How do you create successful and enjoyable online courses and virtual training?

Online Course Systemic Sense-making   •   August 3, 2020

we recently attended an excellent webinar hosted by Knowledge Resources Publishing (KR) which looked at Why online/e-learning fails and the pitfalls. There were many valuable insights, perspectives, and strategies shared from a panel with vast experience in the e-learning space. Reflecting on all the notes taken during the session, as rich as the information was, it wasn’t very clear on where to begin when developing our own online course or virtual training for success. It seemed to be in a bit of a mess (how often does this happen after a conference or webinar you have attended? You gain so many valuable perspectives and information, but it is hard to know how to action anything or where to begin).

So we decided to to use the Systemic Stairway™ and make-sense of it all, establish and understand the priorities that we should be focusing our resources and time on.

Making sense of a mess of information

To make sense of the notes we recorded during the webinar we needed to find a clear question that steered us into sense-making as opposed to solution mode. We settled on: What factors influence the success and enjoyment of online courses and virtual training?

Once we had our question we were able to use some sense-making tools, such as an affinity diagram, to synthesise the multiple perspectives and identify our variables, and an interrelationship digraph, to determine which factors or variables are important and which are priorities. We discovered eight variables and twenty four sub-variables (see below). Using the concept of high-leverage we identified three priority variables (drivers), two links, and three important variables (outcomes).

Systemic Stairway - priority variables for building a successful online course and virtual training

High leverage decisions

The Systemic Stairway tells us that in order to reach the top of the stairway, the important outcomes, you must start walking at the bottom, with your priority drivers. When deciding on strategy and how to best leverage the resources at your disposal, you want to start with the most influential variables in the system you are trying to manage. From our sense-making and perspectives, we discovered that when it comes to creating a successful and enjoyable online course and virtual training the priority variables to begin developing strategy around is:

  1. Level of collaboration in the learning-and-content design process
  2. Creativity of course content delivery and engagement mechanisms
  3. Practicality of the online course / virtual training for learners
Systemic Stairway - priority variables for building a successful online course and virtual training

Sub-variables, rich information 

During the process we used the 8 main variables to discover our drivers, links and outcomes. However, each main variable has rich information and detail, and is captured in the three sub-variables for each main variable. In total there are 24 sub-variables. The detail of the sub-variables will assist in creating targeted high-leverage strategies.

Detailed prioritised variables for creating a successful online course

Please note that this is only a reflection of our learning and perspectives, it would have been illuminating to have included more perspectives in the sense-making process as this many have influenced which variables ultimately become drivers, links and outcomes.

We hope you find this valuable and that it can provoke interesting thought and creative strategy when developing your own online course and virtual training.


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