creating learning content

It’s pretty common for organizations to contact us with a really urgent need to get their learners up to speed on something right away. This urgency can be due to many different scenarios.

Here are a few I recently encountered:

  • A mining company was about to start work building a new diamond mine. The problem? They had more than 500 workers who had, by law, to undergo safety training before the first shovel of earth could be moved.
  • A hospital acquired a new electronic record application for their patients and had to get all staff comfortable using it immediately.
  • A training provider in the medical marijuana industry was overwhelmed with demand as regional legislation changed.

Given the scope of these initiatives, organizations such as these know they need a learning management system (LMS) to have any chance of meeting their deadlines. So they fast-track the selection process by quickly identifying a shortlist of systems through a Request for Information (RFI) questionnaire, scheduling demos, and testing each system.

The stakeholders involved in selecting the LMS are often the same people responsible for content creation. So, while the LMS evaluations, selection of the winning system, and implementation are taking place, little is gets done on the content creation part of their initiative.

As the go-live date approaches, these organizations typically have a beautiful, branded LMS, skilled administrators and no content. This is like inviting 100 guests to a housewarming dinner party next Saturday to show off your new home but you haven’t yet had a chance to buy furniture, dishes, a fridge and stove, food and beverages, etc.

If you find yourself with an urgent need to create learning content, here are some tips that may help speed up the process.

  • Keep it simple. Sure, courses with beautiful graphics, an original soundtrack, rich animations, and little cartoon characters that move their lips when they speak look fabulous. But they also take a long time to create.
  • Keep an open mind as to what is a course. A course can include anything that gets the message across: videos, documents, quizzes, presentations, tasks, a web cam pointed at someone or something, etc.
  • Target the most important content first. Create a list of what your learners need to know. Now prioritize it. Start at number one highest-priority topic on your list and work down. The nice-to-know stuff can come later.
  • There’s a huge amount of free stuff out there. You don’t need to create everything from scratch. You can embed existing material from sites such as YouTube, Wikipedia, etc. Likewise, there are innumerable sites offering free photos, clip-art, and more.
  • Create little nuggets. Our addiction to electronic devices and the Web has decimated our attention spans. So, you should create content that is easily consumed in short segments. If a lesson takes longer than five minutes to complete, ask yourself whether it could be broken into smaller chunks.
  • First get it out there it, then make it better. I’ve never met a productive perfectionist. If you can’t release a piece of content until it’s the most beautiful document/video/course/ etc. ever created, you’ll never be able to meet your deadline. First get the content out. Once the rush has been met, start working on making it better to wow future learners.