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Repurpose ILT Content to Create Engaging E-learning Courses: Why?

Young employees are not ready for the demands of the workplace. As per a survey conducted by the British Chambers of Commerce, 90% of school leavers and over 50% of graduates are not ready with skills required for employment. (Source: BBC)

Organizations cannot lament about non-availability of skilled people, but need to gear themselves to train them to acquire the requisite skills. However, traditional training methods such as classroom training may not be possible due to cost as well as feasibility constraints. E-learning can be a good option, particularly when younger workforce needs to be trained. These individuals are already familiar with the new media and therefore are more willing to adapt to online training methods.

In order to create eLearning courses, you need not start from the scratch – at least with respect to the training content. You have your existing content that has been used across the organization by various departments. Training managers and heads of department would have collated content and created training curriculum for the purpose of classroom training. These instructor-led-training (ILT) resources form excellent basis for creating eLearning courses.

However, one needs to keep in mind, an important point. These resources are invaluable for creating an eLearning course but they cannot be used as they are. They need to be repurposed – which means they need to be changed in tone, format or structure to suit the learning flow of an eLearning course. Why, you may ask. It is primarily because eLearning courses need to be self-paced and therefore engaging. ILT materials are not engaging by themselves but are made engaging due to the physical presence of an instructor. They have three specific characteristics with respect to their:

  1. Purpose
  2. Authorship and
  3. Format

ILT materials have been developed for various purposes and may not be aligned with the objective of an eLearning course.

ILT content could have been developed for different purposes. One set of documents might be from an orientation program for the newly hired product team. Another set of documents might be related to the training program given to the R & D team. There would be some content overlapping but the “context” in which that content is used is different. The curriculum for an eLearning course, its learning objects and training objectives could be different, and therefore, while the raw inputs from different sources are useful, they need to be used “in the context” of the eLearning course that is being developed.

ILT materials would have been developed by multiple authors, each with different style and method of presenting ideas.

When developing eLearning courses, we need to make sure there is consistency in the way thoughts are presented. A specific instructional strategy is finalized, and it is adhered to throughout the course. Information cannot be dumped in a random manner from the ILT manuals, as it would not provide proper learning experience for employees. Any gaps in the ILT content, can be filled by an instructor at the time of training, but that is not the case with eLearning courses. Hence, courses have to be designed such that content is self-explanatory.

ILT materials can come in multiple formats such as PDF documents, hard copies of training manuals, audio or video recordings of live classroom instruction and so on.

In eLearning courses, content has to be chunked at the course level and screen level. What is relevant and useful for the course – in order to meet the learning objectives needs to be ascertained. The readymade content may or may not meet this requirement. Sometimes, only a small portion may be relevant. Instructional designers take what is relevant and useful for the course to meet its objectives and ignore the rest of the content. Content, irrespective of the format, is important for instructional designers and course developers, to get an in-depth knowledge on the subject. It provides them with a good foundation on the content, but they need to handle the content the way that best suits the course. So, what goes into the screen, what goes in visual form and what can be sent for audio narration – all these are decided by them.

It is for these reasons that ILT material needs to be repurposed and the content thus obtained needs to be chunked.

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