How do you decide if online training is best?

Nov 05, 2014

Does anyone have any good resources where I can start learning about how to decide what training is appropriate for transferring to an online format? Within my company, I have many people come to me and ask if I can make their training into an online course. Sometimes it makes sense, but other times it doesn't. I don't really have a solid argument for why because I haven't done much research on this. I need to be educated to make my reasons hold. And sometimes I struggle with knowing how to decide which curriculum works best in which format. 


4 Replies
Holly MacDonald

Hi Jill

That's a big question! This takes years to really figure out - you have to be able to do rapid analysis and consult with your internal clients.

You could start with some research on instructional analysis: or selecting instructional methods:

In general - some content is a great fit for self-paced elearning, such as process oriented content, compliance and "overview" topics, These are often "knowledge-based".

Tom's done posts on this, for example: and Cathy Moore offers a very practical approach called Action Mapping that can also help

Content that is more "skills-based" is a little harder to capture in a self-paced elearning course, but can be done by adding scenarios, interactive video, etc.

I usually consider a "whole" solution for my clients - elearning is often a component, sometimes a large component, but I try to get them to consider the other things that will help: manager guide, performance support, a classroom portion (yes, there are some places this makes sense), labs, field observation, follow-up webinars, etc. Right now I'm also taking a course by email through - so there are LOTS of options to deliver training. 

I'd also encourage you to look beyond the content as you do your research. Think about how many learners (cost-benefit), how often the material will change (maintenance issues), risk of internal experts leaving, urgency (if you need to reach lots of people quickly), etc.

Hope that helps, feel free to reach out if you want to talk further.


Brent deMoville

I agree with Holly's advice.  I also use a quick guide of looking at how the content is currently delivered.  If the instructor led course is taught in a "talking head" kind of manner with little interaction, activities, or questions, then I think an e-learning module can almost always be an improvement.

If the course requires the instructor to answer a lot of clarifying questions or if there is a strong skills practice component then I would lean toward a blended approach.  We often use the e-learning as a prerequisite before attending an instructor led practice session.

Nicola Redfearn

Some great resources there. Thanks Holly!  I will definitely look through.

I want to give another vote to Cathy Moore's action mapping and also add this part of it.  Is Training Really the answer.

I find this flow chart very useful to thinking through how to approach the training request.



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