Just like any expedition into unknown waters, there must be a starting point. Enter: That starting point.
1. What Is Your Primary Goal?
What is this eLearning course trying to achieve? Possible primary goals include:
- Filling a knowledge or skill gap
- Preventing a reoccurrence of an issue
- Changing a behavior
- Collecting data or information
Find this objective by asking questions such as: What do I want my learners to accomplish? What should the impact be afterwards? What are some measurable results I’d like to obtain and analyze upon the course’s completion?
2. Name that Audience
Who are you making the course for? Are they managers? New hires? Do their roles deal heavily with numbers and analytics or do they work with their hands? All of these questions are important from an instructional design standpoint. Courses can vary in their look, feel, interactions and requisites, so it’s important to know your audience in order to leverage their learning and working habits.
3. What Can I Recycle?
What do you already have that you can reuse? Most often eLearning courses are built from existing content or information. Have you used an eLearning course in the past? Do you still have the template? Or is the software and licensing still on company computers? Or perhaps someone on your team has experience as an Instructional Designer? These are all important questions to answer so you can leverage your budget, resources and bandwidth. If there have been courses created for or by your organization, try to find which elements were successful and then leverage the completed work.
4. What Means Success?
What does success look like for your course and how will it be measured? Tests and assessments are one way to mine data out of your learners. Or is it longer term effects such as a reduction in accidents or complaints?
If we are looking at the ‘instant’ results of tests and completions, what constitutes sufficient and revealing evidence and how do we track it? Are we using an LMS or some other method?
Also, be mindful of creating a strategy to manage what happens if a learner fails: How many attempts should they get? What should the repercussions for failure be? Is the course a pre-requisite for promotion or a requirement for employment?
5. What Is the Look and Feel of the Course?
Finally, we must discuss the aesthetics of the course. In eLearning, design can have immense impact, both positive and negative. Strategize strong instructional design to ensure sufficient engagement and interactivity throughout the course. Plan a well thought out user experience design in order to provide a continuous flow through the content without confusing or slowing learners. And don’t forget that an impressive graphic design will give your course a clean, polished look which will further engage learners. It’s also important to recognize that most authoring tools and LMSs can be customized to adopt an organization’s unique branding elements.
Things to consider:
- Color schemes
- Graphical elements
- Animation effects
- White space
- Levels of interactivity
- Localized content
Now you should be ready to begin implementing your eLearning course! The importance of planning cannot be understated, so take a few extra beats, reread this article and hit the ground running. If you have any questions or comments for our experts, feel free to leave them!