Software-training-specific elearning resources

Oct 24, 2011


I've been doing lots of research into elearning options the past few days. There's some excellent resources. Favorites so far, besides this forum, are the Rapid Elearning Blog and Cathy Moore's Making Change blog.

However I've not found many resources specifically on using elearning to teach software. When I Google for "software elearning" I get a lot of resources about elearning software, not about using elearning to teach software to users. It's enough to make a grown man cry.

So... any good resources / blogs particularly on using elearning to teach users of software?



11 Replies
Afua Gyasi

I have the same problem with my company. We use a lot of systems hence most of our training is hours and hours in the classroom. We are however looking at ways by which we can streamline and incorporate some of this systems training online to same time. I searched the internet but just like David; could not find anything specific on systems training through elearning. Currently I do a lot of simulataions ( i mean screen recordings) but thats about it.

I would really love some ideas and/or best practises on this topic.

Thank you.

Natalia Mueller

Hi David!

I know you already mentioned Cathy Moore but did you know she has a Technical Training section of her blog under eLearning Blueprint? There is some great info in there and it's free. Along those lines, be sure to also google search under "Technical Training" and "Systems Training". It's called so many different things.

Here's where Cathy does an overview 

The eLearning Blueprint - Technical Training 

and here is an older post Tom K did on software training that has some great pointers too

The biggest challenge I have is determining how much to put in the course and how to break it up. I like the method of starting with the end result - what do we need them to do once training is complete - and then keep stepping backwards to determine what the prerequisites are for each action. Do they already have some base knowledge on the topic (such as an existing process in paper) or is everything about it new? Know your starting point. If they don't have a foundation, be sure to build them one. This can be difficult when a SME is making the training because they know the system so well it can be hard for them to even think of the most basic elements that to them is like breathing, but everyone else really needs those pieces to not constantly feel 2 steps behind the instruction.

Another big consideration, are there already help resources? When they step away from the course and attempt to use the software, they shouldn't have to pull the whole course back up to find the steps again. If resource materials already exist, the course is a great place to show them where to find their resources (teach them "to fish" so they know the first place they should go for help). If they don't already exist, you've pretty much identified a need. Most of my technical courses have corresponding job aids. I've stopped attaching them to the course because the job aids get updated with every system enhancement. The full courses only get updated after major changes.

Side tip while I'm thinking of it- be careful linking directly to frequently updated documents, especially if someone else updates them. Not everyone thinks to maintain the existing link when updating a document.

I apologize if I strayed too far from your original question. I'd love to see what tips others have addition to online resources you all use.

Holly MacDonald

David, really useful question!

I work with clients who design/develop software to refine and define their training approach. It is certainly not as rich as the others. I have found searching for "best practices" as a search term gets more resources, such as:

Search for "best practices in customer training" by Bersin 2004 - a little bit dated, but very useful insights.

I use the Five Moments of Need pretty extensively as a design framework as well. - 

And, while this isn't geared specifically to software training, the multimedia principles do apply: and

This isn't research based, but here's a quick & dirty way I've dealt with training people for a software rollout in the past:

Love to see what others have on this topic!


Sheila Bulthuis

I don’t know if they’re best practices, but there are a couple of things I do pretty consistently for systems training and they seem to work well:

1.        As much as possible, break the sims into specific tasks.  Then string those sims together to create a course (or courses – maybe different users have to do different combinations of those tasks). 

2.       I often create a course that has the contextual info (here’s what this system does for us, this is why it’s important, this is how it fits into your job, etc.) with the sims embedded within it, with intro info for each sim (“Now we’re going to see how to XYZ, which is often a good way to…”.

3.       Instead of (or sometimes in addition to, depending oon client preference) paper-based job aids, I’ll publish mini-tutorials – basically, each sim, published standalone, without any of the contextual info, This serves as a great reinforcement and support tool.

Hope that’s helpful!

Sue McKibben

I also struggle with the same dilema.  It seems that we are needing to move more of our training to an online environment.  I have found that it is best (for our audience) to keep the training as short as possible.  However, given some of the topics, that is difficult.  I frequently use Adobe Captivate to create screencasts, but I would prefer to find another solution, given all the problems I have with their numerous Flash updates - which sometimes "break" my tutorials. 

I recently tried something new and created an online version of a presentation I created to promote Atomic Learning.  I work for a University and I wanted to promote the use of Atomic Learning as a means of providing just-in-time software support and training.  I provided an in-person presentation, but I also created this on-line version for anyone who could not attend, or wanted to follow-up.  It also allowed me to provide the job aids I created to accompany the presentation. 

Here is the presentation:

I am still fairly new to using Articulate, so I am open to suggestions anyone has regarding my presentation!

Natalia Mueller

Sue, great job! There was a lot I liked about your presentation. There was a good text to graphics balance and I really like the hand drawn elements. One suggestion regarding the Outline (Table of Contents) - you can go into the Articulate tab and use Slide Properties to  "hide" slides so you don't get duplicate titles in the Table of Contents. In my courses, I typically leave the first slide of each topic visible and then hide every slide that follows until I get to the next topic. This way the Table of Contents is free of duplicates and it also makes it easy for the user to quickly navigate to the beginning of any section within the TOC. 

Are you familiar with the Slide Properties? I'm not on a computer with Articulate at the moment or I would show you some screen shots. Let me know if you would like to see an example and I'll find one for you.

Greg Rudl

Why not use the Cp software simulation with modes demo, assessment and training? You want to train the monkeys to click the right buttons, fill in the right text, select the right hyperlinks in the right order-correct? Well Cp does it that well. The question then becomes how/when to remove cues, so they're not simply clicking where the arrow is pointing to, but carefully studying the UI to determine where to click next. Maybe a game where you get 10 missed clicks and have to complete a task on the software you are trying to train them on?

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