Picture this: You log into your LMS, and your course completion rate is through the roof. Assessments show near-perfect scores, your CEO says employee engagement is at an all-time high, and you’re seeing real impact on performance across the business. 

Sounds like a dream, right? But getting there can feel like a daunting task. What if you could develop training materials that don’t just engage learners but also keep them coming back for more? 

A first step is to encourage your employees to share their subject-matter expertise by creating courses through a learning management system. However, there’s a learning curve to becoming an expert course author. After all, your SMEs aren’t natural-born course creators; they need support on instructional design, technical skills, and peer feedback to keep the content fresh, engaging, and impactful. 

You need a plan, one that lets you develop training materials in-house while encouraging participation from employees at all levels. 

Whether you’re an L&D professional looking to encourage in-house experts or an author looking for tips on developing training materials in-house, these guidelines will help set your courses—and your course authors—up for success. This way, you can empower your talented experts to share their knowledge and help everyone upskill from within.

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1. Pinpoint the learning needs of your audience

The first step in developing effective training materials and engaging learners is identifying exactly what your learners need. All employees need courses that will help them solve problems and be more productive. Whether this involves teaching a specific skill or doing a walkthrough on how to use a tool or tap into a resource, the best course is the one they can immediately apply in the flow of work. In short, it’s a simple function of demand and supply.

But specific needs will vary from one company (and one department) to the next. And different team members bring different experience levels to the table. 

For example, a sales team could have trouble using a new customer relationship management (CRM) tool, which is critical for nurturing modern-day customer relationships. Your CRM vendor provides general training materials, but you likely have an employee who used the tool at a previous job and has a wealth of knowledge you can tap into. Your sales team doesn’t need a general overview of the CRM. They need specialized courses focused on solving the specific blockers facing your sales team. 

An LMS with a learning needs tool can help you prioritize the most urgent training requested by the learners. Based on the identified topics, you can either coach an employee to create a relevant course or, if you’re a subject-matter expert, volunteer for the task. And that will be far more engaging and useful than any attempt at one-size-fits-all training.

2. Create a training plan

To stay on track, you need a roadmap of what your course will look like, the learning objectives of your training program, the elements you plan to include, and the peers you will seek support and feedback from. A simple bullet point list works too, but you need a step-by-step outline of how you plan to develop high-quality training material. 

3. Use microlearning to keep courses manageable

Make your training material easy to consume and to the point so that learners can retain more information. This doesn’t mean you can’t inject humor or an anecdote, but, generally speaking, microlearning training courses are under 10 minutes so that learners can view and apply what they learned. 

Not all training material fits into a quick video or mini online course. In that case, L&D expert Rory Sacks recommends creating micro-chapters within the course content. Each chapter should focus on one main point or concept from the overall course.

This has two benefits—first, learners can skip lessons on the skills or information they already know, and they can easily find content because it is organized by topic, making the learning process easy and efficient.

4. Include multimedia elements to make training fun

Learners are instantly drawn to quizzes, games, infographics, and interactive elements that require participation. Naturally, this leads to better learning outcomes. Plus, let’s face it—interactive training is fun to create, too!

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Adding interactive and multimedia elements to your courses can go a long way in keeping learners engaged.

Insert stories, challenges, and simulations into your learning activities. If you need technical help, partner with a peer who has the expertise to give your modules visual appeal and a touch of gamification

For instance, let’s say you have great written content that would be even more effective in the form of a simulation. You could consider asking an in-house graphic designer (or a peer with graphic design experience) to help you turn your content into a power-packed experience. Leveraging your organization’s existing content is a great way to deliver great learning experiences more efficiently.

5. Give learners a self-paced option

Learners want learning that fits their schedule and skills. But teams are often based in different time zones, share a range of competencies, and have different roles or responsibilities. Each learner wants the flexibility to set their own pace.

When learners complete training at a time that suits their schedule and they’re learning the skills they need, they’re more driven and engaged. And you get the maximum return on investment on training

6. Use a blended learning approach 

A blended learning course has a balance of synchronous and asynchronous training content. In other words, you can include a live workshop or group discussion as a component in your training material, which brings team members together in a synchronous learning environment. 

If synchronous learning is a challenge for your company, use your learning management system to facilitate an asynchronous discussion that allows employees to weigh in on the new knowledge they gained. In essence, a discussion forum enables people to ask questions, offer feedback, and upvote answers by peers that they found helpful. It gives employees a voice rather than passively receiving information.

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Discussion forums make it easy for learners to exchange with each other asynchronously.

7. Create knowledge checks at different points in the course

Knowledge retention is one of the best indicators of success for your learning materials. Embed knowledge checks after each component of the course, recommends Rory Sacks, who also runs the podcast Is Training The Answer?

He points out that training assessments can be engaging and entertaining too–with features like diverse review question formats, hotspots on images, or opportunities for learners to record their answers on video.  

8. Invite a peer for a beta test of your course

Before you open your course to the entire company, conduct a peer test of the learning experience. You may have used different formats or included a checklist of the table of contents, but do they work the way you intended them to? Find out by getting tips from a peer on improving the training delivery before the course goes live. Make a note of the feedback and implement changes accordingly. 

Knowledge retention is one of the best indicators of success for your learning materials.

9. Leave room for feedback and discussion

As a course author, it’s essential to gather constructive feedback from all of your peers and engage in discussions about course content and training delivery. 

Invite peers to leave reactions or make in-course comments to highlight specific parts that are helpful. This helps you iterate your content and include up-to-date information. 

10. Break down barriers to creation

SMEs weren't born instructional designers. In fact, they need not be! Empower them to create the best course possible by sharing logos, illustrations, corporate guidelines—anything that can speed up course creation— ahead of time, and make in-house courses as polished as can be. 

Sharing course templates will also give them the edge to start creating, while ensuring your training is up to your standards.

With the right training materials, you can inspire peers to become course authors

Your organization is brimming with knowledge, but it’s not brimming with natural-born course creators. And not everyone feels equipped to create a course. To inspire your peers to get involved, share tips for course creation or create a video about your experience as a course author. You could provide the impetus others need to share their knowledge as subject-matter experts.

Want to create effective training courses and make the most of your LMS? Book a free demo to see how.