“What is the most important element of an e-learning course?” Most of us will instantly say, “content.” Although that might be correct, content is not the only thing that makes an e-learning module successful and engaging for the learners. E-learning design is the other major factor that really makes a difference when it comes to developing a great final product. We decided to focus on the main steps of the process and also present to you the most common mistakes to avoid when it comes to e-learning design.
E-Learning Design Steps
A good e-learning design process includes as many steps as each instructional designer needs. There are, however, several basic stages that are common for each e-learning course development:
- Research – you need to research the potential audience, assess the learners’ needs, set objectives, and find the most appropriate content;
- Analyze – once you have finished researching, you need to analyze the results and proceed with the course elements accordingly;
- Storyboard – choose the right template and create your e-learning storyboard which will be the blueprint of your course;
- Assemble the course – use the authoring tool to assemble all the elements of the course into one final product;
- Review and check compliance – once all is ready you need to check if you have met the goals and objectives you have set in the beginning and whether the modules are in line with the requirements of the learners/contractor;
- Test – you have to make sure that the e-learning course runs smoothly. If you have prepared an online company training, make sure to train the trainers and test that everything runs smoothly on their systems;
- Assess – once the course is over, use the feedback and assessment tools you have incorporated to see how it was perceived by the target audience. You can use the data to improve, remove, or substitutes some parts if necessary.
Tips for Better E-Learning Design
There are a lot of tips and tricks that facilitate the e-learning design and the overall course creation. Below are our two favorite that can help you improve your design.
- Create a Checklist
The “to do” list is an intrinsic part of our everyday life – no matter if it is for your grocery shopping or business tasks, it helps us follow through all the assignments we have for the day/week/month. It is a good idea to create a checklist with the main steps and elements of the e-learning course. It should include the main objectives and the resources needed for them, the necessary content, graphics, multimedia, assessment tools, etc. You need to pay special attention to the course accessibility and whether it is easy to navigate through. Plus, if you make a list with all the necessary elements, you can use it for the creation of any course, because it gives the basics.
- Use Storyboards
Storyboards are the backbone of the e-learning course. Once you learn how to use them, you will find out how beneficial they are. The storyboard allows you to put all the elements of the e-learning course in order with a description of how each of them should be presented to the learner. If you have made a general e-learning course checklist, you can then add the specific requirements for the given course. Creating a good storyboard does take time, but you will find that this can be the most fun and creative part of the entire project.
Our advice is that you incorporate these two tips as part of the core steps that you follow for the designing of every new e-learning course. Once you turn them into practice, the entire process will go smoother.
E-Learning Design Mistakes to Avoid
There are some e-learning design mistakes that you might be making without even realizing. Here is a list with the most common ones that you should keep in mind when you start creating your next course.
- Not Using the Right Authoring Tool
Did you research all the possibilities that the market offers in terms of e-learning software tools? If not, make sure to do so. Find the tool that offers the functions you need, while being versatile and easy to use at the same time. The authoring tool that meets your needs will make the entire process of e-learning course creation a lot easier.
- Shifting from the Main Goals and Objectives of the E-Learning Course
You should have identified the main goals and objectives of the e-learning course prior to designing it. This is one of the first steps to do and is part of the storyboarding as well. Therefore, you should stick to them when you are developing the course. Do not add other goals simply because you found interesting content and are tempted to include it.
- Cluttering your Modules with Unnecessary Content or Multimedia
Your e-learning course needs to be precise, simple, and easy to understand. You don’t need to clutter the modules with irrelevant content or too much multimedia. Eliminate the fluff and use simple, real-life examples, whenever possible, to convey the message.
- Not Utilizing the Current Technologies
If you are an experienced instructional designer, you have already developed your personal style in course creation. You most likely have a preferred storyboard template, a set of multimedia tools that you use, and a favorite learning strategy. While all of this is great, it is also highly advisable that you take advantage of the current tools and technologies. Think about how gamification, for example, can improve a certain course. Or what e-learning localization can do in terms of training the employees of a global company. Keep an eye on the emerging technology, when developing your next course.
- Ignoring the E-Learning Trends that Define the Industry
Following the trends that define the e-learning industry is also an important factor for a successful course creation. Your next training will generate better engagement and profits if it meets the demands of the market.
- Failing to Include Assessment and Feedback Tools
In order to evaluate the success of your e-learning course you need assessment and feedback tools. Make sure you don’t forget them. Surveys, tests, exams, and feedback sessions will show what runs smoothly and what needs to be improved.
Creating an engaging e-learning course is a challenge that depends a lot on e-learning design. Follow the main steps and avoid the most some common pitfalls in order to have happy, engaged, and knowledgeable learners.