Offering online training courses is the way of the future — and also, the present. With the shift to online learning and remote work, the need for high quality online course platforms is more important than ever. Particularly in the health and fitness industry, we’re seeing more and more blended learning workshops being offered.
If you’re used to offering live courses and are looking to create online workshops instead (or in addition to), it can feel a bit overwhelming. How can you determine what separates a stellar platform from a lackluster one? Here are some important things to keep in mind as you do your research.
The best online course platforms will be easy for everyone to use. Of course, this will mean your end user — the people taking your training courses — but it also means the people who are actually creating and building your training modules.
You’ve spent a lot of time creating the content for your online training course. You and your team have written scripts and instructions, shot videos, conducted photo shoots, and tinkered with everything until it was just right. You’ve poured a lot of thought into how you want it to be delivered, and you don't want a platform that slows you down, or can’t give you the options you need.
What you need more than anything is an online course platform that helps you deliver the course you’ve designed exactly the way you want. You want it to help you, not hinder you. You don’t want to waste time trying to figure out a user interface that feels clunky and cumbersome.
We think it’s important to make a training platform feel familiar and intuitive, so the Inspire360 user interface is based on design principles that will easily coincide with programs you’re already used to — even if you’re not particularly tech savvy. We take a lot of pride in making sure almost anyone can use our training platforms.
Obviously the most important party here is the end user. You need them to be able to navigate through your online training course with ease and efficiency because that’s what keeps your business running. Whether they’re working for you or for a client of yours, the faster you can get trainees through the course, the faster they can get to work.
Effective online courses are well-paced, user-friendly, intuitive, and most importantly, they offer quality content that helps the trainee progress in their career. Therefore, it’s critical that your course platform helps you achieve that goal.
The platform you choose must be quick and responsive. Slow load times and tech glitches will only serve to aggravate your audience, and will eventually cause complaints.
Speaking of end users, it’s important to remember that they won’t necessarily be using a desktop computer when they complete training courses. They might not even own a traditional laptop — they might be working with a tablet connected to a keyboard, a tablet without a keyboard, or even a smartphone. Therefore, you need to choose an online course platform that can accommodate mobile-friendly responsive design.
If the term “responsive design” is unfamiliar to you, it refers to the way content appears across multiple devices. Rather than creators needing to design four different versions of a training course (for smartphones, laptops, tablets, etc), responsive design allows you to create one design, which automatically adapts to whatever device they’re using. It’s done on the back end so your users all have a similar experience, regardless of what device they’re using to complete their training course.
There’s something satisfying about seeing a checklist being completed, or a progress bar moving across a screen. It helps us conceptualize how much work has been completed and how much work we still have to do. User-friendly online course platforms will make it easy for trainees to track their progress and keep track of their completed certifications. This is helpful for both the trainees and those administering the training because it keeps everyone on the same page.
From an administrative point of view, it can also help determine where people might be getting stuck or having trouble with the course design. If people are routinely slowing down in one particular module, it may signal a technical issue, or unclear instructions.
One important aspect of certification is that the trainee is able to walk away with a certificate to prove completion. Students will need this piece of paper in order to show potential employers or clients that they have the necessary training in order to do a good job.
High quality online course platforms will incorporate digital pre-fabricated certificates (complete with your branding). The platform will autofill necessary information, such as the trainee’s name and the certification title, and then generate the certificate upon completion. Trainees can print them when they wrap up their coursework, or choose to save them as a file on their computer.
Some experts theorize that people have different learning styles, meaning that the way in which they process information is different. Other experts believe that we all learn in exactly the same way. Regardless of which theory is correct, what’s important is that what attracts and holds people’s attention varies widely. As such, it’s important to choose an online course platform that will allow you to use multiple types of media.
Being able to incorporate images, videos, written content, graphics, and anything else you can dream of will help people stay engaged, process information in a way that is best suited to their needs, and keep the training interesting. No one wants to sit through a boring training course, but it’s also less likely that they’ll be able to retain pertinent information if they’re not engaged — and that’s not good for their careers.
Furthermore, we’re dealing with fitness education here. It’s important for trainees to see proper form demonstrated so they know what to look for to prevent injury. Having demonstrative images and videos are very helpful resources.
