Online Training and e-Coaching Tips

Productize Your Training

July 9, 2013 10:04 by

You are a professional trainer who has, over the years, delivered hundreds of training sessions about more or less the same topics. Maybe you are even renowned for one specific topic. In that case, you are probably always booked full. If you had a duplicate, you would have no trouble at all delivering twice as many training sessions.

So, why not create that duplicate? Or rather, an automated version of your most successful training. No, using a computer to deliver your training does not create the same experience. Your personal presence and interaction with your trainees adds irreplaceable value. This is because during every training session, you know how to address the customer’s unique needs.

But think about this: you know so much about your specialty, that even a training addressing the lowest  common denominator of all your customers’ needs is still very valuable. Let me put that in other words: you have been to so many customers, that you know which problems they all have in common.

So, I am going to tell you that you should distill your experience in an online training. In this training, you address the problems all of your customers have experienced. After having completed the training, your customers’ employees will now operate in a level playing field. This will do two things for you:

  • Create an independent source of income
  • Increase demand for your expertise

Wait, why would you need that last bullet point? You were already overbooked, right? Yes, but now you can refer your customers to your online training for their basic training needs. During your live training sessions you can focus on the unique needs that set one customer apart from the other customers. In other words, you first help them enter a level playing field (with your online training) and then you assist them in creating a strategic advantage by leveraging their internal strengths.

cashierLet me give you an example: suppose your specialty is in training supermarket cashiers. All of your customers (franchise owners or higher management operating supermarket chains) require that you train their cashiers in operating the cash register. This is what I have called the lowest common denominator. You should create an online training which contains a simulation of a cash register and a line of supermarket patrons. Yeah, I know, an actual simulation would require hiring a programmer – but it’s the idea here that counts. (And given enough customers, the return on investment demands that you actually hire that programmer).

Now you are free to focus on the unique requirements of each supermarket. Maybe one supermarket has a focus on providing excellent customer service to the elderly and disabled. So your training for this particular client focuses on these aspects of the job of the cashier. Another supermarket chain wants to emphasize the “no questions asked refunds”, so you incorporate that into your training.

In short: you have just productized (a part of) your training. Selling your training as a product allows you to create an independent source of income. While you are away delivering a training for a specific customer, the employees of ten other customers are concurrently taking the online training.

In another blog post I have addressed the software and online tools you can use to productize your training, specifically through e-learning. If you already have experience using online training to complement your live training sessions, I’d love to hear about it in the comments section.



How to Create an Online Training

May 6, 2013 9:00 by

Increasingly, professional trainers and coaches are requested to deliver their training online, in part or even entirely. This post shows you how to fulfill that request by creating an online version of your training. What I cover here is relevant even if part of your training is delivered face-to-face, as is often the case.

Use an LMS to Deliver Your Online Training

Before we get started, let me give you some advice: don’t just digitize your existing training materials. Instead, familiarize yourself with a learning management system (lms). If you’re not a professional trainer or coach, you probably can make do with a bunch of powerpoint  presentations, pdf documents and so on, and put them on your website.


An LMS is not an abstract futurist concept

However, professionals in the field of training and coaching use a learning management system to deliver online training.  Yes, I know it has “learning” in the title, but don’t let that misguide you. An lms really is the natural environment for an online training. Moreover, it’s not an abstract futurist concept but a tool that’s being used by organizations big and small on a daily basis.


Preparing the Online Training

In many ways, the preparation of an online training is not that different from preparing for delivering any other training. You should:

  • Find out what the skill deficiencies are, compared to the goals the business or organization is trying to achieve
  • Create the outlines of the training
  • Get all stakeholders aligned (engage domain experts, get management buy-in, inform participants)

This is your field of expertise, so I’m not going to dwell on this much longer. Just one more tip regarding the actual participants of your training. If online training is new in their organization and they’re skeptical, you need their buy-in as well.

For instance, you should think about asking them what they think they need to learn for their job. Gathering and processing this kind of information is easily done through a survey on your lms. And it signals that online training offers added value to the recipients.

Engaging the Stakeholders

Create a role for each stakeholder. Typical roles are:

  • trainer
  • participant (trainee)
  • domain expert (subject matter expert)
  • participants’ manager

The manager usually only gets to see the end results of the training (aggregated data for each participant). So let’s talk about the other roles.

Trainer – Your role should be to guide the training, to respond to questions and to initiate discussion among participants.

