Etraining Breathes New Life Into Old Manuals (and saves your back)

Etraining Breathes New Life Into Old Manuals (and saves your back)

We might not have flying cars or robot helpers yet, but the future is definitely shaping up in one aspect; very soon we won’t have to carry ludicrously heavy manuals and textbooks anymore.So while there’s going to be a generation of learners and students who will never know the pain of having the corner of a heavy hardcover book dig in into their lower back, we can also add it to our cache of “back in my day..” stories.

How do I transform manuals and textbooks into etraining?

Here’s a three-step process that will get you on your way.

  1. Deal with the content

    You need to start simply when converting a manual into elearning. Begin by dividing the original material into logical subsets like chapters and lessons. Printed manuals will already have chapters defined to help provide direction and can be used as a starting point. Dividing the material also makes it easier for the learner to resume if they have to step away for a while and keeps the course itself from becoming too unwieldy. The chapters and lessons should have a clear learning objective; the focus should be on what the learner will be able to do after the chapter is complete, not what they should know. Keep the information relevant, focused and concise. There’s a limit to how much a person can learn in a period of time but leave the option open for more ambitious learners via links to supplemental materials. Your objective is what you want them to be able to do by the end of each chapter and lesson.

    Extract text-heavy portions of a manual into a more screen-friendly learning style with additional diagrams and infographics.

    Add a demonstration screencast using instructional steps already in the manual. The quizzes already in the book can easily be converted to online quizzes.

    Whenever possible, add practice exercises.

    Add well constructed scenario-driven courses with quality feedback. These can be hugely beneficial to help the learners practice, learn from their mistakes and retain more of the information.

  2. The minimum that the trainer can do is to present each lesson as a series of screens. However, etraining is more effective when it moves beyond being a glorified presentation. A good multimedia authoring tool will allow you to cover the basics and augment the course materials with quizzes, videos and other interactive elements.
  3. Progress needs to be tracked

    Let’s face it, hard-copy manuals are really bad at tracking progress. Sure you print the quiz, give it to the learner, give them a gold star when they pass. But does that really tell you anything other than how much the learner has memorized? Being able to execute effectively the information in a real-world situation is far more valuable. To see how a learner is doing at any point of the course allows the trainer to provide supplementary feedback and coaching if necessary. The course needs to be able to interface with an LMS (learning Management System) by being SCORM-compliant (Shared Content Objective Reference Model) so that managers can track trainee progress all the way to completion of each course, and so that users can also keep track of their own learning.

This blog post only goes over the basics when it comes to converting manuals to etraining. However, if you want to get ideas that will take your etraining to the next level, then you need to check out our free ebook Learn How To Create Performance Based eLearning. In it you’ll learn both how to create scenario-based courses that mirror real-world situations and how to create meaningful feedback that encourages users to learn from their mistakes. Additionally you will discover the kind of course authoring tool you’ll need to provide challenging and rich elearning.

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