Training through Teaching: How to create educational resources

Let's talk about training!

Creating a training course has the same basic steps for any kind of training--internal or external. The order you might take these steps might differ, but you'll want to go thru the same general process. And once you get the hang of it, the hardest part will be the outline and everything else is going to flow. I promise :).

The content you'll create will be different each time, but you should go thru the same process if  you're creating a course to onboard a new employee as you could creating a course to teach a customer how to use your product.

First: What is your goal?

What do you want to teach? At the end of your course what will someone have learned?

If it's to onboard a new employee, what should they have learned in their first day, or week, or however long they'll be taking your course? Set a realistic goal (not the sun and moon!) and that's what you're working towards.

Next: Who is your audience?

Are you teaching someone with an intermediate level? Is it complete newbies? What base knowledge do they have?

Are they technical? Are they non-technical?

Do they learn at a self-guided pace or are you going to guide them more actively?

You need to know what concepts you're teaching and who you're teaching in order to formulate your course content.

How will you deliver your course?

You know your audience and your goal. Now let's talk about how to deliver it. This is a big topic, so check out the resource section.

Some possible delivery methods:

  • Email campaign
  • Blog posts with quizzes
  • LMS system
  • In person

The way you set up your course is going to differ depending on the method. An LMS system will lend itself to something more complex. An email campaign might be something a bit more high level or simple topics (customer onboarding for example). In person will be far more hands on.

Sometimes thinking about how you'll deliver the content might then formulate what your end goal is. It isn't a simple case of if this then this, but this is a good general flow to take.

For example:

If you're creating an onboarding course for a new employee and you're a remote team. Do you have in-person training? If not, how in-depth do you want to get? How long does someone have to learn?

Let's say they have 3 days to get up and running before hitting the queues. An LMS system either pre-made or something you're setting up with blog posts and a quizzes (which is essentially an LMS) will be your best bet. You'll want to think about how much knowledge they need to hit the ground running, how much knowledge you expect them to have and then....

Getting Started: Create an outline!

These are some example outlines. I like to stay fairly broad and just think about each lesson and what I'll cover in them. What do you want someone to learn? Don't be afraid to go really rough and then tweak. The outline is the most important part, this is your course plan or your syllabus basically. Everything will flow from this.

Example #1

Example #2

Example #3

  • Welcome! Let's set up your brand.
  • Creating your first qwilr.
  • Custom styles and how to use them.
  • Sharing your qwilr and using analytics.
  • Acceptance and payments.
  • Setting up your test account
  • How to use the console in Chrome
  • The network tab and all its wonders
  • Using this data to troubleshoot customer questions
  • Day 1: Morning session. Setting up your software accounts. Super admin access.
  • Day 1: Afternoon session. Common customer questions and their answers. Our company voice and the tone we use with customers.
  • Day 2: Morning session. Troubleshooting and testing when a customer reports a bug.
  • Day 2: Afternoon session. Live tickets with 1:1 help!

Group Exercise

(or solo if you're reading this later!)

Break into pairs and pick a topic. Spend 10 minutes and create an outline of either a 5 day or a 5 item learning series. It can be anything.

Your audience is newbies who know nothing about your topic.

You can deliver the information any way you want.

Show and Tell

Next: Fill in the blanks

How do you find content?

Use the resources you already have. Help docs, internal docs, etc. The more you can pull from pre-existing sources the better. 

If something doesn't already exist, you'll have to create it but then re-use it. Any knowledge you're sharing in a training course should be shared, be it externally or internally. Knowledge should never live in your head!

What kind of content?

This feeds back to your delivery method, but it's always good to have a mix of content types because people learn differently. Try videos or in-person. Try having parts that someone reads and then have a quiz. 

If it's a customer course, generally it shouldn't be too involved (unless they're paying you for training), but still give them homework or exercises to do. Give them practical applications of the knowledge you've just provided. Either grade them within the training (multiple choice) or get them to share their exercises with you or on social media (social proof!).

How do you find time?

That is the eternal question! If time is short and this isn't a set part of your job, try and carve out just 10 minutes a day. Take each step in 10 minutes. Think about what you want to teach for 10 minutes, then who your audience is. The outline will probably take a few days worth of 10 minutes, but you can keep tweaking it. Then start pulling from existing resources and fill in your outline, 10 minutes at a time. 

Group Exercise!

Break back into your groups. Talk about how you'd fill in the outline you've created.

Where would you find content?

What kind of content do you think would work best for the topic you chose? Written? Videos?

Can you think of at least 1 homework exercise that would be a great addition?

Group Discussion:

What are the challenges we expect to see? What are you struggling with?

How do you think you can tackle what's waiting for you?


You can find the resources here.