Participant – It’s important to have participants interact with each other. Consider creating discussion groups supported by forums. Ask all participants to create, in the lms, an online profile which includes their picture, job title, skills and interests.

Domain Expert – If your training focuses on a specific domain, get the domain experts involved. I don’t mean just in the course of creating the training, but also as advisors who will chime in during the training. For instance, ask them to participate in forum discussions.

Creating the Content

Creating content for an online training is basically applied instructional design. Applied where? In a learning management system. An online training then, corresponds with what’s usually called a course in an lms. A course consists of smaller components called topics. A topic exists to fulfill a training need: it should address a specific (part of a) skill deficiency. Topics are composed of activities and (multimedia) sources. An example of an  activity might be an online assignment (“list your professional goals for the next five years”) or a test or quiz.

Here’s a simple format to create a topic in an lms:

  • Goal: what skill deficiencies are we addressing in this topic, what is the topic about?
  • Criteria for evaluation: how do we know that the participant has successfully tackled the topic?
  • Time investment for the participant: how much time does the participant need to tackle the topic?
  • Resources needed by the participant: what information does the participant need and in what shape do we offer that information (e.g. a text or a movie)?
  • Activity type: what should the participant to do to alleviate the skill deficiency? Typically, each activity is designed to create a specific training experience.

Do a Pilot First

Once you have created the content, you should do a pilot first, especially if you are new to online training. If the organization has doubts about online training, establish credibility with a pilot. As a matter of fact, instructional designers I know who are working within large enterprises always test a new online training with a subgroup first.


After the pilot, and indeed at the end of each online training session, evaluate the results.

A typical lms accumulates a wealth of data about the participant:

  • Grading or scoring results (provided you’ve been using scored training activities of course) as a group average, for each participant, or for each activity.
  • For each participant: total time spent in the lms, time spent on each training activity.
  • Actual raw data such as test results, contributions to forum discussions, survey results.

Of course, the results should ultimately always be evaluated against the goals of the organization or the business. More specifically: how does the training transfer to the workplace?

Rinse and Repeat

There is no reason to stop the training once the official course is over. Keep the LMS open and encourage all participants to share their experiences in putting the training to work. You can even reinforce the training at regular intervals (say, every two or three months) using micro-interventions. But that’s a topic for another post.


I found these sites of great value while writing this post:

1 comment

Using Training Materials From Others

April 1, 2013 18:08 by

How do you create your training programme in no time at all? Just buy the training materials and use them to compose your own online training sessions inside your learning management system.


A scorm package is a container which facilitates sharing online training materials

Every modern learning management system (lms) supports a universal standard for exchanging training materials: SCORM. Scorm stands for Shareable Content Object Reference Model, but you can forget about that (I always do). The really important thing about scorm is that you can create learning content or a training unit, package it in a scorm zip and export it to another lms. Of course, the reverse is also true: you can import somebody else’s scorm package as well.

But what do these words mean, learning content, training unit? Most scorm packages I have encountered so far, consist of fifteen, thirty to 120 minute sessions about a specific topic. The training participant logs in to your lms, opens the scorm package (just like any other online training activity, usually by hitting a button or clicking a link), does whatever is inside the package and receives a score (or at the very least a “completed” check mark).

Once the user clicks the link to the scorm unit, the scorm player takes over. The scorm player is the software inside the lms that “reads” the scorm package and “plays it back”. In the background, it does the presentation, evaluates any answers the participant may enter and computes the final score (if there is one). The score is transmitted to the lms, which stores it together with the name of the user for future reference (e.g. to make it available in a grade book).

How does this differ from using a training activity provided by the lms itself (e.g a quiz or test)? Well, it doesn’t until you would want to export the activity to another training platform. Okay, I told you to forget what scorm stands for, but one part is important: the shareable part. A scorm package can be shared across all e-learning systems which support the standard (and there are a lot of those out there).

Practical Note on Using Scorm

Your lms should already contain a scorm player, but I’m going to tell you to get another one. This way, in case of any problems with a scorm package you can always verify that the problem resides with the scorm package and not the settings of your lms. Simply try to play the scorm package in your standalone scorm player. If the problems persist, there’s probably nothing wrong with your lms’ settings.

Download SCORM training materials

So where do you find scorm trainings? Here are a few online markets where you can download scorm packages but also offer your own for sale.

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