Custom E-Learning Development: Win at Online Training with Tailored Content

Online learning is changing the game for companies, enabling a smarter, more productive workforce. It all begins with the right training program.


But, with so many learning management systems and training content providers out there, how can HR and L&D teams maximize their corporate training efforts?


There are many popular topics where reinventing the wheel may not make sense. However, custom e-learning content has some perks that L&D leaders should weigh before determining the right ratio of custom to third-party training.


Custom e-learning courses have built-in benefits


In addition to the cost savings and scalability of using an online learning platform vs. in-person training, creating custom content can also:


  • Enhance relevance - when the content and examples included directly apply to the learners’ jobs, content can be retained in a more emotional way than generic content would.
  • Reinforce company brand and culture - branded courses can build on the company look and personality, especially when key company players are featured in some of the materials.
  • Provide greater control - owning the content means you can make updates on the fly, then deploy them company-wide — no “red tape” required.


Now that you know why customization is key for corporate training, here’s the how:


How to create custom e-learning courses


Creating custom courses in your LMS shouldn’t take long — but only if you do your homework first. Follow these best practices to put your best content forward:


Identify your audience(s)


Think about the subject at hand, and who needs to know this information. Is it something more general that most employees should understand, or is it more targeted to a specific department or job role? List out all of the potential audiences who will view your content.


What you may find is that you can break up larger topics into introductory, intermediate, and expert levels, then create multiple useful courses centered around one main topic. You can then use your LMS to assign the appropriate course to employees by job title or other factors.


Sketch or storyboard out the course


Create a loose outline of the key points you’d like to include in the course. Then brainstorm the types of content that will help convey your messages in ways that are relevant and engaging.

The beauty of creating custom content from scratch is being able to recruit subject-matter experts to feature in your courses — whether in photos or video.


Be sure to keep course length in mind, as modern learners have short attention spans. If your material takes longer than 10 minutes to cover, break it into smaller courses that are easier to digest.   


Find a way to work in video


Video is the versatile medium  your custom courses shouldn’t live without. From step-by-step demonstrations to role-playing scenarios, a few minutes of footage can leave a lasting impression in your workers’ minds (especially when you enable in-video comments to help trainees learn from their peers). These clips don’t need to include over-the-top production value, but should be more compelling than a talking head.


When they view comments and questions in real time, real social learning occurs.  


Keep their attention


Make sure learners are doing more than passively clicking through screens or watching a video — build in quiz questions to keep workers engaged and to gauge how well they are grasping the information. If they miss several quiz questions, send them back to the beginning to retake the course and try again.


Your LMS should have the functionality to switch up the types of questions on the next go round, so they can’t just memorize the answers and “cheat” on the next attempt.





Ask for feedback


This step is often overlooked, but a few key critiques from early course takers can help optimize the content for future learners. Analyze the feedback you receive from in-course quizzes, and send out an online survey to collect learner input.



Think outside of HR and L&D


Fortunately, customizing online courses doesn’t always mean you have to DIY from start to finish. Beef up your e-learning library with these tactics:  



Customize third-party content


Some LMSs come pre-loaded with several courses many companies would need to share with their employees. Think of them as a head start on creating your e-learning content, but with the added benefit of customization. Make third-party and preloaded courses your own by:


  • Removing unnecessary content
  • Incorporating corporate branding
  • Adding in videos or slides that include relevant examples
  • Embedding quizzes to help with retention



Flip the script on employees


Having to teach a subject requires that the instructor actually understands it. To add to your custom e-learning library with real-world and relevant examples, ask top performers to create a course or video tutorial on a specific topic.


These employee-generated courses can perform double duty as a performance goal for the instructor and a development goal for his or her peers.


Ask your LMS provider to do the heavy lifting


Once you’ve identified your training and development platform, ask if the provider has any resources available to help you build out your custom content library. Who better to act as an extra set of L&D hands than those who are already well-versed in online training best practices?



With a little planning and the right LMS, you can build out a robust library of custom e-learning content and reap all the rewards of more relevant online training for your employees.