The popularity of online training is at a record high. Many organizations are benefiting from this efficient and effective approach. When it comes to choosing the right type of content, it is important to consider several factors.

Course Length

A recent study indicated that the average attention span decreased by 50% over the last decade. Much of this can be attributed to the use of technology in our daily lives. Consider selecting courses that are approximately 10 to 20 minutes in length. Short concise courses improve the learner experience.


According to a study performed by The Literacy Project, the average American reads at a 7th or 8th grade reading level. This will certainly vary based on a wide range of factors, but none the less, should be considered when choosing content. Information must be conveyed in a manner that is easily understood while taking languages, such as Spanish, into consideration.


It is important to ensure that online learning is engaging. There are several strategies used to increase engagement such as insertion of exercises or thought questions throughout the course. Simply pressing play and letting a course or video play without any interaction does little to engage the learner, improve retention, or keep their focus.


It is important to ensure and in many cases document that employees have requisite knowledge of the subject. Online courses should have a testing function that requires a predetermined passing score. Test questions should be a mix of true/false and multiple-choice questions that are relatable to the course learning objectives. Reinforcement should also be utilized. Reinforcement not only provides the correct answer to each question, but also adds additional relevant information relating to the question.

Relative Examples

Content that utilizes real-life examples that are industry specific in nature are far more impactful to the learner than generic content. Imagine that you work in the agriculture industry and are taking a course that reflects a manufacturing environment or vice versa.


There is a science to delivering online training content which balances many factors including course length, literacy levels, interactivity, testing, and relative information. Consider these factors when choosing the right content for your organization. It will result in a better learner experience.

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Joe Mlynek is a partner and subject matter expert at Safety Made Simple, LLC. He has over 25 years of experience in safety at the corporate level and as a consultant. He is a Certified Safety Professional (CSP) and Occupational Safety and Health Technician (OHST). Joe can be reached at [email protected]