can be easy to feel lost when you’re trying to create excellent content, but, at Vector Solutions, we are constantly optimizing how we approach our course creation process to maximize the benefit for our clients and communities. Here are some of the top strategies we employ to ensure the effectiveness and quality of our eLearning courses.
Putting the right people in place and empowering them to succeed is a strategy Vector uses to safeguard our learners’ experience. We believe our content can only be as good as the team that’s behind it, so we invest in a talented, highly skilled team of experts and place them in strategic positions to leverage their unique skills and expertise—ensuring that we work within an inclusive and collaborative process.“We have a team that focuses on instructional design—this allows us to develop content that resonates with learners, ultimately leading to better outcomes. Our learning experience designers work closely with subject matter experts to turn their knowledge into training courses that can change behavior and provide the knowledge our customers need to make better decisions. The design team creates this instructionally sound blueprint, and then the development team develops the content from there.”
Inclusivity and accessibility are cornerstones of our content creation process, and are top of mind from the moment we start a new course assignment. Ensuring diverse, equitable, inclusive, and accessible content is how we are able to fulfill our mission of providing our clients with the relevant, updated, and results-driven content they need—when, where, and how they need it. Our process begins with a Rich Media Brainstorming Session led by our Director of Content Design, Laureen Palmisano Ranz, which is a collaborative model that allows everyone who will be involved in the course (from writers and instructional designers to AV crew) to be part of the course concepting experience in a safe, inclusive environment. The team considers the audience of the course (and whether that audience is well-represented in the story of the course) and asks critical questions to evaluate the course content in order to reach, represent, and include everyone in our content. Casting, design, voiceover, interviews, and seeking and incorporating feedback are all pieces of our process, which we’ve optimized with the goal of creating diverse, inclusive, and accessible course content. And because our clients’ needs evolve, our strategy for evaluating accessibility and inclusivity is constantly reviewed and optimized as well.When it comes to Vector’s courses, Michael says, “Our team reviews and audits our courses with an eye to accessibility and inclusivity, giving us actionable feedback like, ‘did you know this learning interaction doesn’t allow for someone who is sight-disabled to interact with it?’ By auditing our courses, we learn what we don’t know so we can address accessibility concerns and use those learnings to optimize our process in the future. We have a wide variety of tools that create content that meets learners where they’re at. Our strategy has always been 100% video content and engaging, accessible interactions that are interactive. We audit our courses to learn what we don’t know so we can address accessibility concerns. One of the ways we do that is to have our content consolidated within a content builder and player. This creates a very standardized user experience.”
By defining learning outcomes up front, we immediately reassure learners that the valuable time they’re investing in learning and training is going to be worth it. We serve critical industries in our communities—from law enforcement to fire rescue and K-12 and higher education—so ensuring that content will make an impact, engage, and retain learners to completion is critical. One strategy we use to ensure buy-in from learners is to explicitly state learning objectives early in the course. By specifying the outcomes at the very beginning, learners will have a solid understanding of the course’s relevance and impact on their educational goals. This allows them to enter into the experience with clearly defined expectations and to be fully engaged with the content.“We are very specific about what we're going to learn; they know the content is relevant to them, and we know at the end they understand it. If you’re not clear or not creating engaging content, why develop it in the first place?”
Course content, like the rapidly changing world we live in, is dynamic and should be iterated, updated, and innovated. To keep our content impactful and ensure it drives real results for our clients, we are constantly evaluating our opportunities to use cutting-edge technology to improve user experience, increase accessibility and inclusivity, and help improve our client outcomes.We foster a future-oriented mindset in all that we do. As Michael says, “There are a lot of exciting things ahead. We have a mobile responsive course player with interactive, searchable transcripts, which allow learners to search and navigate to video content. We are in the process of developing some other types of content. Accessibility is an innovation area of focus for us. We’ve already done some AR and VR, but we’re looking far ahead to see how we might be able to venture there more one day.”
If our content isn’t strategically created to meet the needs of our clients and the communities they serve, it’s not going to be impactful in helping them make safer, smarter, and better decisions. To ensure we are creating content that will deliver real results, we’ve developed effective processes that allow us to not only receive feedback from those who are currently utilizing our courses, but also to absorb that feedback, evaluate it, and implement necessary changes in customer experience.“We have a survey in all courses and can review survey comments. When our Customer Experience team gets NPS data and comments, we’re able to then address it quickly. Our learners also rate our courses, so we can monitor progress in the scale over time.”
While listening and responding to client feedback is incredibly valuable in evolving our content, we don’t solely rely on after-the-fact survey data; we also pay close attention to the market so that we can strive to anticipate and plan for our clients’ needs before they are even aware of them.
“We have sector leaders responsible for each market we serve; they really listen to the customer and pay attention on the industry side, learning what market problems we need to help them solve through training.”
At Vector Solutions, everything we do is rooted in our mission to help our clients make safer, smarter, and better decisions. To fulfill our mission, we have to operate at the highest possible standard in how we create, deliver, and optimize our course content. We’re proud to leverage every expert in our highly skilled team to create inclusive, accessible content that’s ready when, where, and how our clients need it—and we’ll never stop optimizing and innovating on their behalf.
Michael Schreiner is Vice President of Content for Vector Solutions. He started his career working on instructional design in the financial services industry. After moving to a military contracting firm, Michael began developing training for special operations forces, helping to keep them—and our country—safe. Ten years ago, he came to Vector Solutions and has been a constant through various acquisitions and continues to help grow our business and take our content to the next level.