When creating online courses, it can be easy to think all you need is to upload a presentation and you’re done. We’ve seen it plenty of times and almost always, it’s not going to get you the results you want.
Whether you’re using legacy content to get started or want to learn how to make an online course from scratch, we’ve got you covered. This article will cover the difference between bespoke or converted content as well as how to make an online course with either.
What’s the difference between bespoke or legacy course content?
We know a lot of you might just skip this part, but we think it’s good to clarify the key differences between content you already have vs. need to make.
Bespoke content is something you made from scratch, specifically to share a piece of information or knowledge on a topic. This is often a common starting place for anyone making an online course on a new subject.
Though not entirely easier, we’ve often found that, when paired with a rapid online course creation too, Bespoke content can be faster to create. This is because you’re not bogged down repurposing content to fit a new mold. That being said, Bespoke training course content requires a little more planning up front to ensure success.
Legacy content is often materials you already have—PDF manuals, old training videos, spreadsheets, infographics. This is content you may have used for a course or training session, or simply used to share information. It might be in a single storage space like Google Drive or scattered across multiple platforms and workspaces.
Often, if you’re interested in moving your training online, this is a common place to start. Online training platforms and online course creation software offer the ability to upload your legacy content. Though having materials to get started making an online course is great, it can also hold you back by trying to reshape something already made. That being said, if you know the best practices for converting legacy content, you’ll be able to double the value from it in your new training courses.
How to make an online course with legacy content
Coming in a variety of formats, legacy content can include:
Document files of manuals, policies, or other information.
Presentation slides or infographics.
So how do you repurpose this content to create rich and engaging online courses? By breaking content down into smaller, bite-sized pieces that are easier to digest. You also want to consider what your current purpose is for using legacy content. The biggest consideration here is to avoid repeating messaging and information that’s been changed or revised since it was first shared.
An example is a communication policy before your company started using Slack—what’s changed since then that the policy needs to include? What’s remained the same and can be carried into the current standard?
Whatever the media type you're trying to revise for modern use, keep in mind what’s changed as you edit. Reducing the bloat and refocusing the purpose can go a long way to getting your legacy content ready for a new life!
Let’s look at how you can actually take this legacy content and breath some new life into it!
Converting text is a simple process to go from legacy content to engaging online courses. You’ll want to consolidate what you have into a single space first. From there, cut the bloat and duplicates so you have the core information you need. Then start looking for ways to condense the information you have. You want to deliver the most concise knowledge possible so your audience will get the most value from your online training course.
Once your text has been edited and condensed to what you need, you can upload it into your online course creation software. If you just want to upload directly, there’s a document screen template that’s common for most platforms. If you can make your text-based content into an interactive online course, you’ll be able to keep your audience engaged. A great way to do this is using clickable templates that expand to share more information.
Video can be the trickiest of legacy content to convert if you lack video editing resources or time. Same as with text, you’ll want to start by gathering all of your video content into one place you can see at a glance. This might be difficult to accomplish on local storage, so we recommend making sure you have space to hold everything on the cloud if not locally.
As you gather everything, delete duplicates, older content that just can’t be saved, and anything you don’t think will be worth salvaging (it’s always easier to re-record). You’ll also want to start thinking about how to break everything down into five-minute clips. Visual content delivered in smaller chunks can increase knowledge retention by 80%. This can be very helpful if you only get one shot at sharing your course content or if you don’t want to repeat the same knowledge.
Once you think the video content is changed enough to apply to the new online course, you can start uploading. A great way to save yourself time is to actually upload either directly into your online course creation software. Then your video content will be stored in the cloud, making it easier to share in your course with your audience. This also means you’ll have it as a resource for future online training courses it could work with.
This is often the easiest legacy content to convert because images explain a complex piece of information in a single frame. Same as above, start by gathering all the images into one place and culling any bloat, duplicates, or difficult to convert files. If you have graphic images or .SVG or graphic file types, keep this separate from standard PNG/JPEG files. That way you can separate easier to work with images from ones you’ll need some more work with.
