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Production best practices when translating in-person programmes to online courses

eLearning was a growing industry before 2020, but the pandemic and its subsequent lockdowns meant many organisations had to make the shift almost overnight in order to continue delivering teaching and training. 

Paul Lancaster ELearning

When shifting in-person teaching to online formats, it’s not always as simple as recording a lecture and distributing course materials. Online courses which are little more than long lectures delivered to recorded PowerPoint slides run the risk of seeing low engagement and course completion rates, and will do little to allow learners to truly grasp the important topics you are looking to teach. 

There are in fact a number of design, production, and delivery best practices to keep in mind when building online programmes, that will help you steer clear of these issues. 

As Head of Development at Vensight Learn, I have been working with a range of organisations looking to improve their online courses, and have been able to create a crucial list of best practices which will help you to avoid pitfalls and make the most effective use of the video format to deliver the best results. 

Keep the content focused and dynamic:

  • Clearly structure and break down the content into manageable chunks that lend themselves to active learning.
  • Make sure you take out any extraneous or unnecessary stuff around the content, and really focus on the things that matter to the learners.
  • Immediately establish why this matters, and why it’s relevant, and demonstrate the unique value of the programme.
  • Design and build the content with your unique group of learners in mind. What do they need? What engages them most? How and when do they consume content like this?

Utilise the unique benefits that the video format offers:

  • Use ‘on the ground’ case studies and video footage that contextualise what the tutor is explaining.
  • Use infographics, data visualisations and animations to help visually explain complex ideas and information.
  • Use high-quality production values that demonstrate the stature of the course and that make the content clear. Poor quality production values can be distracting.
  • Use graphics and signalling to highlight important information on the screen.

Use people to deliver aspects of the course alongside the online content, where appropriate:

  • This could be to provide feedback or answer specific questions, and take place monthly or weekly.
  • Cohort style learning has real advantages. Encouraging interaction and feedback between learner peer groups builds engagement and improves learning experiences. 

Use technology appropriately:

  • Use functionality within your LMS or delivery method to encourage the learners to feedback. This could include things like quizzes or interactive elements.

Tutor specifically for online course delivery:

  • Use conversational language that builds a connection between the tutor and learners, including using accessible language, and avoiding jargon.
  • Speak quickly and with enthusiasm (approx 200-250 words per minute is ideal)
  • Provide tutors with expert coaching to support them through what may initially be a daunting process. 

eLearning offers a huge number of opportunities for a great education – but only when a dedicated approach is taken to ensure your learners are getting the most from it.

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The author

Paul is Head of Development at Vensight Media, working across eLearning and educational video content. He has 15 years’ experience working in media and production, including roles at Channel 4 and Film London and nearly ten years leading on education and content partnerships at The Guardian. This has involved working with a range of organisations from the Department of Health and the British Red Cross to the UN and the London School of Economics.

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