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How to Build an Online Training Academy

Online Training Academy

We’ve already shown you what an online training academy is, now let’s talk about how to build one. A training academy will engage your workout enthusiasts, instructors, coaches, and student-athletes. It will encourage them to do the best they can do by offering an organized, easy-to-use system made for success. This step-by-step guide will help you build a welcoming virtual-learning environment for your students and teach you to create online learning materials, activities, and assessments for your course.

1. Analyze the Viability of an Online Course

An online course creates an entirely different learning environment that forces the instructor to rethink learning strategies for the Internet medium. With online courses, planning and analysis are crucial for development. First, you need to establish why you’re creating the course, your goals for the course, and the resources and support that are available for the course. Once you’ve done that, it’s time to create the course!

2. Create the Curriculum

Crucial course-creation elements:

  • Structure the course chronologically as a series of learning units. You can organize learning units by weeks, by specific dates, by projects, or by topics. For every learning unit, create a folder that will contain all course materials, activities, assignments, and assessments that students will be doing during that learning unit.
  • Provide meaningful and consistent names for learning units, links, files, folders, assignments, and quizzes.
  • Provide step-by-step instructions on what students should do in each learning unit. Students should understand where, when, and how they should do course activities and assessments.
  • Provide an orientation to the course site and create an activity that will help students get familiar with the site. For example, create an online course tour, a quiz, or a course scavenger hunt to help students learn their way around the course site.

Create Opportunities for Interactions    

It is essential to create a course site with plenty of opportunities for meaningful interactions – with the course content, between students, and with the instructor, according to M.G. Moore in “The American Journal of Distance Education.” All three types of interactions must be equally present throughout the course.

  • Student – Content: A student viewing online course materials, completing a quiz, reflecting on a topic, analyzing a case study, and writing a paper
  • Student – Instructor:  A student asking the instructor a question, the instructor giving feedback on a group project, instructor reaching out to an individual student who stopped participating
  • Student – Student: Class discussions, study groups, peer review, and group projects

Important Course Elements

Enhance student-instructor and student-student interactions with:

  • Course announcements – via email, blog, discussion forum, and weekly recorded video
  • Instructor private feedback – via private journal
  • A weekly homework forum – via a discussion forum
  • A weekly class discussion – via a discussion forum and blog

REMEMBER: Avoid the abundance of online information and time-intensive online interactions as they can quickly create cognitive and communication overload in an online course. Revisit your course learning objectives frequently and prioritize the content, activities, and assignments based on desired student outcomes.

Create the Learning Materials

Once you devise your online courses, the next thing to do is determine possible online course delivery methods and technology requirements. Creating online lectures can be a great strategy if you’re taking your class totally online. An “online lecture” is a digital recording of moving visual images and recorded audio provided via the Internet. Students may access online lectures at their course sites at a time that’s convenient for them. Course content tools are used in creating and distributing online lectures. Select any of the following methods to easily design and build courses with video, audio, charts, pdfs, assessments, discussions, and more:

  • Audacity (SourceForge):

Audacity is a free application that can be used to record and edit audio.

  • Camtasia (TechSmith):

Camtasia is screen-recording and editing software that you can use to create an instructional video that includes digital recording of actions on a computer screen, presentation slides, graphics, audio, and video clips.

  • Captivate (Adobe):

Captivate is software from Adobe that is used to create interactive online learning content for computers and mobile devices, ranging from PowerPoint slides with voiceover to application simulations.

  • Dreamweaver (Adobe):

Dreamweaver is webpage-authoring software that can be used to design and develop web pages and import images created and edited in graphics software.

  • GarageBand (Apple):

GarageBand is a Mac application that allows you to record your voice, add sound effects, music, and images to accompany your recording, and save your work as a digital media file.

  • iMovie (Apple):

iMovie is a Mac application that allows you to create videos.

  • iTunes U (Apple):

iTunes U is an application that allows you to host and manage podcasts, i.e. audio and video files that contain presentations, lectures, and other course materials.

  • Mediasite (Sonic Foundry):

Mediasite is a presentation tool that allows instructors to make live digital recordings of lectures or presentations.

  • PowerPoint (Microsoft) with Voiceover:

PowerPoint with voiceover is recorded-voice narration that accompanies an online presentation and supplements slides with additional information, such as definitions, facts, and examples.

