The training industry is always changing and evolving to meet the needs of learners. One of the biggest changes we’ve seen recently is the number of organizations that are shifting their training from in-person to e-learning. There are lots of reasons organizations are making this shift. Some are looking for a faster way to share training with staff, others transitioned to remote work because of the COVID-19 pandemic and could no longer offer classroom training, and still others want to offer more flexible training options. 

If your company is one of the organizations pivoting to offering more e-learning, you might suddenly be asked to create online courses. Maybe you’re an instructional designer who previously only created content for classroom training and now have to figure out how that translates to e-learning. Or maybe you’re a subject matter expert (SME) and you’ve been given the responsibility of creating training content for the very first time. 

No matter what the “why” is, suddenly being responsible for developing online training can feel a little overwhelming. But the good news is you don’t have to be an expert to create effective e-learning. In this article, we’ll walk you through some simple steps that will help you build e-learning courses without any prior online training experience. 

1. Enroll in Training

First, set yourself up for success by learning how to navigate the app you’ll use to create e-learning. If your company doesn’t already have an app for creating training, you’ll need to select one. There are lots of options out there, so to help you decide, we pulled together this article: Top 9 Considerations for Choosing the Right E-Learning Authoring App

It might be tempting to jump straight into creating courses, but taking the time upfront to learn best practices can save you lots of time and frustration down the road. 

Many apps offer resources—like Articulate 360 training—that help you quickly learn what you need to know in order to create e-learning fast. If the app you select doesn’t come with specific training or support, see if you can find helpful tutorials on YouTube or elsewhere online. 

2. Plan Your Workflow

Like with any project, it’s important to have a plan before you start building your e-learning. If you’ve never designed an online course before, you might be unsure where to begin. Luckily, you don’t have to start from scratch; there are two ready-made workflows to choose from: ADDIE and SAM.

  • ADDIE stands for Analysis, Design, Development, Implementation, and Evaluation—which are linear steps that you follow to complete your course. ADDIE works well for project teams made up of people with limited availability because it doesn’t require them to be constantly involved. Instead, you’ll seek their review and feedback at a few specific moments.
  • SAM stands for Successive Approximation Model. SAM uses iterative cycles to create the project—all while continually analyzing and refining work as it’s being produced. SAM can be useful when you’re collaborating with a team that’s committed to quickly and repeatedly reviewing a course as you refine it. The advantage of this approach is that issues can be detected earlier on, making it easier to adapt the course sooner rather than later, when changes can be more time-consuming and costly.

There isn’t necessarily a right or wrong model—it’s really up to you to determine which one will work best for your project needs.

3. Identify Objectives

The next step is to think about the purpose of the training and identify objectives—what you want learners to know or be able to do after they’ve completed the training. 

When creating training, it’s easy to get carried away and overshare details that aren’t absolutely necessary—especially if it’s a topic you’re particularly passionate about. As you think about what to include, ask yourself what people really need to know versus what might be nice for them to know. To avoid overwhelming learners or going on unnecessary tangents, only include what you’ve identified as essential.

Looking for guidance on identifying what information is truly necessary? Check out this article: The Dos and Don’ts of Separating Need-to-Know from Nice-to-Know.

4. Use a Template

When you’re ready to start building your course, save yourself some time by working with a customizable template. Many course creation apps have slide templates or even full course templates you can adjust to align with your branding and specific content. Once you’ve selected a template, you can quickly outline your course and update placeholder text and images with your own content. 

If you’re an Articulate 360 subscriber, Rise 360 has plenty of course templates for you to choose from, but there are also lots of project templates available right here at E-Learning Heroes! Check them out in the Downloads hub.

5. Ask for Help

When you’re building your first e-learning course, chances are you’re going to have some questions along the way. Did you know that there’s a forum here at E-Learning Heroes dedicated to helping people Build Better Courses? It’s a great place to go to ask questions. With our friendly community of over 1 million members, you’ll be sure to find help when you need it. You can also search the forums to see if someone else has already asked a question that’s on your mind and read what other folx have suggested. 


Creating your first e-learning course might seem intimidating at first, but hopefully, this article has you feeling more prepared to take on the task with confidence. By taking the time to get to know your course creation app, plan out your workflow, think about the course objectives, and find a helpful community of other e-learning developers, you’ll be on your way to creating e-learning in no time at all. 

Do you have any tips of your own for e-learning newbies? Share them in a comment below.

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