It has become commonplace for organizations to migrate from classroom training to online learning (eLearning). It’s also quite common for these companies to convert their existing instructor-led training (ILT) resources into online courses instead of creating eLearning courses from scratch. If you are considering converting your ILT resources to eLearning courses, hold on until you’ve read this blog – you just might want to reconsider.
Let’s first analyze the reasons you would want to consider converting classroom courses into eLearning. You probably think that:
- Converting an ILT course is cheaper and quicker than creating a course from scratch
- Content is readily available and therefore can be reused for eLearning
- A lot of time and thought has been put into creating the classroom training program, and therefore it should not be wasted
- Converting an ILT course will help you save on human resources required to create a course
None of the above are entirely true.
To begin with, scratch the surface and you will find that creating an authentic eLearning course from a classroom course can be quite expensive and time consuming.
Simply and directly converting an existing PPT to eLearning is quick; however, it does not create a great learning experience – or even one that is worth remembering. This is because classroom training material by itself lacks interactivity. The learning material may also be incomplete or of poor quality (because most often than not, the material is scanty and prepped by the instructor’s explanation, examples, anecdotes, etc.). An eLearning course is much more than a quick copy/paste job or a quick conversion. There are a lot of elements that go into making a memorable eLearning experience – interactivities, immersive content, immediate feedback, assessments – both formative and summative, and most of all, taking the time to provide an experience that can successfully replace a classroom training session.
An eLearning course that has been converted from an existing classroom course can be reused ONLY if it was, to begin with, eLearning ready. PDFs, PPTs, manuals, and other classroom training material that are used ‘as-is’ make for a disastrous eLearning course. They make for great eLearning courses only after they have been “treated” and made eLearning ready.
Converting an ILT course – even if it is outsourced, will require you to provide the services of your SMEs and stakeholders. This step cannot be bypassed and the services of your SMEs and the opinions of your stakeholders is a very crucial part of the conversion process.
This is not to say that converting ILT is a bad idea. Great ILT content can reach a wider audience via eLearning, and if there is one true reason for ILT to be converted to eLearning, this is it. There are instances when converting classroom training works well and is quite straightforward:
- The content has been researched well, is relevant and up-to-date; and the SME is sure that there is nothing more to add – or delete, in terms of content.
- A detailed analysis has been carried out before the creation of the ILT course. A lot of analysis goes into creating an eLearning course – physical and organizational constraints, technical requirements, and criteria for assessments to name a few; however, these are not taken into consideration when analyzing a classroom training course. It really helps though if the audience and content have been well analyzed.
- The ILT course has clearly defined learning objectives. One of the fundamentals of eLearning is that the course has clearly defined goals – the aim of the course and what it aims to teach the learner/what the learner must know at the end of the course. When the ILT content has clearly defined learning objectives, it is possible to convert it and meet this fundamental requirement of eLearning.
- The content is well structured and chunked, making it easy for developers to understand how to divide the course into modules.
Sometimes, the conversion process is hampered or delayed because:
- The content has not been analyzed and therefore must now be analyzed carefully
- The success rate of the classroom training was low and it needs to be worked on
- The course material is incomplete and there are a lot of gaps that must be filled
- There is way too much content in the course and SMEs must wade through this content and segregate the important, need-to-know information from the nice-to-know information
Even with everything in place, it is the extremely rare classroom course that can be used just as it is. Like I mentioned earlier, there are a lot of elements that must be added to make an eLearning course authentic.
To summarize, you are at a crossroads and must decide whether to convert your existing classroom training courses or create new ones. If your ILT material is recent, up-to-date, working well, and can be used by your target audience, you are a candidate for conversion and can go ahead with your plan to convert your classroom courses – knowing what to expect and what it will involve.