Whenever you create a new eLearning course, the first thing you should do is ask yourself some key questions:
- Who is the audience
- What is the objective of the course?
- What resources do we have to develop a course?
- How will we approach the course development?
Answering these questions in detail before you start to develop a course will save you time and help you to produce the best content for your audience.
Who Is the Audience and What Is the Objective?
It’s essential to know who the audience is and what they need to learn about the topic. Also, it’s important to understand what they currently know about the subject to then figure out what topics to cover in your course. This isn’t always possible, especially if your audience has a wide variety of backgrounds, so just do your best.
Let’s take a look at an example audience and subject. The subject is “Conflict Resolution,” and here are some examples of potential audiences:
- A university course to teach students about handling conflict as part of a Human Resources degree
- A company to teach ways of handling conflict to their internal employees
- High school students to work through conflict in groups
The topic of “Conflict Resolution” is the same, but the approach will be very different. Let’s take a deeper dive into these example audiences using a table for easy comparison.
|Example 1||Example 2||Example 3|
|What’s the topic?||Conflict Resolution|
|Who is the audience?||University students||Company employees||High school students|
|What is the objective?||To provide a course for a degree||To give internal employees positive ways to deal with conflict in the workplace||To give students ways to address conflicts in groups|
|conflict in workplace|
|What are potential ways to approach the topic?||Use educational and technical language, which will be reviewed by the professors.
Explain how the conflicts should be addressed from a university perspective.
Provide examples based on the university environment.
Include a scoring quiz evaluation section.
|Address the course within the internal structure of the company and working together with HR.
Explain what the company expects and indicate who employees should contact when they have a conflict.
Provide examples based on the job environment.
Include a scoring quiz evaluation.
|Work together with the school pedagogue and teachers.
Include topics like bullying, inclusion and respect.
Develop interactive material, to keep the interest of young students.
Provide examples based on the school environment.
Include a quiz section for reflection.
Once you identify the goals of the course (and always keep these at the top for easy reference), you can start thinking about the types of content that will help meet those goals. In general, it’s a good practice to make a list with the most basic items and then work from there. This list is like a mission & vision for the course. It’s the first step to keeping it going in the right way.
What Resources Do We Have to Develop a Course?
In an ideal world, your team should have a content developer, an instructional designer and an eLearning engineer. If your resources allow it, you can add different participants, voice talents, illustrators, photographers, etc. to make it more interesting.
However, most of us don’t live in an ideal world and have all these types of resources. So once you’ve captured what you need to cover for a course, look at your available resources and be honest with what’s possible to do with your course. Many courses fail because we aspire to develop something that’s not feasible, like have an amazing design or create multiple videos and audio, etc. However, without the appropriate team and budget, your course development platform may not be able to do what you want it to or you might not have enough funding to do things the way you want. So look at what resources you do have, and create a realistic plan.
Here you can find some tips to keep in mind when you look at resources:
- List the members of the team and their roles.
- Define what platform you’ll use and look at what features are available.
For example, Articulate RISE is more limited than Articulate Storyline, but it has an advantage: it’s very simple to create a layout for your course on this online platform. Just as an example, platforms offer multiple features at a variety of costs.
- List all the resources that you think are relevant.
Do you have existing graphics or an image library? Do you need to show something technical using screenshots? Do you have the ability to create videos or illustrations? Think about the realistic possibilities that you have and work within those resources and constraints.
- Make a realistic timeline to develop the content, keeping in mind that projects oftentimes take longer than we expect.
If you consider all these factors, your expectations should be realistic and your project should be doable.
How Will We Approach the Course Development?
Be specific when you’re developing content. Create clear topics in each chapter, and highlight the main ideas. eLearning courses must be dynamic to keep students’ attention. You can add downloadable material to expand on the content, but always be clear about the key points that you want the student to remember when the course ends.
Another point to remember is while a good graphic design is nice, it should never come between the content and the student. Some eLearning courses have amazing designs, but the only thing you remember when you finish is how beautiful it was. So whenever possible, work with an instructional designer who’s experienced with developing eLearning courses and that makes the content stand out.
Also, make sure you have a good internal team to provide you with feedback. You can get too close to the subject matter and miss things, and good reviewers will help improve the course.
In summary, the key points to creating a successful eLearning course include:
- Ask yourself some KEY QUESTIONS
- Look at your resources and BE REALISTIC
- Keep your OBJECTIVES AT THE TOP when developing content
- Keep a good internal TEAM FEEDBACK