Buying an elearning course off the shelf can be a great decision. We can’t be subject matter experts in everything, and particularly when it comes to fast-changing legislation or critical compliance issues, we need to make sure we tick all the boxes. It’s rare, however, to find a ready-made course that fits your organisation’s requirements exactly – so what should you consider editing, and which changes will have the biggest impact? Read on to discover five easy ways to update off-the-shelf elearning.
1: Get on-brand
No doubt the marketing or communications department will be on your case about this straight away, but it really is important: use your organisation’s colours, logos and other imagery to make it recognisably yours. It’s a simple step that only takes a few minutes, but checking you have the branding right can make a big difference. Don’t forget:
- Colours: ask your marketing or graphic design team for the hex codes for any brand colours to make sure they’re bang on (these are unique six-character combinations of numbers and letters, like #8BC300 for a bright yellow toned green). Your organisation may already have a brand or style guide that includes these
- Logo: you could go for a few options here, depending on where the logo will appear; you might want to use a logo with or without a strapline, and in a couple of sizes. PNG format is usually your best bet
- Other images: do you have any other visual elements that usually form part of your brand? These might be smaller versions of your logo, or emblems that are used on your website
2: Add relevant examples
Ultimately, the purpose of workplace learning isn’t to get facts into people’s brains; it’s to improve performance. Good elearning contains practical scenarios that help learners relate their new knowledge to everyday situations. It’s definitely worth reading through any case studies or real-world examples in the course you’ve bought, and making some simple edits to bring them into line with your sector, industry or customer base. Your organisation has its own unique angle; make sure you play to your strengths when personalising off-the-shelf courses. Consider these ideas:
- Replace examples in a course with a practical focus to make them directly relevant to your learners: cite a manual handling scenario that would happen in your warehouse, a dialogue that you’ve heard on the contact centre floor, or a safety issue that could easily come about in your employees’ environment
- If possible, use a real case study from your industry in a compliance course (like data protection, money laundering or anti-bribery). Present the facts of the case and ask learners to make a choice: how would they have acted? Use interactions and carefully-worded feedback to encourage employees to reflect on their decisions. A real case will certainly bring the abstract facts into sharper focus!
- Use language that puts your learners directly into the shoes of the characters in any example scenarios, in an engaging way: asking people to make a decision themselves increases their emotional investment, which can boost learning. Which of these questions would you rather face in an elearning course, and which do you think would stick with you?
- Jane has discovered a potential GDPR breach. She found a spreadsheet of customer data where it shouldn’t have been. What should she do?
- You’re browsing the company’s shared drive when you come across a spreadsheet that your cantankerous colleague Jim made a couple of years ago, called ‘Problem Customers’. Something catches your eye; it looks like Jim has accidentally made the link open-access. What will you do next?
3: Switch the visuals
Just like the scenarios, it’s a good idea to adapt images in the course to suit your learners’ specific needs. Make sure any photographs closely represent the real-world situation in which they’ll need to apply their new knowledge; evidence suggests this can make a difference to how effectively people put learning into practice. If it’s feasible, think about getting hold of some photos of the actual places or people your employees will come across. Here are some examples:
- Make an off-the-shelf health and safety course more relevant by asking staff to identify hazards in their own office or factory
- Include images of the retail store employees will be working in every day to boost customer service training retention
- Make sure photos of the fire extinguishers or fire exits in your workplace are added to the ready-made fire safety course you’ve bought, so people are more likely to remember their location in an emergency
To find out more, take a look at our article 8 ways to use images for maximising the impact of elearning.
4: Make it personal
Depending on the content of the course you’re editing, you might find a good opportunity to bring in a personal message from your organisation’s leadership, or perhaps a peer who has experience in the subject matter being covered. A short video near the beginning of the course can be a great way to do this.
You can also use an off-the-shelf course as part of a blended learning programme, alongside other forms of instruction or opportunities to learn socially. Why not create a company-wide social communication channel (on Slack, Teams or equivalent) for employees to discuss the learning material, or use them in tandem with a traditional classroom or hands-on session? Don’t forget the impact that mentoring and coaching can have, too; how is your elearning offering tying in to these powerful interpersonal tools for development?
5: Link to internal resources
All learning opportunities are more effective when they offer a lasting benefit to employees. Consider how the learners will need to use the information presented in this course as they go about their daily work. Will it have an impact on processes they need to follow, or tasks they complete routinely? If this is the case, it makes sense to include links to resources that staff can use in the flow of their work. This might be a simple checklist, a process diagram or cheat sheet, or even a quick instructional video. If you can, make a clear connection between the course content and these useful resources that employees can reach for while they’re working. Many authoring tools will include a section for downloadable resources within the course, so make the most of it!
Ready-made elearning courses can be a godsend for busy learning and development professionals. But by making a few simple tweaks to make their content relevant, engaging and personal to your learners, you can maximise their impact in your organisation and get real value for money.
If you’re looking for high quality, off-the-shelf, engaging elearning courses on a range of subjects from data security to stress management, take a look at Nimble Courses. All our courses are fully editable and written by experienced learning designers to the latest standards.