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Welcome to the first part of the new NCVO website. While we finish building it, you will find the rest of our help and guidance on our existing site.

Creating and sharing useful eLearning

Use this page to learn about any online learning that isn’t delivered live. Use it when you’ve been providing some learning online for a while, to help you decide whether you need expert help and if you need a specialist sharing platform.

Understanding eLearning

New solutions make it easier to deliver face-to-face training and mentoring services online. More people are working and volunteering from home. These two things mean there's an increased need for remote delivery of eLearning.

The range of options and unfamiliar terminology can make it difficult to know where to start. And to know what the best options are for your organisation.

What do we mean by eLearning? Historically, eLearning referred to any learning resource delivered electronically. Online learning is referred to anything delivered online. Over time, this has become a subtle distinction. Which term you use is often based on personal preference.

This page is about any online learning that is not delivered live (in real-time). We’re calling this process eLearning.

ELearning refers to many different solutions, from documents and video to quizzes. These solutions are a good starting point and a way to build courses for learners on a small budget. You can also blend eLearning with live online sessions. This offers learners both teaching and support.

Creating engaging eLearning

If you want to create engaging eLearning you can do this without specialist support. Videos, articles and slide shows can be effective learning tools.

Consider some of the skills you'll need to create effective and enjoyable eLearning.

  • Expertise in the field/topic. You need subject matter expertise. This comes from the same trainers you use for face-to-face sessions. But it’s also important to bring in others from within your organisation.
  • Expertise in adding a collective view. Involving more than one expert or person helps you to present a balanced and collective view. This is important in eLearning as there’s no trainer to help deliver the messaging. A collective view will help you make sure you have accurately represented what your organisation wants learners to understand.
  • Expertise in how to develop content/courses that support learning. A great starting point is knowing how people learn. But good eLearning also needs someone who knows what types of interactions work. And how to support online learning.
  • Design skills. You need to bring the course to life and ensure it’s branded for your organisation.
  • Technical skills. You may want to create courses and materials using an authoring tool for interactive learning tool. Or you may only need skills in video, animation and slide deck creation.

So if you want to move to the next level and create interactive eLearning, it's likely you'll need some help.

You can learn to use an authoring tool yourself or you can choose a specialist to help you create materials learning materials using an authoring tool. It's like choosing a professionally-designed brochure over whatever design skills you manage to teach yourself.

This expert help involves a cost. Even when you work with people that specialise in supporting charities. Using a range of delivery methods can make eLearning more affordable.

Delivering your eLearning

When created, your eLearning will need a site from which you can deliver your courses to learners. If you don't need to track learner usage or charge for your eLearning, you can publish it on your website. If this is working well for you, you don’t have to go any further. But you can find that using a website has some limitations.

  • You want to improve the quality and interactivity of your content. But your website doesn't support quizzes, games and other learning aids.
  • You have interest from local government, NHS trusts or corporate businesses. They'd like to buy your expertise. But your e-learning isn’t reaching the quality they expect.
  • You need to track who's using the training and your website can’t do this.
  • You can’t easily take payment.
  • You want to build pathways or courses but are struggling to present that on a webpage.

If you’re experiencing any of these issues you should look at taking the next step. That's investing in a Learning Management System (LMS). An LMS is an online service designed to help you manage learners and their use of learning resources.

Remember that an LMS won't help you improve your learning materials. You still need people and their expertise to do that.

The basic elements of a Learning Management System are as follows.

  • They provide each learner with their own profile. What they see can be tailored to their role, what they have purchased, and/or their needs.
  • They allow you to track usage of eLearning and test results.
  • They have enough security to keep learners personal information safe.
  • They offer some basic tools to help you create online courses including text, video, quizzes/tests and externally created interactive content.
  • They include some level of customisation and branding.

Consider a shared solution

One cost-effective solution that might work for you is to partner with a charity that already has an LMS. You would then 'sublet' space on their LMS.

This is a great solution if you have decided you want the functionality of an LMS but want to start gently. There may be an additional fee from their LMS provider to increase the number of licences they hold. Even with this cost it'll:

  • avoid time and cost of setting up an LMS
  • be better value for money for you
  • provide your partner with a new income source
  • allow you to share resources if they work in your area or have topics that overlap.

Find out more

Ready to look for a learning management system? Not all systems or options are the same. Read our guide to help you decide what to look for when evaluating services, and what they include.

Understanding learning management systems and services.

Want to hear about other people who have transformed their eLearning. In this video, leading charity trainers, the FSI share their experience.

Last reviewed: 02 March 2021

Help us improve this content

This page was last reviewed for accuracy on 02 March 2021

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