Tips for Evaluating an Online Training Course Before You Buy

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In Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Robert Pirsig says, "And what is good, Phaedrus, and what is not good -- Need we ask anyone to tell us these things?"

Well, unfortunately, yes. Sometimes we could all use a little help. If you are in a position to purchase training for your team, you know it can be a challenge to understand what course will most effectively meet your need. So, what follows is our proposal for a simple equation to help you evaluate the “effectiveness” of an online training course.

(Words + Media) x Quality = Good Training Course

Words – Yes, the words matter. They create the tone, relevance, accuracy and pace of any narrated training. What matters most? Relevance – If the word are meaningful, accurate, and connect the key concepts to the audience, you’ll keep the audience’s attention.

Media – Pictures, charts, videos, visual effects, anything that bounces photons off a retina impacts the learning experience. What matters most? Engagement – If the pictures reinforce the words and engage the audience, if they’re timed well, if they actually move, if they’re not horribly dated, you’ll keep the audience’s attention.

Quality – A great way to gauge an online training course's quality is through trial (OpenSesame enables you to preview courses) and by reading reviews from others who’ve taken the training. Try it to see if the words, pictures, and test methods align with your intended audience. What matters most? 

Behavior – Ultimately, effective training is about positively affecting behavior. And that happens when relevant information is presented in an engaging way. No one aspect of a course guarantees success, and even the fanciest courses can fall flat if they're not right for your organization.  To find the right fit for your team, try these ideas:

  • Invite your colleagues to participate in a review team to help you select courses
  • Purchase a few different courses and run A/B tests to evaluate what types of content are most well-received and most effective with your colleagues
  • Experiment with different types of social efforts in connection with your content - create a wiki, message board or Facebook group where your colleagues can exchange ideas

Now, please tell us what works for you. How have you been successful selecting a good course before sharing it with your team? What great lessons did you learn from a training course that wasn’t received by your team the way you’d hope? We’d love to hear from you!

Bjorn Ansbro is the business development manager at Convergence Training, a team of individuals passionate about creating engaging, effective training, and enabling companies to utilize and capture their existing expertise and knowledge to create the most effective training programs possible.