The 3 B’s of Training Content

For the longest time creating training content meant one of two things. You built the content utilizing your subject matter expertise or bought the content containing someone else’s subject matter expertise. Building content was relatively affordable while buying content was extremely expensive. More expensive than buying someone else’s content was paying someone to build your own. Today we finally have a more affordable option that combines these two common practices.

The newest concept is what we playfully call the third B of the 3 B’s. This is what we call Borrowing. You either buy/purchase content that’s been pre-built, you build it or hire someone to build your subject matter expertise into a course or what may be the most cost effective method of all you borrow it. Because of the internet Creative Commons Licensing Laws common pre-built content that is not private can be reused in your own material so long as it is not being presented as your own original thoughts.

Here’s the 3 options quickly explained. Build vs. Buy vs. Borrow

Build – This one is easy. You are creating training material from in house subject matter expertise. Whether it be from your own original thoughts, repurposing pre-built presentations and manuals, using 3rd party content editor or using the easy LearningZen pre-built editor. You are taking your own training material and hopefully creating engaging, interactive online training courses. This is the most cost effective way monetarily but it does take time to build courses so it is the most work. It’s going to be unique to just your business.

Buy –  Content can be thought of a few different ways. You can purchase an entire pre-built online training course built from a 3rd party vendor and import it into a LMS using the SCORM uploader. Vendors sell pre-built courses, subject matter experts build and sell pre-built content and stand-alone videos can be purchased to add to your original material. This is the most expensive option but it’s also the quickest. The downfall here is it is not your message, it is someone else’s. Customizing this content is harder and sometimes copyrighted making it impossible or illegal.

Borrow – This can be thought of as a combination of the first two. Pre-built content to borrow can be found in forms like YouTube videos, Vimeo video’s, Slideshow presentations found on sharing sites, images from third party vendors, Ted talks you’ve watched and infographics someone else created. There’s lots of types of pre-built shareable content. The advantage to this is you can borrow some sections and create or modify the content that doesn’t match up with your business. This is probably the quickest way to build content. If there’s a video you watched on YouTube that you wanted to train your staff on you could embed the video into a course, ask the students to answer questions about what they watched, assign it to them and track their understanding of content. Borrowing content is a lot like having access to the world’s largest content library. The possibilities are endless and you don’t need to reinvent the wheel. Someone built what you borrow and you still get to make tweaks to make it your own.

So, in summary we’ve outlined 3 options. Building is the most time consuming but doesn’t cost you anything other than your time. Buying is the most expensive option but the quickest. Borrowing is very inexpensive but you still need to add some of your own time to pull this information into a course. 

5 Tools Everyone Should Be Using for Online Training

This should be easy since I’m in the business of advising my clients all the time on tools they should be using to build online training. I’ve been in the training field for about 20 years as an instructor/trainer/instructional designer/LMS implementer/LMS/Administrator/speaker/facilitator/sales rep/service technician/support analyst. If it involves training and education I’ve done it. So, I figured I could list out some obvious and not so obvious tools that will help you build engaging online training courses that can educate and protect your business. After all, it’s no secret that well-trained employees are the core of any successful business.

1. Video – Super obvious, right? Video is the great equalizer. It allows you and your message to be consistently delivered to anyone at any time. It’s a duplicator or the closest thing we’ve come to it. It’s a great idea to tell all your employees how something should be done but if you can show them too it becomes a no brainer. We invest in expensive equipment, costly insurance policies, branding and marketing but what about the brand itself? The people you have representing you are the brand so make darn sure they know how to do their job. Showing them with video in addition to in person is the best and most cost-effective way to save money in the long run. The best thing about this is almost everyone is walking around with a great video camera on their smart phone and editing video has become so easy. Don’t pay high dollar productions costs when your employees care way more about the substance than the sizzle.

2. Images – I’m not talking cute little clip art pics but pictures of your business equipment, your employees and your surroundings. When employees log in to take an online training course and see pictures of fellow employees, equipment they recognize or facilities they work at, it tends to resonate so much more then general web based and often purchased at a high cost images. Why pay for images that can be photographed by you?

3. Gamification – Interactive Games are a great way to get your audience engaged in the learning process while also keeping it fun. There’s a lot of gaming tools and sites out there but we love the ease and price (free) of Quizlet. Check it out here

4. Quizzes & Assessments – Okay, this is an obvious one for me but I am always surprised how few people actually implement this into their e-learning materials. It’s doing a few things. Quizzes help you engage your audience in interactions to help drive home learning messages. It can also be a pause point for some quick reflection about the lesson you just taught all the while ensuring your audience isn’t just going through the motions, clicking next and moving to the exam. Lastly, those final exams are what helps you determine if lessons are being comprehended. They also help point out strengths and weaknesses in areas of expertise you want your audience to learn. Most LMS’s will give you statistics on which questions are being answered correctly, helping to identify strengths and weaknesses of your staff or learning audience. Use this information. If your target passing threshold of a question is 65% and your audience is only passing it at 30% there is an obviously glaring need to address the content of that question so the learners have a better chance at retaining that information.

5. Third party embed code sites. These are the websites you get to borrow pre-built material from. Why don’t people do this more often for standard training information? Someone has usually gone through the trouble and effort to build out the training material for you. Why not grab that material for free and use it and you focus on building what is your unique messages and lessons? I’m talking about sites like YouTube, Vimeo, SlideShare, SlideBoom, PowToon, JibJab, and Prezi. There’s tons of cool sites, this is just a shout out to the obvious ones.

There you have it, 5 tools that will help you build a world class, fun and interactive learning experience without breaking the bank. Every one of these suggestions is a free way to help design engaging learning modules.