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ATD Blog

5 Instructional Design Tips for Remote Training Creation

Monday, May 17, 2021

Remote work has transformed overnight from an occasional perk to a (potentially) permanent necessity. We can’t predict how the business world will look a few months from now, but what is certain is that digital transformation, which was well underway before the pandemic, just got a huge boost and will not be reversed. As a result, it is important to develop good digital training and skills development strategies for remote employees and remote team leaders when preparing for the near future.

Home offices will be increasingly popular in the future, and the numbers of employees working remotely will only go higher. While the logistics for efficiently performing work tasks have started to fall into place, company managers and L&D specialists need to focus on one essential aspect: how people will continue to learn and develop professionally. Taking a break from the office does not equal taking a break from continuous skill-building.

Designing training modules for remote employees to keep their skills polished and develop new competencies doesn’t come with textbook rules. Every organization is different, and every learner is different. L&D professionals need to balance many aspects when creating online training courses to meet the needs of today’s remote workforce.


Here are some tips and tricks that instructors should consider:

  • Leverage asynchronous. The most important thing to keep in mind when adapting any activity for online training (or creating something from scratch) is that online learning doesn’t have to happen simultaneously as online teaching. You need to avoid the tendency to make in-person behaviors and activities fit into a remote learning environment and embrace the asynchronous mindset. That is a fundamental shift from the face-to-face instructor-led training.
  • Don’t be afraid to experiment. The online learning environment offers plenty of opportunities to create the best learning experiences. You need to be curious and try out various tools and strategies that can only happen online, such as simulations, webinars, e-books, online workshops, and even virtual or mixed reality. Some of these won’t turn out to be perfect solutions, but you can find something your learner will appreciate.
  • Keep L&D efforts short. Not all employees have a home office (with a door) to work in or can attend training uninterrupted. Most of the time, there are significant others who also have online video meetings and children who need help with homework. Your online training module competes for their attention with all of that. Try microlearning and microassessments, which will enable employees to complete an entire learning path in small steps at a time that is most convenient for them.
  • Choose technology that’s easy to use. Your best bet is a learning management system (LMS). It’s a complete solution for all online training-related activities and comes with a comprehensive set of features that allow you to create engaging learning experiences. The LMS acts as the training foundation by incorporating all the training modules and as the engine by providing the environment in which learners can access them. In addition, the LMS suggests various topics based on curriculum and personal interest.
  • Sprinkle in some fun. One of the things that most surprised me as an educator and trainer was that adults tend to be more hooked by gamification elements than children. Feel free to use humor if the subject allows, include interactive elements here and there, design digital badges and trophies, and create automated rules for learners to earn them. The best thing about fun learning experiences is that you can also have some fun while creating them.

While remote work has become the new norm, the shift to home offices came with a few challenges. The most important ones are related to the unique traits and needs of each individual. When creating training modules for remote workers, it’s essential to consider them. At the same time, there is no right or wrong way to do things, so a bit of experimentation is needed.

About the Author

Graham Glass is the CEO of CYPHER LEARNING, a company that specializes in providing e-learning platforms for educational, business, and government organizations around the world.

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