The best online course platforms will also build in e-commerce capabilities so you can have a one-stop shop for all of your training course requirements. No one wants to sign up for your training course on one website and then go to another to pay — that’s far too great a hassle and will diminish the user experience.
With Inspire360, not only can you sell your courses through our platform, but you can allow people to choose payment plans, enter coupon codes, and even accept international payments. If you already have an e-commerce platform you prefer, you can even incorporate it into the Inspire360 platform to make the process as seamless as possible for your trainees.
Perhaps one of the best parts of our digital, on-demand world is the convenience it affords. If someone needs to wait to complete their training requirements until their children are in bed, or until they get home from their full-time job, or in the middle of the night because of their work schedule, online courses are perfect. But it’s also nice to have the option to take live courses. It’s like taking college courses online versus taking classes in-person.
Being able to ask a live teacher questions in real time can be an important part of the learning process for some people. Inspire360 allows you to set up live sessions in which you can also provide materials for trainees to review ahead of time, plus follow-up materials, certificates, and necessary assessments.
Feedback is critical in all course development, but for online courses, it’s even more important because you don’t get the real life, nonverbal feedback of your trainees. You can’t see their reactions, or the fact that they’re doing something incorrectly. You need to know when something is confusing or needs improvement, and in order to get that information, you need evaluations.
Inspire360’s online course platform has the option of providing course evaluations upon completion so you can see what’s working and what isn’t. This will help you further fine-tune your courses and adapt as necessary. Having this all within the same platform increases the likelihood that your trainees will actually fill out the evaluation.
It should come as no surprise that your chosen online course platform needs to provide some kind of technical support component. You never know the level of comfort your potential audience has with technology and online learning. You may be dealing with a group of people who have never taken a course online, and if that’s the case, they’re going to have a lot of questions that you need to be able to answer.
Furthermore, people may have issues with processing payments or navigating the course (no matter how user-friendly you make it). The important thing is that trainees have someone to contact if they’re having trouble.
In our digital world, it’s critical to take data security seriously. Not only do you need to protect your own training materials, but you need to ensure that your trainees’ personal and payment information is safely secured.
The best online course platforms will take care of this on the back end for you. This isn’t something you need to be worried about on top of everything else you’re working on. Inspire360 works tirelessly to keep our clients’ information safe.
Being able to track your trainees’ habits and data with regard to their progress throughout the course can help you determine what is working with your online training course and what isn’t. It can point you in the direction of a problem you didn’t realize existed.
When compared with testing data, you can also find patterns that can help you improve your courses. If you find that trainees are consistently getting something wrong in the assessments, you might realize that some information wasn’t as clear as it could be. This information can help you make adjustments for the next group of trainees.
Perhaps one of the most important aspects of online course platforms is that they adapt to whatever you need them to be. Having a versatile, flexible platform that lets you incorporate exactly what you need to for each type of training will only serve to help you offer a better product, which will keep you in business.
Furthermore, being able to brand the training course with your own logo and color palette will help you offer a more professional-looking product, which will help garner faith and trust from newcomers.
Automated emails can be a great feature in an online course platform in terms of keeping trainees engaged. You can touch base before scheduled training courses to make sure they know what prerequisites are required, remind them which modules still need to be completed, send surveys upon completion, and ask for feedback.
You can set the terms of this automation based on conditional terms. For example, when someone registers for a new course, they can receive a confirmation email listing important information, such as the time of the live session and how to access the course. When they complete half of the course, they could get another email telling them that they’re doing a great job and they’re halfway done. When they finish, they could get an email reminding them to take the survey.
Most of the effort with these automated emails is up-front, so once they’re set, you can forget about them and let us handle the rest.
Regardless of the reason someone signs up for an online training course (professional development, personal fulfillment, renewing a certification, etc), they’re looking for the same qualities: an easy-to-use interface, clear instructions, engaging content, help when they need it, and secure data.
We might be biased, but our online course platform is one of the best because it ticks all of these boxes and many, many more. We want our clients to feel as comfortable creating their online training courses as the trainees feel using it, so we put a lot of effort into the development of a high quality platform. We want to make it as easy as possible for our clients to conduct business — and given the continual shift to online education, we only anticipate this need growing with time.
To get started with Inspire360, contact us or request a demo so you can see how our online course platform can work for you.