The ultimate guide to converting learning content into valuable on-demand digital resources

Did coronavirus kill the classroom? Quite possibly, maybe not entirely but I doubt you’ll see many of us in one anytime soon.

In the wave of lockdowns in the pandemic era, quite a few L&D teams have been forced with an overnight remote working and digital transformation. Talk about one big smack of change to an industry that’s been historically slow to adapt.

Anyway, why are we here? Oh yeah, you want to learn how to create engaging and value add digital resources from your existing real world content. Amazing, I commend you for taking this step and not being that person who delivers the same 100 slide powerpoint deck over zoom and calls it learning. Don’t be that person, no one wants to learn with that person.

Right, let’s look at your challenge.

You’ve got a load of content that you’ve been delivering across classrooms for years and now you’ve been told it all needs to go digital! Your first thought is probably, shit…

You may have then thought, ‘I know what to do, let’s just upload all of our powerpoint decks online for people to view and deliver our multi-day sessions over video’ and to you I say no! no, no, no! – step away from that thought, run from it and get so blindly drunk you forget you ever conceived it.

This is not the way.

You have a unique opportunity here to change the way you’ve been doing things. You have been given a gift to build some great stuff and not be constrained by the archaic role that learning delivery has played.

Take a breath and smell the air my friends. It’s a beautiful feeling when you know you’re about to do some cool shit. It’s time to upgrade your digital savviness, embrace technology and hug your nearest phone screen (last one is optional).

So, what’s rule number #1 of the converting existing learning content into awesome digital experiences and resources club? We don’t talk about… no, no, actually we do talk about it. You should tell everyone.

Rule number #1: We don’t convert boring old powerpoint presentations into boring PDF’s to store in some terribly designed document repository, where we expect people to consume these. Nor do we proceed to bore the general population with 3 day experiences over Zoom.

This is not digital learning.

What we want to do is build value-add experiences and learning moments using cool tech to help people grow wherever they are.

Well that’s all great, but how do I do that?

What an excellent question my friend, let’s unpack that.

To start, let’s think outside the classroom. Yes, I know for some of you that will be difficult but I assure you, there is great stuff outside those 4 walls. For a full list of cool ideas you can create outside of the classroom, check out my post on that very topic. For this piece, scroll on down and explore the digital channels we can use.

Blogs – Yes the very thing you are probably reading this article on right now. We all read blogs. Probably a lot more than we realise.

Articles – Long or short form, whatever connects with your audience. There is always power in the written word.

Videos – These too have been all the rage. Short form, long form and everything in between. Sometimes a visual can enable a learning moment that the written word just can’t. 

Audio – Another rising content consumption channel. Podcasts in particular have been taking over our brainwaves in the last few years and continue to rise. Just imagine what you can educate your audience on in 10 minutes.

Interactive storytelling experiences – I’m not sure I can fully explain this without turning into some sort of wannabe learning scientist. Instead, you can take a look at an example of what I’m recommending from the BBC’s data visualisation team.

Social media – To some the root of all evil to others it’s the only way to connect. Regardless of your viewpoint, our world is full of instagram stories, GIFS and those popular Tik-Tok videos which I don’t understand, but connect with more people than any classroom experience ever has.

Ok, you’ve got more than enough options for content delivery. Now you need to break down your current content and turn that into a fabulous digital experience, but how?

First things first, always have the end user in mind. Design for the human and you won’t go wrong. Think about how you would like to learn and solve problems.

Like any good task, we could do with some sort of framework to guide us. And, I have the most unoriginal but highly effective one to share with you.

Behold! The Why, What and How of digital learning design

Let’s dive in:

  1. Review your existing content and ask yourself:
  • What’s the endgame? What does the user need to know?
  • Why do they need to know this? What value will it bring?
  • How will they consume this content? What would be the most effective method? A one size fits all model doesn’t necessarily apply to learning.
  • How can they apply this knowledge?
  1. Define the outcome:
    1. What is the change you want to see? Is it behaviours? Mindset?
    2. What does good look like in the success of this learning experience.
  1. Experiment – once you’ve done the above it’s time to run some experiments with different approaches and with people from different areas of your community.

Once you’ve gone through the above, you’ll have a much clearer picture of what you need to create.

A case study

Now, let’s get into the real tough stuff and unpack an example to illustrate what experience you could build.

In this, we take an old classroom session on career development and give it a digital makeover.

Hopefully, you can see from the above that our goal is to create an experience that is easy to digest at an individuals own pace and allows them to apply what they’ve learnt almost instantaneously.

Now you might be thinking about how to know what are the best resources to pick for your work.

The answer to that is, it depends.

I can’t tell you exactly what will work. You’ll need to evaluate your outcomes and experiment to see what works for the problem you’re trying to solve.

If you want more detail on the different types of resources and how you can use them in your work, then check out this post from David James (Chief Learning Officer @ Looop). David does a fantastic job of sharing three different types of approaches with resources and how they help the end user.

Here’s an extract of the key piece of content from the post that I know will help many.

Building An Instruct Resource

The power of Instruct resources is showing users what they need to do when there is one efficient way of doing it. The best way to do this is often with a screen-recording. Precede the screen-recording with ‘why this is important to me’ and follow up with tips for application or what to do next:

Building An Inform Resource

The power of an Inform topic is its applicability. Once they’ve experienced it, the user should have more tools to apply to their situation. As with Instruct resources, precede with with ‘why this is important to me’ and follow up with tips for application or what to do next:

Building An Inspire Resource

The power of Inspire resources are the stories within them – nothing more and nothing less. Video is usually the best way to convey these stories. Again, precede your videos with ‘why this is important to me’ and follow up with tips for applying what was shared or what to do next:

(Credit to David James and Looop, read the full article on how to run a resources first initiative on Looop’s blog)

You have the power to change

My whole angle with this article is to highlight the opportunity you have to do something different.

You can stand out from the crowd and not be another learning professional delivering a boring presentation over Zoom.

We all have the opportunity to tear up the manual and create experiences that provide continuous learning moments which your audience will reflect on vs another hasty half day in-person experience, where people usually lose attention.

You can make a difference. Taking your learning to the digital world is much more than slapping a sticker on everything and calling it digital because people consume it through a screen.

Analyse what you can cut out of bloated classroom experiences. What are the key things people actually need to know? How can you help them apply what they learn immediately and connect them with the right know-how.

So, to close this one out. Use this time, this opportunity, to take the right steps in converting existing material to a digital format. Build resources which will connect people with stuff they actually need to know, will help them now and can enable those series of short learning moments I shared with you.


Before you go…

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