  • Prezi:

Prezi is a cloud based presentation software program that allows one to present ideas that are hinged on frames within a big picture. Flexible navigation allows the presenter to dissect, zoom, reverse, or jump forward through the presentation in direct response to the audience.

  • YouTube (Google):

YouTube is a video-sharing website, where users can upload, view, and share video and audio content. YouTube is primarily used by individuals to share user-generated video content, although recently news outlets and universities have started utilizing YouTube to deliver content as well.

  • Uscreen:

Uscreen offers a simple and easy to use platform for hosting your complete online training academy and also gives you mobile apps which enables your students to stream and download your content.  You can setup chapters, different course outlines, categories and much more using this platform.

Tips for Selecting Tools:

  • Choose tools that facilitate specific learning goals of the course.
  • Look for additional benefits that a tool would bring to an online class as compared to a traditional classroom. Will this tool lead to better learning or more convenience for students?
  • Minimize the number of technology tools in your course. The fewer tools, the better for you and your students: less confusion, less time to learn new technology, and less maintenance.
  • Use technology tools that are familiar or easy to learn and use — for you and your students.
  • Look for tools that you can use in multiple activities and assessments.

4. Mobile Learning

Mobile learning (m-learning) can be any educational interaction delivered through mobile technology. The software that underlies m-learning includes not only mobile applications designed specifically for learning purposes, but also those designed for other uses that can be adapted for educational purposes. M-learning hardware can include mobile phones, handheld PCs, tablets, the iPad, and Netbooks, as well as devices such as the iPod touch that are able to run mobile applications. Handheld technology can accompany the learner almost anywhere. Ease of use offered by mobile devices supports lifelong learning, and because the devices themselves are integrated into everyday life, they facilitate authentic learning.

  • Adobe Creative Suite:

This is the collection of tools for the creation of eLearning content, including Device Central, which allows content authors to output to a variety of mobile devices.

  • Articulate:

It contains several tools for publishing learning content to mobile devices including Presenter and Screenr.

  • Blackboard Mobile:

The mobile tool for Blackboard – a major learning management system vendor.

  • Brainshark:

It is a tool for creating both online and mobile video presentations.

  • KMxMobile:

With KMxMobile, end users can access courses, learning objects, exams and surveys using their iPhone, Android, Blackberry OS6, Nook Color, Amazon Kindle or Windows handheld device with full SCORM learning management capabilities.

5. Deliver Online Course

Your freshly-built course site looks clean and crisp. Ideally, all course materials are posted before the class starts and course tools are ready to engage students in learning. It’s now time to sit back and let your students do the learning.

Like in a regular classroom, online students expect the instructor to guide, mentor, and encourage them. Teacher presence is important. Another important online instructor’s task is to foster student engagement and build a learning community. To encourage continuous learning, the students and instructor must interact consistently through online discussions and forums. The following are tools to establish regular contact with your students:

  • Blackboard Collaborate:

Blackboard Collaborate is software from Blackboard, Inc. that is used to deliver live, synchronous classes using two-way audio and video.

  • Blackboard Learn:

Blackboard Learn is an online learning management system that provides tools for document distribution, communication, and assessment, as well as a host of other tools to encourage course participation.

  • Blackboard Tools:

In a successful online learning community, students have the right tools for their interactive tasks.

6. Assess the Students’ Progress

Assessment tools provide a means of determining the success of student learning and effectiveness of your online training program. You can use the following online authoring software to create assessments or quizzes in multiple formats:

  • Blackboard Assignment / SafeAssignment (Blackboard Learn):

The Blackboard Assignments feature creates a secure location for the submission of students’ files.

  • Blackboard Grade Center (Blackboard Learn):

The Blackboard Grade Center is an online grading tool that enables instructors to track students’ work and share scores and feedback with students.

  • Tests and Surveys (Blackboard Learn):

Test and surveys are two methods available within Blackboard Learn for measuring students’ understanding of course material. Tests provide a graded assessment of a particular student’s understanding, while surveys collect data anonymously from all members of the class.

  • Video Everywhere:

Video Everywhere is a Blackboard Learn feature that allows instructors and students to record video using their webcam and have a YouTube video embedded in a Blackboard course site.

The benefits of an online training academy are clear. It’s an organized method to help get your students and instructors pumped up about your product. However, it’s up to you to figure out which tools to use to support your goals for the course. If you have any more questions about building an online training academy feel free to contact us or hit us up in the comments.

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