Once you have what you need, you can easily convert legacy images by adding new icons, changing color schemes, or using them in different ways. We love going with brand colors to create an online course aesthetic. This maintains continuity for your learners and helps guide how you might be able to adjust older graphics and imagery.
If your course creation software doesn’t haven’t an image/graphic editor, free software like Canva is perfect for manipulating this content. What’s nice about images is that, like video, they’re easier for the brain to process because it creates a visual example of the information you want to share. And what’s even better is that there are a ton of ways to add them into an online course once they’re ready to use.
Create your online course with the converted legacy content!
Once everything is converted and uploaded, we can bring everything together. A helpful way to build your online course with your converted content is to make a list of everything you have so you can take stock of what’s ready to go and what gaps you need to fill.
A great place to start is sorting content by the topic of your online course. This will decide what content you’ll want to include, as well as the order you’ll share it. Making a how-to training course for making a website? Start with some introductory text screens, then provide some example images, and a few videos of process steps.
Making an online course for onboarding? Include that communication policy you just revised as an interactive screen. Use brand-colored graphics to point out remote-work standards. Share a video on your company culture. Add a quiz at the end to make sure your new hire remembers everything.
Always consider how your learners will experience the content—does the order of information delivered make sense? Will it produce the end result you want? If you answer these questions as you’re creating your online course, you’ll set yourself up for success.
Also, consider who your audience is and where they’ll be engaging with your online course. If your learners are team members that mostly work in HubSpot, considering sharing a course on a new process in a new task. They can access it in HubSpot and go from the task to the process and practice what they just learned.
Lastly, you’ll want to test your online training course with legacy content before sharing it. This can give you an idea of what works, what still needs to change, and helps you make a completely polished end result before it goes live.
💡 Pro Tip: If you want a full guide to our best practices on converting legacy content into online training courses, check out our eBook on microlearning. It has a step-by-step process for any media format to make the most engaging online courses.
How to make an online course from scratch
To make an online course from scratch, you really don’t need to do that much extra work. Rapid online course creation software leverages a variety of eLearning templates developed by industry experts. These require only a minimal amount of text, selecting an image or video from a resource library, and selecting some customizable options such as color and font.
The biggest investment you’ll have to make with creating an online training course from scratch is the initial planning. Below are some questions that, if you can answer early, will make the creation process quick and easy.
What is your course going to be about?
What is the expected outcome? (i.e. increase revenue, teach a skill, etc.).
Who is your audience?
What is the benefit of this course for your audience
Once you answer these questions, you’ll be done with the planning and ready to design! Think of this as creating a rough draft of your online training course. You’ll have some ideas on your audience and what the outcome of sharing this knowledge with them will be. You might start a framework like the one below to use as a reference when you're creating content.
This overview doesn’t have to be super detailed, but having a bird's-eye view handy will also accelerate your creation process. Once you’re ready, let’s get to the best part—making an online course!
With all of the pieces in place, you want to use your outline and create each step of the online course. As you build your content, you’ll want to get as close to “complete” for each step before moving on to the next. This helps for breaking complex ideas into smaller sessions that are easier for your audience to engage with. To do this, try our content guide below for each type of media:
Text—explains basic concepts, use sparingly or with interactive elements.
Video or images—explains complex concepts and maximize knowledge shared.
Breaks between repetitions of media types (two videos? Follow up with a quiz).
Knowledge checks to increase memory retention(i.e. quizzes, assignments, etc).
Your online course creation software should have some screen options and templates to help you get started. As long as you have your main goal for the course and info about your audience in mind, you should be fine. And we always recommend trying the course out after you’re done to get an idea of what the learning experience is like. Sometimes you’ll catch something you missed in production that’s easier to see as a learner.
We hope this guide gave you some starting ideas on how to make an online course with bespoke or legacy content. If you want to try out creating and delivering engaging content with an all-in-one online course creation tool, give Coassemble a try! It’s free to try our platform and we're pretty sure you'll like what you see 😉
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