Converting your face to face content into successful online learning

If you’re an organisation, practitioner or a subject matter expert in your field, there’s a fair chance you have a wealth of knowledge that you use regularly with clients or colleagues face to face – and now you’re seeing the need to get that content online. 

Either you need to deliver live, online, what you’d normally deliver in a face to face setting, or you’re ready to have your learning content digitalised, so the same message can go out repeatedly to whoever wants and needs it – without you having to physically deliver it every single time. 

If you’ve given it a go, you’ll have come up against one or more of the following issues: 

  • There’s way too much information and you have no idea how to structure it properly 
  • Recording your PowerPoint without an audience to interact with, just doesn’t have the same impact 
  • Writing it all out in a text based format is dull and doesn’t get the point across properly

Essentially, you’re a bit lost when it comes to converting what is usually super engaging, motivating and client focused, into an online or digital version that will pack the same punch. You know the content is good, but because you’re not a teacher you’re not confident that you’re putting together in a way people can learn properly if you’re not there to deliver it live.

It’s something I have noticed a lot of subject matter experts struggling with – just because you know your content and it works brilliantly face to face, doesn’t mean it’s going to work online.

Below are my top tips for what you need to consider before converting your face-to-face product into a successful online learning experience, or in other words how to adopt best practice teaching and learning techniques for a contemporary adult online learning experience.


  • The difference between self study, live online and face to face training – and which option is best for you and your clients


Essentially, you need to decide on what delivery mode is best for your content. If it’s always been face to face, can you ‘flip’ the learning experience so the learners can access the information first (self study), attempt activities that will help them apply that knowledge, then seek out guidance from the subject matter expert (SME) if they need further help. 

Would they be better off attending a live webinar (live online), where you deliver what you usually deliver but to a live audience online, so there can be maximum interaction, collaboration and action taking much like there would be face to face? 

Or is it best being a 100% self study resource the learners can access without the need for assistance from an SME? 

The answer to those questions, will determine the type of resources you create and the way you deliver them. Be clear on what you and your clients need, before you make that decision. 


  • How technology is changing the way we learn – and what your clients expect from you as a subject matter expert


If you’re not keeping up with the way younger generations are learning (online, collaboratively, focusing on negotiating and problem solving as opposed to knowledge retention), you are going to lose your learners. 

Unless your audience is of the generation that was taught that way and expects to be taught that way, there are far more effective ways to facilitate a learning experience than lecturing while the learners take notes. 

We are dealing with newer generations of learners who expect dynamic, robust learning experiences that allow them to use the technology available to them; technology has given us a range of tools to use (Learning Management Systems, platforms, apps for gamification), and it’s also changed the way we do our jobs. If you’re not ahead of the curve when it comes to technology and innovative ways to deliver learning content, they’re not going to stay ‘on board’ and you may see them moving to an organisation that has developed and is using more contemporary, collaborative and online working solutions. 


  • The foundations of best practice teaching and learning – and how to apply them to any learning experience


Essentially this is all about: 

  • engineering a product that is inline with what the clients need, want and are expecting
  • structuring a robust curriculum that is either outcomes, competency or goals based so that clients are walking away with clear actionable deliverables
  • designing learning materials that are engaging, motivating and will help clients apply their new knowledge, and 
  • continually evaluating, reviewing and enhancing the product based on feedback from the clients. 

Without all of these elements, the learning product will fall short and you won’t be achieving the outcomes you originally set out to achieve. 


  • How to structure engaging training sessions with action based outcomes


It’s not just about having an introduction and a conclusion, it’s about setting up the learning experience so your clients are engaged, inspired and motivated to get to the end of your content – and most of that, regardless of whether you’re working with them online or face to face, has nothing to do with whether you’re a born entertainer.

Having a strategic structure can help you avoid telling your clients things they already know, wasting their time and making them wonder if they need to be there. Even with exactly the same content, the way you structure the lead in and the wrap up can have completely the opposite effect on your clients – frustrated that they already knew 80% of what was delivered, or content that they learnt 20% more than what they already knew – which would you prefer your learners to be thinking?

The key here is ‘test-teach-test’ – provide a clear outcome, assess how much they already know, and motivate them to fill the gaps in their knowledge. Ensure there are demonstrations to back up the theory, and practical activities that help them put their new knowledge into action, guaranteeing that they achieve the outcome you’ve promised. 


  • How to create effective visual aids and workbooks 


Been bored out of your mind or confused to WaggaWagga and back thanks to slides that were a mess, full of way too much information or an exact copy of what the presenter was saying to you? There’s no need to ‘death by PowerPoint’ your audience, and the same is true for any online learning experience. It’s not just about recording your presentation as you would if you were delivering it face to face either; without the interaction you’d normally have with a live audience it will fall flat. 

Instead, use the ‘test-teach-test’ approach, and provide workbooks that ask questions. Learners will then be actively testing their knowledge and listening for answers, rather than just passively listening to a monologue. 

Visual aids are much more than just the slides in a presentation; use the power of templates, worksheets, and above all questions across all your visual aids – the questions on the slides should match the questions in their workbooks so they can stay focused and work their way towards achieving the outcomes you’ve promised. 

To do that, the activities in their workbooks should also be a mix of comprehension based questions (do they grasp the core concepts?) and action based tasks (can they apply the new knowledge to their own situation and therefore achieve the outcome you’ve promised?). 


  • How use delivery techniques that result in knowledge retention and action taking


What’s more important – the quality of your content or your confidence when delivering it to a group? If you’ve got great content (but not a lot of speaking confidence), you’ll end up sounding like a boring lecturer. If you’ve got great speaking confidence but you’re not really confident with your content, you’ll come across as an entertainer (who doesn’t really know what they’re talking about). 

Finding that sweet spot is the key, and to do that you have to know your content back to front, and then focus on rapport building techniques, verbal and non verbal communication skills. I could write a whole article on this, but again core to getting the balance right, is speaking directly to your audience (regardless of whether it’s a recording or a live presentation), and involving them as much as possible. 

Even more important if you are recording your presentation for learners to access at a later date, is the need to ask as many questions as possible; involve them in the problem solving process, give them time to think and answer the questions in their own mind first. Doing this enables them to open up their gaps in knowledge and be ready to absorb the information you’re delivering; that information then needs to be put into action so ensuring there are actionable tasks that relate to how to apply the new knowledge to their own lives, is key to achieving the outcomes you’ve originally promised. 

In summary, know your clients and what they need: stay on top of how technology gives us better opportunities to teach, learn and work, ensure the learning product is designed, structured and delivered according to best practice, regardless of whether your learning product is delivered face to face or online. There’s no magical formula or one size fits all approach to converting face to face content into an online version; the content itself first has to be top quality, then regardless of the platform, choose a delivery mechanism that suits the needs of your learners and the SME who is delivering it.

Maria Doyle
Adult Education and Training

Maria works globally in assisting organisations to digitise their learning content.  If you are interested in learning more about Maria and her workshops on Essemy, please visit this link.