E-learning has been growing apace for several years now. The global e-learning market had already topped $165 billion by 2015 and is expected to pass $275 billion by 2022. As the popularity of e-learning continues to grow, companies in every industry are creating their own relevant e-learning courses to help with their operations.
Some of these are academic in nature and applicable to a variety of situations. At other times, e-learning courses are used for corporate training or to increase productivity, as is the case with Epilogue Systems.
While it may be growing in popularity, the thought of creating an e-learning course for your company from scratch can seem intimidating. Fortunately, you don’t need a master’s degree in education to create an e-learning course. The important thing is that you take the time to select a good platform for your course to live on — look for one that integrates with your existing system. From there, you can create your course thoughtfully, one step at a time.
1. Set Goals
It’s essential to avoid launching into your e-learning course with a “let’s get this done because it’s what everyone else is doing” mentality. Your course should be designed to specifically meet a need.
Begin by conducting a needs analysis. An e-learning course designed for internal use within a company can begin with something as simple as conducting interviews or data collection aimed at discovering what the current needs are.
E-learning, in this setting, is primarily an effective way to solve problems, like closing skill-gaps, increasing productivity, enhancing work-flow, and general training of personnel.
Try to firmly identify what is lacking and then set goals to address these concerns. Once you have clearly defined goals, you’re going to want to keep them in mind at every step of the process.
2. Identify Your Audience
Once you have your goals, it’s important to take some time to think about the audience who will be using your course. Will it be used to help coworkers create digital content and manage projects, assets, and tasks within a company? Or will it be used by a much larger audience, like Duolingo’s popular language-learning platform?
Considering your demographic and their interests can help you decide what components you’ll use in your course. Duolingo, for instance, incorporates significant amounts of gamification into their courses in order to appeal to their audience.
3. Keep It Simple
As you begin to craft the course itself, it’s important to remember that you’re not trying to impress anyone. This isn’t a thesis or a report to be shared with your peers. You’re educating. Authoring e-learning content that goes over your user’s head will be useless.
In addition, you must remember that people read digital content slower than its printed alternative and most readers skim by habit. If you want to create an effective course, you need to make sure to keep your content as simple, straightforward, and skimmable as possible.
4. Create Defined Objectives
You’re not the only one who should have a set of goals. Your e-learners will also need objectives and specific goals to work towards in the course. This will give them a more tangible sense of progress and success as they move through their studies.
As you create your e-learning course, build in user-oriented goals designed to encourage the learning process and maintain a positive attitude.
5. Test the Course
Once you’ve completed the course, it’s time to test it. This is a critical step in creating a quality e-learning course, as it’s challenging for the creator of an educational tool to properly vet the course’s effectiveness on their own.
Begin by combing over the course carefully in search of any obvious errors. After you feel confident in your creation, find others to test it for you. While any third-party perspective can be helpful, it’s best to find individuals you can trust to give you objective, honest, informative feedback.
As you gather their comments and criticisms, make sure to keep an open mindset. Don’t be defensive. Keep your audience and goals in mind and implement necessary changes as you go along.
6. Release a Prototype
When your e-learning course is designed, built, and tested, don’t write it off as complete quite yet. It’s wise to set up an initial test run with a prototype of the course.
There may be user experience issues, software bugs, or doubts regarding overall effectiveness once the course gets into the hands of its intended users. A prototype allows you to assess and fix these problems. It’s important to plan time for the prototyping stage of production as it can help you avoid headaches down the road.
7. Collect Feedback and Revise
As your prototype goes through testing, be prepared for comments, concerns, and the potential for several rounds of troubleshooting. If you want an effective course when all is said and done, it’s essential that you go out of your way to ask users about:
- Their overall experience.
- What was helpful.
- What wasn’t helpful.
- How many of your initial learning goals were achieved?
- What could have been done better?
Once you feel any glaring errors are cleaned up and the course can genuinely stand on its own, you can release the official version.
As a final consideration, take advantage of these last stages of development and make notes regarding what was successful and what can be improved when designing other courses in the future.